Saturday, March 15, 2008

Abi's Lent: Day 39

Okay ... I promised to process some of what I have been pondering of late, and it has to do with the whole issue of timing -- as in God's timing. There is a time for listening and reading and talking and blogging and conferencing. And then you hit a kind of wall. The wall of actually doing whatever it is that you believe God is asking of you.

I'm feeling pressed up against that wall a lot these days. It has been coming into focus as a result of the Missional Learning Community we're involved with -- where we're asking a lot of questions about what do all these words mean ... and what can we really do about it anyway?

In the midst of this, I have come across two powerful posts. This one, on the younger Evangelical's drug of choice, came to my attention via Jonathan Brink's post on interesting stuff. This is a post to read, along with all the comments. Then there is a post at Allelon by MO Blogger Dan about the actual practice of being communal.

Now, where this hits The Abbess is in Dan's first point: Core questions reinforce the value of core practices. I am grateful for this because it brought me back to something that I harped quite a bit about when I was teaching spiritual formation classes: all the knowledge in the world is useless if you never put it to use.

I began to challenge folks to stop looking to know one more thing and just do what they already know. It is more difficult that it looks....

And Dan's "core questions" took me back to the whole point of embracing cHesed as primary context for the Christian life -- and getting your own pair of cHesed glasses! Let me explain.

If you take a look at how I define cHesed, you'll see that it comes down to looking out for the best interest of the "other" according to the covenant. In the context of my recent read through Scot McKnight's The Jesus Creed as part of Abi's Lent, I have gratefully acknowledged that Scot's book is very much a cHesed primer. The call to Love God and love others is essential cHesed. We are to be looking out for their best interest -- at all times and in all circumstances.

One of the things I do when I'm helping folks get a grip on cHesed is to help them see that this foundational concept will help them make right choices every moment of every day. And it will also make them aware of their short-comings and help them recognize opportunities for repentance and confession and forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration. Not that most people are eager for this kind of awareness (see the drug of choice link for a refresher on this). They want "sin" to be something really bad -- something that they don't do.

Sorry to be the bearer of this bad news! Actually, I guess I'm really just a reminder. ;^)

So here's my core cHesed question: Is what I'm about to do/say (or not do/say) going to lead me to keep covenant or break covenant with God and others? Whose best interest am I really looking out for at this moment?

I don't care what else you know or don't know about doctrine or theology or evangelism or Bible study ... if you aren't willing to actually enter the covenant dance (think: perichoresis) and learn the steps of unity and interdependence with love and grace and mercy, well ... you have a big problem. And no amount of duct tape and paper clips will "MacGyver" you out of it.

This question should be popping up all day long -- every day. You will never be rid of it. Because this question is at the heart of what it means to be like Jesus. To love and obey God. To embrace the 50-some "one anothers" of the New Testament. Take another look at this chart in this context and see if it makes any more sense. This chart represents the core practices that follow from the core question.

This concept of cHesed takes a lot of pondering and looking at from many angles before the V8 moment hits ... The Abbess urges you to persevere.

The life of one who follows the way of Jesus does not have to be all that complicated. CovenantClusters will be an attempt to provide a living example of how it can be simpler than Christendom has made it. The mystery of this grand paradox is that the simple call to cHesed is very profound yet simple enough to be understood by all. The challenge is in moving beyond the awareness and into the application. one has said it better than Chesterton: the Christian life has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

So as we enter Holy Week and ponder the steps Jesus walked that led to Golgotha, The Abbess of The Purple Martyrdom bids you embrace the death to self (not my will, but yours, Abba) that leads to abundant life in Jesus. Take up your cross and follow....

Dancing with Papa...and Jesus...and Sarayu! :^)


grace said...

Awesome post! The life of following Jesus is simple and profound.

AbiSomeone said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Grace.