Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Church as a Safe Place for a Fellowship of the Broken (which is all of us).

Birthday Breakfast Bible Study on II Peter 1:3-11 a Real Experience of Fellowship for us...
I am concerned that we have developed a culture that is fixated on Sex and Gender while failing profoundly in intimacy and love.
in contrast...

I John 1 is about the kind of fellowship that puts God at the center -- humble, honest, and healing... In the whole book of I John the words light & love are inter-changable for agape' love, and as my Orthodox friends would say... "Love rightly held in the heart is an expression of the energies of God and is part of God's very presence with us". It is God's presence that we desire and this is what is most desired in the Christian understanding of "Fellowship".

God centered love... "Agape' " is focused on the ultimate good of the other. or as my friend and mentor Dr. James Loder use to say, "Love is the non-posessive delight in the uniqueness of another". While orgastic pleasures have a place in culture... it should not be the center piece of any culture because it will create patterns of binding and bondage rather than freedom. It is the truth that love does not turn the other into an object to be possessed that is essential to being in relationship with one another... that makes agape' love what it is... Even "my wife" does not want to be treated like an object. She is a person of profound value and worth. And we together never escape the presence of God who is with us always and wants to be included in all of our intimacies.

Instead of creating environments that nourishes being... we have created environments that encourage consumption and focuses on desires... even love is something to be consumed in what ever flavors you want it to be packaged in... The idea of abstaining for the good of the other is alien to our current cultural climate. The idea of the gift of celibacy for the sake of love feel like it belongs to another time or era and needs to be reclaimed by the church.

We have created an environment that violates the core Biblical principles of protecting those who are most vulnerable among us...
(symbolically seen in scripture as the "Orphan and the Widow" and Jesus' use of the word "Children") and instead we have supercharged our social environment with a culture of sexuality that increasingly promotes it as something to be consumed.
Without reguard to sex, gender, or personal preferences ... our current pattern of over focus on the wrong things will not lead to the satisfaction and peace that only God can provide. The most valuable realities of life can not be bought or sold.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

What we need in general is not more sex... but less... and far more selective and limited in scope. A hug should be a safe gesture. A look should be an invitation into friendship. It is hard to imagine in our culture the idea of a "Holy Kiss". We need more healthy touch and less sexualized touch.
Can we create an environment in our communities that is safe for those who have experienced sex as a form of violence? Human trafficking, the trade of humans as objects to feed our consumer society, is on the rise... in our current cultural ways of being... and this trafficking is most commonly for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Can we stop this?

This is where I believe the church needs to draw the line and why sexual exploitation is the human slavery issue of our time... this is also why sexaul abuse inside the church is such a violation. We are to be a safe place for those who are broken...

Jesus was most gentle with those he encountered who were broken by sexual brokenness. He never promoted it or encourage more sexuality... rather he engage in humanizing the people who were otherwise defined by this brokenness.

Biblical reality measures the health of cultural patterns by the fruit that transpires through them for 3 or more Generations and by the blessedness it is to others. Ask the question... will through this ... will all the nations be "blessed"? The truth of each of our live will actually play out in history... and the generations after us will be faced with whatever we actually live. Will love remain? Will we have an ecological environment that promotes physical, emotional, and spiritual health? When the answer is no... we are called to developing a pattern of profound repentance. We must start with ourselves and become the pattern of change we hope to share with others. To do otherwise is hypocrisy.

The patterns of Friendship and fellowship that we so desperately need... needs to learn from the wisdom of I John and transcend our current patterns of consumerized friendships. It will have to start with all of us being able to face our brokenness together and to stop trying to pretend to be any better than anyone else. Hypocrisy falls when humility rises. God persists in the light that exposes us all for who we really are... and we all need God's healing grace desperately... to think otherwise is simply a form of self-deception. (I John 1:8)