Friday, November 15, 2013

When I was Young I was a Fool, Older I know my Foolishness

Change the world.

I did not understand that doing so required more than just helping people materially, changing their minds or behaviors, but changing what they love. The gospel of evangelicaldom, which when examined writ-large is a broad way, appealing to people's emotions and pangs of anger and agony and "felt needs” over the state of their broken homes and misery, because of its roots in a philosophy of outreach based on felt needs, arising from paranoia over a perceive state in decline of conversions and Christian society many years ago.

With their indoctrination from youth that they should also help those less-well-off, which is not a bad thing, the people could be shown photos of need and misery far worse throughout the world, experience visceral responses desired by those holding some communicative event, induced to pledges of "I will go", and made ready for making the connection between the miseries shown and a dearth of faith, a need for the repeal of godlessness, a spread of Christianity...

Yet looking back, there was an offer only in superficiality of Jesus' name, empty of much substance or a definite integrity--as is like the broader movement. Meaning can be found here, yet in unity wrought of works, not the faith. Faith can be found here, yet not in the biblical doctrine of God. Its congregations are filled with the hunger for better life: whether in changed lives, fixed homes, happy family, purpose, direction for their activities and energies, feeling far better than the miseries wrought by sin too often bring, and the destruction it has reaped for their lives and society--whether theirs or the sin of their fathers and mothers.

In other words, it is filled with the kind of person to be logically expected from whatever, at a given moment, its members have used to catch people. The modern fishing metaphor applies well here, that you will catch people with what they love; an old warning of pastors that you will have to keep feeding people with what you lured them is also pertinent; the idea of catching men with what they are or you can make them think they are looking for while they are, to use the theological term, unregenerate, means one will continue on with people staid only by receiving what you first sold them.

Yet the fishing metaphor as found in the gospels is much different. Jesus's own words even about the persons who came for teaching and who were kept by the bread that made to fed the five thousand men (not even counting women and children) should strike at the thought of spreading religion by behaviorism, felt needs, inducing emotional responses and then offering catharsis (as you will find in thousands of sophisticated manipulative environments called "Churches" in their services, across our land), and should deal mortal blows at packaged and prominent, as well as extemporaneous and fluid forms of sociological approaches or Church-Growth philosophies and man-centered appeals and efforts to building little kingdoms by whatever seemingly successful means while saying it is all done in the name of Jesus and for God's glory, the Spirit be damned in this pursuit I guess, tragic since He's the Spirit of Christ and One who guides into all truth. Rick Warren writes on how Jesus was meeting felt needs and drawing crowds, as found in various stories of the gospels, yet to read those gospels one sees that after the crowd awakens where he has left them, and follows him across the sea, he confronts them as, really, unbelieving, that they sought him because "you at the loaves and you were filled." He does not in a group or committee plan the next means of drawing a large gathering or encourage these people; he fed them out of compassion on the hungry and looking after them--as the God who sends rain on both the just and unjust--yet tells them they will suffer hell in death for not believing, and even going on to say they do not because they cannot, because it hasn't been given them to...

The felt needs of natural man are often distinct from their true needs as declared by God. Men surely need bread, but they would come to make Him king, not to eat his flesh and drink His blood--to believe into and on Him for everything in trust. They would come to set him up as a King to subdue the gentiles and tax them into luxury and opulence, He would author faith in them to bring them into the Court of the temple before ripping down the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile and ushering-in an age where they formed for Him a people as one flock, despite the partitions He himself, at first, had erected to keep them separate: such was done to make many points, but are useless apart from a heart of faith like that of Abraham, no matter the outward signs.

And that faith is not a decision or option. Men will not, as natural men, if it has not been given to them. Just as the fishers of that time laid down a dragnet and scraped fish from waters, the fishing of which Jesus spoke is a dragging by the Spirit of God; to the very crowd who followed and to His disciples, he said, that none would come to Him except the father "drag" (the literal translation of the Greek term) the one to Him, which is the first half of a famous verse famously ignored to focus on the second half about none whom the Father gives Him will ever get away: men are happy to assure salvation to those who profess to accept, loatheful to announce that salvation is the gift of God, and not by works--even a willful act of assent to easily called "believing".

Our endless politicization of all things, as they have rendered moral points null and subjective, important only for political advantage and gaining leverage in rhetoric over a rival alike who is attempting, through schemes, to make utopia, forgot all these things. Even now, despite the much gossiped decline in religion, Jesus is to liberals and the [neo-]conservatives the one to bring egalitarianism, feminine liberation, individual license to self-actualize or liberty to self-express and build a business. To old conservatism he was an impediment to order and threat to practical means of producing desirable consequences, a potential threat to authority if preached plainly as espoused in Scriptures who might topple the heads of State or king who decides to divorce his wife. He is for some groups the way to excuse every deviation form the norm or misbehavior in the name of "being loving", condemning any criticism or "judgment" as its contrary rather than sound judgement being its corollary and partner, and for other the seat of a new moralism to save society, if not so much to demand genuine faith. He is the excuse for the productive to build mansions and little kingdoms for themselves by right and liberty from judgment because they are harmless or they are moral, the self-destructive and "liberal" to condemn their greed for refusal to give to the self-destructive and save them from consequence, and by use of his words to hide that they, themselves, are greedy.

He is the means for evil men and politicians to denounce application of religious sentiment to religion, mis-using "give unto Caesar what is Caesars", in their attempt to censure, silence, and exclude moral voices who oppose ungodly, unnatural, unlawful or unConstitutional actions and programs; yet He is one who gave full approval to the baptizing prophet who condemned Herod for ungodlines sand demanded repentance for taking his brother's wife: so we can do to renounce subversion, theft in the name of redistributivism not to the truly needy but the dissolute and self-destructive; funding of government at every level to interfere with necessary rights and liberties for the sake of men caring for themselves in whatever circumstances, even when those politicians and powers claim they act in the name of general welfare or public interest, and on and on, especially when we are charged by the standing Highest law to resist and even attack the courts themselves should they begin to subvert and ignore the Constitution.We are never anywhere compelled by any valid law to lay down our duty under good law and surrender to evil, if well-intention, people and their schemes' requirements to take liberty away.

Perhaps more than all things, Jesus is the way to determine what is real love, and what men love. He is beloved for His utility by many but not His teaching or own person. And love is what you look to for fulfillment, to obey, and therefore spend your own self on even unto abandon. Men claim his name to say that condemnation of sins like homosexuality is unChristian because it is "unloving" while He himself warned He did not come to abolish the law...and that the greatest in His kingdom (of heaven) would be those who teach it; such call themselves advocates for repressed people while reproaching Christians who likely do not call for any harm to come from those whom they simply disapprove, and then laws to criminalize disapproval as "hate"...just as Jesus said, on account of fidelity to His word, men would "blaspheme (reproach is a better term) and persecute you on account of me." Fake love says what does not make men feel good is harmful, evil, unloving; true love will make you as upset and uncomfortable as possible while doing you no real harm (i.e. moral, permanent physical damage, etc.) as it demands for your own sake, in the eyes of God, that you repent and look to Him for true salvation, truth, etc. Hell, men claiming to speak in the name of Christ call harmful those who disapprove of them and who will not lend them association or a hand, and call upon the government to harm them, while genuine Christians, in accordance with God's word, condemn (as the law) what they do and what they say as sin, while remaining harmless as doves. Men who try, by persecutions, to make for themselves a heaven here, make hell on earth for those misfortunates subject to their power and reach; how happily that the needy and oppressed of the earth are promised for their meek assurance of the faithfulness of God that they will, in His return, receive both heaven and earth recreated all anew, but most of all God Himself their treasure.

And contrary to the notion of love as feelings, that by making men feel good you can gain over them leverage and influence, though it is true, such will not alter their spirits for the good and truly change the world with enduring success. It is rather, by display and proclamation of real love, which is costly, and the command to repent and to practice it, which is costly, and assertion of inherent rights to man by cause of His partaking in the image of God, though ruined, who therefore is said to endow them with innate capacities requiring liberty for exercise, without interference by those of other interests without the most pressing and sincere of necessity arising of their duty, perhaps say to defend from foreign invasion those taxes and compelled in some way, for which men will both die and yet by shed blood and the blessing of God plant seeds in men's hearts and, should God bless such labors, repent of their murderousness even those responsible for making them victims, and so reap to the oppressed and meek brothers in eternity who with them will shed tears, not as much for the wrongs committed against men who became by the Spirit of adoption their brothers, but the God who made them both sons and became their Father and brother, and bequeathed to them alike Himself as inheritance and His riches of benevolence by His graces.

A little prayer:

We go out this day, Oh God, to act in our own interests, yet hopefully in the interest of others and in show of thy great goodness and mercies, to the praise of you the Majesty and to glorify thy name, but in us are sins of ignorance, simplicity, malice, iniquitous hearts and deception of error, save us Oh Lord from such causes for harm, and protect us from those who would punish us for repentance and acting in accord with the rule of faith, by their defeat everywhere and submission to justice that is real to show men shall not, in whatever position they find themselves, blaspheme thy name or make mockery of your justice and vengeance against sin as though you are slow in coming. Grant us repentance therefore, before the shedding of blood, assuage thy own anger at us by outpouring of thy truth and power unto salvation from such sin, and by shedding tears of us by looking upon whom we have pierced, laying us down on the earth to wear sackclothe and ashes, and wait upon you in trust to provide us your righteousness and washing unto sanctification to be worthy, without fear or lies in hypocrisy or vanity, to speak thy name. Petitioned of you because we believe these are good petitions directed toward so benevolent and attentive a God, in Jesus name, Amen.

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