Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Turn your ear

Interesting thing I read on prayer and faith last night that I have been chewing on. Here is a nugget from "Fearless Faith" by John Fischer, "It is important to realize, in our current dilemma, that the prayers of Jesus are more effective than ours. Our prayers are attached to our human need, a limited view of our situation, and the options we have for relief. Sometimes are prayers are no more than wishes. The prayers of Jesus, on the contrary, are completely in accord with God's will because he and the Father are one." He talks about this after using the scripture "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one" (John 17:15). So let's continue, "This last will and testament of Jesus seems to defy a longstanding tradition: the separation of Christians from the world and worldly things in order to remain pious and pure. This doctrine of separation has it's roots in tradition rather than in Scripture. The biblical doctrine of separation has primarily to do with what happens in one's mind and heart. For instance, later in this prayer, Jesus prays for us to be sanctified (set apart) by the truth of God's word. Since knowing God's word is an inner reality, this injunction would apply to a spiritual separation, not a physical pulling away from culture and society, a mind-set, not a physical movement. Likewise, when Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but to be transformed "by the renewing of your mind," it is an appeal to a different way of thinking, not a change of address.

I grew up entrenched in this doctrine of separation, so I understand how threatening it can be to let go of it. I can still remember when I was a small child I fingered a little sculpture my parents used to keep on a shelf over the kitchen sink. It was of three monkees. One had his hand over his eyes; one had his hands over his ears; and one had his hands over his mouth. "See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil" was the message it conveyed. This thinking was very popular among Christians at the time, and it helped justify our separation from the world. That separation took on the form of cultural abstinence (no movies, clubs, or theatres) and behavioral taboos (no dancing, card playing, or makeup). We were to keep ourselves separate from the world in order to be fully committed Christians. Scriptural sayings such as "come out from among them, and be ye separate... and touch not the unclean thing" (2 Corinthians 6:17 KJV) and "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV) were constantly being employed to justify a separatist lifestyle. Little did I know that these verses were being quoted out of context and that the three little monkeys were speaking for Confucius and not the Bible. In fact, Jesus taught that it was not what goes INTO someone that defiles them, but what comes out, because what comes out comes from a heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked. I believe now that the power of these pharisaical controls are hard to resist. We will always gravitate to an easily defined external spirituality rather than to a more ambiguous, internal judgment that makes us all personally responsible for our own decisions and conclusions. A separate world is an easier world. It places more responsibility on others to come up with what is acceptable and what is not. It's also a safer world."

Sorry it's so long but, in my heart it rings to be so stinkin true. Personally I'm devoting some of my alone time to studying Jesus' prayers and how they already answer so much of my crazy prayer life.

to heaven
Wallace D.

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