Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When people are big and God is small #4

I walk into the kitchen in my sneakers. I pour myself a glass of water from the tap. On a hot afternoon, it’s good to be home. A very normal situation in my house. I haven’t left my shoes at the door and swapped them for slippers. I don’t drink water from the kettle that was boiled earlier and left to cool. Cultural conventions effect the most mundane details of life. Assumptions shape my worldview in ways I don’t even notice. That’s why they’re assumptions I guess. I don’t even think about them.

Welch spends the last chapter of this first section broadening the horizon. He moves from self-reflection to cultural-reflection. It appears he’s trying to define the context that he’s speaking into. It’s to the USA 14 years ago. Culture has developed. We’re on the other side of the planet. But many of the factors are such broad brush-strokes that they can’t simply be dismissed.

What are some of our assumptions that push us away from a proper fear of God?
• Cult of self
• Pluralism
• It’s valid to worship “god as I define him or would like him to be”
• I am morally good
• Absolute authority of feelings
• Spirituality as unknowable non-physical experience
• People have a psychological hierarchy of needs

There’s always the danger of trying to look for assumptions from the inside. From inside a closed system, inside a situation, it’s very hard to step back and really see what’s happening. As a Christian I want to challenge these assumptions. As they’re pointed out to me I can see they’re not right. I’m not the centre of the universe. Jesus is the only way to the Father. God’s God on His own terms not mine. I’m morally corrupt. Feelings aren’t the be all and end all and final court of appeal. Spirituality isn’t all clouds and harps. God has spoken to us by his Son. Using Jesus to meet my needs treats him like a genie not Saviour and Lord. But I’m sure those flavours permeate my everyday existence and daily decisions.

Another assumption that I’ve reflected on is the priority of spontaneity. I think it’s related to the authority of feelings and spirituality. It’s assumed that going with the flow is spiritual. It’s assumed that, just like me, the Spirit works at the last minute. He can’t possibly be organised ahead of time. So whatever pops out just before the deadline for Bible Study or as I’m leading the prayer in church must be the most spiritual thing. Jesus was spiritual, Spirit empowered Messiah. He seemed pretty organised and deliberate in heading to the cross. It wasn’t just a “let’s go with the flow and see what happens” kind of event.

I’m sure there are other assumptions to explore and reflect on as well. There are many more insightful examiners of our culture out there from whom I’d love to learn. But this one has been on my mind.

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