Friday, June 24, 2005

faithful

I'm sort of a literalist. Some might say a simpleton. That's alright with me. I think that it takes less effort to think the way I do. It takes less effort, but much more faith. I'm one of those simplistic people that believe that when Jesus said "I am the way", he really meant it. I believe that when the bible says that creation took six days, it really meant six 24 hour blocks of time. After all, He's God right? I believe in an all powerful, all encompassing God with no limits. If He says it, who am I to doubt that He could actually carry it off. The church that I serve with believes pretty much the way I do. That's why I choose to serve here. I don't agree with everything, but what I do appreciate is their practice "No creed but Christ, no book but the bible". It makes things less complex. Less complex leads to more faith. I've been studying the concept of observing "the Lord's Supper" recently for a sermon series and it struck me again how much we want to put ourselves into God's directives. We try to impose what He"must have meant", or what He "was really saying". I'll take it how He said it, thank you. Now, to clarify though. I'm not a pure literalist. At least not in the sense that I think that the book of Revelation is a clear picture of end times, or that figurative language isn't a legitimate form of communication. On the contrary. Jesus was one of the greatest employers of object lessons ever to walk the earth. And God Himself surely was no stranger to Old Testament pictures. Jesus Himself was a living object lesson about God's character. We have gone so far in our desire to place our intellectual reason into the arena that should be reserved for faith journeys.
It struck me in my recent studies that our Protestant movement observes only two sacraments. Two sacred areas where we feel that grace is conferred to us. Two commands and or observances that are totally crucial to our faith practices. It is specifically these two areas that we in the Protestant movement churches have some of our most divergent views. "Certainly", we think, "there must be some more complex meaning" in these practices. It can't be as simple as it reads. Surely there should be more mysticism, prayers, and solemness for these occasions. I'm not so sure. Maybe it really is as simple as it reads. When the observance of the "Lord's Supper" was instituted, it was to be done "in remembrance of". In the early church they recognized this. It wasn't once a month or once a quarter. It was every time they gathered. They simply set aside an occasion to stop and remember what had been sacrificed for them. Jesus, true to His character, left us with a tremendous object lesson to sharpen our senses. His body isn't really present in the bread and wine, they're symbols to remember us by. Why can't we just leave it at that and if I may be so bold to suggest "take it on faith". When the idea of baptism was instituted it was to be carried out as a faith decision as a picture of death, burial, cleansing, resurrection. There was no talk of original sin. There was no indication of rushing every child fresh from birth to a source of holy water. It was simply a symbolic act of establishing a covenant with God and before people. The water washing away sin. The believer rising up out of the water symbolizing for everyone around their resurrection to a new life. It is not more complicated than that. There is no more pomp and circumstance needed. Any source of water deep enough will do. The Ethiopian Eunich took the first available water along side a desert road as good enough. Why do we waste our time trying to make things deeper than they really are? Why do we search for any loophole and question mark? Why do we try to "out verse" each other? I have chosen the churches that I serve with because they "try" to follow the object lesson of the earliest gathering of believers, the source closest to the original object lesson. As I study this week I am wondering where did we get off track? When did we begin to question "did He really mean that?" I have a theory. My theory is simply this....Satan. What better way to create division and disunity than to make simple things complex. What better way to discourage those who already believe and those who are seeking than to build obstacles. After all, who was it who first used the phrase "did God really say...". In all of this I am well aware that those who believe simply and those who make things complex will all share heaven one day. We will probably not agree. That look at me as I look at them. All I am sure of is this. I will be there one day, and with much less effort. Call me simple? I'll call it faithful.

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