Saturday, February 5, 2011

I have issues (No one is safe...)

I haven't written lately because I have been deeply involved in life. Not an excuse to not write... but good enough for right now.

In reading for MWS 502 I have been studying the history and spirituality of Christianity. It is incredibly interesting to see the ebb and flow of strength Christianity has held in the world and it is also astounding to see the insane amount of variation and variety not just in the world but in the US alone. Some may say that God will keep his religion pure, but at a closer look it seems that every incarnation/denomination/sub-denomination, even the ones that think they are keeping it pure all have an aspect of personal preference. Every turn has their own beef, their own agenda and looking through out early American history it seems like all these different splits were motivated by reaction against some other group. Others involved economy, other politics, etc. The other thing that bothers me is that no one seems to be hitting the center of Christ's message. You have one group that has some good things but they go way overboard on the right. Another group will have some other great aspect but they jump overboard on the left. Why can't anyone get it right? (This is a loaded question because every good believer of a church should/probably believes that they are right.... no one can win...)
So, my first beef is with Methodism/Holiness. Methodism started by the Wesley brothers as a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel with the people of the fronteer. These were rough dudes out in the wild. Working in ridiculously harsh conditions, some were ex-cons, some had lost everything back East. Pretty much all of them were undereducated and were looking for ways to start a new life - and hit it rich along the way. The Wesleyan emphasis was on deeds. Deeds don't save you, but deeds are how you know God and how people know you know God. Again, deeds don't save you but deeds are a measure on how close you are with God and if you really are a true believer. So, to the uneducated rufians; don't chew, spit, drink, play cards, rollerskate, dance or go to the circus. There are things that bad people do, you aren't bad people any longer, so don't do them - Just live a good life. The issue I see in this is that this message gets the priority/message of Christ out of order. We are told to be holy as Christ is holy, so we try, but we can't. So, what do we do with that? Is God asking us to preform an impossible task of perfection? No. this path of thinking isn't even in the right direction. Is it bad to murder? Yes. Is it bad to not help a friend? yes. But not doing these things doesn't make you a good person. in is sin. But, to be holy as Christ is holy is to be in Christ. When we are in Christ, when God sees us, he sees Jesus - his Son and his sacrifice over death and the Devil. We are holy because Jesus was holy. Methodism and the idea of Holiness creates a problem where we think that good works make us good/more spiritual. But since we are all in the same spiritual, sinful boat how can this be true? The real answer is to start in the other direction, the direction towards spiritual discipline. Instead of our works making us spiritual, how about our spirituality compelling us to do good works? In this manner we lose the pressure of having to earn blessings or grace or proving to the world that we are Christians by doing good deeds because we have to. Now, because we are free in Christ, because we have been given the opportunity to take part in God's story for the world we are free to be Christ in the world - instead of being held over the barrel of Hell, we are now compelled, and given the opportunity through the Holy Spirit, to live lives of thanksgiving to a gracious God who has reconciled the whole world to himself and himself to the world.


bret welstead said...

Awesome. I agree completely. As I was reading, I had a "Yeah, but..." growing in my mind, until I got to the part about spiritual disciplines. Christ is in us, and when we pray, or read His Word, or fellowship with others in the body of Christ, then He lives through us, and we can't help but do good deeds. We are transformed into His likeness, and our thanksgiving is enacted in good works.

Good works are an indication of the Spirit's work in us. But they are not the means to salvation. That was already accomplished, and nothing we can do will ever get us any closer to being saved.

Thank God for His grace!