Thursday, July 8, 2010

Listener and 'Soul Cravings'

Went to experience Listener tonight.
Good stuff.

Then bought stuff,helped pack up, and ate food with them and Columbus friends.
(I would be friends with them--aka my best compliment to give out---They are awkward and quick).

So I finally finished 'Soul Cravings' by Erwin Raphael McManus. It was an interesting book, split mainly between the topics of love and purpose. The purpose section (the back half) had a couple deep puddles for my mind to wade thru, and I might have to come back and chew on that more later.

I'm going to put up some stuff from the love section:

Entry #11: Chased by Love (Please Don't Run Too Fast)

In Chasing Daylight, I describe a time when a team of us were in the Middle East. I had been invited to speak to a group of Muslims, specifically about the history of Christianity. Pressed by my translator to answer a question that I had somewhat evaded, I was left with nowhere to go but to talk more specifically and personally about Jesus. I had been discribing to them my own sense of disappointment with and even distain of the religion of Christianity. They all quickly agreed that as a religion, there were deep problems and inconsistencies between beliefs and practices.

But eventually they wanted to know what exactly was the meaning behind the coming of Jesus. Somewhat apprehensively I began my best effort to translate back into a Middle Eastern context the story of Jesus (after all, this was Jesus' home turf) and, more specifically, why it would be necessary for God to become human. This, from my vantage point, was the story of God. It's a love story, by the way.

"I once met a girl named Kim."

My translator looked at me, confused. I'm sure he was wracking his brain, trying to remember some biblical character named Kim. He stopped translating and just looked at me. I encouraged him to simply translate.

"I once met a girl named Kim, and I fell in love."

I continued, "I pursued her with my love and pursued her with my love until I felt my love had captured her heart. So I asked her to be my wife, and she said no." I could feel their empathy, if not their pity.

"I was unrelenting and asked her again, pursuing her with my love, and I pursued her with my love until she said yes."

There was a huge relief thoughout the entire room.
I went on. "I did not send my brother, nor did I send a friend. For in the issues of love, you must go yourself."

"This is the story of God: he pursues you with his love and pursues you with his love, and you have perhaps not said yes. And even if you reject his love, he pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in the issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come.

This is the story of Jesus, that God has walked among us and he pursues us with his love. He is very familiar with rejection but is undeterred. And he is here even now, still pursuing you with his love."

The images we often receive of Muslims are that they're angry, hostile, and violent people. I can tell you that in this moment I knew there was something transcendent that connected all of our hearts and souls together. A belieft that was supposed to divide us strangely united us, and I feel most certain that I know why. Every human being longs for love. The possibility that God is love is an almost overwhelming prospect.

In that moment the story of Jesus was not about who is right and who is wrong, what God's name is and who is prophet is, but what exactly God's motivation toward humanity is. If the message that God wants to get across to us is just about getting our beliefs right, then he didn't need to come himself. If God's entire intent was to clarify right from wrong, no personal visitation was necessary. If the ultimate end was simply to overwhelm us with the miraculous so that we would finally believe, then even God taking on flesh and blood and walk among us was far from necessary.

There is only one reason for God to come himself, because in issues of love, you just can't have someone else stand in for you.

When it comes to love, it has to be fact-to-face. There has to be contact. Love cannot exist where there is only distance. Love can survive distance, but only by the strength of what comes through intimacy.

Like Solomon's love, God is going up and down the streets of the city, traveling the most obscure paths and untamed wilderness, walking on unnamed roads in the the most desolate of places, searching for the one he loves --and that one is you and me and every human being who has ever walked this earth, has taken a breath, and has longed for love.

Religion exists not because God loves too little, but because we need love so much. In the end all religions misrepresent God. They either dictate requirements for love or simply become a requiem for love. I think many of us have rightly given up on God on this basis alone. We've been told that God is a reluctant lover and that his standards must be met before there can be any talk of love. This is lunacy. Love exists because God is love. Our souls will never find satisfaction until our hearts have found this love that we so desperately yearn for.

God is not passive, for love is never passive, but always passionate; and passion always leads to action

The book also touched on the topic of community, which I'm slowly working back into, and since it also got mentioned tonight, I notice it's on the TO DO list :)

Next book is 'The Book of Romance' by Tommy Nelson. I found this book today @ HalfPrice Books. We did Tommy's Song of Solomon video study thru the BSU in college, and it was very illuminating. I got the book because I would like to be refreshed on the topic, and because I am a girl, and while I may not have it oozing from the pores, I am a romantic at heart. As a single, it's encouraging to me to read about actual relationships, interactions, and theories within a biblical framework, rather than just romance novel crap, where I'd just get wound up and frustrated.

(It's my 2nd night this week of being up this late ---I should probably go to bed, as I have a church meeting tomorrow morning. Goodnight!)

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