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FROM WHERE
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ONE MAN'S
PERSPECTIVE

   
A WORD OF COMFORT BEFORE YOU PROCEED: There is nothing we can do to separate us from God's love. ...Excerpted from Romans 8:39
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God Not As Religion

Earlier Stories 


 THEOLOGY ASKEW? 

  A PERSPECTIVE FROM JOHN MICKELSON
 
Signs of the times? We're All Bozos On This Bus
Let's be honest with ourselves: We're all screw-ups to one extent or the other. Those who hope to get to heaven by having their good deeds outnumber the bad will fall short, even by their own measure. Fortunately, that's not how God chose to keep score.

Remember that comedy album from the early 1970s: We're All Bozos On This Bus by a troupe named Firesign Theatre. I confess to never having actually listened to the album, I just sold it among the hundreds of others in the Record Department I worked at during my high school and college years. (For the youngsters among you, they preceded Compact Disc audio recordings.)

But how is this a theological notion? Read on: Not until fairly recently, however, did I see a fundamental theology embedded (by my association only, in all likelihood) in that title. But, the more I came to admit my true nature — and that of all of us, like it or not — that phrase stuck with me. And summed up a fundamental quality we all share, despite the great promise we all were given at conception.

Long before God made Man (okay, for the politically correct among you, "humanity"), He — in His perfect and infinite foresight — knew that when (not if) He gave us a measure of free will, that we would choose to go our own way most, if not all, of the time.

Still, He chose to grant us that freedom. Why? Because He wanted this special creation of His to be able to have a relationship with its Creator. But to do that, He needed to grant us the choice to come to Him freely, of our own accord. (After all, what kind of relationship would you have with your parents, or even your friends, if you had utterly no choice in your fellowship with them? Blind obedience pretty much precludes the development of an ongoing relationship.)

Even for God, decisions have consequences. (Why do we sometimes think that our "freedoms" exempt us from consequence, if not responsibility?) By deciding, in love, to give us free will, He fully knew that we would naturally tend to choose our own way — one that is both divergent from and inferior to His perfect will.

So why are we Bozos? (And no offence to the famous TV clown whose name we derive for this discussion.) Surely, God didn't create us to be Bozos. No, even in our disobedience, God doesn't view us as Bozos — but given all that He has equipped us for, and the strength we can find in His Holy Spirit, surely we must admit that we, in our own right, are bozos because we continue to choose our own way. Although it so often fails us. And, long-term, it will doom us.

So despite our nature, we should not only be amazed, but likewise eternally grateful that God, our Father, loves us unconditionally. It's not like we deserve it. But His example of Love is the ultimate, a standard we must aspire to ourselves, and can only hope to approach it by receiving such empowering from Him. Through His Son. As enabled by His Spirit. We have no power to do that, or much of anything of lasting value, on our own.

But as God told Paul as recorded in II Corinthians 12: "My strength is best revealed through your weakness." And like all of us, Paul's nature was selfish and self-destructive. And, given, all He endured after he was delivered at Damascus, he understood his nature better than most of us admit of ourselves:

So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do that good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. {Romans 7:17-19}

But, despite this indictment of himself, and all of mankind once you realize the truth of his analysis, Paul goes on to realize that, fortunately, God's unconditional love comes to the rescue:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. {Romans 8:38-39}

God ultimately and eternally, has wanted to redeem us from the consequences of our free will. That has been accomplished by his Son, Jesus Christ, bearing the price of our sins on the Cross. But, even there, God permits us to deny and refuse the gift of eternal redemption, should we continue to want to do it ourselves. Woe be unto those of us who continue in this folly. But, as great as His love is for us, He will let us live —and die should we so choose — in the free-will casualty of our "Bozo" choice.

A Final Indictment ... on me. God's promise includes allowing us to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, who indwells in us (as we let Him) as a mark of our belonging to God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:13). That means I could have, and should have, let the Holy Spirit choose all the words that were ushered forth onto this page. As valid as the premise of this treatise may be, had I totally surrendered this work to the Holy Spirit's leading, I most certainly doubt that He would even let me call mankind "Bozos." So, I must confess the obvious: I let my will, and nature, creep in to even this, my attempt to impart God's truth.

That is a fundamental flaw that has found its way into the Christian church, at least as it has developed in the hands of man, in the form of organized religion.

But that suggests, and warrants, an entirely new and different article.

 

But Ne'er Forget: In spite of it all ...
God is not, contrary to popular western thought, an ol' Grampa type who looks at our sin and cackles — as if our sins were but cute shenanigans. He is incapable of regarding iniquity (He is too utterly holy to bear such a direct glare), so our disobedience hurts Him deeply. But God loves us despite all that; we are not Bozos to Him.
Wine glass

  For more Theology Askew? examinations, start with a look at God, but perhaps not as Religion.


 
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