Sunday, February 15, 2009

Of Garlic & Roses...

Wanna score some big lover-points, fellas? Cook valentines dinner at home instead of fighting the sweaty, beady-eyed, romantic restaurant crowd. That's right, light a couple of candles, and group them between a "together photo" and those red roses you bought her. Center them smack in the middle of the table. There! You just reminded her that yes, she did get roses, UNlike those friends of hers who probably got a mop or a cook-book or red thigh-highs. Wise as serpents, gentle as doves, right fellas? (Thanks, Jesus! Wink, wink.)

Actually I did learn something valuable this weekend. As I played chef, I chopped peppers. I sliced onions. I diced garlic. I marinated steaks. I measured and timed and portioned and positioned--it's all in the presentation, you know. I did all sorts of things to all sorts of food, and it was quite a feast. When it was all over I had wine on my shirt, my nails were stained with marinade, I smelled of grill-smoke, and my hands had a scent of garlic that just wouldn't wash off. I was the master of the food, but I was stained by its colors, seared by its flames, and tinged by its smells. Most of all, I was filled with its substance...and I have the stretch-marks to prove it.

It reminds me of God's Word. We are told to "competently handle the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15). But, expertly as I handled that food, what matters most is not what I did to the food, but what the food did to me. This is the primary business of reading God's word: Renewing, recreating, and transforming the soul. And just as God's Word transforms one's soul, it transforms our community. St Paul addresses this verse to us as a community, in second person plural:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." [Col 3:16]

Transformation is the primary business of the Word. The business of regulating the Word, sorting it in neat stacks, and combining its ingredients into a diet of "The Sixteen Fundamental Recipes"...this is the business of men. It is not an evil business, mind you. God himself commissioned the man Adam to name all works His hands had made. To name them is the nature of man; but to create is the nature of God. Now he has called us, according to his own promise, to "genhsqe qeiav koinwnoi fusewv"-- to "become partners in the divine nature." (2 Pet 1:4)

God grows the green, spreading trees, and men cut them down and saw them up. We build garages for our cars, and closets for our clothes. Let us not saw up his holy Word to build a trophy case for our pride. Rather, let us let his Word dwell richly in us, so that we may be built together to form that holy temple where God lives by his spirit.

"Come thy kingdom, be done thy will! As in heaven, so upon earth!"


Joe B said...

Naming an dsorting is the nature of man. I confess, i sort my potato chips in order of size, and I eat them from smallest to largest.

Eutychus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eutychus said...

Well arent you just the big fat Don juan? We has a happy valentines day too but that's all I can say about it. :-D

So here is my long comment.

Somebody is going to freak OUT when they read your article. They're going to say that all your touchy feely stuff is just tickling peoples ears. And you have to be clear and exact about the bible. I understand, cause theyre afraid people will just believe just whatever they want to believe.

Follow me here. This morning I had breakfast with a friend who was freaking out that there was an error in the Sunday sermon. I say "What he said was incorrect, but it really wasn't that big a deal. Just cause he says it doesn't mean everybody follows it. They have the holy spirit." He goes completely OFF, all red in the face. He says "Subtle error is the way of Satan. He deceives by tiny increments!!! People can say the 'holy spirit told them' anything at all!! The people are ignorant--what's to keep them out of heresy??"

So here's the thing.

Why do these hair-splitter people assume that people only accept and follow a little bit of the Truth, but they'll pretty much swallow any deception 100%? These guys have so much faith in Satan, and no faith at all in the holy spirit working in people who love God.

I think it just makes them feel important looking down on the regular people. I'm still kind of mad at him. The preacher isn't really that smart. Not everybody is. But he is a great example of love and faith and he leads people to God, not away from him.

Jan Kelley said...

It is so simple, Euty. If one can find fault with the meal that has been presented and with the "chef" then one can keep one's own shirt clean--no wine stains--and one's own hands smelling sweet--no permanent smell of garlic--.The main task for that individual then becomes to always feverishly look "lump" in the "mashed potatoes". By letting "lump finding" be one's daily goal, will help keep one from
having to make any changes in one's own self. This type of daily goal can enable one to keep one's self worth right up there a little above the "chef". One can then relax and continue to eat at the chef's flawed table once or twice a week, while mainly dining on the good old drive-thru nutrition...which can be quite tasty, but is actually "full of Lumps" but one can feel full and well fed. Alas.

void77 said...

Eutychus said:

Why do these hair-splitter people assume that people only accept and follow a little bit of the Truth, but they'll pretty much swallow any deception 100%? These guys have so much faith in Satan, and no faith at all in the holy spirit working in people who love God.

I think it just makes them feel important looking down on the regular people."

That was so good, I had to quote it and post it again. Wow. Simply, wow.


Christi R said...

Well, now they do say "the devil's in the details", right? :-)

I will admit that I generally have very little patience for the types of people that Eutychus mentions and I'm a pretty cynical person, but I really like to believe that those types really do mean well.

It seems like sometimes people get too caught up in the actualy lines and words and forget that the meaning behind them is the important part. At least that's what I think the important part is!

Joe B used the great metaphor about the food and the importance of the presentation - and hey, let's be honest, we all love a good presentation. But, in the end, if there is no SUBSTANCE behind it, then people are going to leave the table unhappy.

So, the same can be said for the Word of God. It's great to make sure it looks and sounds nice, but it's more important to find the substance behind the actual words. The people who don't see that are the ones who really lose out. The substance is what fills us and refuels us for the next part of our journey.

Eutychus said...

Don't get me wrong, he's my friend and he strives hard. But it seems like he thinks it's all about "being right". Someone on here said "it's not what you know its who you know." It just seems like trying hard to be right is a long way from living to know God. I worry about him. Love is better than knowledge (you know, knowledge puffs up but love builds up.) That sounds pretty simple to me, but it makes ignorant people as important as educated people. My friend can't seem to swallow that.

Joe B said...

Agreed. Geat comment "Euty"!

Now, what is the opposite of the attitude Yoo-ti-cuss is describing? How should we approach the Word such that we are reading and discussing "to know God" rather than just to "be right"?

And what about being wrong? That's worth avoiding, right?

Jan Kelley said...

Joe B.,

If we approach the reading of the Word with the new commandment that Jesus gave us to "Love one another" in mind, then we will be focused on the "Word's message". We may then read the Word's message in the context of "loving one another" and we will realize we are increasing in our knowledge of God (knowing God). When we habitually begin our study with an understanding that the new commandment is the basis of all of the Word's messages, it is made more difficult to focus on just being "right".this is where the blessings abound.