Were I to write a book or two, one of them would be about how to escape Christianity and still be a Christian. In it I would examine the pain preachers and churches inflict on those who come seeking hope and purpose. If you want material for such a chapter just go out to the public places in the community and ask how people feel about church. The divorced and remarried have to sit and be condemned until they finally either quit or find a more open and loving church. Those who do not hold to the accepted interpretation of some doctrine of scripture sit quietly in pain as they hear their understanding ripped apart as false doctrine. I remember in the church where I grew up a family moved in that everyone liked. The father was a good song leader; the two teen-aged kids were fun to be around. But at some point it was discovered that they were premillennialists. (Shut your mouth!) They dared to believe the Lord would come back to earth and rule for a thousand years! Well, he continued to lead singing, but something changed and a few years later they went to another congregation that “leaned” in that direction. To the congregation and the preacher’s credit, these people weren’t “preached” against. They just knew they were considered to be doctrinally wrong.
I don’t like clichés, like “Thinking outside the box”. It is an accurate description of what is happening, but I’d suggest we have to look over edge in order to see what’s on the other side.
Let’s say the “box” is a view of scripture that says everything is literal and must be understood as it stands. What if that scripture, as understood using this rule, leaves a bad taste in one’s heart and soul? The answer, under the accepted terms is that it’s the will of God, so suck it up. But what if the pain and harm it causes still eats at us? What happens if we dare climb the wall of scripture and look over? What if on the other side we see things, maybe even other scriptures, that make what we’ve climbed up on, look different? What if we see and feel something about the overall love and grace of God, but we don’t have a “Thus saith the Lord”? Dare we say with Paul, “I have no commandment, but by the Lord’s mercy am trustworthy”? (I Cor 7:25)
The answer for a multitude of people is to slide back down into the original understanding, nearly always passed on to them by someone else, and pull the cover back on.
But what if there is still that nagging feeling that where you are isn’t where love is? When that happens, the first thing a person should do is thank God. Why? Because they are on the way to a whole new life with God. The “spirit” of the law becomes more important than the”letter”.
Let’s take an easy example. Years ago I heard a well-known scholar talk about the fact that the early Christians met in houses, i.e., house churches. His point was not to make that the pattern, but to point out that some of these were overseen by women. He did not discuss why the house church was the norm for the Christians. As the years passed, any number of authors came out with books that said the house church was the proper model for today’s church because that’s how they did it then. They even had chapter and verse to prove it. It was as if they had found the Ark of the Covenant. But to say that the house church is the model for the church today is like saying because Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, we should all ride donkeys to church. Was it a donkey? I don’t know. The Greek word is “onos” so you decide.
Could it be that the reason the early church met in homes was it was not in their understanding to have a permanent place when they expected the Lord to return at any moment? There would be time for building in the new heaven and new earth. Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they came together, and as time passed they made adjustments to how they viewed worship. As to if they were always the “Lord’s will” is up for debate.
I mentioned in an earlier article about the idea that literalists believe a 61 year old widow can be put “on the list”, whatever that was, but a 60 year old couldn’t because “their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry”. (I Tim 5:9-12) If you can’t peek over the edge of that one and see the need for more than a surface understanding, well, slide back down and hide from those sensual 60 year old widows. If you happen to be one of those widows, jump over the edge and be free.
I Corinthians 7 is a good place to see the need to see over the edge of stated scripture. Especially good is Paul saying in v.12, “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)” Which means he doesn’t have direct statement from the Lord. What? There is something the Lord hasn’t said? What Paul is dealing with is the marriage between the believer and the unbeliever. Jesus had said nothing about that. So Paul had to look over the edge of what marriage was to him, and give some advice. Was that advice to become the law? Probably not, even though it has been helpful. Neither would his advice about “it not being good to marry at all”. But then there’s that sex thing. v. 1,9. We tell people that marriage for sexual pleasure only is an incomplete marriage. How did Paul see it? Or that part about how marriage brings trouble in life so you shouldn’t do it? (v. 27,28)
If we look over the edge of those scriptures we can see reason for them then, and why they don’t belong today. Verse 29 says, “What I mean brothers, is that the time is short.” And in v. 31, “For the world in its present form is passing away.” Paul, like the other Christians of his time expected the soon return of Christ, so advice was given for what was assumed to be going to happen.
Can you imagine what changes in our understanding of Jesus and God would take place if we looked over the edge of the scriptures that cause division and held them up to the light of love and grace? Do we dare?
CONCERNS: Connie Crites’ brother is being treated for lung cancer. Jim Hunter continues treatment as well. Del Bolin’s friend, Steve Mullins has died. Del also asks prayers for Sharon, also a cancer victim, and one of his students’ brother-in-law, who has thyroid cancer. His name is Billy and his wife is pregnant with their fourth child. Remember also Jenn McCready who works in Gel’s office. Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick Nicklas, is awaiting surgery and treatment for cancer. Tony Smallwood will enter nursing care in NC. Mark McRoy’s friend, Ken Teatino is still being treated for lymphoma. Randy Conner has had a reoccurring problem with cancer. Helen Nicklas is about the same. Remember Jenni Cullum, Alma
Martin, Ron Matney, Joni Beach’s mother, Tim Elder, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 18-23
Monday: Matthew 2:1-12
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13-23
Wednesday: Genesis 31:36-50
Thursday: Acts 9:19-31
Friday: Psalm 122:1-9
Saturday: Psalm 140:1-13
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 25-30
Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40: 1-11
After a rather sudden illness and many prayers, Richard Crites’ brother-in-law passed away. The funeral was held in Illinois about two weeks ago. The Crites were visiting both of their families at the time, so Rich had been with his brother-in-law and attended the funeral. Our prayers and sympathy go out to this family.
Today (June 17) is Super Sunday. It is also Father’s Day. Come and enjoy a good meal together after the morning service.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
The steering committee will meet in the library after the Super Sunday meal. If you have something you want discussed, see one of the members.
Remember, a group of students from the Virginia Tech School of Medicine and the Jefferson College of Health Sciences are collecting “gently used” clothing for the Rescue Mission Thrift Store. There is an extra need for plus sizes. We already have some clothes and will make a call for them to pick them up soon. So if you can help, do it pretty soon. Of course, they will come any time we have something for them.
TABS FOR RONALD
The pull tabs from aluminum cans have been coming in very well, so don’t forget to put them in the various containers in the downstairs hallway or in the room to the left at the bottom of the stairs
AC Branch has told us they have nearly reached the goal in collecting aluminum cans to be sold to help out a fellow who is getting out of jail, so when you tear off the tab, put the cans in a bag and bring them with you. You may put them in the same room downstairs as the tabs. AC is in Costa Rica on a mission trip with a group made up mostly of kids from her school. Keep her in your prayers and she will bring us up to date about the cans when she returns.
Do be selective when you park in the parking lot. The large trees along the road have dead limbs and more of them are falling. We are hoping the city will remove them as they are on city property.