Wednesday, March 19, 2008

cHesed as Fidelity

Clark Cowden has a new post on the Missional Journey blog at Allelon. Read his thoughts about "A Certain Uncertainty" as well as the comments. Good food for thought.

Down in the fourth comment, a Timothy Wright responded to a comment MO Blogger Len made (excerpted from his excellent post on Certitude) with this:

Help me understand the practical outworking of:

“We all have a hunger for certitude, and the problem is that the Gospel is not about certitude, it’s about fidelity”

The fidelity of who? And how do we find out who this person is? Is the Bible or? And if it is written down anywhere, we have to have a certainty that something is true, if we are to trust the fidelity of the person who is offering it? And who decides what the characteristics of this fidelity that is being offered?

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This was my comment:

I love the fidelity response to the desire for certainty. And the embrace of the mystery of fidelity as well. But when it comes to "the fidelity of who" question, I would go a bit farther than Len does.

I would say that fidelity is a two way street. When we accept God's offer of adoption through the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, we realize that God's fidelity is what guarantees our salvation, just as Jesus Christ's fidelity purchased that salvation, and the Holy Spirit's fidelity through its indwelling presence enables us to struggle to live out our fidelity in response -- loving God and loving others.

This is the essence of faithful covenant keeping (hesed) and it involves the fidelity of all parties to the covenant. The fidelity of the Triune God is certain: they will always serve the best interest of their covenant partners. The fidelity of us humans (toward God and toward each other) is where we crave that shot of certainty ... to which I would add these questions:

...will we actually believe that God is always active in seeking our best interest -- and then respond accordingly?

...will be believe that Jesus Christ is always making effective intercession for us before God's throne -- and receive his love, grace and mercy so that we can then recognize and join God's missional activity?

...will we believe that the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit can actually transform us, bit by bit and day by day, into the very image of Jesus Christ -- and thereby humbly submit to this transformation?

...will we believe that the fidelity of God flows to us in such abundance and power that we can then actually respond with increasing fidelity -- not only toward God (as above), but toward others (those who are Christians as well as those who are not-yet Christians) by looking out for their best interests.

And finally, will we believe that there is mercy and forgiveness from God, through Jesus, for all our infidelities -- and embrace the vulnerability that actively repents, confesses, receives forgiveness, and moves toward reconciliation and restoration?

If we will believe these things, then we will see that our feeble fidelity is surrounded by God's unfailing fidelity ... and that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are also looking out for our best interest, according to our shared covenant in Christ ... and this larger network of Christian fidelity is one awesome mystery to behold -- and the source of our greatest witness.

"They will know that you are my disciples because of your love for one another," said Jesus.

I think we have an amazing certainty in the midst of uncertainty -- we just have to look its direction with Hebrews 11:1 faith...realizing that the remaining uncertainty has to do with what loving one another actually looks like moment by moment.

How am I looking out for the best interest of my covenant partners? Is what I am doing/thinking (or not doing/thinking) an act of fidelity or infidelity? Hmmm....

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I am still working on Perichoresis ... but I thought this was worth sharing in the meantime.

Certain of Papa's fidelity.


Brad said...

The distinctives between fidelity and certainty remind me of parallel issues between security (who is trustworthy), and stability (predictable or unchanging circumstances). We'd prefer the latter, but God offers the former.

AbiSomeone said...

Absolutely...and these are issues of embracing chaos and order, aren't they?

We have to work through the chaos to find God's order (which is always secure). But we too often want to organize our way out of the chaos ... ending up with stability. Unfortunately, stability is just a few letters away from sterility.

Ambiguity, far from being wishy-washy, is that liminal zone where faith is forged because we must trust in the face of unpredictability and change!

We Abberians do love parodoxes, don't we. :^)