More about Pernell's PostI am still finding the discussion around this post very interesting, but I think it's time I write something that's been spinning in my mind for quite some time.
I believe that God is an amazing individual. A being who encompasses every person on this earth (Genesis 1:27 - "So God created man in his own image....male and female he created them") and who created the earth and every living creature inhabiting it in 6 days. A being who erased much of His creation through a tremendous flood because His children (whom He had created) had gone so far astray. A being who, in a final act of sacrifice, sent His Son to teach us and, ultimately, to die for us.
Yet I find, as is the case with some of the comments on the post on Pernell's log, we seem to want to fit God (and, really, the entire Holy Trinity) into a box that fits our specific ideas. See, Pernell, in a span of three days, made the post about pastors marrying homosexual couples and another lamenting the unwillingness of many churches to allow women to ascend to a pastoral role.
Now, let it be said here that I have no problem with women or men of any race, ethnic background or colour assuming a leadership role in the church. If that flies in the face of my brothers and sisters in Christ, get over it.
Back to my original point.....
This is one of the reasons I get so annoyed by theology. For centuries, mankind has made an incredible effort to get their heads around Scripture. As a result, we wind up with a church that is nothing more than an elaborate jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing. We have a Catholic and a Protestant church, each with countless offshoots that get totally hung up on interpreting Paul's letters, the Gospels, and all other parts of the Bible in an effort to create a theology within which a church can march in lockstep (although it is called structured learning).
We are missing so much.
While I agree that churches must have leadership, we should be focused on nothing more elaborate than serving and, through that service, sharing the message of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour. I think this is, in a large part, where the Emergent and, to a lesser degree, AGC churches want to go, but we're not doing that right.
"So, Mr. Expert, how would you do it?"
Well, allow me to share.
My relationship with Jesus Christ was established through my own prayer, my reading of the Bible, talks with people who I felt were Godly (primarily, at the time, my Dad and my then-pastors Steve Baldry and Wayne Wright), and simply watching and listening to people around my church. These were people who, like me, knew hardly anything about the servant heart, but wanted God to teach us how to be a servant.
Point being, it is up to me spend the time with God in reading, prayer and worship in order to learn a) more about Him and b) what He wants me to do to serve Him in my time on earth. If I spend too much time reading and listening to other people's interpretation of how we should walk, then I am more likely to become like them and less like God wants me to be. That is a sure way to earn God's displeasure and, Dave, my God can be an Army major if I choose to follow the ways of men and stray from the path of God. God has the ability to wipe out this whole planet in a breath, and that is someone I DO NOT want to mess with. Yes, God is loving, giving and compassionate, but we must focus on doing His will, not reinterpreting His will to fit our needs.
Jesus was sent to Earth, I believe, not to be a nice person, but to show mankind how far they had strayed from God. If we had not allowed our own sinful natures to so horribly poison our relationship with Him, there may have been no need to send Christ. All Jesus is is God in human form. Basically, I believe that, as God in human form, Jesus came to show us what God can accomplish in us when He is placed at the centre of our lives as well as to restore the path to Heaven that we have destroyed through our constant sin and neglect. Being a giving, nice person who does good things for others is not enough. Whenever Jesus perfomed a miracle or drew a crowd, it was always followed by a time of teaching about God and His love for His created children.
So, here it is......
Women who feel led to preach, go get 'em. 1 Timothy 2:12 is a difficult passage, because it seems so clearly to state that women should not teach, but I have a hard time believing that God placed limits over ANY of His children.
Gay marriage....all pastors should read Romans 2. Verses 26 and 27 are a pretty clear statement that homosexuality is pretty close to Godlessness. And before you wind up the silly argument that we are all sinners and, as a result, none of us should be married, I believe that accepting Christ as your Saviour forgives the sins of the past, teaches you to deal with the sin of today and prepares you to recognize the sin of tomorrow. If you try to claim the name of Christ and still maintain the sinful relationships you had before that (and that can be homosexuality, common-law or being sexually active before marriage) you had better think twice before you enter into marriage.
Claiming the name of Christ without opening your heart to God's transforming Holy Spirit is an empty act, as far as I am concerned. The path to Glory is a narrow one and, as Jesus taught in Luke 18:24-25 "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God". We, as a society, are not just materially rich, but we also think ourselves rich in knowledge, intelligence and wisdom. Often to the point where we think that we might just know God better than God.
And that is a dangerous place to be. I harbor a healthy fear of God because I know, on the day of Reckoning, I will be found wanting. I do not give change to every beggar on the street, I yell at my kids and my wife far too often, I have a tendency to swear too much and engage in occasionally bawdy/rough humour. I do enjoy the trappings of the world, I occasionally like to step beyond a two-drink limit, I am prone to gossip and I am often very selfish with my time and resources. Almost every one of these is justifiable in the eyes of the world (the beggar will just use the change for booze, everyone yells at their family, we all curse and the best humour is often politically incorrect, everybody should have the opportunity to enjoy this life while we are here and spend our time how we see fit) and it's all crap. In God's eyes, I'm just as big a disaster as Paul Bernardo. On my day of Judgement, I will come up WAY short and I will need Jesus to intercede to save me from God's wrath.
In the meantime, one day at a time.
More later. Sorry if this wandered. I warned y'all it would be stream-of-consciousness.