Friday, November 30, 2007

No more pits!

Last night was awesome. I went to see Rob Bell speak at the Brown Theater. I wish I had a better picture, but for a last-minute walk-up - I had a fantastic seat...right in the middle 6th row. Rob Bell is one of those guys who pushes your thinking about what's in the Bible. He's done an amazing amount of research into the ancient cultures and he can put Biblical events into cultural context. When he started out it was hard to tell where he was going. He talked about a cavewomen and her discovery of her dependence on this plant - and the plant's dependence on the forces around it (rain, sun, etc.). From there he discusses how ancient cultures made those forces tangible personalities, i.e., sun-god, goddess of love, god of death, etc. Then went into the concept of the altar. To please the 'gods' people would give back to them - and the best place to do that was to lift up the offering on an altar. Gets it closer to the gods since they're all up in the sky doing their own thing. All kinds of things were offered up on the altar - even their own children. And a whole "priestly" organization surrounded each region's "gods." And a note to remember - it took violence (killing the sacrifice) to try to make peace with the gods. Well, with this system you never knew where you stood with the gods - you would either give more from your abundance because the gods were smiling on you, or you gave more from your poverty because the gods were unhappy and you needed to do something to make them happy with you again. You could never sacrifice enough - right up to the point that even cutting yourself or giving your firstborn was still not enough. You still did not know where you stood with the gods.

Then along came Abraham. The Lord God - creator of the universe - audibly spoke to Abraham (when he was still Abram). No other "god" actually spoke to humans. He also told Abraham to leave his father's household. That's not just physically leave the house - but the worldview that his father held. Take that step of faith in the one true God - follow me - I'm changing the world here and you are going to be the Father of Nations! Nothing different ever happened in that culture - this was different! And Abram was 75 years old!

Fast-forward to Abraham and Isaac. When God asks Abraham to take Isaac up on the mountain and sacrifice him there. Why was Abraham not surprised? Because that culture of the gods asking for more was all around him...that's what he was used to seeing...and he needed to be pruned...his thinking and his heart still needed to completely change. We all know that when Abraham gets Isaac up there - raises the knife - God stops him and provides him a ram as the sacrifice. Great, Abraham passed the test. But that's nto all. It also showed Abraham that his God - the one true God, creator of the universe - was not like the other so-called gods that require more and more and more. He's the God of provision, not destruction.

Rob goes on to talk more about the altar itself and Leviticus. How Leviticus explains in detail where we stand with God - there is no question. There are sin offerings, and wave offerings, and others, but there is also a peace offering. The peace offering basically is that you share your offering with God and the the rest to celebrate shalom with your family. Big feast! (No wonder pot-lucks go over so well!) And when you took an issue to the altar either through sacrifice or offering, it was left there. It was left there - issue and all. You could walk away in peace.

Fast-forward again to Jesus. Rob brought up the scene in John where Jesus clears the temple (one of my favorite dramatic Jesus moments) and tells the Saducees that if they destroy this temple, it will be rebuilt in three days. They of course didn't get it. Rob goes on to talk about Jesus' path to the cross - very visible. And all along the way, Jesus did not react with violence. Remember - the old system required violence in the killing of the sacrifice. But Jesus went willingly. Without coming back with violence - even when Peter cuts off someone ear with a sword. (That's when my mind started racing!) (my thoughts) Jesus also made the old sacrificial system of violence irrelevant when He resurrected - the sacrifice (Jesus) just didn't stay dead! (back to Rob) It was at that moment - the "culmination of human events" that God changed context again. The culture needed to "follow him" in faith. He in that moment of Jesus' death made PEACE with the world. (my thought) Peace with you, peace with me, peace with everyone through the blood of Jesus Christ! Peace! Jesus already prepped his disciples for that - John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." I gotta tell ya - I felt lighter by the nanosecond. Peace. Through Jesus. Was there a couple THOUSAND years ago and God's just been waiting for me to accept it. He's prepared it for us all long ago - we just have to accept it.

Rob went on to talk about today's culture. We still have those "gods" just with different names - achievement, approval, success, riches, possessions, etc. He even related his own story of getting to a burn-out point (familiar!) and a friend sitting him down and just repeatedly telling him that he didn't have to live like this. He didn't have to live like this. He didn't have to live like this. So I let that sink into me as well. I didn't have to have my boss' approval. I didn't have to have a career of any kind - even in music. I didn't have to be a size 2 (not that my body would ever be that size!). I don't have to have a boyfriend, or husband, or kids, or anything. I don't have to have a dad - that's what God is for anyway! I don't have to have the dishes done in a day, I don't have to have the Christmas tree put up in an hour. I don't have to do anything to please anyone else - it is Jesus I want to please. I started listing off everything that I was giving back to God in that moment, and I am continuing to do so. Literally everything - my truck, my eyes to see, my tastebuds that get to eat favorite foods, my money, my time, my thoughts, my not-so-strong bronchial tree, my allergies, my bad knees, my friends, my family, my whole life. My WHOLE life - past, present and future. And friends, until you get gut-wrenching honest with Jesus about everything, and you are willing to leave it all at the altar, and walk away from everything leaving in Jesus' hands (because he has the ability to forget it all), you'll not really be sure of the peace. Don't block the's all prepare for you...just accept the gift of God. Love you all! (sorry this was another long one!)


Lynn said...

I see little green shoots everywhere!!!!!

Joe said...

Very encouraging words Christy. I am so happy for you! You are going to bear much fruit now, I just know it!

God Bless you.

Jeremy Kane said...

hey I didn't know you were going KIm and I were there also probably 8or9 rows behind you and over your left shoulder sounds like you got alot more out of it than i did i found him a bit hard to follow oh well I will just read your notes then ill have the gist of it