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Speak only Good!

Aug 19, 2014 at 02:04
Category: Doing the Stuff!


Hello Friends, Some time ago I came across a Face Book post admonishing all to speak only positive things.  It stuck with me since there are a lot of negative, bash this and bash that posts and it is often easier to criticize than to work for a solution. Acting to effect change always carries the risk of failure.  Criticizing and blaming can become a comfort zone for those who are afraid to act.

Speak only the positive!  Ok but language is a funny thing.  Words only have meaning in context and words often get misused, abused and worn out.  The same words that are used to control, spread fear,  create false worlds and mind prisons can be used to bring the freedom, light and truth that enable people to make their own choices and discover truth for themselves.  The same words that tell people what to think can be used to set people free to think.

Jesus often used contrast to provide the context that gave meaning to His words.  And yes, sometimes that contrast was negative.  "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord is over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your slave- just as the Sone of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many."   Not that but this!  

In some circles there are a lot of questions about the Old Testament and its difficult passages, in particular the violence of the history of the wars of conquest and genocide and some of the provisions of the Mosaic law.  If these are questions that you are facing, you may appreciate some of the works of Greg Boyd however, it is not my purpose to address these issues.  The reason I raise the Old Testament is to do with the issue of context and the meaning of words.  Words have meaning from cultural context.  The genius of the Holy Spirit in giving us the historical record of God's dealings with "the people of the book" through their relationship with the law, the prophets and their worship in the Psalms is that He created an historical context in which the New Covenant terms have definition and meaning.  

The words of Jesus and the letters and ecstatic literature of the New Testament have an historical context so that no matter into which language they are translated  and no matter in what cultural context there are read, those who speak that language and those who are in that culture can appreciate and understand what Jesus said.  This is the genius of the Holy Spirit.  And it is like the genius of the Holy Spirit that the Jewish poetry is written in thought rhymes rather than sound rhymes.  Rhythm and rhyme poetry is difficult to translate into other languages because each language has its own rhythms and rhymes.  Thought rhymes?  Can translate into every language!  But I digress.

While the creation of an historical context for the New Covenant is a stroke of Holy Spirit genius, most of the church of the first two centuries did not have access to the scriptures as we now know them.  Further, a large portion of those people could not read.  What made the early church so viral?  The context that gave meaning to their words concerning the Kingdom of God and Jesus was their actions, their life style, in short, their living life together.

Take a very used, abused and worn out phrase, "to make disciples".  For many to "make disciples" means to hold classes until the new believers are able to recite the dogmas and distinctives of that particular group with an emphasis on why they are "right" and the other groups are "wrong".   The "right" behaviour most important to these groups is attendance at the meetings and giving money to support the leadership and buildings.   I think Jesus would condemn this as "making proselytes" and as being  exactly what He condemned the scribes and pharisees of His day for doing.   Yes, sometimes you must speak the negative!  You must state what you do not mean.

Jesus often used stories to illustrate his teaching.  The command to love your neighbour brought the question, "And who is my neighbour?" Jesus responds with the story of the good Samaritan who cared for the wounded man after the various religious leaders walked by and left him to die.  The words of the commandment were given flesh and blood, were incarnated in a real life situation and placed above argument.  You either do it or you do not. You either act out of love or you do not.  

Jesus made disciples by living with them, serving with them.    You cannot teach "servant leadership".  A leader is not someone who holds seminars about servant leadership!  Servant leadership is not taught in the classroom.  Servant leadership is caught in the street, in the home, in the workshop and under a tree as life is lived together.

We appreciate the power of the Old Covenant narrative to give context to the New but the ultimate context for our words is our lifestyle.  We are so appreciative of friends around the world, from many different backgrounds who are united in obedience to the Holy Spirit to multiply disciples and disciple making movements.  They are taking the risk to act and multiplying the generations of Jesus Christ.  Want to learn from the example of three friends who challenge me?  Look up Molong Nacua from the Philippines  on Face Book or Victor Choudhrie at  http://www.thechurchinyourhouse.blogspot.in/2014/04/greet-church-in-your-house.html  or Torban Sondergard at www.thelastreformation.com .  

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