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Posts Tagged ‘rebellion’

In some ways a rule of life is a personal protest against the way things are. A rule of life is a statement that status quo is not the goal. It is a step toward growth in spirituality that serves as a mild rebellion against the dominant spirituality’s of culture. I like things to be as convenient as the next person, but I recognize that ease is not always progress. Perhaps we would do well to slow down and make an effort to simplify. Perhaps a rule of life ought to include ways to create space in order to allow the presence of God to be more recognizable.

I desire to be a counter to the majority, a one man resistance movement who is constantly inviting others to sign up. This will occur by an intentional slowing down. This will allow activities that help me to see process without rushing straight to conclusions. I intend to do this by practicing Sabbath and participating in activities that cannot be rushed. Therefore, my rule of life tries to slow things down and to accept that efficiency will not be my religion of choice. I brew my own tea, make my own soup, bake my own bread, and grow my own vegetables. These things take time but something becomes clear in the process. For example, as I have discovered before, “Soup making is worthwhile activity. It provides time to play, experiment, talk, listen, laugh, taste, and smell. Soup making reminds us that meal preparation is not simply the prelude to putting food into your mouth. It is a valuable part of the whole experience of eating.”

Gardening slows us down. What you plant today cannot be harvested tomorrow. It requires time in the soil. Time in the soil is not only beneficial for those of us trying to slow down, it connects us with our beginnings. “I roll up my sleeves. I breath in the smell. I reach into the earth. It gets under my nails. In my hair. It’s caked on my knees. I call it dirt. But I think about the sixth day when God first formed a human from this stuff and all I can say is ‘wow.’”

I will practice Sabbath. Sabbath is a gift for those who are tired. Sabbath is a gift that reminds us we are not in control. Sabbath reminds us we can take the day off and still wake the next day with everything we need. Sabbath reminds us that God has provided, still provides, and will continue to provide. We do not have to collect manna again on Sabbath; God has already blessed us with enough to make it through another day.

Practicing Sabbath is rebellion. Practicing Sabbath is what people of the resistance do to protest the rhythms of culture that drive us to do more, get more, and nurture the lie that we must take care of ourselves. To practice Sabbath is to promote that God is in charge around here. Silence is a mini Sabbath, and we are reminded there is a time and place for quiet and listening.

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Among other things Good Friday reminds us that when the world feels threatened, it becomes defensive. By default, it will attempt to tame whoever or whatever threatens it. But what the world cannot tame it will label a rebellion and rebellions must be stopped. The world will resort to any violence necessary in order to maintain control.

On Good Friday Jesus was viewed as a revolutionary, his following as a rebellion. It should not surprise us the world responded the way it did. Since the beginning the ways of the world have conflicted with the ways of God. Yet, the intensity increased significantly with the arrival of Jesus. The crucifixion is evidence of that and presents a clear contrast between the way the world works and the way that God works.

Ever since Jesus announced the arrival of the Kingdom of God it was inevitable we would find ourselves at the place called skull where the world is trying to maintain control. In order to do so it mocks and spits and hits and insults and crucifies. Meanwhile, Jesus forgives. As the world demonstrates its ways of keeping order, Jesus demonstrates the ways of God.

The cycle has not changed. And we are in it. Good Friday invites us into the Gospel narrative where the ways of God continue to threaten the world. The world continues to respond in ways they do not understand. And followers of Jesus are to demonstrate the ways of God no matter what the world throws at us.

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What if we viewed the story of the church as a rebellion? After all, that is the way it has been viewed through much of history. It is only because we have convinced ourselves we are part of the mainstream that we have lost sight of our connection with a historical rebellion.

The fact is, we have been at odds with what goes on around us for a long time. Abraham was an early recipient of information that things were not ok and a different way was necessary. Ever since, we have carried with us a promise of blessing and curse. Moses led a band of rescued slaves into occupied territory and they claimed it as their own. The prophets preached and wrote messages contrary to majority opinion for hundreds of years. John came preaching a challenge to existing kingdoms, announcing that a new king and new kingdom was at hand.

When the rulers of the majority kingdom realized they could not stop this king from his contrary ways, they crucified him. This was supposed to stop the rebellion. Instead, his following continued to grow and his news began spreading everywhere. Followers were often in danger, they sometimes met in secret, they shared their news from prison, and many were put to death. One was ostracized but even there he continued to preach how the ways of God are at odds with the ways of the world.

This story has not stopped and we are part of it. We still carry an old promise, stories of rescued slaves, and the words of prophets. We are participants in an ongoing rebellion that has been alive for centuries. We are recipients of information that things are not ok as they are. We still gather in the presence of a crucified king who sends us out with news of a better way.

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From the beginning, humans desired to be like God. It wasn’t long before this desire led to mutiny, humans against the Creator. The current regime has assumed they are in control ever since. In order to put an end to the mutiny, a people have been selected to rebel against the current regime. This idea of sabotage, the very notion of rebellion, carries some reckless implications. Yet this is not something new. It has already been in existence for many years, even centuries.

The origins of how this rebellion came to be goes back to when God selected a man to leave family, home, and country. This is a radical request. Yet it is reported in a way to suggest that this man, Abraham, did what he was told without argument, without any questions at all. It is not reported what happened when he told his wife Sarah. But from what we do know about her, I suspect she laughed.

We are told that God Himself blessed the participants and promised that their reputation would become great. We are told that God Himself promised that they would become catalysts for blessing and cursing. We are told that no one would escape their influence. If these things tell us nothing else, it certainly tells us that God is vested in this plan.

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The loudest voices are trying to convince us that we need something else, something more, something we do not yet have.  This is exhausting, all this chasing after things that have no real value.  We are running with a herd that wants more, uses more, eats and drinks more.  Sabbath speaks to those of us caught in this, invites us to break the cycle, and be reminded that we are not in control.  Of that, we are not even capable.  Sabbath is counter cultural – An act of rebellion.

The command to remember the Sabbath comes to us as part of the Ten Commandments in both Exodus and Deuteronomy.  In Exodus it comes in response to creation where God rested.  Sabbath is woven into the fabric of creation since the very beginning.  In Deuteronomy it comes to us in response to Passover.  A time when we did not rescue ourselves, we were not delivered by our own hand.  We are reminded in both instances that we are not in control here and do not need to be.  There is a danger of believing in the lie of self-sovereignty.

Sabbath speaks into the disorder of our lives.  We think restlessness is normal.  It is not – even God rests.  Rest is initiated by God, indeed He participates in it.  Walter Brueggemann says that “God’s sovereignty is so sure that even God can ease off daily management of creation and the world will not fall apart.”

Exodus 16 offers us a narrative commentary on Sabbath.  The people have convinced themselves that serving as slaves in Egypt is better than what God has done for them.  But God rains bread from heaven and tells them to gather the bread each morning.  On the seventh morning there is no need to gather bread.  So what do we find?  “It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather…”  The people thought they would die if they did not gather on the Sabbath.  Or they thought that their efforts would get them ahead.  Or any number of lies they were telling themselves.  But God had provided enough.

We may not be singing that we want to go back to Egypt or about lack of food in the wilderness, but we do grumble about not being satisfied with what we have.  We grumble about wanting something more, or at least something different from what we already have.  Sabbath suggests that our restlessness, our desire for more, our insecurity, and our lack of faith in the claims of God are ridiculous.  Why do we continue to think that God’s gifts will come to an end?

Sabbath is evidence of God’s reliability.  We are given a Sabbath because for six days we convince ourselves that we are the brains behind the operation.  We convince ourselves that we are surviving by our own efforts.  We are given a Sabbath because for six days we convince ourselves that we are capable of delivering ourselves from the things that enslave us.

Sovereignty is a daily battle.  When we rely on ourselves, like the Hebrews looking for manna on the seventh day, we challenge the sovereignty of God.  Sabbath gives opportunity to re-assign the energy we use to control situations.  Sabbath invites us instead to delight in God and to serve others.

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