Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can this God be trusted?

I finally finished reading Pagan Christianity and I highly recommend it. I was amazed to learn how much of what is done in institutional Christianity today has no scriptural basis. Much of it evolved after the death of the original apostles and was not part of the life of the early church. Although these practices are now considered a normal part of church life, their addition has only resulted in the life of God being smothered in his church.

Since these practices are obviously not scriptural, it seems strange to me that the early "church fathers" would have added them especially when it became apparent that the purity of the church was being compromised. It really is impossible to determine their motivations. However, whenever we add to or alter the teachings of Jesus, the root cause is probably a lack of trust.

Although we would never say it out loud, subconsciously we question whether we can trust this wild, unpredictable God. We're not really sure that he can be trusted to take care of us or of the church. It was perhaps this faulty reasoning that led the "church fathers" to try to protect and improve the church by adding practices that looked and sounded good. In the end, however, these additions resulted in a static church that is no longer turning the world upside down. Instead, we've become a church that has settled in and grown comfortable. For more on this subject, I would suggest reading "Follow me!", an article that I've listed on the sidebar of this blog.

Since I'm a person who likes to be comfortable, I can relate to the struggles the "church fathers" must have had in trusting God. In the past, I've preferred the safety of the institutional church with all of its rules. After all, I knew the pastor and the elders were there to protect and take care of me. If I needed prayer, one of these super Christians was there to pray for me.

Twelve years ago, I started praying some dangerous prayers. Every day, I prayed Philippians 3:7-14 making it a personal prayer. Verses 10-11 read, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." I prayed that every day, sometimes more than once, not realizing how life changing it would be.

Well, Father heard me and took me at my word. He moved me away from the comfort of the institutional group I was a part of and moved me to another group. In time, this second group became cult like with a strong controlling pastor. In that unsafe environment, I found that the only safety I had was in Jesus. I didn't know what I was in for when I followed him there but, when the heat was turned up, I chose to trust him and stay there with him. It was the hardest decision I ever made because everything in me wanted to take off and run. It was only because of the resurrection life in me that I didn't. After three years, I was able to leave but life has never been the same since.

Following Jesus can at times seem like jumping off of a cliff into the unknown. However, as we come to know him through experience, we realize that he can be trusted. He wants to lead us into a new life in him but this can only happen when we give up our safety nets and instead cling to him. It's only then that we come to really know that he's been there all along even when we couldn't see him or sense his presence. When we jumped, we didn't jump alone. He was there all along with his arms around us and, instead of falling, he took us to a higher place where we could experience true life in him.

2 comments:

Nicole said...

Aida!

I love this post! It brings so much truth up to the serface especially when one doesn't even know what the truth looks like up close and personal! As you know Jonathan and I just got back from Hawaii and a very imformal interview that was set up with the folks we stayed with! Anyway, long story short (if that is even possible for me) The people we stayed with have a very interesting idea's about who Father is. They profess to know who Jesus is and say they talk to the Spirit all the time, but somehow within all of that it seems like they do some Pagan things. I am not about to go and put labels on them but they do have some different idea's about living in the Spirit! It does sound a little paganistic, but I had a chance to sit and talk with them for a long time and was able to discuss where i am in my relationship with Father, and most of what they said line's up with where I am. They don't attend a congregation or 'place of worship' but live life to the fullest in the sense of loving others unconditionally. I am still processing our conversation and trying to figure out where they actually stand in their faith, but it was really interesting to see the parrallels between our walks with Father. I only want to be lead by Father and take to heart what is truth and throw out the rest! I got to a place where I understand that they are too just people who have passion for what they believe and even if they don't do everything that I do doesn't mean that Father doesn't see them the way that he see's me! Huge learning experience and I will never forget it for the rest of my days!

In order to process our conversation correctly I need to understand or grasp what Pagans really believe! This is the first time I actually thought about this!

Any other thoughts on this would perhaps help my thoughts along the way!

Love You!

Love, Nicki!

Aida said...

Hi Nicki,

It sounds like you had a great time in Hawaii. Your pictures were beautiful. I thought about you when I posted the video of the men of Hawaii doing sign language to the song "Crucified with Christ."

Father didn't only use one mold when he made us. We're all unique creations and our experiences are all different. We all come to him with different mindsets and traditions. Many of them rooted in pagan beliefs. I was surprised to find out how much I had accepted without even thinking about it. The obvious ones I was aware of but the more subtle ones were a surprise.

I don't think I would try to figure out where your hosts stand on their faith. In your interactions with them, just allow Father's life to flow through you and see where that leads. It might lead to some more interesting conversations.

I don't think you really need to know what pagans believe since they all believe differently. You just need to know truth so I think it's best to put your efforts in finding that. Remember truth is a person and as you seek to know Jesus better, he'll transform your thinking to agree with his and you'll automatically recognize truth.

My advice would be to not stress about trying to figure out where they stand. Just enjoy the awesome gift Father gave you and allow him to show you the next step.

I'm glad you're back. I missed you.

Love and lots of welcome back hugs,
Aida