GNG Weekly Nov. 5

I hope you are doing well as the world around us falls dormant. Leaves turn into food for the grass, frozen veggies fall off forgotten, and squirrels scurry to gather their food. If you are anything like me, the quickly shortening days, and prospects of dusk tripping from 6:21pm to 5:20 can be depressing. 

As the days grow dim, take heart and know that you are not alone.
Jesus promises that he is with us always, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28).
 

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We will dive deeper into The Story as we commune with the author of our lives, who is with us. 

On Sunday morning this week we will be casually focusing on readings from the Revised Common Lectionary that many churches follow throughout the year.  
The unifying theme for us:
Pressing On - with Jesus

READINGS FOR THE WEEK:

  • First Readings: Joshua 3:7-17; 
    • Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
  • Second reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
  • Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Read The Lectionary Scriptures

Schedule:

November 5th: 10am Sunday Worship @ TPC
November 12th: Community Dinner @ The Hoogs
November 19th: 10am Sunday Worship @ TPC
Week of the 26th: TBD GNG Thanksgiving Dinner

 

We need your support.


Please consider donating to this new community focused on alerting our world to the coming Kingdom of our King Jesus.

 

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Eric

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation - Is it time for a new sola?

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Have you ever heard about these things called the "solas"?

In latin they are: Sola Fide; Sola Gratia; and Sola Scriptura (the three) and two others to make up (the five) Solus Christus; and Soli Deo gloria.

They are used today to summarize the emphases of the Reformation, which... if you haven't heard it will be 500 years tomorrow Martin Luther first pinned his 95 theses onto the door of All Saints Church. (It is interesting that the church was actually named "All Saints Church" this is the bigger theme that I am writing about). As I will soon be suggesting a new sola.

Woah, I know right!

I often thought it was Luther and those close to him who summarized their teachings as the five Solas. However, to my surprise, I just found out that it was only in the past century that modern theologians came up with these "solas." They decided that these adequetely summarized what happened during the Reformation, especially through Martin Luther's teachings. Some go with the three of them, others the five. It is a recent way of summing up this movement that reformed the church. 

But... a quick aside to flush out the details on what the solas are: Have you ever been confused by the use of the word "sola"?

My mind could never get over the seemingly illogical use of the latin "sola" translated as "alone" or "only" without the connected context. The reason is this: if it is faith alone... then that would seem to negate the use of scripture, grace, or Christ. When you put them into context they make a whole lot more sense. We should base our revelation of God in scripture alone over our traditions; that our salvation comes from our faith alone in Jesus over works; and further that it only through God's grace alone that we are given faith (and subsequently salvation) not at all because of our own merit. It is not that anyone of these by their own or "alone" is sufficient, they are vitally connected. 

Yet, even more I would say that the reformers were protesting against a society and system of power that was abusing their control. It was the unfortunate case that the Church had the power, and it was bringing glory (and more power) to itself, even though the catholic church's doctrine recognized that only God deserved the glory. So... I really like the final sola - "soli Deo gloria: To God be glory alone." And guess what! This one even makes sense logically on its own as a summary: God is the only one who deserves our glory.

Ok. Enough history. Now that we have established that these "solas" are summaries of a much greater picture. Let's focus on another Sola: "Sola Ens Eclessia". Translated: "Only Being the Church."

Don't look that one up. I just made it up. Sort of. 

Why do I think we need this new Sola?

Our society has seen some incredible shifts and changes over the past 100 years and I believe one of the greatest changes, and greatest dangers we now face, is that our lives are being reduced to mere consumption. We are facing church cannibalism. It is not that our doctrine has gotten so far off. It is that our entire society looks at everything through the lens of what it will give them.  I suppose this isn't so far off from the way that church officials in power in the middle ages saw their power as something they could consume. 

Now, as you read this your eyebrows might be furrowed, you may be scrutinizing the last few statements and say... "yeah, but..." Or, "come on, its always been that way..." or "its not that bad..." Or, "maybe some people, but not me, as much."

I get it. I'm not speaking in absolute terms here. Picture it on a spectrum of consumerism. You are a part of our culture and some days you land way over in the consumerist camp and other days you feel like you are living incredibly sacrificially and unselfishly. Can you at least say, "yeah, it's a struggle?"

So, let me give a more solid description, or picture, of what it means to live in this consumerist culture. Wikipedia calls it "a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts."

It started back in the 19th century when supply for products surpassed demand due to the new industrial processes, adequately named the industrial revolution. Suddenly all kinds of messages were being advertised so more products would be bought. This started a while ago, but in terms of history it hasn't been all too long ago, maybe 5 generations? Fast-forward to today and our high tech, digital, and virtual world is pushing out more messages than ever. Not to mention we are given products that are mindbogglingly well done. We can consume these things all day! We went from mostly creating as a people, to today, mostly consuming, even if we are working.

Stranger Things 2 is now out. How many of you “binge watched” the whole season already?

I grew up playing hours, upon hours, of the greatest-of-all-time video game:  Zelda -  Ocarina of Time. When I was seven years old, I played my game boy in bed, hiding it from my parents, well into the night. I often did this until I was so tired I fell asleep with it on. There was even a time that I could not beat a level in Super Mario, so I bashed the game-boy against my head and shattered the screen. It was the worst when the product could not be beat or if it was beaten too easily. As a kid, I often threw fits so that I could continue to consume and normally I got my way.

Today I spend hours and hours researching the latest and greatest technology. I want to know what it can do for my life and how it transforms my everyday living to be more enjoyable and easy. Our son is now also running around like a maniac these days. Can you guess what we did for the past few days? We put him in front of a movie called "Sing" (its playing in the background right now), he loves music! I’ve never seen him sit and focus on something for more than 20 minutes before. It was finally a time that I could get back to my consuming – whether it be reading the New York Times, watching ESPN, or researching something interesting, perhaps something that will make me better at being a pastor and understanding society. I get to consume it according to my appetite. It’s also a good thing that in the midst of my consuming that I get time with other people and to see other personalities so that I can get in my relational needs. If I did not have that, I would be an awefully lonely extravert.  I’m glad there are quite a few people that see their relationship with me as worth-while – and I them; it’s not easy when it is not mutually consumptive.  

I just painted a picture of my life in terms of how I was formed as a consumer and (perhaps a bit satirically) how I am an active participant in the system of consumerism. There are probably a lot of other behaviors I do because of this culture, yet that I am unaware of. Which is unfortunate because the unconscious motivations and behaviors are the most destructive.

Your life of consumption is different from mine. Perhaps, where you are at on the spectrum is more healthy, or perhaps you are controlled in different ways. The spirit of consumerism is everywhere, and I would venture to say that it has skewed the way we see the solas, especially soli Deo gloria. The world we live in is tilted for the mass to give glory to themselves. If you work and you earn it, you deserve it. However, grace and faith doesn’t quite work that way. It is completely unmerited, it is only by faith in the one who was completely God, completely man and completely good and worthy to stand in our place. 

Then we are called to consume Christ and grace – but without money. Oh, and by the way, when we consume the body and blood at the Lord’s table we do it as living sacrifices.

I once saw a sign on a church in our neighborhood that said, “The only issue with a living sacrifice is that they keep crawling off the altar.”

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I can’t tell you what this church was attempting to say with their sign. I would say that if we are living sacrifices that we are out in the world living as God’s signs, foretastes and instruments. We are NOT called to just stay on the alter. We go back to it regularly for nutrients, but otherwise we are sent back into the world as the embodiment of the good news that the solas do well to summarize.

This is why I believe we need another sola. We are only able to live out the grace of Jesus, and continue to rely on God’s grace when we are practicing “being the church” in this incredible world. This emphasis is on how we respond to God’s grace. I am not saying that this “being the church” is our deliverance; rather it is the working out your salvation with fear and trembling - it is our proper response.

This is a call to not go to church, but to be the church. If we are only going to a community and donating money to them for the spiritual product, this is allowing the spirit of consumerism to deepen into the core of our identities. It’s time we find the church in our neighborhood, go door to door if you have to, or stop and actually talk to those walking by your house. If someone stops their car and says, “hey, where can I find the churches around here?” What if we said, “oh, yeah, ok, you might have to park your car and walk with me." And as you walk you go on to point out all of our neighbors who are living in community as the called out ones – who are practicing what it means for them to be built up into a spiritual household of God.

I can’t promise that this will be an easy journey. I can promise that God will give us what we need. However, this will mean a deep journey into who we are, what we are living for, how we deal with conflict, how we love each other, and how we are able to not view each other as merely a relational need. This is a call to deepen everything we do and re-envision what it means to be the church where live, work and play.

Martin Luther may have pinned the 95 theses to All Saints Church, but what if we didn't need massive buildings for us to live out the call to be the church?

If you want to have coffee to discuss this more. Would love to take you up on it!

Blessings,

Pastor Eric

Our Fundraising campaign is just getting started, we would love your support as we seek to be the church in the places we are sent through GNG Church.

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GNG Weekly: Oct. 22 On Seeing and Being

Dear GNG Community and Friends, 

 

I hope you are able to see the beauty of this day and breathe deep the breath of God who's goodness is apparent in the places we call our homes. 

 

On Sunday morning at 10am (@ The Piano Cottage) we will be communing with God with a focus on seeing and being. Sight and how it relates to identity is an important theme throughout God's story. How do you see the world? How do you see God? How do you see yourself? 

 

Our society is full of different slants, perspectives, presuppositions and narratives. A few weeks ago our emphasis was on knowing your story. I shared a short picture of a chick hatching with ducklings and when the team of them jumped into a pond the chick's instincts told it that something was quite wrong, realizing, "this isn't me!" Uncovering our narratives in our society is important to understanding we are as children of God. 

 

We will continue this theme Sunday morning as we dive into how to see our stories through looking deeper at Moses' struggle after the Israelites made an image/idol of God through the Golden Calf. At the begging of Moses, God showed up and Moses' saw the incredible goodness of the God-King pass before him (Ex. 33). 

 

Join us at 10am!!

 

Art on Tap Thursday 7pm @ Kas House:

Don't forget we'll also be hosting our Hallowed Art on Tap at our house Thursday! Write it in your calender, invite a friend, tell us you are coming on the Facebook event!

Next GNG Worship: November 5th 10am

Blessings in our King Jesus who continues to give us sight and being, through powerful grace, 

Pastor Eric

Our Fundraising campaign is just getting started, we would love your support as we seek to be the church in the places we are sent through GNG Church.

GNG Weekly: 10.8.17 - CCDA and 1 Year Birthday of Augs!

Dear community committed to living out our hope of being the church together where we live, work and play.

 

I hope you'll all be joining us Sunday for worship of the living God at 10am Sunday morning at The Piano Cottage. 

 

Friday was the Augie's one year birthday! Thanks so much for sharing in the life and raising of this little kiddo with us. It has been a great joy amid the stress and the highs and lows. Come celebrate Sunday at our house at 2pm

I am sending this email from Detroit at the National Conference of Christian Community Development Association. 

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Elias, Tara and I (and several others) have been hearing from resilient people who are determined and committed to loving their neighbors in the name of Jesus through the thick and the thin. And Shane Claiborne is right next to me setting up his workshop - his community has a donation for guns, the first donation was an ak-47, the previous owner said, I don't really think I need this. It was melted down into a pitchfork - check out Isaiah 2.

Here are some quotes:

Three options faced the Dutch around WW2: Collaborate, Resist, Hide. We face the same options today. We must choose all three. Sister Simone Campbell

The longer you go without joy, the more resilience you lose. 
To your brain, joy means one thing: someone is glad to be with me. Jesus is glad to be with us. Dr. Jim Wilder

Love. No matter where I start, I always end up here. Dr. John Perkins

Schedule:

Oct. 8th: 10am CWG - Convergence Worship Gathering, testimonies from the conference - and in the afternoon Birthday party of Augie!

Oct. 15th: 6pm Hoog's Community Dinner

Oct. 26th: 7pm TOT - Theology on Tap: Hallowed Artwork Edition

Oct. 29th: 10am CWG - Convergence Worship Gathering

Of Acorns and Me.

I wrote this quick post a bit ago, but figured it may a good time to share it here as I recover from a cold amid our transition to the season of Fall:

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The trees are starting to change and the rhythms of the fall season are starting to come together. In the spirit of the season I gathered some acorns, shelled them and am currently getting the bitterness out of them, so that I can munch on a great nut that normally just gets crushed beneath my feet. 

 

There are a lot of things that we pass by without noting their worth. That is part of why we are going forward in this mission to actively live out the calling of being the church where we live, work and play. Specifically that we: hear the Word that God has revealed, listen to the places we inhabit, share community with those we have been sent with, wonder about what could be and finally to rest in God. This is all a part of what it means to be a faithful presence. 

 

Lately, I have been wondering about the great polarities in life - and have been trying to live out a middle way that validates real struggles and narratives of people I care for - and also trying to find a middle place to care for myself and family as well. 

 

I just want to say a short bit on that. This mission that we have as a church is enormous - by saying that we are living out the call of being the church where we live, work and play means there isn't really a place that is simply "mine." There is no "me" time. Everything I do, every breath I breathe is just borrowed from the creator. It all has purpose! It is all meaningful! My life is a sacrifice to God. I am called to live as a living sacrifice because of God's incredible grace for me. It is not that God's mission depends on us, but God absolutely calls us to this life and it is incredibly abundant and is exactly what God made us to do. 

 

Despite being called to this life, one aspect that I have been focusing on is that we, humans, are often caught sleeping. In Genesis 15 - Abram was caught sleeping while God carried out the covenant. The disciples were caught sleeping while Jesus fought with Satan before going to the cross. And then we see Paul calling the church to (be) awake O sleepers! (Eph. 5). 

 

Simply we need to wake up and realize all of life is a call to live abundantly! 

 

However, God also allows for his creation to rest. Often we need to remember that God really does have the whole world in His hands "He's got the whole world.... in his hands..." After working hard, we are called at the end of the day to rest. We are called to be sign posts of the kingdom of God, a foretaste of the great immeasurable grace of God, and instruments in the coming kingdom. Yet at the end of the day, we are called to rest well amid all the pressures!

 

Blessings, 

Pastor Eric Kas

Click below to give to GNG's Startup Fundraising Campaign.

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GNG Weekly: Sept. 24th An Alert to the Reign of King Jesus.

 

Dear Friends and community of GNG,

I just drove back from Philadelphia (it was a fantastic trip!), however as I drove today and the sun came up - I was amazed to feel heat on this Fall Day. I just glanced at the forecast - high of  unbelievable. We can expect our weather scales to surprise us from time to time. We can also expect God to show up in some surprising ways as well.  

As you catch some rays and shades today I hope you are able to see God's kingdom amid the everyday life; whether it be in the scorching struggles, or in the times of cool calm content. May you see the reign of our King Jesus unfurl all around you.  

One way I will be able to do this today is through seeing the beauty of a wedding of some incredible friends: Jesse and Christina. I am so looking forward to celebrating their covenant with each other today. I know well that the Jesus will be blessing them as well - even through some surprising ways well into the future.  :) 

Convergence Worship:

We hope you will gather with us as we form a spiritual temple, each one of us bearers of the presence of God, tomorrow (Sunday) at 10am at TPC. We will be spending time together in the triune God as we encourage, equip and empower each other to be the church where we live, work and play. Specifically, I will be sharing a few bits that God taught me through past week while I attended The Praxis Gathering in Philly. And Don will be leading us in prayer and worship, looking forward to that as well.

Schedule: 

I've been mentioning that a schedule will be forthcoming, well here it is: 

Oct. 1: Artprize visit? 

Oct 4th - 7th (Wed - Saturday): CCDA National Conference (A small group of us will be attending this together, pray for us!)

Oct. 8th: 10am CWG - Convergence Worship Gathering, testimonies from the conference - and in the afternoon Birthday party of Augie!

Oct. 15th: 6pm Hoog's Community Dinner

Oct. 26th: 7pm TOT - Theology on Tap: Hallowed Artwork Edition

Oct. 29th: 10am CWG - Convergence Worship Gathering

 

Hope to see you tomorrow, 

 

Pastor Eric

 

GNG Weekly: September 9th

Dear GNG Church & Friends,

Sorry this email got out so late! I have been in Mississauga, Ontario Canada for the weekend doing a bit of work for my job with Safe Church Ministry – it has been busier than I thought!

 

I am heading back now – and hope you all will be able to join us to worship at 10am Sunday for our Convergence Worship Gathering @ The Piano Cottage. We will be communing with God at His table and will be focusing again on the theme of God’s presence.

 

Last week we focused a bit on Genesis 15 when God made a covenant with Abram – we noted that while we often are asleep, tired, and reeling in life God comes and makes his love known to us. He calls us and promises that he will continue to care and that he even did so much so that God came down as one of us to give us his abundant rest through the cross and the sending of the presence of the Spirit.

 

Now we will be asking and interacting with the next questions – 

What does it mean for the Spirit to dwell among us – or in us? 

How is God dwelling in us and our neighborhoods? 

How should we respond?

 

 

We hope you can join us to share God moving among us and that you also will offer your gifts and presence as well.


Next Sunday, September 17th: We will not be meeting as a “broader missional Community” but Sunday evening - Colin and Allie will be sharing a community meal with our Mulick Park Neighborhood at their house. You are welcome to come as well!

 

Please plan on 10am for CWG September 24th @ TPC.

 

Blessings, 
Pastor Eric

 

 

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GNG Weekly: September 9.3.2017

Dear Friends and community of GNG church,

Greetings on another mid weekend morning on this Labor Day weekend.

Before I get into the following here are a few key announcements:

  • No official worship gathering this week, but please plan on September 10th at 10am at The Piano Cottage
  • More to come as Gatherings start to take shape through the Fall into Winter seasons. 
  • Many people in the community are signed up for GRU's Fall League Tuesdays at 6 - it starts this Tuesday, you can sign up here. 

MEDITATION: 

For many of us Labor Day is a day that we travel, go visit friends or family - or stay in our own neighborhoods and try to get caught up on some work. This morning I realized that I don't actually know why Labor Day exists. So I did a bit of research and typed up this bit below:

According to the Department of Labor - the day is "dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." You can read a bit more at the link above - but it appears that this day was started by a few people who were a part of the booming industries as industrialization was well underway on the first Labor Day in 1882. Today that industrialization has now continued to emerge and develop as new technologies boost productivity and automated systems continue to allow farmers, industries, series to pump out their product faster than ever. There is a lot more history here, but in summary we see companies like Amazon are taking over. In the last 10 years our economy has changed a lot. 

So, why am I talking about all this? I believe the way we work, is a primary way we understand our identity. We live in a society that requires us to rigorously marketing ourselves in a way that the industries will see us valuable for the small thing we bring to their company - something that will become profitable. While many companies are realizing they need to care for the whole person, at the end of the day, we still feel like another cog in the machine. It all contributes to our identity. Some work builds up the identity, some leaves us empty. 

As individuals, the struggle is real. It is not just a few individuals going through this identity crisis - there are many, many going through this. You are not alone. 

I think it is also fair to say that the United States is going through an identity crisis - and so are all of Christ's church here in the U.S. Work is important to us as individuals, as a country and - I believe God cares for the way we work too. In fact, it is one of the main things God created us to do. 

I could probably go on to write a tome of some sort at this point, but instead I want to say this. 

We focus on the nature of the work rather than how we do the work. I don't think we need to be doing world changing work in order for it to be meaningful. I believe that it is how we are doing our work that, in the end, is the difference. Whether you are an executive at Microsoft, or a dishwasher at a restaurant - it is that you are rooted, a part of the land, community, and world. It is that you are living as an image of the creator, created to love, hope, and believe. It is that we give the abundant life we have been given to others - not giving it to ourselves. I believe this is how God created us to live and that if we love God first - these things will follow. 

So, on this Labor Day weekend please rest - and then awaken from the rest by digging into your identity by doing your work with rootedness.

Lastly, I just want to share a bit from an article that got me started on all of this. It is a short write up about a person that Colin talks about a lot - Wendell Berry. This article is a quick write-up from Anna Keating who saw a recent documentary(ish) of Wendell Berry called Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry

She says:

We have largely forgotten a way of life in which Americans defined themselves by community, family, craft and religion. Few of us have known a poor man who owned his own tools for his trade or a working-class woman who ate from her own garden. We have forgotten what a craftsmanship of risk looks like. And yet as recently as my grandparents’ generation, half of Americans owned small businesses or lived off the land.
Wendell Berry and his wife... returned the land his family cultivated in Kentucky for five generations in search of home and sense of place or, as William Faulkner once called it, “significant soil.”
Berry is an advocate of small farms, rural communities and Judeo-Christian values like kindness, all of which have been harmed by “get big or get out” industrial agriculture.
His life and work bear witness to the fact that it is never Christian to say, “I can do whatever I want with my own land” or “my own body.” We are stewards, not owners. What’s more, the attitude of “I can do whatever I want” is toxic to earth and water, family and community. Berry, an early critic of mountaintop removal mining, writes, “I saw the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley.” Nature itself bears witness to the fact that it is not, in fact, all relative. Certain farming practices enrich the soil and worker’s well-being. Others deplete them. As Pope Francis reminds us in “Laudato Si’,” it is all connected.

To end, I lastly wonder - what would it look like for us to find "significant soil" together - for us to stay connected to each other and our local communities and understand that we are not the owners. That instead, we are merely part of a collective of stewarders. What would it look like for us to live like it is not about ourselves, but about each other. 

This is the story God is inviting us all into, vibrant and full, not me, but You. 

 

GNG Weekly August 27th: Convergence Worship Gathering Focus - The Presence of the Lord.

Dear GNG Church & Friends,

I hope you are all able to take a time to enjoy the present. To breath in change and maintain a rooted peacefulness - especially as it appears the season may be starting to take a turn from what has been glorious summer weather to a warm and crisp autumn. 

Here also is an invitation, we would love for you and all your friends to join us this Sunday, August 27th, as we gather at 10am at The Piano Cottage

One quick detail here: Don't park in Andrea's Pizza Parking lot! Please park in the bigger empty lot on the west side (closer to our house).

Bring all of your experience of pain, suffering, joy and celebration to the table of the Lord Jesus. Our primary focus will be on what it means for each person called as the church to be hosts to God's presence. 

Invite a friend, and let us know you'll be there by going to the facebook event.

Please book the future Sundays in September that we will gather in the mornings: Sept, 10th, Sept. 24th.
 

     Blessings, 

     Pastor Eric Kas

 

 

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Remembering Who We are in a Sin Filled World

I have struggled to piece this together. I'm not necessarily pleased by the longevity of this post - and I am guessing that many won't make it all the way through the post. However, I hope this is clear: Let's unequivocally stand against racism and oppressive evil, through humility, by laying down our power to Jesus who has laid down his life for us. 

There is nothing new under the sun.  We continue to struggle against the “powers and principalities” of our faded world.

At times like these, I believe we need to have our stories retold to us. Our stories of history act as a mirror that allow us to see ourselves. In a time such as this, we need to heed the message of James in his first chapter: beloved brothers and sisters – “lets be quick to hear, slow to speak & slow to anger – anger doesn’t produce righteousness of God.” He goes on to say lets be doers and not just hearers, if we only hear this stuff we are just a like a man who looks at his face in a mirror – then goes away and completely forgets what he was like. Let us remember our identity and do what we are.

If you are unsure what your identity at this time in our history, I pray that this longer history rooted in the scriptures gives some clarity – and perhaps a way forward for you in our disordered world and that we are able to take a stand against evil like that of racism - in humility.  

What if we lived in a place where men didn’t claim the world for themselves, but lived out the reality that Our World Belongs to God? This was the original intent when God made all people in his image – so they could guard and keep the sacred garden temple. I believe the original intent of that garden was to allow that sacred space to stretch throughout the world (GK Beale). Instead we have this oral history passed onto us as our origin story: Adam and Eve ate the fruit because they wanted to be like God – and possess his wisdom (Gen 3). They did not take the slow humble, obedient path. They took the quick path to power, the irresponsible path, the undeserved path, the path that claimed the world as their own, not God's.

Then we see several other stories of our origin: Of Cain who was also challenged to take the path of humility to gain favor of God. Instead of showing obedience and control over himself, he too attempted a quick path to power and it manifested itself in hate and violence as he killed his brother. Several generations from Cain comes another power abuser: Lamech – who boasts about his evil to the two women he was enslaving:

I have killed a man for wounding me,

A young man for injuring me.

If Cain is avenged seven times,

Then Lamech seventy-seven times.

 

Humans claiming this world as theirs, and claiming power based upon their superiority is nothing new. All hate groups have this in common. Today, the KKK, the Alt-Right, and Neo-Nazis are continuing to claim power and claim that it is their God-ordained right. Its path is that of seizing power - and hate fuels this ideology. 

I want to take a moment to be clear: 

This is different than claiming to be image bearers of God and claiming that inherent value as a human being. I believe that God's common grace has allowed our society to recognize the intrinsic value of each person - and especially that of ethnic groups that have long been oppressed and repressed. Black lives do matter. Native Americans do matter. They are people who have long been subjected to a system controlled by white men, like me – who have privilege, not because of humility, or mutual respect, but because their forefathers took it in the name of colonization and "discovery" as if native people had not already discovered their own land – and God did not create them in his image

A late Edit after an open conversation: I do not mean to paint the entire history of the United States as evil. Our world struggles with the tension of sin (as I said, this is nothing new), yet there are still many people, white men included, that should be remembered as exemplary. 

 

There were prophets who called out abuses of power. One example is that of God's people being called out by Amos. At that time, God’s people were complacent, sitting with power and feeling secure while feeling pride in their great fortresses and strength (Amos 5 and 6). All the while the innocent were being oppressed and the poor deprived of justice in the courts – therefore the prophet exhorts:

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”

There was a lot of doom and gloom in the prophet Amos because God’s people were abusing their power and hoarding it. As I had previously stated, this wasn’t a new experience for God’s people. In fact, there were several exiles – where God came and kicked them from the “land” through the Babylonians, Persians and Assyrians. They were meant to be a blessing to the nations. They were meant to be fair, righteous, and represent the God of the heavens, the one who ruled over the whole earth, the Lord who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love – The Lord who is good to all, and has compassion on all he has made (psalm 145). God's people then had some glimmers of hope, but they did not do this well. 

Jesus had a similar message as Amos when he walked into the temple and started flipping tables over and making a whip to drive out the money changers who had turned his father’s house into a den of robbers (Mt. 21; Mk. 11; Lk 19; John 2). Jesus wasn't afraid to call out and revolt against those abusing their power and extorting the poor. 

As I wrote in a previous blog post – God’s temple is no longer merely in the one temple space. Jesus sent his Spirit to dwell in his church – and each person who is a part of the church is a living stone where the Spirit dwells.

So what are we doing? How are we being cleansed? How are we being an instruments of redemption in our neighborhoods, cities, and in our courts? How are we a sign and a taste of God's kingdom? How are we calling out the abuses of power that exist in our society? How do we stand up for what is good and truly seek it?

In Matthew 22, Jesus responded to a religious expert’s question, who was trying to get Jesus to rank the commandments. Perhaps he was trying to get Jesus caught up in one of the many divisions and arguments between the temple leaders. Instead Jesus says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In a world wobbling with news of terror attacks, extremist actions, renewed racism of the KKK & new alt right, bigotry & misogyny. I find that there are countless words being flung around, and often attached to them is that we need to love (and many of these words and exhortations are good, and I agree with them). However, I am still finding it very difficult to find a clear way to love. We also live in a world that has its own definition of love, which is quite difficult to pin down and do.

When we look through the scriptures for this definition of love we find it in a tried and true source: the cross. We find that Jesus was in the form of God – yet did not grasp the power of God, instead he emptied himself, became a servant – was born in a manger (of all places) and humbled himself to death – the worst death of all – on a cross (Phil 2). He was then exalted, by being raised from death. Jesus defeated death so that people may also taste of the freedom he gives. Just as God led the Israelite's out of slavery, Jesus leads those willing from their sin, as he washes us clean because of his sacrifice. He has given us a way to die, and come alive in baptism in his name. God has won the war, now we are adopted as his daughters and sons to live with meaning, purpose and be a part of God's dream to make this world what it is supposed to be. 

This, though, is not a quick path. This is a slow, slow process of building trust and dying and rising in Christ. A route that all of us are called to go through because of our innate desire to abuse any level of power we are given.

This is a slow process of seeking the good, loving the good and hating the evil. It is a process of laying down our lives as living sacrifices. It is a process of being the hands and feet of Christ to those who have had a system of injustice against them. It is a slow process of prayer. A process in which the Spirit leads us to repent, lament, and ask the Lord Jesus to continue to renew, revitalize, and redeem.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another (John 15).