Beautiful Fruit

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Karen drew my attention to this beautiful fruit.

Last count the death toll was 59 and the number injured was over 500.

Who is to blame?  The gun makers – I used to think so, but there are infinitely more honorable gun users than not.  The politicians – even if they changed the laws, someone will find a way to circumvent the system.  Mentally ill people – absolutely not.  Most of us are ill mentally in some way.  The church – I want to think so, but that’s a rabbit hole I can not allow myself to go down right now.

We blame because we want control.  We want to find the reason this man plotted and killed so we can control this from happening again.  I want to find the reason that #1 and #2 left so that I can control this from happening again.

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Maybe I will go down the rabbit hole…………(not the blog I intended to write, but it just flowed)

I returned from the conference in Wichita, Kansas.  The topic was “Beauty Will Save the World.”

The predominant gospel of the American church has been substitutionary atonement:  ….(delete my snarky, dishonoring definition….insert Wikipedia definition) – “Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, ‘instead of’ them.”

And insert interesting article – rabbit hole within a rabbit hole.

Here

It was right, says Luther, for Christ “to bear the punishment and the wrath of God—not for his own Person, which was righteous and invincible and therefore could not become guilty, but for our person.” Herein are the grounds of our justification and our assurance of salvation. This doctrine, writes Luther, is “so sweet and so filled with comfort” because it teaches that “Christ became a curse for us, that is, a sinner worthy of the wrath of God; that He clothed Himself in our person, laid our sins upon His own shoulders, and said: ‘I have committed the sins that all men [people] have committed.’”7

I have interpreted substitutionary atonement for myself as, “I am a worthless rag.  Nothing good can come from me.  Anything good is a work of God through the Holy Spirit in my life.”

That is a part of the picture.

But it is NOT all of the picture.

Did you know God called God’s creation good?

Another piece of the picture is this…Genesis 1:24-31:

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earthand subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

I will argue that when our gospel fails to acknowledge Genesis 1 and a lot of the gospel of John which says I am in He and He is in me, etc., etc., etc. ….when we leave this stuff out we open the door for harm.  When we believe we are only dirty rags, it is hard to convince a woman in the depths of depression that her life is worth living. When we believe others are all sinners, it could numb a man from realizing he is ending the potential of 59 souls from creating beauty.

W. Paul Young is the author of “The Shack”.

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April in New Mexico, Conference on Trinity, with W. Paul Young

He tells a story of a woman who approached him one day.

“What color are my eyes?” she asked him.

She told him all of her life she prayed to have blue eyes.  Early in her life her dad told her, her eyes were the color of shit.  She prayed for God to turn her eyes from brown to blue.

W. Paul Young looked into the woman’s blue eyes and told her she had blue eyes.

When we are told things about ourselves at young and vulnerable stages of our lives, we come to believe what those who are in positions of authority tell us.  Being told you are a worthless sinner, when everything in your life seems to point out to you that you are worthless and unlovable, is hard to overcome.

So many people in my life keep telling me I am beautiful.  These God-given, beautiful people keep telling me I am beautiful.  Just last night as I was opening up one of about 75 forms for my volunteer band work I found this note….

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Little did the author of that note know how much I would need to hear that message at that moment.  Is she one of God’s angels?  Are we?

Who is the to blame for the gunman?  I wonder if it is the church.  Did we fail to get the message to this man that he was made in God’s image.

Luke 12:48

48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

We are supposed to know better.  I blame myself – as part of the broken church – for the death and injury and despair.  Perhaps that is just me trying to find a way to control an uncontrollable situation.

In April I attended a conference in New Mexico on Trinity.  I was listening to one of the talks again yesterday and wanted to share a part of a video where W. Paul Young talks about something.  I could not get the video on this site….so I will transcribe his words and leave you with this….

“We were a very good creation before anything got broken.  If we start to understand the truth of our being, the way of our being will naturally match it.  But if we believe the truth of our being is worthlessness, all you have is coverup….

It’s about us beginning to realize that the declaration of God is, “You’re not only a good creation, and a very good creation, but a new creation.  In Christ.  And guess what.  By nature you are kind and good and patient and long-suffering and pure of heart.

That is the truth of your being.  May the Holy Spirit teach us to learn how to agree with the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it.”

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Further reading:

James Bryant Smith – The Magnificent Story:  Uncovering the Gospel of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth (I haven’t read the book, but it was his conference in Kansas from which I just returned.)

Brian Zahnd – Beauty Will Save the World:  Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of Christianity (Also haven’t read this, but he was the closing speaker of the conference and WOW!)

Dallas Willard – anything…but especially The Divine Conspiracy

I came home and started reading the writings of Julian of Norwich and I feel soooooo in love and seen.