According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rebecca Trotter - Defiance is a Christian Virtue

Defiance is a Christian Virtue

by Rebecca Trotter
November 18, 2011

The moments in my life that have been most sure and which have left me with the most peace and joy have been moments of defiance. The times when, even though no one else would get it, I knew the path I needed to take forward and I took it. These are my reckless moments. Those things that caused offense, consternation, even concern for my sanity among those watching.

I am often a very cautious person. I don’t go shopping without knowing what I’m going to buy and how much I’ll pay for it. I skip the “trust” part of “trust, but verify” and go straight to verify. I can explain the things I do and the choices I make down to a level of detail that could put a hyper-active 7 year old to sleep. I think of what I’m going to say before dialing the phone. I think of questions I can ask people and topics to discuss before I get into conversations. I bite my tongue often. I handle my relationships with kid gloves lest I damage them or hurt someone unintentionally.

So these moments of defiance must seem out of character to anyone who doesn’t understand what’s going on beneath the surface. But these moments of defiance are my most true moments. They are the moments when what is beneath rushes to the surface and propels me forwards, regardless of all the consequences. Because I already know all the consequences. And not one of them – not disapproval, the loss of relationships, poverty, pain or anything else – is nearly enough to stop me from doing what I know I need to do. I can be reckless because I know that I’m doing something I have been specifically called by God to do or because I know that the damage done to myself if I do not do them is far greater than any of those consequences could be. I can be defiant because I have examined the matter through and through and I know that it’s coming from a pure place in my spirit. You have to be willing to be defiant if you are going to follow God and allow him to restore your heart.

This defiance is something I love about Christianity. The bible is filled with people recklessly defying expectations, norms, social pressures, sometimes reality itself. When Peter or Paul sat in a prison cell, often beaten, and sang songs of praise to God, that is defiance. When Hosea married a faithless woman and wooed her back to himself over and over, that’s defiance. When the woman with her jar of perfume washed Jesus feet with her hair, that was defiance.

Some of the strangest stories in the bible are one where God appears to approve of or reward those breaking the rules. The prophets who bargained for a better deal from God to protect their people from the full blast of God’s wrath. Jacob who deceived his own father and wrestled with God. The parable of the crooked steward who bargained with his master’s debtors to gain favor with them when he realized he was going to be fired or even imprisoned. These are all stories of people who said, “not good enough” and bargained, schemed and acted to forge a different path in defiance of all expectations.

Jesus’ entire life and ministry were defiant. He wasn’t the warrior the Jews were looking for. He talked to people he wasn’t supposed to talk to. Made outcasts - the inconsequential and the unclean - the heroes of his stories. When faced with an attempt to force him into a damned if you do – damned if you don’t choice (should we pay taxes? stone the adulteress?), he found a third answer no one else had seen before. He broke rules that were misinterpreted and misapplied and made those who tried to shame him for it look the fool. When he did not even say a word to stop his own execution, it wasn’t the enemy gaining the upper hand as it appeared, but a defiant willingness to walk a path no one could have predicted. And in the end, he defied death itself.

All these millenia later God is still calling us to be faithfully defiant. So we sing through our tears. Forgive the unforgivable. Confront those who spread pain, fear and suffering about them. Love the filthy and mean and undeserving. When we serve small children and drug addicts and those left behind. When we fall down and get back up and fall down and get back up and repeat as many times as it take until we succeed or we die, we are faithfully defiant.

This sort of defiance is freedom and peace and goodness in action. It washes away doubt, discards baggage, untangles unhealthy entanglements. When we follow in the footsteps of the defiant faithful who have gone before, we truly are taking the road less traveled. It’s not paved or smooth or even particularly safe. It’s the narrow winding road that few find and fewer stay on. Often to those watching, it looks like we’re wandering in the wilderness with no direction and no sense. And yet, as long as we continue to use our spiritual eyes, nothing can convince the faithfully defiant to abandon it for the more sensible, well traveled path. Because a journey begun in faithful defiance is guaranteed to lead us closer and closer to God – no matter how dire our circumstances. If we end up alone, despised, poor, crushed and even dead, we do so gladly, in defiance of all expectations and external pressures. And I would rather be crawling on my belly in filth and misery along the narrow way than walking in comfort on the wide path that my God has told me leads to no where I want to be.

140 years ago, a man and his family were living a blessed life. The father was a successful lawyer, with healthy children and a wife who was admired and respected in the community. They lived in Chicago where the family fortune was largely invested in a thriving real estate market. They moved in prominent circles and were good friends of DL Moody, the famed evangelist. 139 years ago, their only son died at age 4. 138 years ago the family’s wealth was wiped out in the great Chicago fire. 137 years ago, the man placed his beloved wife and four daughters on a ship to England to start a new life in England working with Moody. He stayed behind to attend to loose ends before following them across the sea. But the ship his family was on collided with another ship on the open sea. His precious daughters were ripped from their mother’s arms by the force of water that sank their ship in only 12 minutes and drowned. On the voyage across the ocean to join his wife in her grief, one of the great, defiant songs of Christianity was written. Because defiance is a Christian virtue:

David Phelps, "It Is Well With My Soul"

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