Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Restoring Our Vocabulary ...

I do have a post currently being drafted. My South African best friend Brogan and I are co-writing it together addressing the subject of suicide. Suicide from the mountaintop of grace! And it isn't an objective perspective. Both Brogan and I have and daily deal personally with the temptation of suicide. We are writing because we really do understand. But that is a process in coming!

Today I just want to get a "rant" off my chest. I am sick to the back teeth of "labels". What do I mean by that? Well if we persist as a church in living in a mixture of Old Covenant and New Covenant terminology then we may be familiar with certain labels but we certainly are not consistent with them. Brogan texted me today and used a label that I will address - and it irked me. It didn't irk me that he used it. It irked me that a lifetime of legalism forced him to use it out of habit.

So I want to propose two scenarios. The first is a scenario that is consistent mixing of Old Covenant and New Covenant. The second is purely New Covenant.

1. Mixing Old and New Covenant.

The label that Brogan used in a text to me was "queer". I don't think anyone will need help in understanding the context of that label. "Queer" is just one of the labels used to denote people with a homosexual orientation - i.e they are attracted to the same sex. But the dictionary definition of "queer" is this;

"1. strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.

2.of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away".

It seems to me there is absolutely nothing positive about the use of this term in connection with the children of God. However I'm sadly familiar with it. Before I talk about consistency, then there is a key verse that should be mentioned here - 2 Corinthians 5:19;

"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation".

If God is "not counting our trespasses against us" then what business do we have using a label that denotes particular sons or daughters of God as "strange or odd"?! Be that as it may - if we ARE going to use that particular label, then we must be consistent. If we are going to mix law with grace - then we should be aware that the law is absolutely radical! And law has a lot of labels. Here's a few that should be included in our vocabulary along with "queer".

Adulterer - an individual who looks at another with lust in their heart (Matthew 5:28).

Penalty under law: Required mutilation of offending limbs (Matthew 5:29-30).

Murderer - an individual who looks at another with hate in their heart (Matthew 5:21-22).

Penalty under law: Hell fire (Matthew 5:21-22).

The Proud - an individual who (albeit secretly) loves themselves, thinks there is something good about themselves and cannot quite believe they 100% need God (Psalm 10:4).

Penalty under law: The HATRED of God (Proverbs 8:13).

The Coveter - an individual who looks at a possession of another and wants it albeit secretly (Exod. 20:17).

Penalty under law: The curses of Deuteronomy 28:16-68.

And those are just a selection. Is anyone prepared to adopt those labels? Have you ever looked at a woman/man with lust in your heart? In that case, how are you "adulterer"? Have you ever felt so strongly against someone that you hated them? Are you facing your actions "murderer"?

Some may claim I am being petty. But that is exactly the whole point of the law. The Law IS petty. The Law excuses NONE! If you have looked at another individual with lust in your heart and that person was not your married spouse then you have committed adultery in your heart and you are guilty of death (mutilated of course). If you have hated another individual and felt so strongly against them that you have called them "fool" or the modern equivalent in your heart then you are guilty of hell fire.

Galatians 5:4 is clear; "You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace".

Todd Bentley has not fallen from grace by getting divorced! Are you trying to gain acceptance before God through keeping forms of the law? Then it is you who have fallen from grace.

But there is another alternative!

2. New Covenant - How God Sees Us!

I have already quoted 2 Corinthians 5:19. God is not counting man's sins against him! The wrath of God has been satisfied 2,000 years ago on Calvary. The New Testament is packed full of the phrase; "You were ... but now you are".

Galatians 5:18: "But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law".

Law or Spirit. It is not a case of both! It is a case of either/or. You chose law - you can use the term "queer" - but you must also adopt for yourself the many terms law has for you. You choose grace?! There is just one state.

"You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God!".

So I ended my text discussion with Brogan asking him not to use or adopt the label "queer". God is not counting man's sin against them therefore the only valid label that we may adopt under the New Covenant is this;

We are beloved sons and daughters of God - brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ - beloved, chosen before the foundation of the world - justified, called, chosen, sanctified, glorified - accepted!


jul said...

You're at your best preaching grace!

I can't wait to read what you're working on regarding suicide, a much neglected topic I think. I am one who has struggled a lot with suicidal thoughts and even now they often pop into my head quickly whenever life gets difficult... but we now know a better way, life with Jesus in the NEW covenant!

janelle said...

I second Julie...looking forward to the suicide post! Oh, and this one was excellent as well.

I once heard a friend use the word "fag" which I hate as well. I looked at her and told her that in the same way as the "n" word is demeaning and purposefully used to insult someone who is black, so this is used to insult and demean and belittle someone who is homosexual. Or even THOUGHT to be homosexual. We just don't THINK when we say stuff like that. You are absolutely correct in comparing the lust, anger, etc with that, because we hold a standard for others that we don't hold for ourselves. Loved this, Dan.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks girls!! :)

Absolutely Janelle, I didn't even touch the blight of racism that is in the church - why oh why is it necessary for there to be black churches and white churches - if we are all "one" in Christ?!?!

I know the couple of churches I have been to in my life were predominately white. And thats sad and awful!

Whereas one of the most glorious experiences of my life was to attend the Brighton conference where traditionally every "offering night" there is an amazing blend of international worship. Yes it's not something I'm used to! But it is great - probably more of a touch of heaven than anything else!!

Are we so stupid as a white church to believe that heaven's worship is going to be sitting in rows singing "sound doctrinal" songs - with maybe hands raised if we are really getting "into" it!??! And a prophecy mike?!!?


I think the marriage supper of the Lamb is going to more resemble a mad, crazy festival with wild abandoned dancing (minus the illicit drugs!) - such is the joy that the Bridegroom has come back for us!!

Sadly I think a lot of so-called reformed charismatics are going to have some swift changes to make - and that's in heaven!!

But I'm getting off the subject ... !!

Brogan Duncan said...

haha DAN, WoW...
so i now know never to use that label with you again! (nice one!)

As for the black and white Church's, that is not really a problem in South AFrica at all. But gay people certainly are not treated as equals (be they practising or celibate or whatever) and are often asked to leave churchs. And then i heard a Pastor say the other day that "homosexuality must be demonic because gay people do not go to Church". LIKE, HOW STUPID! When they, we, try to go to church we are asked to leave, but if we do leave then we are demonised...

makes you think hey?

Grace is definitly the way forward, and labels do suck. cant wait to do the "suicide Blog". I think its important! :D

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

this is cool real world stuff.
regarding black and white churches, speaking as one born in Ghana and brought up with as many black visitors to our house as white....
I still have to say this...
White 1st and secondlevellers don't make Christ central, but have annoying "things" that they add to the experience of knowing Christ.
Black 1st and 2nd levellers are JUST the Same.
What makes a man or woman a true 3rd leveller is they have a "single eye" that Jesus talks about. They look for Jesus in everyone, saved or unsaved, mature or immature, because they themselves are rooted and grounded in the experience of walking in Christ consistently.
They call everyone everywhere onward to this noble calling, seeing only where a person is slipping back into "independant thinking" and "away from the grace of his or her new position."
Past black and white saints to have stirred up trouble by refusing to live by human labels and separations include the Azusa street brothers at the birth of Pentecostal revival, and also John G Lake and Elias Letwaba in South Africa at the same period. They were years ahead of all other peoples because of their maturity in Christ. And they weren't about to let any human institutions interfere with their freedom in Christ.

Jamie said...

16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. 2 Cor. 5:16.

You know, I REALLY like you, kiddo.

Excellent post. 2 Cor. 5:14-21 is some life changing truth if we'll just let it sink in...

Suicide: sad choice for our earth suit but that's about it. :)