Monday, July 30, 2007

What is hope?

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Eph 1:17-21 NIV)

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Heb 7:18-19 NIV)

I stumbled over the idea of hope today. I was reading Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1, but couldn't get my mind and heart past the "hope to which he has called you." Instead of the encouragement I was "hoping" for, I felt something else. At first I felt a great emptiness, then despair and anger. What hope is there?

It might be my commitment to the Old Way of finding hope in second things like financial security, physical health, an exciting marriage and obedient kids. Maybe I'm despairing of that kind of hope. But nothing has yet (consistently) taken it's place; The "better hope" of drawing near to God (what Crabb calls the New Way) that the second text mentions is still too often ambiguous and misty.

Honestly, what good is drawing near to God when your life is falling apart? He doesn't promise to change things or make things better. Why do it?

I guess I don't understand intimacy very well.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I believe in the Church?

My relationship with my local church and The Church universal is an act of faith. I have recently discovered, with sadness, that I am on the outside looking in when it comes to God working in and through the church. I have lost almost all heart that I have a place in the church, I have lost all desire to look for it anymore. Even when invitations are extended to me to "find my place" I am indifferent.

I don't know what I expect from the church.

I have also begun to realize, again with great sadness, how judgmental and critical I am of the church and the individuals within it. It seems I have always carried around issues with church that I've avoided dealing with by finding a "better" one. Well, now that I can't imagine anything better, I am stuck; forced to deal with my sinful self-protection that must eventually malign others to stay safe.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Eldredge on the "Law of Linearity"

This reading from Eldredge & Curtis' "The Sacred Romance" relates well to recent reflections from my readings from Crabb:

The Religious Man or Woman is a popular story option in which we try to reduce the wildness of life by constructing a system of promises and rewards, a contract that will obligate God to grant us exemption from the Arrows. It really doesn’t matter what the particular group bargain is—doctrinal adherence, moral living, or some sort of spiritual experience—the desire is the same: taming God in order to tame life. Never mind those deep yearnings of the soul; never mind the nagging awareness that God is not cooperating. If the system isn’t working, it’s because we’re not doing it right. There’s always something to work on, with the promise of abundant life just around the corner. Plenty of churches and leaders are ready to show you how to cut a deal. These stories comprise what James McClendon calls the “tournament of narratives” in our culture, a clash of many small dramas competing for our heart. Through baseball and politics and music and sex and even church, we are searching desperately for a Larger Story in which to live and find our role. All of these smaller stories offer a taste of meaning, adventure, or connectedness. But none of them offer the real thing; they aren’t large enough. Our loss of confidence in a Larger Story is the reason we demand immediate gratification. We need a sense of being alive now, for now is all we have. Without a past that was planned for us and a future that waits for us, we are trapped in the present. There’s not enough room for our souls in the present.
(The Sacred Romance , 42–43)