Sunday, May 17, 2009

Symbolic Sunday

Posted by Farrah

I was reading to Kylen from Joshua recently as part of school. When we reached the part where three of the tribes on the other side of the Jordan built their own altar, he thought one lesson that might be taken is that we can worship God wherever we are. Amen! That got me to thinking about some other possible lessons.

The other tribes were worried that this was a sign their brothers were going to begin making their own sacrifices. Not only would that not be good, but it could be disastrous. God had lots of rules about where sacrifices were to be done, how they were to be done, and who would do them. These actions might bring God’s wrath down on everyone. In fact, they were so worried that they were ready to battle in order to stop them.

Thankfully, it turns out the altar was only meant to be a memorial, a reminder that they were all serving the same God. They had no intention of making their own sacrifices. And thankfully, the other tribes took the time to find out what was going on before attacking their brethren. (Little side lesson here: If you see your brother doing something wrong, try talking to him about it before assuming he has sinned and is in need of punishment.)

We are in a similar situation today. There are many Christian churches, and most of them have altars. However, there is only one sacrifice for our sins: Jesus, the Son of God, who sacrificed Himself once for all. There is no other way to heaven. Unfortunately, some churches have chosen to make their own sacrifices. These are often in the form of rules, good works, membership forms, and money. The people are tricked into believing that if they follow the rules of their church they will get into heaven.

It doesn’t work that way. Jesus has already laid down His life to atone for our sins. We simply need to accept the gift and embrace the giver. He wants our undivided love, not our devotion to our church.

10 comments:

Nitewrit said...

Farrah,

Sadly, too true in some churches, but thankfully not all.

Larry E.

Farrah said...

Yes, there are some that are not like that. :-) I have a dear friend who goes to a wonderful church hundreds of miles away from where we live. I'm a bit envious.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"Unfortunately, some churches have chosen to make their own sacrifices. These are often in the form of rules, good works, membership forms, and money. The people are tricked into believing that if they follow the rules of their church they will get into heaven."Very true. And this can be so subtle! In my conversations with Christians, I'm amazed at how often I hear them attribute their standing before God to their "good works". They are doing the things that they supposedly should be doing and in this they have their confidence that they are pleasing their Father in Heaven. I don't think most of them realize the fulness of what they are saying; but when a "to do list" is grilled into them week in and week out from the pulpit, it is easy for them to see their relationship with God in terms of what they are or are not doing.

There is a place for "good works", of course. But that place is secondary and subserviant to Faith. The Spirit will not allow the Child of God to be unfruitful because He will complete His work of conforming the Child of God into the likeness of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We certainly want to "follow Jesus" as He was a faithful "son" to His Father, but we don't want to do so from the "flesh". We don't want to assign our standing before God to what we have done or are doing, but rather to what Christ has done and is doing in us by His Spirit.

When we walk by the Spirit, then our lives will reflect the reality of who we are as Children of God in Christ and bring glory to our Lord--and this is what pleases the Father. If we walk in the flesh, we still may do the things that look like what God's Children do, but we really only testify of ourselves (not Christ)--and this does not please the Father.

Sorry about the rant. This is a subject that has been on my mind for some time now and your post struck a chord.

"It doesn’t work that way. Jesus has already laid down His life to atone for our sins. We simply need to accept the gift and embrace the giver. He wants our undivided love, not our devotion to our church."I couldn't have said it better. If we truly lived this way, then the Church (the Body of Christ) would always be edified and the world would see Jesus for who He is--the Savior of the World!

Nice post, Farrah. Thanks for the encouragement!

GGM

Farrah said...

Thanks, GGM. :-)

Lately whenever I think I have done something good for the Lord and am tempted to get into that list mentality, I am reminded of the scripture about the servant who does what the Lord expects of Him. And I think to myself, "I am an unprofitable servant. I have done what the Lord asked me to do." I wonder if it is possible to do above what He asks us? What He asks of us would be perfection, wouldn't it? I don't know. Food for thought, but if there is something extra I can do to show Him my love, devotion, and adoration, I would like to do it.

Tamela's Place said...

Amen Farrah!

There are so many that are doing just that making their own sacrifices because it is what they have been taught. I pray that God's people will begin seeking the Holy Spirit and studying the Word of God for themselves as to see if what they are being taught is truly God's way.

thekingpin68 said...

'that we can worship God wherever we are.'

Believers are indwelled with the Holy Spirit and can interact with God in relationship.

'There are many Christian churches, and most of them have altars. However, there is only one sacrifice for our sins: Jesus, the Son of God, who sacrificed Himself once for all.'

Yes, the Church does not save us but serves as the group of people and institution which shares the gospel truth concerning Christ and the atoning work that covers sin.

Cheers, Farrah.

Russ:)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"I wonder if it is possible to do above what He asks us? What He asks of us would be perfection, wouldn't it?"This is actually part of my jumping off point in my (soon to be finished) series, "How Are We To Live?", so I won't re-hash what I've already written (though my original "comment" here was begining to look like it!).

Let me just say that this speaks to the issue that I've been dealing with lately (and relevant, I think, to your original post): doing as opposed to being.

I understand the Bible to speak of "perfection" in this way: a thing is "perfect" when it is totally and completely conformed to its created (or, in God's case, uncreated) nature. In other words, a thing is "perfect" when it is what it is in every way and at all times.

God is perfect because He is always God, i.e. He is in every way and at all times totally and completely conformed to His nature as God. God's "perfection" is not established by nor does it reside in what He does but in who He is. Naturally, because of who He is the things that He does reflect and testify to the fact that He is God, that He is totally and completely conformed to His nature as God.

The point is that He is "perfect" simply because He is who He is--He doesn't have to purpose do anything but be Himself.

We see this "perfection" in Jesus as well. As the God/Man, He was fully human as well as fully divine. In fact, the Bible speaks of Him as the only "true" (Russ might say, "fully developed"?) human being to ever live. Anyway, He showed Himself to be God's Son by being totally and completely conformed to His humanity. He always and in every way "obeyed" the Father (and the Law--though His "relationship" to the Law is much more complelling than this) simply by being who He was as God's Son. Jesus didn't have to set out to do anything; He didn't have to purpose to "obey" His Father. All Jesus ever did was to live out the reality of who He was as God's Son. The fact that His life exhibited a complete and total obedience to and dependance upon His Father is the result of His being totally and completely conformed to His nature as God's Son. He didn't do anything; He be (pardon the grammer) the Son of God. His "perfection" was not in what He did but in who He was.

This is how it is with us, and this is how Jesus can be our "example". The whole idea of WWJD really misses the point, I believe. We don't set out to do the things that Jesus did. We don't set out to do "obedience" to our Father. We, like Jesus, are God's Children (we are "sons in the Son") and our calling, like His, is to simply live into the reality of who we are.

We've been "born again" by the Spirit (created anew) as God's Children and have been empowered by Him to "live by faith". The Spirit's work in us is to conform us into the likeness of Christ. So our "obedience" is to "walk by the Spirit" as He accomplishes His work in us. When we set out to do (even as we cloak it in the WWJD terminology), we inevitably put on again the yoke of the Pharisees; when we set out to be (to live into the freedom that is in Christ), then our lives will begin to naturally reflect the reality of who we are as "New Creations" in Christ.

So, for us to "be perfect" is for us to simply be who we are as Spirit-filled and Spirit-led children of God. I know...easier said than done! :-)

I know it sounds like I've been rambling on and on here...sorry about that. I've been interrupted quite a bit as I've been writing this; but I also find it difficult (especially in forums like this) to express my understanding of the difference between our "works" for Christ as an outgrowth of who we are as opposed to our "works" as a list of rules to follow. Anyone with enough motivation can follow rules; only a "New Creation" can really be pleasing to God because it's only then that we are living in faithfulness to who we are as His children.

Thankfully, though, our calling to be "perfect" is fulfilled in Christ. We don't always live into conformity to who we are as "New Creations" in Christ, but God "reckons" us as "perfect" because we've been joined to Christ by the Spirit and He sees us in Him. But, by the work of the Spirit in us (and only by His work in us) we can (and will) progress in our "practical perfection" as He conforms us into the reality of who we are.

"...if there is something extra I can do to show Him my love, devotion, and adoration, I would like to do it."I agree. But I think that everything we do as children is (or should be) motivated by our "love, devotion, and adoration" because this is the work of the Spirit in us; and if it's not, then even the "least" of what we've done is of the flesh (not of who we are) and therefore not truly "obedience".

Well, I scrapped my original "comment" because it was getting to be book-length, only to write another book-length comment. I think Jeff's influence has rubbed off on me (in a good way, I hope! :-)

If you (or anyone else) has bothered to take the time to read this monster, I hope you've been able to follow my line of thinking. I appreciate the opportunity to try to express my thoughts.

GGM

Farrah said...

Thank you for your comment, Tamela! You are a true blessing in the blog world! :-)

Cheers back, Russ! :-) I would add that the Church also serves to edify each other.

GGM, I read that "monster," and I think I followed! Lol! :-)

Doing what He wants will result from being who He wants. And who does He want us to be? His children, to be adopted back into His family, to come and claim our inheritance in His kingdom. I love Him for Who He is and for what He did for us. I love Him as Father, Who loves me and as Lord, Who created everything, and as my Savior, Who died to pay for my sins. He is worthy of my praise and adoration.

Although it is a little hard for me to accept the idea that there is nothing I could do special for God on my own other than simply say, "Yes." That there is nothing of me at all that I can offer except, "As you say, my Lord." I know that sounds bad, almost selfish.

Anyway, you gave me some things to think about. :-)

satire and theology said...

We see this "perfection" in Jesus as well. As the God/Man, He was fully human as well as fully divine. In fact, the Bible speaks of Him as the only "true" (Russ might say, "fully developed"?)

Cool, I am being quoted...now I just need payment for all this work.

'Cheers back, Russ! :-) I would add that the Church also serves to edify each other.'

Agreed, and the church disciplines, shows charity and various things that we have not mentioned.

Cheers, Farrah.:)

Gigi said...

What love He has for us! Our debt is "paid in full!" Praise God!

And that's a great reminder to talk first with our brothers and sisters before "assuming" the worst. Sometimes, appearances can be deceiving!