We will be having our next Conversations on Human Nature this wednesday at 8pm. But before that some quotes from the last session to recap a little. I’ve included some quick reflections.
“It is not simply creation that astounds us but the Creator behind the creation.” (p. 27)
One of the reasons I love the Lutheran Mission Bungalow at Cameron Highlands is every morning when I wake up not only do I enjoy a good dose of fresh air, I’m somehow energized by the surrounding flowers and plants. Who says faith is just in the mind or in the heart, the environment helps and makes a difference. Creation points beyond itself.
“People do not often think of God as creating the world for joy and enjoyment, and Christians certainly do not always live in joyful awareness of God, but the Westminster Catechism gets it right when it says that our chief end and purpose is “to glorify God, and fully enjoy him forever.” (p. 28)
Often religion is associated with joy being killed. Celebration gone underground. Laughter silenced. One of my favorite sketches of Jesus is the one where Jesus laughs!
“It is true that sin and evil have deformed God’s creation, making the world we live in far from perfect. But however much we mess things up truth, beauty, and goodness can never be fully eliminated from this world.” (p. 28)
While I don’t want to downplay the reality of pain and sorrow, I think a religion that doesn’t make one smile (or even dance) is suspect. But then I’m not dwelling on “religion” as a restrictive life-sucking experience … I’m into the life-giving stuff.
“In the act of creation, God graciously invited something else to exist — something entirely new, something different and distinct from God’s own self. In an act of stunning humility, God stepped back to allow space for the world to blossom into being.” (p. 29)
“… the essence of graciousness is the accommodation of others, and God modeled that in creation long before God required it of us. … The world did not, however, spring into existence all on its own simply because God opened a space where that could happen. Creation required God’s active involvement.” (p. 29)
What a mind blowing image! God making room for us to “pop up” and “blossom”. Creation linked with giving space. We don’t think about it in those terms often. When I think of creativity, it’s associated with making things happen or filling up space. So, the whole idea of opening up space even before the rest happens is a good step back before hurrying into activity.
“The real importance of the Genesis creation narrative is found not in its scientific details or lack of such details but in the claims it makes regarding the character of the Creator and the underlying nature of the creation.” (p. 30)
Those debates about 6 days literal creation tire me. I confess .. I think there are more important matters in the creation stories then whether the Genesis accounts need to square with our often changing theories through speculation or good scientific theory making.
“God does not belong to us, rather, we belong to God. The only and only God of the universe transcends our narrow loyalties, and when we seek follow that God, we are inevitably stretched in the process.” (p.31)
Sometimes stretching can be painful … but it strengthens us in the long run.
“Nothing we can say about God comes close to capturing the awesomeness of God’s being.” (p. 31)
Confidence and conviction – yes. But becoming clinical about God, desecting … hmmm I’m less excited about that. Wonder is a very important part of my faith journey.
“Positive theology seeks to distinguish between better and more accurate ways of speaking about God and ways of speaking that may, in one way or another, partially misrepresent who God is.
… In evaluating the language of positive theology, many factors come into play, including intelligent biblical interpretation and logical thinking, but there is also a practical test that seems to apply. The New Testament says quite bluntly, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8). If that is true, it seems like a good idea to assess what we say about God in light of this rule of love. Views of God that encourage us to love others are more likely on target than those that cause us to hate others or to hold them in disdain. An accurate view of God will never diminish our love for others. ” (p. 32)
Silence is valuable and I think one aspect which is lacking in the general Christian spirituality practiced in Malaysia. But our faith is a faith which involves speech, listening and thus conversation. Like our daily talks with friends, sometimes I leave a table talk feeling expanded as a human being. Other times, I come away shrunken as a person. So, there’s good and bad conversations about God, just like there’s healthy and unhealthy faith. Time and learning helps us to discern better including the help of others who make us wiser đź™‚
“Everyone has agreed that the full mystery of the Trinity is beyond human comprehension, but in the long conversation of Christian faith, some descriptions have been affirmed while others have been rejected as unhelpful or simply wrong.” (p. 34)
“… long before God’s love became extended to others, it already existed in infinite intensity within the Trinity itself. Love is what holds the Trinity together. It is what makes the threeness of God a singularity. The trinitarian God literally is love. Love is not merely one personality trait among others that describes a part of who God is. Love defines the essence of God’s being a love that God extended to the world in creation.” (p. 35)
Relating our understanding of Trinity to the details of our everyday living takes the discussion away from mere mathematical proof and speculative musings. It touches life.
“The Trinity tells us that part of the perfection of Christian living is mutual, self-giving love. Just as the members of the Trinity are bound together in love for one another, so we called to love those around us in the same unreserved and uncalculating way. Especially within the church, where we share life in the Spirit, we are called to mutuality of love. We are to love and serve us when we need their help. We may not do this very well, but it is the ideal. As Christians, we strive to be a community in much the same way that God as Trinity is a divine community of persons.” (p. 36)
There’s so much to meditate on here in terms of human relationships which enriched even the most boring small group experience.
“Global positioning devices use three satellites to tell us where we are. It is the same in matters of faith. God’s trinitarian relationship to the world as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer provides three necessary points of reference.” (p. 37)
While we may start with any person of the Trinity as a starting point, we cannot ignore the other two – in fact it should lead to the “three necessary points of reference.” Just when I’m tempted to fly off tangent … meditating on the trinitarian relationship to my world puts me back into position. Awesome …