Love That Endures the Unendurable (#664)
Happy New Year to the God Journey family. Wayne and Brad ring it in with their thoughts about how they approach a new year and then dive into a listener's email about how God as walked with him through the most horrendous family tragedies over a significant stretch of time. That invites them back to last week's them and how each of us need to learn to trust in God's love no matter what goes on in our lives. They end with a discussion about compassion for the broken, how religious obligation destroys it, and how it is perhaps the key to seeing what God is doing in the situations around us.
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Great reflections Wayne & Brad. I saw so much of one of last week’s statement about how the weaponized-religious-legalism-based church (my description), often well-intentioned for sure, but yet far too often in my not-so-humble, opinion, unwittingly doing the work of the wrong spirit & kingdom, messes up how we see Father. And most importantly how we miss the loving and quite possibly, endless, compassion of our Father. As you said this week Wayne, “..I think religion destroyed my sense of compassion.” I don’t know that religion destroyed my sense of compassion, but it surely twisted it and therefore stunted my getting to know the Heart of my Daddy! But praise God!, he is the faithful restorer of all years eaten by those yucky locusts.
I hope my next statements don’t cause any lurking Heresy hunters to unleash the hounds, but here goes; About 15 years ago, I was reading a small pamphlet included in my monthly bank statement at the time, that talked about the benefits of having Direct-Deposit of one’s paycheck. It stated that “with” direct-deposit there would be no monthly fees charged to my account, and “without” direct-deposit there would be a fee of; such and such at the time. Printed on the reverse side of the pamphlet was the same message but in Spanish.
I am not in any way fluent in Spanish but I often will try to decipher short Spanish statements that have an accompanying English translation. I noticed that the Spanish word used for “with” in “WITH Direct-Deposit”, was “con”, like the admonition to; “via CON Dios”, or “go WITH God”, The revelatory thing for me was that in this pamphlet, the Spanish word substituted for the English word “without” in “WITHOUT Direct-Deposit”, was “sin”, like “via SIN Dios” or in English, “go WITHOUT God”, and although I can’t imagine anyone ever saying; “go without God”, I can certainly picture Jesus saying to the woman caught in the very act of adultery; “go, and walk without your Father, no more!”
Now I am not trying to create a strange new doctrine, but I do seem to recall that when Paul, the Grand Master of Sinners, was offering clarification to the body in Rome, that we shouldn’t go around asking foolish questions like “is it a SIN to get a tattoo”, or “is it a SIN to drink alcohol”. He told them that we should be careful in our conduct, not to stumble a weaker brother or sister who has yet to discover how capable Father is to keep us standing, and finally wrapped up the matter by declaring to them that; whatever is not of Faith is Sin! It has helped me over the years, not to isolate Sin simply as an action that displeases Father, but that SIN may be more isolating ourselves from Father by turning in the wrong direction, towards the creation, but not WITH father, but rather WITHOUT the faith that the Creator’s Spirit is guiding me in that direction.
I began to share these thoughts with a small group of men that were a part of men’s prayer meeting at a larger “church building” of a locally owned franchise I had been a part of for about 5 years at the time. That particular Saturday morning I had been assigned to lead the devotional sharing and since there wasn’t a designated, more-anointed-than-thou leader present to, authoritatively rebuke me, one of my older brothers muttered a few disparaging words and walked out of the meeting.
The Spirit has shown me that; in faith, I can cancel all of my appointments on a Monday, leave work early, with our Father fully delighted to ride along with me, from Silver Lake, in my one of only 2 ever sold, ’69 ZL1 Stingray, for 6 hours up the coast, to meet my beautiful wife in beautiful Big Sur, all along the way, thanking him and praising him, especially with my wife in BIG SUR! It is this same kind of unbreakable bond of Love that would, a week later, nudge me in the Spirit to sell the car for 3 million and use the money to help save some lives in Africa. (this didn’t really happen but I know Father works like this)
I know from time to time I can be less Spirit-filled than at others, but it is my prayer that in time, I will better understand with all the saints, that there is no better place to be than side by side with Jesus, fully engulfed in the multi-dimensionality of Fathers Love, and filled to exuberant overflowing with his Spirit, for the benefit of others!
First of all, I think that all doctrine/theology is strange. If we could ask Jesus… “what is your position on whatever, doctrinally speaking? “. I think that he might laugh at us. I hear Wayne and Brad in a distant podcast saying that he didn’t come to create organizations and the doctrines that it takes to run them…
But I digress.
I had an experience about a year ago with an acquaintance where he was seeming a bit legalistic… and then told me about his daughter… that she had 3 kids from 3 different guys, cheated on her husband (the second guy), etc. Then he said “she is kind of just white trash”. Just hearing that caused me to recoil a bit. Then I think that God gave me the story of Jesus and the “adulteress”…. because I don’t know where this came from otherwise. SO, I reminded him of the story, and then asked what Jesus told her to do. He quickly said “go and sin no more”. I then asked what else Jesus told her. He wasn’t sure. My paraphrased answer is “non of these people condemn you and neither will I”.
After what Jesus wrote on the ground, he was the only person there that could… and he chose not to!! THIS IS SO HUGE! So, I asked, “If we are told to love others as we have been loved, why would we camp on the “go and sin no more” rather than on the “neither will I” part of that story? I am sure that this interaction was as much for me as it was for him. I come from a “go and sin nor more” baptist indoctrination. We are still working to have me really understand that He won’t condemn me… or be disappointed with me. Is he really “especially fond of me?”
So… I have lunch with a guy every Friday where we talk about these things. It is our “Bo’s Cafe”. I was able to tell him the story.. Then I asked the question that was bugging me. Why in the #$@ would the one that knows better than any of us that that women is “powerless in her sin”, tell her to stop sinning? Either Jesus was on something or “I do not think that means what you think it means” . I hope you have seen The Princes Bride.
So we spent some time unpacking that. What we came up with was that he was telling her to stop trying to find peace, happiness, whatever on her own. That is what Sin really is… NOT the list of do’s and don’ts that we have created. To put it in your words, “Stop trying to do it without God. Take Him with you!”
This story as well as so many others that were presented in a particular way by the religious leaders in my life is being re-written. It is VERY encouraging that God is trying to give you the same story too. It helps me know that I am not just being contrary.
I am finding more and more that words like faith, church, sin, love, elder, The Word, and there are more, are being high jacked. Making them rather empty from what they should be.
Thanks Perry, Wayne, Brad!