Monday, November 10, 2008

Reconciliation to a God on the move

"Be reconciled to God!" Paul urges, and the Church has long echoed him. Many have said that the key here is to accept or appropriate Christ's sacrifice through a prayer to God. Essentially, "the gift" of God is forgiveness (which can be important coming from the God who made and fills heaven and hell), and our job is to simply receive this gift. That's it. That's the "good news." And if God wasn't an object in motion, and we humans weren't objects in motion, I'd pretty much leave it at that myself. But we are all on the move; and not just random movements, either. Does "reconciliation to God" have anything to do with the nature and direction of my movements in life compared with his?

Years ago my wife and I had a long, good talk about intimacy. Specifically we talked about whether our intimacy level as husband and wife was limited by the extent that our direction or goals in life differed. Essentially, we agreed that it was. I keep thinking about this regarding God. If God had no particular goals for the world or for me; no real agenda for what I became, what I love, what I trust, what I hate, what I do from day to day--absent, say, really harming someone--then getting a blanket of forgiveness for any particular offenses in the past or future would pretty much complete, our 'reconciliation'. I'm okay, he's okay, we're okay--reconciliation done.

But God does have a very definite goal for me--and not just me. He has a dream for the whole world and heaven as well, and he is passionate about it, willing to go through the crucifiction for it. He has a clear direction and he is very, very active--every moment, around the world--in bringing his dream to pass, training and working with those who become his children and co-workers in his great dream.

So, I agree, "Be reconciled to God!" But I'm convinced that's going to mean more than just receiving his forgiveness for past and future wrongs. It's going to mean learning to love what he loves, learning to work with him for his dream and making it our own, giving up our alternative plans and dreams that don't fit in. It's going to require following his lead. In a nutshell, it's going to require a process of becoming, or discipleship. Because we all, God willing, are going to continue to live and act in this world, affecting everyone around us in various degrees, towards various ends. So is God. The question is, are we working with him, towards his goals, or not. Jesus put it this way: "If you're not working with me, you're working against me. Either you're helping me gather things together, or you're scattering them further apart." Let's learn to be part of the Solution, and learn to stop being part of the problem. Also, let's know that this is what it means to be reconciled to this God who is in motion--receiving his forgiveness, absolutely, within the context of learning to move and act with him, from his Son who knows all about his Father's intentions and plans and ways of acting.

4 comments:

Rakiesha said...

Hi,
There's an article in the most recent edition of Sojourners on the online segregation of Christians. The author basically calls it the online equivalent of Dr. King's quote, "the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning". I thought you might want add your thoughts by blogging on this issue.
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&article_mode=edit&issue=soj0901&article=the-new-digital-divide

Rakiesha Chase

Jim said...

T,

Long time no talk. I am pastoring in OH now. I saw Dallas' Renovation of the Heart Leaders' (p. 5A) guide a version of the 12 steps using more Dallas type language (I don't think Dallas wrote these, but they are still good). Thought you might find them helpful:

1.I admit that I am powerless over sin and that my life has become unmanageable. (Renovation workbook p. 5A]
2.I believe that God—through His action and those of His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit—can restore me to sanity.
3.I will turn my will and my entire life over to the care of God.
4.I will make a searching and fearless inventory of my life to discover all the ways I have engaged in self-worship (by being in control instead of living surrendered to the will of God).
5.I admit to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.
6.I am entirely ready to have God remove all the defects in my character and replace them—through His presence—with the thoughts, emotions, will, behavior and relationship patterns of Christ.
7.I humbly ask God to help me become willing to deny myself—and the desire to live life on my terms—and to remove my shortcomings.
8.I will make a list of all the people I have harmed and become willing to make amends.
9.I will make direct amends to all I have injured.
10.I will continue to take personal inventory, and when I wrong someone, I will promptly admit it.
11.I will, through prayer, meditation, and the practice of other Christian disciplines, attempt to improve my conscious contact with God.
12.Having experienced some measure of authentic transformation as a result of surrendering all aspects of myself to the power and presence of Christ, I will carry this message to others and continue to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Thanks,

Jim

"T" said...

Jim,

Thanks so much! That's great stuff. Does it have anything beyond the steps that are related to working them? Just trying to gauge if I should purchase the guide.

The steps have definitely become the workout of choice for our little church plant, even with some folks outside of it. I'm working them for a second time now. My friend that worked them with me the first time is now working them with his wife, and I'm working them with a different long-time friend. I could say more, but the steps and the workout partner idea been a true God-send. We've partnered up with Todd some too since you're tip, so thanks again.

I hope things are going well in Ohio; it's a big transition, I imagine. Thanks again, though. I hope you're doing well.

Jim said...

The guide doesn't really have anything specific for working the 12 steps, but the book deals with a lot of the princples. If you've read the book, Revovation of the Heart, the guide is like a curriculum to teach it. It has good exercises in each section to apply it to each of the parts of ones personality.

So, after the teaching on the chapter,there are exercises to apply that truth to your heart, soul, mind, strength (body) and realtionships (neighbor as self).

I hope this helps. To me, anything related to Dallas Willard is worth buying and studying repeatedly.

I love your workout partner ideas.