Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SMALL WE OR BIG WE? ...june 10, 2010... note to Edward Fudge

Hi Edward, It is not what I see in you but the thinking here seems to be an  extremely  'we' message. And I do not mean the 'big we' meaning all of God's humanity, but the 'we' that is always deeply dependent on and in contrast with a 'them.'   It may sadly  be that even  Paul's 'we' was still limited to those who saw God and the world the way he did. (Though he made great,then  world wide, strides in seeing the Gentiles as God's children as well as Jews and devoting his life to that cause.) His ecumenical spirit needs to be built on and not seen as the final destination.  The church has nearly always been convinced that if anything good is going to happen in the world it will be from 'us' for we see ourselves as 'chosen and special'. For someone to be special usually implies that someone else isn't.  Surely every human being without changing the words of their faith culture  to please us  can be just as much a ' glorious sprout' of God as anyone else?  I think it is high time that the 'we are the most good and the most God connected' attitude be genuinely transcended. Can't we be just as confident that someone of another formal religious persuasion can demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, which is called by different names by different groups, as one who is a Christian?  or Not?   Can't we fathom that such a person is just as godly and just as 'heaven  bound' as any of 'ours' are? or Not really?   This  seems to be a step that orthodox Christianity is not yet free enough and courageous enough  to take. It seems to still be ingrained that nothing ' really really good can come out of Nazareth'  Before it can be called God's work it has to have 'our' association or approval. We are obligated to put the name of Christ on it before it can truly be Christlike.
Jesus And Canaanite Woman- 17th Century
 Jesus was forever finding and praising those who were not considered  the 'chosen'  as being the example that needed to be followed. One 'outsider'(The woman who said even the dogs get crumbs from the master's  table.) he acknowledged demonstrated a more moral attitude for a specific situation than he did. He was not ashamed to quickly agree with her and not his own previous rather calloused pronouncement.(Mark 7:25-30)

I can't help but hear all of this 'we'  as part of a not fully developed self centered  religious outlook. Can't we 'not care' where the answers come from so long as they come? or Not?  Can't we hope  another faith can help all of  us find answers to our social and ethical problems just as much as we hope it can be from ours? or No?  There is something here in the Christian mind set I think that definitely needs to be transcended. We need to be able to say 'we' and really mean the 'big we'-  all of God's creation and God's humanity,  for surely that must be how God sees it and Jesus showed us that perspective. Didn't he?   But the institutional and orthodox teaching that attaches to his name lost it nearly from the start. And that has limited so far the blessings that Jesus could still bring to this weary world.  If only his name proclaimed in our churches, like him,  were again associated with the 'big we' instead of the 'small we.'   Blessings, Jim

On Thu, 10 Jun 2010 18:59:00 -0400 "Edward Fudge" <edward@edwardfudge.com> writes:

Edward Fudge

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As the Northern Hemisphere moves into Summer this month, an ancient metaphor for messianic blessing comes vividly to mind. "For as the earth brings forth its sprouts," God tells his prophet Isaiah, "and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations" (Isaiah 61:11). The good news of God's divine rescue is spreading throughout the world, drawing believers into faith communities that practice what is just and right. As outsiders observe the transformed lives of people they personally know, they are positively impressed and give praise to God who brought it about. This "garden" metaphor highlights the spiritual productivity, apparently spontaneous, which is actually God's work.
Jesus later urges this same process on his followers individually when he says: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Paul portrays God as the Master Craftsman whose people are his handiwork: "For we are [God's] workmanship," he says to believers in Ephesus, "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10). It was an apt illustration in Ephesus, site of the Temple of Artemis and a city filled with craftsmanship created to enhance her fame. Peter, like Isaiah and Jesus, notes that believers' neighbors will observe their changed lives and praise God: "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable," he writes, "so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12).
Such texts impress us with several realities. Fellowship with God itself refines character and produces good deeds. Authentic being precedes and (in that sense) outweighs doing. Discipleship is more about transformation than about information. God calls us to model transformed community as well as changed lives individually. Our gradually becoming more like Jesus is God's work in us. We cooperate with him but he makes it happen. More observers become believers because of what they see than because of what they hear. As we feed on these truths, every day becomes more significant, every interaction more meaningful, every word and deed more important. We are part of what God is doing these days.
Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail without change and without financial profit.

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