Monday, November 07, 2005

culturally sanctified (set apart)


in an interesting post about diabolical lies and passive spiritual agreement, ezekiel said...
"Be advised: I may sound arrogant in my comments. I am not trying to talk down to anyone, I am only saying the truth that I have learned from the Bible..."

here's something that i think about a fair bit: we 'christians' come from a culture that is different from that of those whom we seek to reach with the gospel. gospel truth as found in the bible makes perfect sense to those of us who have grown up with it as the central part of our world view. it makes as much sense to our hearts as basic english does to our minds- we don't have to translate anything because we literally think in this language already.

not so for the 'non-believer' (i kinda have a tough time with that label... actually with most labels- but that's probably a whole nother blog) in most cases, our achristian friends have really strongly held reasons for their non-belief. sometimes these are based on bad personal examples of christianity, other times they are based on heart-breaking experiences while still other times they are simply the tragic result of that time of spiritual tension when one's faith ceases to be the faith of his or her parents and becomes his or her own.

whatever the case, we must be culturally sensitive, and recognize that our defaults are not necessarily held by others. to tell someone who has abandoned faith in God that God reportedly says something in the bible (a book that those who believe in him have written together about him over thousands of years) and that's why this person should believe it and change his or her entire world view is probably not going to get very far in the realization of the evangelist's goal.

the reality is that human beings are more likely to listen to other human beings, provided they have the opportunity to get to know these others well enough to listen to them. yep, it's a circle. and it can happen. acts2 tells of the day when everyone heard in 'his own language.' because language is so cultural, i find this passage full of hopeful challenge.

the discourse that takes place between us and those with whom we desire to share a life-changing message of God's love and grace is how God speaks. he intends to use the words and the lives of everyone who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ because there is probably MORE of a chance of folks believing it if the message comes face to face through someone they know than from someone in whom they do not believe.

"...I don't intend for anyone to believe anything because I say it, but believe it because God says it."

in a lot of cases, people will ONLY believe things because we say them- not because the God they have already turned from or perhaps have never acknowledged as being real in the first place does. our life testifies to the truth of which we speak, as does our love.

could the fatal flaw for believers be that we are too sanctified culturally to be of any real spiritual use?

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12 Comments:

Blogger Belinda said...

Of all the debates i have had about religion and of all the people trying to demonstrate to me their point of view, your comes across so clearly and so well that i actually agree. I am a 'non believer' but was baptised and had my communion and such, but i do understand what you are trying to say. no one wants to believe that faith should come down to words written thousands of years ago, people need something in which they can relate to. ask any person whom has suffered an ordeal which has turned them against religion and they will tell you the same thing. I believe that if people would like to spread religion that they must turn, not to the bible, but to their own experiences and own spiritual journey in order to relate to another person.

Your blog is excellent, keep up the good work and i shall be back to read your reply

11/07/2005  
Blogger Icarus Goodman said...

I remeber a time when my mother was trying to witness to a chinese friend of ours and she was having such a difficult time understanding how God could be One but at the same time be Three, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father.

The things I took for granted as plainly obvious, since I was a Christian at the time, sometimes are much more difficult for someone on the "outside" to comprehend.

11/08/2005  
Blogger ezekiel said...

here's the deal: basically, the devil is a tricky bastard, and the human race is a bunch of suckers. I realize many people dont want to hear 'the bible says this' or 'God says this in the bible', but guess what-it's true! Satan has so poisoned peoples minds and hearts that they can not see the OBVIOUS TRUTH that GOD is real, and everything it says in the bible REALLY HAPPENED/and or WILL HAPPEN. no matter how you were raised, be it athiest, mormon, catholic, scientologist, or hale-bop-cometologist, there is a space in your heart that can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Everyone has the ABILITY to understand the truth. The only things that turn people 'against religion' are FALSE religions and the evil desires of a sinful heart.

11/08/2005  
Blogger Icarus Goodman said...

Ok, your tempting me again Ezekial. You're claiming thatwhat the Bible says is the truth, the word of God and so forth. I would like it if maybe you could write a post on your blog about WHY you believe this to be the case. Why is it that you believe the Bible to be the word of God and not the Quran for instance. Just curious.

11/08/2005  
Blogger ezekiel said...

icarus...im working on it. I will let you know when I post it, i just want to do a little research first. maybe you could tell me in the meantime why you dont believe it? just because there is more than one religion you decide that they're ALL wrong? SOMEONE has to be right, wheter it's you or me or osama bin laden...someone is right.

11/08/2005  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

cool- some sparks flying because people are engaged!

firstly, belinda, i think you've encapsulated the essence of what i'm on about here. the gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be presented in a way that others can relate to or it fails to be good news at all, right?
***

icarus, i must say that your story about your beloved mother's attempts to communicate the wonder of the trinity to her chinese friend is poignant... it's tough enough to lock in on that one completely, even in one's mother tongue. we resort to object lessons about eggs and whatnot when, truth be told, the 'God in three persons, blessed trinity' spoken of by Jesus and his apostles in the new testament is a pretty advanced piece of doctrine... probably too advanced spiritually for most of us to conceive of completely... thank God!

if God were small enough for me to comprehend, i'm not sure that he'd be big enough for all of creation to have sprung ex nehilo from his very words.

see, that's where i'm okay. my faith IS a reasonable one, but it is also (in ever-active pursuit of being) a humble one... i will concede some things easily, and others i will fight to the death over.

in my view, there are huge ego problems in our western perspective around the whole 'entitlement' thing. we think that we are, for some reason, entitled to the answers to the big questions, yet we are dissatisfied with all-encompassing ones... like douglas adams' theologically and philosophically coy '42.' if i were to be able to completely comprehend the things of God, he probably wouldn't be much of a supreme being. however, i dedicate my life to growing more aware and more spiritually sensitive, knowing that Jesus is where all of my answers start, but where they end comes down to details and discipline.

one of my favourite scriptural texts is (and has been since my tenure at university when i lived next to a new age bookstore and spent a lot of time burning incense and reading books like 'the gospel according to zen' and 'illusions' by richard bach) Colossians 2.8 where paul advises 'see to it that no one holds you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.'
***

ezekiel, i must say that i agree totally with your position that lucifer is indeed a tricky bastard- in far more ways than one.

there's one thing (maybe more, but right now i'll stick to this one) that i've learned in posting things online:

people read what they want to read. from there, people infer from what they read what they want to infer.

furthermore, people require many many blows to the head with a two-by-four before they actually relent.

what i mean is this:
ezekiel, although in self-stated agreement with the contents of this post, you are still essentially ignoring the spirit of it by speaking the same words in the same way and alienating the same people because of that...

man- i'm not saying water down the gospel... i'm not even saying water down your gospel message. i'm just suggesting that you regroup and try a different approach because as long as you keep speaking in terms of who is right and who is dead, you will probably, in your zeal, just strengthen the resistance of those whom you are trying to reach with Jesus' love... i'm defaulting here to love because i need to believe that it is love that you are sharing- something else more manipulative, controlling and in all ways ethnocentric will bear less fruit socially and none eternally.

i say this because, although there are many who will respond favourably (by making a decision to surrender to Jesus)to this current approach, icarus is probably not one of them. if you want to share Jesus' love with your friend, start with the love part- unconditioned- first. read his backblogs and, in stephen covey's well-coined but perhaps overused pronouncement: "seek first to understand, then to be understood."

and come up for air every now and then ;)
***

(i just had to spend some time punching this stuff out because you guys are having such a great discussion here... the fact that i quoted scripture to icarus and a self-help guru to ezekiel shows that i obviously still have some lessons to learn in the area of practicing what i preach! LOL)

11/09/2005  
Blogger cromospotta said...

Hey, JB (got it right, now, haven't I?) how about this blog of mine:
I AM YOUR GOD

It's a statement, isn't it...
I felt inspired, I AM inspired!
Must be the same feeling the Gospel writers must have felt, when digesting their own collaborative writing (a bit like DI NUOVO, huh?).

Well, being a non-Christian myself, I look at things from a different perspective: still, it's the old Judaeo-Christian heritage that blocks the mind and attempts to make sense of the insensible.

Good of you to have these discussions, though... Keeps the pastorhood going, doesn't it?

Kol hakavod b’shalom

K

11/15/2005  
Blogger dioeconme said...

Actually I think we should concentrate more on the two related areas of religion and the religious mind, in order to understand our needs and aspirations, our anxieties about God, our thirst for love, our egocentric. I tried to draw connections between the two areas in this post of mine:Mind and Spirit

Enjoy it!

K

11/15/2005  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

yeah, kinkatso, i read your 'i am your god' blog when di nuovo began. initially i was looking into who all was in the room with me... then the room really filled up and i stopped trying to match faces with names.

i like the idea of a blog that consists of one post that grows over time. most of my posts do that anyway because i can't leave well enough alone! (always going back and changing this word or reworking that idea- much like what i feel comfortable with on di nuovo except that there i'm bastardizing someone else's ideas! it is a quasi-creative attempt at reworking and through-interpreting existing work in the tradition of phil spector with beatles' "let it be" and stanley kubrick with stephen king's "the shining.")

anyway, that's a bit of defense...

i remember someone once said to me that one can edit genius into mediocrity. probably true...

11/15/2005  
Blogger dioeconme said...

I'm logorrheic by genetic heritage, but I believe it's just my attempt to express in words what the mind constructs incessantly and thus finding illumination.
I also believe in the reverse of what you cite: one can edit mediocrity into genius, if the Editor has the Spark.

Arrivederci amico mio

K

P.S.: Matching faces with names in a medium like the 'Net is sometimes a strong necessity, and if not satisfied, this necessity creates fictitious faces in order to contextualize the exchanges - possibly the way a reader does with a novel... Have we given a face to Gladys yet?

11/15/2005  
Blogger Matthew said...

the questions seems to be how best to relate our faith to those who don't believe what we do. for me, that starts with jesus' life. we know that jesus was a real person in history, yet we also know his body isn't anywhere to be found? how did this happen? then i am drawn into his teachings, what was he trying to say to us? after studying his teachings, you can come to the conclusion that he was either liar, lunatic, or lord.

so for me, i start with the tangible, the annals of history, and the scrolls of old. it tells us Jesus walked this earth just like you or me. then our curiousity can take us along.

i agree with icarus that ezekiel you cant necessarily start by saying the truth is the truth. that's jb's whole point: we believe it because that's our language. before people who don't speak our language can join us, they must learn our alphabet (maybe Jesus life or teachings) so then they can talk with us. it's sort of abstract but i like the idea.

i know for my own life, i have been very frustrated with my many friends who don't accept Jesus as God. i always wonder if i can quote more verses or maybe present more logical arguments in favor of God and of Jesus' ressurection. i think that type of approach fails more often than it succeeds. people relate to people who help them, who understand them. people also notice other people, their lives, and if they're happy or not. one of the most effective ways to be an effective witness for Christ is to live every day like a Christian. it's cliche, i know, and it's easier said than done. but how many people are turned off to christianity by christians themselves?

walking the walk is in my mind the best way by far to make other people WANT to learn your language, and it goes from there.

11/16/2005  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

yeah, matthew- thanks for some well-worded summary. this last bit got me thinking further:

"it's cliche, i know, and it's easier said than done. but how many people are turned off to christianity by christians themselves?"

'christian' is an adjective. it means 'in the manner of Christ.'

'what would Jesus do?' is a hugely important question, although it has become bumper sticker fodder... to say that 'Jesus would preach the bible, dummy.' is to miss that Jesus was speaking in the language of the people to whom he was speaking- people whose only schooling had been in the words of the prophets, the stories of the heroes and the stipulations of the law. more often than not, in order to speak outside of their education yet still within their experience, he spoke out of common life experiences, bringing spiritual truth to life through the many vehicles that almighty God placed here and signposts to his glory.

what i like is how nothing is written about what Jesus said at matthew's party, or zaccheus' house for dinner, etc. Jesus was just there, living and loving in real time. no big profound parables or whatever because these were social contexts inwhich the love of God shone through his own through availability and action. there were times when Jesus simply permitted people to draw their own conclusions, face to face.

i think that that is the part of 'christian' that we miss much of the time... we think everything has to be a context for a strategically-placed word. God the Holy Spirit should probably be the strategic one.

i know that i have some things to learn in this regard... thank God for his patience with me and with others to whom his message has been entrusted.

live more, love more. yeah, that's 'christian.'

11/17/2005  

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