Monday, April 4, 2011

A Girl Drowning, Making Movements Towards the Shore

I'm at a time right now of spiritual awakening... but I can't tell if it's for the better. So many questions. I have been in the desert, and it isn't like this. It's not a cup of water to quench the thirst; it's a flood. There's so much that I'm almost drowning. I wrote this about a week ago -- things that perplex me but that perhaps don't have answers. Hmm hmm hmm.


Have I just been sleeping all these years?

How are there so many facets to the Christian faith that I've been blind to or ignorant of for so long??

Are we to choose, is the choice made for us -- for all of us, before the world began? Was Luther with his 99 theses overreacting when he nailed them to that door?

Are we individual worshippers, or is the congregation a necessary institution? Is it a support and help, a place to serve, or a cumbersome entity that prevents real worship for fear of offending/embarrassment/commitment?

Should we be looking inward to work out our personal struggle with faith and the effects of the Holy Spirit on our own souls, should we be looking internally to purge our sin? Or should our focus be outward, in the world, not dwelling internally but being the hands and feet of Jesus to a dying world? Should we be concerning with serving, or having our own spiritual thirst slaked?

Can we reasonably enjoy the good things here and now, or is it vanity, knowing that there are more and better things to come? Should we forsake pleasure and comfort at all costs to show the world that in Christ our satisfaction lies, is it "soft" to live this Christian life enjoying the same comforts as the world does, and showing them that they can sacrifice without really sacrificing, as we do? Can we truly be "in the world, but not of it"? Where does relevancy play a part, if at all? Do we make Christ relevant to the world, or do we transform the world by showing them the Messiah himself? Should we make ourselves like monks and turn away from the material things of the world, or does this only serve to alienate us from the people we're trying to reach?

Where does tradition lie? How can we know when we've overstepped the boundaries from practices that please God into those that disgrace Him by turning worship into empty and legalistic ritual?
Do those feasts and traditions laid out in the Old Testament mean something to God, is his name honoured when we follow them? Or is it all "old covenant", passed away, ritual that meant something but now is overshadowed by the pursuit of Christ and Him alone? Can we participate in tradition with a clear conscience, is it always bad, or simply a situation in which we must be aware that performing certain acts does not endear us more to God, but instead may act as a catalyst in our own hearts to prompt us to further worship?

Can we confidently say "by faith alone"? Where do our works play a role? Is it neither here nor there, but a mashing together in the middle? Do we perform works because we want to be counted among the sheep or because it's a natural outworking of the love of God in us that prompts us to serve and do right?

What is the Old Testament to us? Is it for Israel, they who missed the boat in ages past and are now milling about in stasis until the End of things? Or is it alive and vibrant for us still, the ones who are grafted in? Can we pin some of our hopes on Israel, should it be us who serve them in the fulfillment of Tanakh prophecy or is it simply a waste of time, an addition of "Jesus PLUS" that we should sidestep? Can we in good faith ignore the everlasting covenant that marries Israel to the land, that God established to lead his first chosen ones homeward? If they are still the chosen, what are we? Co-chosen? Somehow secondary? Co-heirs, or simply helpers along the way to guide Israel and make her jealous?

Does God punish his people here on earth? Does he judge the nations now, does it prove logical to punish the people for the directions their leaders give? Does He punish those who love him, or are we spared by His blood? Does he punish the unbeliever here? Or is it a punishment to be unfurled once the curtain drops?

Is Heaven a place to construct and build while we still breathe the air of this earth? Can we definitively say that Hell is eternal, that there is no further chances once that final journey is undertaken? Does this accord with a God who IS love? Can a God who's love is victorious ransom those who have seen the desolation of the other side, in the end reclaiming all souls to Himself, He who is not willing that any should perish? Can it be that love always wins? And is it really a victory if it redeems those who do not wish to be redeemed?

Is this all "fire insurance"? Do we love God because we wish to escape the punishment of Hell, and if this Hell is not an eternal pit, does this free us from this binding? Are all the things I do on this planet simply to avoid the guilt of doing wrong, is it all because humans need a place to belong, is it because I love God and want to glorify Him? Can we ever hope to overcome our selfishness and act purely out of love? How much of what I do is even worth anything, if I can't even discern my own motives?

Why must it all be on a sliding scale? Are there black and white areas, is there always a space to choose, or is only one perspective correct? What does true Christianity look like? Can we get our cues from the early Church fathers? The Bible only? How can you serve, be in a congregation -- without the unity of a common doctrine that all can agree on? How did the pursuit of Christ grow so many appendages -- so many that it is impossible to see the body for the arms?


Jon Fakuff said...

First, thanks for following my blog. Second of all, it's okay to have doubts and questions. God made you with a mind for you to reason.

I'd suggest that you pray and then pray again, read your Bible and also read books like The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. You can buy it or just go to a public library.

Tiffany said...

You're welcome :)

I agree... reading and praying seem to be the only ways to find any answers. It's hard when so many around me have wildly conflicting ideas about scripture interpretation and doctrine, etc. etc... so hard to find harmony.

I'll have to look the book up, I've heard of the author. Thanks!