Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Jesus, the Word

By Gaye Stradwick

Have you read the descriptions in Paul's Epistles of who you are in Christ and what he has done for you, and felt your spirit leap within you?

And have you also read some of the words of Jesus in the Gospels and felt a bit flat and overwhelmed by the standard he sets?

The reason is Paul's Epistles were written to you! But the words of Jesus were written to people under the Mosaic law.

But even then, Jesus was not just saying "the law sets one standard and I am setting an even higher one"...

but by sometimes contradicting and the law and sometimes lifting the bar higher, he was saying “This is who I am! This is the authority that has been given to me by my Father! I transcend the law - this covenant law and every other law! I am the way, the truth and the life!"

He was saying you no longer have the promise of a Saviour in your written law - here I am in the flesh - I have authority over all law! Matt. 28;18 "All authority (all power of rule) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Amp.

Not only the law was fulfilled when Jesus came, the promised Saviour had come!

He brought a new commandment, a new law - the law of love!

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Everything in the old law that did not align with this was now done away with! The Mosaic law had to align with the law of love!

Today, Christians need to learn the same lesson as those Jewish folk had to learn 2,000 years ago. John 5:39: "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."

Jesus clearly said that he was over every commandment and written law. Yet today we take fragments of New Testament Scripture and make them into rules and laws. Once again now, we often look for life and security by making a neat package of rules and regulations from words written to people 2,000 odd years ago, who lived in a different world. And not only do we live by rules ourselves, we hold our brothers and sisters to them as well!

How different would what we have today look if we really lived by the over-arching revelation of love in the person of Jesus Christ - and by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God -instead of rigid rule keeping, and beating each other over the head with those rules.

Friday, 27 January 2012

2000 Years Later...

Well, we've had 2000 years to get it all sorted. We've had the bible, in just about every language. We've had countless theologians working on it. Endless discussions, arguments, wars. Its gotten pretty ugly, and is still is. We can't even get people in the same church to agree on anything, let alone two churches in the same street. Everyone has the correct understanding of scripture and everyone else is wrong. Divisions are getting worse - not better. Extremes in understanding are getting even more so.

Everyone keeps turning back to scripture saying that is the only place to find the truth. Except after 2000 years we are not one iota closer to determining what that is. I mean, we all think we know the truth from scripture, of course. But so does the church down the road. If we take a little time to step back, pull our heads out of our own precious ideas and look around, I think we'd all agree that things really are a HUGE mess.

Doesn't this tell us something? That maybe we are looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place? That NO amount of biblical interpretation will bring us a single step closer to the truth and unity that Jesus desired for us? Haven't we figured that out after all this time?

Where does that leave us? In a scary position no doubt. Do we throw away the bible? Good question! What is the value of the bible if NO ONE can ever agree on even the most basic stuff - never have done. Could it be that God knew all along this would happen and that there was a very good reason why the scriptures are so open to interpretation - why he chose a language to write the New Covenant in that would be "dead" not long after they were written? Why Jesus spoke in Aramaic and even His words were translated into Greek before they were ever recorded (we will never know what he really said because that version of Aramaic is also dead).

So What do I think? God wants us to understand the spirit of the word, the Word Himself, the heart of Father - realise that he never meant for every single word to be analysed. That he just wanted us to "absorb" the author of the written words. That the Holy Spirit in us is the source of all truth and that the scriptures bear witness to Him in us. I refuse to call scripture the Word, because Jesus is the word. Scripture is a collection of thoughts and dialogues about the interaction between God and His creation. It is totally inspired by Him and is exactly what He wanted for us to have for this time - warts and all!

I'm tired of endless quoting of scriptures to prove a point. It will never happen. We use scripture as a weapon, for our own selfish purposes. We refuse to let go of our pet dogmas (go Killer Kat!!) and look at the heart of the Word himself and how the scriptures verify that. I'm convinced that this is probably the most central issue in the church now. Not any particular doctrine. Doctrines are just theories made up to disguise the fact that we really don't know what we are talking about. Its all about Jesus - nothing but Jesus and what he has done for us. He is the beginning and the end. He is the expression of Father's love for us, and that love will never ever fail!

Monday, 16 January 2012

A quick reflection

Life has been a roller coaster for the last couple of years and I've finally had some time to take stock, sort out new directions, consolidate my beliefs etc.

Many of you probably think I've lost the plot (and you may be right), others have identified with my outspoken views. Thanks to all of you - even those who disagree, because it helps to refine me. 

The loss of my wife (Min), has allowed me to stop enough to assess my own identity again. To look at the things that are my uniqueness - outside of a relationship. The journey into grace and all that entails, is nothing new for me, even though it may seem like that to some. I have always believed the things I now espouse, but never had the time or freedom, at any stage in my life, to examine them closely and explore the truth of these things. So much of my ramblings are processing rather than firm views. I've felt its right to put it out there, as a way to help others on their journey, challenge the status quo, and walk together. 

Those that know me may realise my passion for "the ultimate answer to life the universe and everything" is always pushing me to explore the limits. But no matter how far I go, Jesus is always, always at the centre of it all. I can't get away from that! Without Him it would all be meaningless. My understanding of the depths of His grace really opened up this last year, as the same old scriptures suddenly fell into place, bringing so much into balance and opening the way to the intimacy I always craved. As He revealed more and more of His love to me, the question of how far that love actually goes kept getting more persistent - which is why I began the next step of facing the issue of Universalism. To me, its been the most natural process to realise that His love and the plans for His perfect creation must go hand in hand and that His will, no matter how long and difficult, will ultimately be done. I am now comfortable with the "theology" and feel no need to enter into intense discussion about its biblical basis, although I love discussing anything that glorifies Fathers heart!

The next step seems to be integrating many of the separate streams. There are a lot of variations in the "grace" thing, even to the extent of causing arguments (sigh) and the Universal Reconciliation theme has many variants. But I can see common threads through all this, like joyful glimpses of something just around the bend on a windey road. I shall keep exploring, prayerfully, lovingly, and being totally open with you all in this journey. 

I'll keep throwing my stuff out there for you to get upset about, argue, agree, comment etc, and hopefully we will keep growing together. Most importantly, we should be growing in love. It's more important than correct doctrine. God is Love - everything comes from that!