I am hoping to recover enough by Friday (yikes, that's tomorrow!) to attend the Ekklesia NW conference in Portland. Lord willing ....
In the meantime I have read chapter 14: A Society of Mustard Seeds in The Jesus Creed. My thoughts are a little random ... I'm figuring it's the delirium. ;^) Here's the gist of what's in my journal for yesterday.
Scot does a great job, as always, setting the context for us. And this saying about the mustard seed is a direct rebuke to the Jealots and those who dreamed of a Messiah as Warrior King and Deliverer from the yoke of the Romans. For Jesus, the Kingdom was spread by planting seeds that grew up into large and useful plant that benefited everyone. Put a seed in your pocket and plant it at the right moment ... don't ride in with your armies and destroy all dissenters.
I sure wish that Pope Urban would have understood this context ... thinking about the Crusades a lot these days ... and so many other times when the church has been willing to link arms with the state to conquer in Jesus' name. The ultimate in taking the name of the Lord in vain, in my book. :^(
What a continual source of grief this must be for our loving Papa.
But I did have a thought creep in at this point that I'm fairly sure won't be popular with some of my newly-met brethren and sistren. It has to do with the justification of any use of force.
While I am very sympathetic to the pacifist stance, I see this issue as a bit more Kingdom related than society-at-large related. I am all for more and better communication and cooperation with those who seek to do us harm based on real or perceived injustices. But I do think that there is a time and place for protection of hearth and home ... it just must be better thought out--like just about everything else! Not knee-jerk uncontrolled use of force based on fear, but a restrained use of well trained and well executed skill that kills only as a last resort.
...a small story break...
One of our favorite movies in called Connagher, with Sam Elliot as the title character. He's the classic tall dark man of the prairie ... doesn't say much, always polite, helps folks--even if it risks his own life. He's a tough man and a deadly shot ... but isn't known for his gunslinger graveyard. At one point in the movie, after he had just emerged victorious from a brawl picked by an enemy, he is asked why he hadn't killed the man. I love his reply: "He didn't need killin' -- needed to be taught a lesson."
Okay, this is a total break in thought ... just putting up a warning cone for you ....
I was especially grateful for Scot to reinforce the notion that Jesus was unschooled. I am a bit weary of those who go on and on about how Jesus was a brilliantly educated Jewish rabbi. The brilliant thing about Jesus the rabbi from Nazareth is exactly that he was unschooled -- yet spoke with more wisdom and authority than anyone had ever heard.
This was a refreshing reminder for a wee, flu-ish, purple abbess who struggles with not being well schooled enough to serve well in the Kingdom. It is being full of the Spirit that makes up for all our lack...
And this on the tail of a couple of conversations Tuesday concerning Greek vs Hebrew "knowing", where I linked to Alan Hirsch's great post of "acting our way into a new way of thinking." We are always tempted to view things from the Greek way, where knowing means learning more stuff...and too frequently doesn't lead to doing much about what we have learned.
But if we remember the Jesus Creed, and that Jesus is Lord, then we will begin to understand the Hebrew take on "knowing" as intimate experience with another. Because we love God with all we have and are, we are asked to SHOW it by following Jesus. This is the first step toward acting our way into a new way of thinking. And the new way of thinking that this action lead to is loving others as we love ourselves.
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to love your neighbors, friends! You do, however, need to be obedient. Those you know who are not-yet Christians don't need you to explain the truth of God more clearly to them. They need you to act like it is true. All the time. No strings attached. Just because you want them to come to learn that Papa is especially fond of them ....
One more warning cone ....
Scot includes the story of the wheat and the weeds/tares ... a story many have problems with. It is a wonderful showing of restraint, which I continue to tout as God's greatest attribute, to allow the weed to grow with the wheat ... especially because he knows that uprooting the weeds may very well damage the wheat -- but the weeds will distinguish themselves at the harvest time and will be sorted out then.
But Scot adds something I had not heard before. He suggested that this restraint allows the possibility of some of those weeds actually being transformed into wheat. Love that image. Thanks, Scot!
Which just goes to show that the paradox remains: the Kingdom is not about splendor and shows of might. It is rather about simple, everyday relationships that strike up out in the field, where wheat and weeds grow together ... and hopefully allow the Jesus Creed to transform everyone!
Restrained by Papa's Love.