This approach is what corrupts competent teaching methods. It is prevalent throughout religion & politics.
I was trying to come up with some writings which link the idea of individual salvation (and death of the old self being a mandatory prerequisite to this new creation life) with the corporate idea of advancing the kingdom.
Here is a Bible verse that I think fits:
‘I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.’ John 12:24.
Verse 23 implies Jesus is talking about Himself, but verses 25 & 26 apply verse 24 to His followers.
Verse 26 says, ‘If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honour him.’
Andrew Jukes, has commented on the above passage:
‘The corn must fall into the ground. But the result of the sacrifice is, “If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). For as the grain of corn, through dissolution, is made the root of many seeds, so the Lamb by His once dying, as the First-born and the First-fruits, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:18), is multiplied into His disciples, who are made partakers of the same life, and who in their turn, through death, will be multiplied again into a still greater number, till the field of the world is full of the seed of God.’
The above excerpt is taken from this article:
Richard Rohr writes: ‘The mystery of the cross has the power to teach us that our suffering is not our own and my life is not about “me”; instead, we are actually living inside of a larger force field of life and death. One moves from “me” to “us” inside of this field of deep inner experience. This is the gateway to compassion, and thus redemption. When I can see and accept my suffering as a common participation with Jesus and all humanity, I am somehow “saved” and I become “whole in him” (see Colossians 2:9–10). I fully admit this is often hard to do when we are still in the midst of our suffering, and we just want to be delivered from it.’, and
‘Hopefully, a time will come when the life of Christ will be so triumphant in us that we care more about others than our own selves, or, better, when there is no longer such a sharp distinction between my self and other selves. More than anything else, conversion is a reconstituted sense of the self. As Paul stated, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).’
Here is a passage which I think is related from a recent daily devotional written by Smith Wigglesworth, who had a remarkable healing ministry:
‘The important point here is that the Holy Spirit has come to make Jesus King. It seems to me that the seed, the life that was given to us when we believed - which is an eternal seed - has such resurrection power that I see a new creation rising from it with kingly qualities. Not only is the King to be within us, but also the glories of His kingly manifestations are to be brought forth in us. Oh, for Him to work in us in this way, melting us, until a new order rises within us so that we are moved with His compassion! I see that we can come into the order of God where the vision becomes so much brighter and where the Lord is manifesting His glory with all His virtues and gifts; all His glory seems to fill the soul who is absolutely dead to himself and alive to God. There is much talk about death, but there is a death that is so deep in God that, out of that death, God brings the splendour of His life and all His glory.’
I think there have been a few people down through history who have experienced God in the way Smith describes. They often had a profound, positive effect on those whom they touched and thus helped build the kingdom.
In a way they have shown what has been made available to us all by God.
We are so blessed here at the Sepulcher of Spectrum, that we do need not fret and worry if one ept is perchance apt to occasion along. We have such a one in residence.
Of course, there is always the crapshoot, how is an self-proclaimed eptness discriminator, a bonafide ept teacher, better than an inept one?
Sorry to intrude but just wanted to say thank you for this, I sometimes get more out of some of these comments than a hundred sabbath morning sermons…
Thank you so much, Dave for taking the time to think more deeply and to share these quotes.
I am certainly not denying the reality of the individual experience of Christ and his Spirit. The NT reveals this all throughout. John, in the epilogue of his gospel, portrays Jesus saying to Peter, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you. You must follow me." Therein lies the kernel of individual discipleship.
My thought, however has been in response to what I think is the over individualization of the Christian experience, especially in western countries like the U.S., where individualism reigns supreme. We have almost lost the collective idea of salvation, and that God is seeking to create a new community, and a new way of being human within community. This is also evident all over the NT, especially in the letters of Paul.
Whenever we discuss righteousness by faith, and justification, the focus is on what it takes to be individually right with God, how he forgives our sins, and what it takes to be saved in the end, personally. IOW, how can we personally find a gracious God. While not denying this, I believe that we have inherited this preoccupation more from Luther than from Paul.
The first mention by Paul of justification by faith, is in connection with who belongs at the fellowship table in Antioch, and by extension, within the entire people of God. Is it Jews only, or is it also believing uncircumcised Gentiles as well? Paul’s point was that God was the God of both equally, and included both in his covenant people equally, simply by faith/ by joining up with Jesus. This places the entire concept and force of justification by faith into a different setting, taking us away from our individual preoccupations, and into the idea of egalitarian community, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, no male nor female, but all are one in Christ. One can’t claim or experience justification in the way Paul meant it, without this. They are inextricably linked.
Even Paul’s famous statement about being crucified personally with Christ has this as its backdrop. In the context, he said that if he rebuilt the walls that he had torn down, IOW, the walls of bigotry against those like unclean Gentiles whom he viewed as outsiders to the people of God, he would have made himself a sinner. “I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” The man who now lived by faith in Christ was the one who worked for the rest of his life proclaiming the unity of Jew and Gentile equally in Christ.
I think that in our proclamation of an individualized experience of salvation, we have missed the collective and unifying emphasis and power of the gospel. So much so, that we have many in our midst who say that we should move on from the whole issue of WO, and just get out and preach the gospel. What gospel are they talking about? Certainly not the one that proclaims that all are one in Christ Jesus. Certainly not the gospel whose primary aim was not simply to reconcile us individually with God, but to reconcile human beings to one another, across racial, social, ethnic, and gender boundaries, and to place us all on equal footing before God, for one another, and for the world.
The seducing idea that WO is detracting from the mission of the church defies common sense. Males and females are both called to preach, according to EGW, who made it clear also that women are even more effective in some situations than men.
Let’s fix this arrogant false lie that women do not belong in the pulpit or in spiritual leadership. We need every single one whom God calls–and it is GOD who does the calling, not “man.” Not ridiculous policies that cripple the energy and thrust of our mission to profile people of a certain gender to essentially shut their anointed mouths from preaching. The editing of the ministry to remove God-called women, young and old, from preaching, will certainly prevent any kind of a last-generation perfect team of workers. Removing half, defrocking the ordained, energetically pursuing the Headship Heresy. We’ve taken a wrong turn. May God forgive us and get us back on the straight and narrow.
Until we get that right, our mission and the energy put forward towards it will be handicapped and lopsided.
It simply betrays a deficient view of the gospel itself, and all that it implies. In a divided and polarized world, that is mired in oppression and discrimination over race, religion, class, and gender, how can we be so myopic as to think that we have anything to proclaim to the world while we are mired in the same mess in our own house? The reduction of the gospel to individual salvation, experience, and an exit ticket to heaven at the end gives a distorted sense of mission, community, and conscience over this issue. We can go out and preach the gospel message while not even getting and even denying one of its main purposes?
That may work in the eyes of some. I wonder if it works in God’s eyes.
Thank-you for your thoughts…I have enjoyed this thread with you, Harrpa, David1, etc.
Though I completely agree with the concept of greater Community of Believers, in my opinion, one of the huge deficits that Adventism has had is the lack of teaching on discipleship and spiritual formation. In fact, I see the two topics being extricably intertwined. If a person does not know how to “deepen” their relationship with God (or even have one), then what worth is corporate worship other than an exercise in “togetherness”? One could join many humanitarian causes and get as much (if not more) out of the experience.
I hear your concerns with Adventism’s deficiencies in this area, Kim. Spiritual formation and discipleship seem confined to an intellectual learning of the doctrines, and the personal reading of the Bible and/or devotionals, Sabbath School lessons, and witnessing.
I wonder, though, if part of the answer is actually to be found in community. Twelve step groups encourage working with a sponsor and sponsoring others, helping one another in recovery, which is a type of spiritual growth and formation. The first word of the steps is “we,” as opposed to the isolated “I” of living as an addict.
Additionally, the fruit of the Spirit that Paul lays out in Galatians is a complex of relational qualities, that can only be developed and grow in community. Love, joy, peace/shalom, patience, etc., are all qualities that are truly tested and grown within the messiness of real relationships and community, not in an isolated pursuit of God. To me, this is what real discipleship looks like.
While this does not discount the individual disciplines of prayer, meditation, journaling, private worship and praise, and the like, I really think that the NT points much more to discipleship and a relationship with God as something that is lived together. Jesus’s own words that whatever we do to the least of these, we do to him, points us in this direction, as well. IOW, we encounter God, and learn what it means to serve and be served by God, just as much in our interactions with one another, as we do in our own quiet times.
Just some thoughts.
Undoubtedly, key difference being church is often comprised of “perfect” folk trying to out-perfect each other, proudly “humble” about it, but AA is a group of folk who just admit “hey, I’m a sinner, can you help me?”
I am not discounting the value of community in developing or refining spirituality…however, we come back to the same conundrum where if the community has not developed these things- how can they help individuals learn? Which is an issue within Adventism as you have already noted.
@cincerity, Micah 6:8
“Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Our church has re-phrased as Know God (Individually), Show God (In our lives), Grow God (In the Community)
So true…wonderful illustrative text, Robert! What I especially love about this particular one is that it is OT and addresses, “Mankind”. So beautiful. Thank-you.
You have struck the proverbial nail squarely upon the wanting head. “Community” amongst believers does not simply occur. It requires intention, action, surrender, sacrifice and devotion to the core cause.
Community demands a dynamic lattice of supporting, expanding and containing beliefs. Sadly our communities are often found wanting.
In times where desires for community to nurture to protect and to provide formation are frustrated, I offer to us all a challenge borrowed from a well known and successful 12-step community.
Simply this, “Create the fellowship you crave.”
Why wait, why worry, why waste time?
And so it is with wisdom and obedience, the causes sited as drawing us away from unity. Community relies on these conditions both to survive and to thrive.
So with community, unity requires obedience. Obedience to the bidding of the Spirit. In following His will, we arrive at wisdom. Then the cycle repeats itself again, and again.
Yes, life here is short and it does take intention to create the kind of community that spiritually works. Thanks for your thoughts.
This goes back to Jesus Quoting Deut. and Lev. Although this is in REVERSE order
Jesus – Love yourself and Love others [neighbors who are strangers to us]
Love God with all heart, mind, soul.
Love REQUIRES ACTION. ACT justly. Promote justice in the community.
BE [always active] Faithful.
WALK – a Journey of continually developing in one’s self the Image of God
by behaving LIKE God through Practice.
I know you, for one, are familiar with and have been blessed by Richard’s writings.
Today’s meditation really resonated with me and I just want to share it.
The new creation life promised us by God in the gospel is our True Self and a return to our origin.
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
From the Center for Action and Contemplation
The Most Essential Thing
Sunday, October 28, 2018
The most powerful, most needed, and most essential teaching is always Love. Love is our foundation and our destiny. It is where we come from and where we’re headed. As St. Paul famously says, “So faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
My hope, whenever I speak or write, is to help clear away the impediments to receiving, allowing, trusting, and participating in a foundational Love.
God’s love is planted inside each of us as the Holy Spirit who, according to Jesus, “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26).
Love is who you are. When you don’t live according to love, you are outside of being. You’re basically not real or true to yourself. When you love, you are acting according to your deepest being, your deepest truth. You are operating according to your dignity. For a simple description of the kind of love I am talking about, let’s just use the word outflowing. This will become clearer as we proceed.
All I can do is remind you of what you already know deep within your True Self and invite you to live connected to this Source. John the Evangelist writes, “God is love, and whoever remains in love, remains in God and God in them” (1 John 4:16). The Judeo-Christian creation story says that we were created in the very “image and likeness” of God—who sets the highest bar for this kind of outflowing love (Genesis 1:26-27). Out of the Trinity’s generative and infinitely flowing relationship, all of creation takes form, mirroring its Creator in its deepest identity.
We have heard this phrase so often that we don’t get the existential shock of what “created in the image and likeness of God” is saying about us. If this is true, then our family of origin is divine. It is saying that we were created by a loving God to also be love in the world. Our core is original blessing, not original sin. Our starting point is “very good” (Genesis 1:31). If the beginning is right, the rest is made considerably easier, because we know and can trust the clear direction of our life’s tangent.
We must all overcome the illusion of separateness. It is the primary task of religion to communicate not worthiness but union, to reconnect people to their original identity “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). The Bible calls the state of separateness “sin.” God’s job description is to draw us back into primal and intimate relationship. “My dear people, we are already children of God; what we will be in the future has not yet been fully revealed, and all I do know is that we shall be like God” (1 John 3:2).
Henceforth, all our moral behavior is simply “the imitation of God.” First observe what God is doing all the time and everywhere, and then do the same thing (Ephesians 5:1). And what does God do? God does what God is: Love. God does not love you if and when you change. God loves you so that you can change!
Unity is second to charity. It should be possible to disagree without being disagreeable. I taught at a Catholic University for 8 years. before I left for Loma Linds I visited the Jesuit priest who was VP for academic affairs to thank him for the an excellent 8 years. he replied Thank you, if you ever wish to return we will have the red carpet out for you.
Rohr’s meditations are wonderful…I receive them also.
One of the things that Rohr emphasizes over and over again is the universality of God’s love and how we as humans are all connected in this world (both physical and spiritual). Since he has been highly influenced by Christian Mysticism the total connection between Maker and Creation appears over and over again in his thoughts. I also love his thoughts on dualistic and non-dualistic religion. Anyway…thanks for posting this entry.