Sunday, 3 February 2013

Passionate Spirituality 4 - The Word of God

Passionate Spirituality & The Word of God
Genesis 2:4-25
Passionate Spirituality is about living out our relationship with Jesus whi is alive.
How do we use the written Word of God as part of our Passionate Spirituality?

Spirituality is bringing “as much as I know of myself to as much as I know of God”

The Word – the written word – is like a loaf of bread.
If you take the ingredients individually they won't kill you – but they are not palatable. The choosing ingredients, the proportions, the mixing, the kneading, the rising, the timing, the temperature, the cooling – they are all essential elements of the bread. So the Scripture is formed by God's interaction with his people in history, in story , in worship  in writing, in collection, in argument, in experience – and only then is declared the Word of God. It is helpful to investigate the ingredients so that we can understand more – but in the end the proof is in the eating. Then it becomes the staff of life.

This means that we can't escape awkward teachings and ideas by simply going back into the past and by corralling them into a different time. “That was then...” write them off. But neither can we really understand them without asking how and why they were written. What was it about God and His relationship with creation that is being spoken about here? How does that play out in my life today? You have to take it seriously.
Insisting that it is an all verbatim instruction book is not taking it seriously.
Insisting that it is all outdated history is not taking it seriously. But how do you know what's what?
What do you do when there are different stories for the same thing? Gen 1 & 2.
The order of creation in Gen 1 is this: Adam– Vegetation – Animals – Eve
In Genesis 2 it is – Vegetation – Animals – Adam – Eve. How's that? How did that get through the proof reading?

If there is such a degree of uncertainty about creation order, what do you do about creation ordinances such as “ a man shall leave his Father and his mother” which we do use as our Christian understanding of marriage. So there can be no same sex marriage, can there? There is a danger of “text seeking” which seeks to defend a strongly help opinion of our own by isolating texts that seem to support it and saying “There you are. God says!” Well, do we want reassurance – or truth? Do you want to understand the world – or to know God, and yourself?

How are we to read these early scriptures?
Paul says in 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. Of course the New Testament was not written when he wrote this so he must include the Old Testament. Jesus said Matt 5:1 “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” So we are to take them seriously.
Regularly – thoughtfully- prayerfully – purposefully - together

Regularly: Plan? Notes? Cell? Web? Books? Church? Bulletin? Know yourself – your way of engaging. Be prepared to change your habits. Know God – He is revealed in the scriptures and through others.

Thoughtfully: What did the writer or compiler seek to indicate to the reader?
Genesis is not written to tell you how the universe was created but how we relate to the creator of all things. “Know God – know yourself” First: The idea the God dictated to Moses the first five books of the Old Testament and that he wrote them down as an accurate scientific or chronological account copy for all time is not only implausibly na├»ve, but a serious and determined attempt to misinterpret what God has given the Scripture for. “Together they form a continuous account of the early period of Israelite history up to the time of the settlement in Palestine. But scholars agree there there is a great variety of material in these books which came from different sources, and was gradually gathered and put together until the writings reached their present form.”

Prayerfully: Genesis teaches us that God is not only the creator who brought everything to be – but that He has an ongoing relationship and participation in that creation. This matters because he does not “intervene” from outside, He is engaged already. He is “passionate” in the true sense that what happens in it affects Him. So when we read, we are opening ourselves to His presence. We can expect Him to speak to us.

Purposefully: “As much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of God” - because you want to know Him so that you can love and serve Him to the best of your ability. Gen 2 says that human beings are stewards of creation – to reproduce and to ensure that the creation is fruitful. What is to be received – what is to be eschewed – is God's bountiful provision. Is it our desire, our passion? Or do we have the ego-centric view that God is here for our peace and pleasure?

Together: “As much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of God”
It is not good that man should be alone” says God. This is not an instruction to marry. It's much deeper. We are not to be individualistic. We are to be one body, one flesh. We need on another. We learn about ourselves in relation to one another. We change as we grow. Other people learn about God and can show us and teach us. They we take that on board and discover more. Opting out impoverishes us and them. Because our society is heavily ego-centric we need to remember that we are not alone. We are part of a history (His – Story) where many other human beings have learnt about God and how he relates to his people. This is where Scripture and Tradition can play a part in our Spirituality. It stops us from just doing whatever feels good at the time which, any lover of Mars bars will understand, is not always the healthy option.
Genesis 2 poses the question: “How Are We To Live In Relationship With God our Creator?” - Answer:
In God’s world – with God’s creatures – on God’s terms – because we are significant in His plan.”

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