My day began at quarter past four when a car alarm when off in our neighborhood and sounded for a minute or two before who ever owned it awoke and turned it off. By that time, my mind had already entered the day and after a half hour of trying to regain what I had been jolted out of, I gave in to it and rolled out of bed to sit and read and watch the new day begin on our small patch of land in the outskirts of our little town.
What I found this morning is that I have begun again to believe in the power of a transformed mind and the ability to find healing in faith and friendship.
There is what I would call a “Divine Tension” taking place in my life and from what I gather, the lives of many others as well.
Dictionary dot com defines tension as:
A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements: “the continuing, and essential, tension between two of the three branches of government, judicial and legislative” (Haynes Johnson).
and: The interplay of conflicting elements in a piece of literature, especially a poem.
As Christians our struggle is between the old nature and the new: what we once were and what we are in process of becoming. Each new formation or snapshot of what we are becoming can take days, weeks or years depending on how we react to the forces in our lives that act as water on rock, a chisel on wood, the potter’s hands on the clay—to conform us into the image of Christ.
Doubt and disappointment can and do take their toll in making the surface of who we are less likely to be easily changed. A hard heart can take weeks or months to soften to the point of being able to hear the directions that will map out the way for us to go.
What I have realized lately, is that in the process of our lives, there are not many straight paths leading to where we need to be. What I mean by that is each and every one of us has many layers of existence all operating at the same time. What we “do” with these layers on a daily basis is a measure of what our day/week/month will be like. This is a hard thought process to paint a picture with words that are only to me becoming a little clearer as I gain the language to do so. I guess this is what I meant in a earlier post when I said that other people’s words are a comfort to me during these days of movement and transtition towards fully accepting myself and the state I find myself in. These poems and writtings have once again given me a vocabulary to process my thoughts with and come to some conclusions about where I am and the next steps to take.
For instance, what do we do with the loose ends of our lives as we begin each day and head to work? Some of us are like the animals who chew on things for a long time before digesting them. Sometimes we can even see where this food will get stuck somewhere and remain undigested for a time—even as we go about our daily routines. We may have taken too big a bite or been put in position to eat something that was placed in front of us that we would have really not put on our plate in the first place. And an over-the-counter antacid won’t get that lump of undigested food any further along the alimentary canal of our being.
Some of us put the un-resolved matters of life on the shelf and basically leave them behind as we plow into the day. Sometimes we have to build bigger shelves to hold all the stuff that is waiting for us to deal with—and there are those who have to build bigger houses to store all the containers and shelves.
The point being is that none of us has a perfect “WB TV Life” and that some of us deal well with that fact and some of us don’t. We have all seen or known those who don’t—we can even feel the weight of it as we work with them or meet them in the grocery store, gas station or restaurant. The “walking wounded” are all around us or “are” us. And the ways we get there are as numerous as “we” are. My parents didn’t love me—my boss doesn’t appreciate me—my church doesn’t understand me or my needs—etc., etc. and so on down the line.
The tension can be as subtle as going to bed aggravated with your spouse and carrying that aggravation into the next day. It’s no big deal we tell ourselves as we get dressed and wend our way to work—albeit with a little edge in our voice or our step. In the case of leaving a church you have attended and been a part of for 22 years—the hurt is a little deeper and I might add—a little less defined or indentifiable.
I was surprised the other day by how I dealt with feelings about my—shall I dare say—sinful nature or general feelings of un-worthiness. Even before I reached my car I had decided to play a particular song from an International House Of Prayer CD that has been a favorite for several years. It is music extemporaneously recorded at IHOP which is a 24 hour, praise and worship and intercession ministry in Kansas City. The particular song lasts 25 minutes and in the course of spontaneous worship has the verse “..even in my weakness, I am lovely” repeated several times over. It’s about the Father’s love not being taken away from us in the course of us dealing with our carnal nature. As I listened it was if I was able to leave the negative thoughts I was having in the very song itself—like just listening washed me somehow and I was able to walk into my life a little cleaner and clearer than I had been a few minutes before.
Are you weary and heavy laden?, Christ asks—come to me and I will give you rest—he replies, fully knowing the answer. Can we trust Him?—if not who else?
Like I began with: …I have begun again to believe in the
power of a transformed mind and the ability to find healing in faith
Enjoy your ride today—you are not alone.
You wrote: Some of us put the un-resolved matters of life on the shelf and basically leave them behind as we plow into the day. Sometimes we have to build bigger shelves to hold all the stuff that is waiting for us to deal with—and there are those who have to build bigger houses to store all the containers and shelves. Very well put. I have alot of unanswered spiritual questions that I know many men and women have asked over the years. One of these days I’m going to get around to really digging into those questions. One of them being, “Does God send to hell those who have NEVER HEARD of Jesus and the forgiveness He offers?” The Bible says that His invisible qualities have been known in creation so that men are without excuse, but what does that mean exactly? Does that mean that somehow those who haven’t heard of the name of Jesus can experience salvation without going through the Romans 10:9 path? It’s a a very post-modernistic question, I know, but it’s been weighing on my mind recently. And I know others have asked that question as well. Sounds like a new post on my blog is about to be born.
Rodney, Consider the following:Romans 2:14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 2:15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 2:16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. When does Christ judge? Most will agree it is the White Throne judgment. If the sheep and the goats are decided by hearing the name of Jesus and responding in this life, why would He need to separate the two at an ending, all-final judgment? Hasn’t the secretarial work been done already by profession of faith? Personally, I see no conflict or problem with recognizing Jesus is the door and no one gets through to the Father except by Him meaning He is the One who says ON JUDGMENT DAY, “Enter in, I knew you,” and such is said to those who never heard His name preached but lived according to their conscience written by God on their hearts. These lived by faith. If the Scripture is true and there will be those who proclaimed Christ but are denied entrance because He says, “Depart from Me, I never knew you,” then what surprise or inconsistency is there in saying others who never heard or professed shall enter in because these lived by faith through the conscience? Are we going to say in either case, “But Christ, You have made a mistake!” So of what benefit is hearing the gospel preached and responding? The wonder of living in the Kingdom here and now in the midst of the terrible rebellion against God; the experience of His righteousness, peace and joy everyday; being freed from a guilty conscience; and on and on. Those pygmies in Borneo need to hear the gospel preached no doubt, but we need not fear for their “required” condemnation in the absence of that. God is perfect love and perfect justice. Jesus’ words calling Himself the door have no context whatsoever to justify the application of the standard evangelical interpretation of condemnation for not hearing the name preached. Interestingly, such an interpretation does fit nicely into emotional pleas for money to send out missionaries. No cynicism, honestly!! Just a sort of sociological observation. 8^)
I think Abraham is a good place to start when looking at this question. Jesus wasn’t around yet, but it says that he “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness”. So the issue is much more about faith, than it is about the “Romans Road” or answering an altar call. I think evangelicalism has added a lot to what it means to “get saved” by removing the element of it being a process and making it more about a singular moment in a meeting. It’s not that someone can’t be converted after hearing a sermon and responding to an altar call. But, for most people it was a long process of relationships and conviction that brought them to that moment. We expect people to get saved before we can be friends. We throw around phrases like “don’t be unequally yoked” as excuses for insulating ourselves in our Christian communes, only venturing out occasionally to give away free water bottles in the name of Jesus or go door to door to yell at people during supper time. Jesus did the opposite most of the time. People should be able to experience the Body of Christ before they are a part of it. I’ll stop before I pull out my soapbox…
Thanks ded and Ben for responding. Ded you nailed pretty much everything that I’ve been pondering, but this thinking leads me to a frightening place. That when the New Ager says that all roads lead to God, they may not be that far off. It sounds as if those who have lived their lives according to the faith of their conscience will be judged according to this, rather than by accepting the sacrifice that Jesus made. This flies in the face of all that I’ve believed. It means that salvation, for some, can come by works, according to their own moral or religious system, as long as they live in harmony with said system.Ded, I hope you don’t mis-construe my statement as disagreeing with your previous post, because honestly, I do agree with you regarding this issue. It’s the “so what” part that I have difficulties with. The extrapolation of that thought is where I start struggling.
Rodney,I do not read you as disagreeing. Even if you did, that’s not a bad thing. You raise a troublesome thought that needs consideration. Terry’s post is entitled in part “Divine Tension”. What I described above creates a tension. As I have aged naturally and in the Father, I have come to understand that faith itself is a place of rest in Him which creates tension between us and the natural world: “Love your enemy”, “Turn the other cheek”, et al. I do not think, however, that one need extrapolate what I suggest about salvation to the point of, “then all roads lead to God.” There are two spirits on earth: the spirit of the anti-christ and the Spirit of Christ. Every form of idolatry is of the anti-christ. Worshipers of idols will be judged as worshipers of idols. That which is written on the heart of men from God will not ring true with such worship. I did not try to say that all who lived by their conscience without a knowledge of Christ would be accepted for doing so. I only wanted to say that the Lord is gracious enough to not condemn someone who manages to live true to Him by only following their conscience in the absence of hearing the Truth preached. Will such a person be without sin. No. What is God to do with a person in this state? Is He obligated to condemn them to eternal separation because of sin, or might we allow that He has the wisdom to judge a level of faith based on conscience that is pleasing to Himself and which would have lead an individual to respond fully to the message of atonement had it been heard?He said as much about Abraham and Moses and David and these three were not without sin. Ben spoke of this.Further, individuals living in developed cultures who hear the gospel and reject it or who deny their conscience to love others and cover that falsehood with worship of false deities will be judged accordingly.In Matthew 5, the Beatitudes, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” In my life, I heard the gospel and understood I could never have a pure heart. If wanted to see God, I must look to Jesus and see God through His righteousness for me. The question is, can one who has never heard the gospel of Jesus preached still hear through his or her conscience the love of God written on the heart and act accordingly in a manner pleasing to God? God knows. We do not. However, I for one see enough of a tension there to not be in a quandary over whether or not God condemns those who have not heard the gospel. I merely suggest it can be logically thought out, then stated in ways consistent with Scripture in context, and more importantly, felt in our love from God for others. God is bigger than traditional interpretations of Scripture.
Thanks for more clarification, ded. I hope it didn’t seem that I was suggesting that your comment would lead to the extrapolation I proposed. It rather exposes my own struggles with faith and the unknown. Quite frankly, I’m tired of skirting these issues in my mind that want to bring doubt of God and His nature. I want to be able to ask the questions that sometimes trip me up in my own thinking – I’m sure God doesn’t mind. I have for too long shied away from the tough questions that unbelievers (and myself, if I was completely honest) have about God that I simply couldn’t answer. Or that people would consider me a heretic for my wonderings. I don’t feel that way with you guys here, thus I feel safe in posing such questions. It certainly makes sense what you have written and I would like to ponder it longer before I write anything else. I remember reading a portion of a chapter from a book by Tony Campolo that addressed this same question (salvation in the absence of hearing). It’s not a very popular subject, for sure. I grew up in church, got saved at 15 and have been walking with God since I was 17, but here recently it seems I have been re-examining my faith in order to fully understand all that I claim to believe. Thanks for helping me along in my journey guys. ded, tell your wife the Morris family says hello.