Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two Sides of a Coin

One of the problems with dualism is that it has a tendency to separate one side of a coin from the other side. It is convenient to do this because we generally cannot see both sides of the coin at the same time, so we focus on one side as if it stands alone, when it is but another expression of the other side.

There is only one coin … with a duality of sides. Its two sides contain different information about the coin as well as different aspects of it, but there is only one coin … one coin with two sides that cannot be separated without destroying the coin.

It doesn’t take much pondering to see how this comes into play. Let’s take a look at just three.

1. The Image of God has been created male and female. Together they are the God’s image. Just the man alone is insufficient (which God made abundantly clear with Adam and Eve). So when one side of the image is valued differently than the other, it is because this duality is out of balance. There is no explaining that they are meant to be of different value or usefulness without damaging the reality of the Image of God. Yes, they look different … but they must be yoked together in order for God’s true image to be seen. Inconvenient for some, yes, but still true. God is a community – the Three in One. Humans, to reflect that image, must also dwell in community – as male and female and with God. It is a mystery that must be embraced.

2. cHesed, a foundational Hebrew concept for understanding God’s idea of relationship, has two components: covenant-making and covenant-keeping. God does not have one without the other. God makes covenant, which means that God keeps covenant. This is core to God’s identity. He is the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. Everything depends on this reality being rightly perceived. So, cHesed means, basically, BEING in covenant and DOING what the covenant obligates you to do. Being in covenant means that you follow through with your commitments so that your covenant partner does not suffer because of your unfaithfulness. You can’t be in covenant unless you do the terms of the covenant.

3. Doing the terms of the Covenant, being obedient to the will of God, requires faith and works. You cannot obey without faith, because if you do not have faith, you cannot believe in God or what God asks you to do. You cannot obey without works, because, well, being obedient is something that you are as shown by what you do. James said it clearly: faith without works is dead. And what has God asked us to do? The will of God has been summarized as this: loving God and loving others. (See # 1 and #2 above.)

The unity of the Body is most powerfully and winsomely seen when the Image of God is clearly reflected by right relationships between men and women who are in right relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Right relationship, as understood by the Hebrew concept of cHesed, is realized when men and women, by the power of the Holy Spirit, accept God’s invitation to join the New Covenant in Jesus Christ … and then undertake the journey of transformation to be like Christ as faithful covenant-keepers with each other. It is a mysterious, paradoxical process, different for each of us, that will continue our entire lives.

Embrace both the journey and the companions God sends; no one can do it alone.

Moses and Plato are coming up next….


Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts! I am intrigued by covenant. God does keep his part, yet he did divorce his unfaithful people at a certain point. Yet his goal is to bring them back through Christ.

Right relationships. So much to be said there. It's more like a mystery in the working of the Spirit with each other.

AbiSomeone said...

Hello, Ted!

Yeah, I could talk covenant and cHesed all day long -- as I'm sure you've already figured out! ;^)

The New Covenant is, IMO, not taken seriously enough as distinct from the Old. And covenants have terms and conditions to be met, as well as blessings for faithfulness and consequences for unfaithfulness.

Those of us in the New Covenant reap the blessings of the lessons learned by those who struggled in the Old Covenant. If we will listen and learn, that is!

There is much mystery, indeed ... but this is what encourages us to be more childlike, eh?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Peggy. I agree and well put!

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