Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Shack Annotated discussion guide, Ch 8

Our group finished Chapter 8 tonight. Thought some might like to see our discussion.

118 How do you know God is especially fond of you?
A Typically we look for some favorable circumstances to determine the depth of God’s love for us or lack of it. While any pleasant experience may provide some emotional comfort, it is not a good basis for determining the strength of God’s love for us. It is as fleeting as the emotion it brings forth. ONLY in His Word can we see the depth of His love and commitment to us. Creation, the cross and His Coming again says it all. The Spirit bears witness to our spirit that he loves us. No emotion, experience or evidence, pro or con, can trump the declarations of God’s love for us.
119 Who is God angry with? Does God get angry with believing children? Why do you think so?
A I personally would disagree that God becomes angry with his believing children, but it is not a big deal to me either if you disagree. God can be mad at you if you want. In this conversation Papa is including ALL children, some of whom will be consumed by her Loving Wrath. That part I see. My reason: God has no reason to be angry with believing children is because He is in total control, He is in me and I am in him (see above, Col 1:27-28, Romans 8, and Eph 3)and he does not hold, count or remember any of my sin against me. The sin issue was settled on the cross when Jesus was made to BE sin for us and broke it’s power over us in his resurrection.
Isa 1:18 Come now let us reason together, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.
PS 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
HEB 10:17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
PS 103:12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. What things would you find much easier if you were just to accept what is?
What is included in “What is”?
A Everything that is unsettled, contradictory, incomplete etc about God revealed in the Word.
120 How can Papa say “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It is not my purpose to punish it, it is my joy to cure it”?
A The eternal plan was to recapture the original purpose in perfection. Jesus did that on the Cross. Papa is working it all out now. Originally man walked and talked with Jesus in the garden but independent thinking moved Adam and Eve to sin. Our problem today is NOT sin (which was taken care of on the cross) but independent self will. We have been saved from our sins, we need to be saved daily from our independent self and consciously live IN CHRIST and Christ IN US. If we concentrate on the relationship independent living that expresses itself in sin will not be an issue.
121 What captured Mack about the way Papa, Jesus and Sarayu communicated?
A The simplicity and beauty of their relationship, their oneness, their love for each other, how they lived in harmony.
Who is the leader in the trinity?
A Jesus said in John (above) the father was greater and he was the same as the father. This is one of the contradictions that is declared and never explained. It is part of the WHAT IS above. Where we are used to seeing hierarchy, the trinity only knows unity. Jesus is submissive to the Father, but not in the way we understand submissiveness. There is no disagreement here. If you try to figure this out perfectly you’re going to get a migraine and or ulcer! Young’s purpose here is to help us to see the relationship that we are invited to partake in, not to understand the incomprehensible. This section really challenges us to consider how we relate to each other in our institutional churches. Jake Coleman’s So You Don’t Want to go to Church Any More takes a serious look at the inherent flaws in the typical institutional church. He does not call for the overthrow of the institution, but the renewal of working and living in relationship in the body church, not the building church. He is calling for the institution to promote relationship, not sacrifice relationship for the institution.
Unfortunately some people may take an extreme view of this general subject and decide that institutions and hierarchy are not a part of God’s plan for people. Clearly this is not the message intended here. God does have a hierarchy in the home, church, business and government. Of course there are going to be abuses in a fallen world, but the plan and commands in respect to authority is still in scripture. The issue is not leadership but relationship.
122 What is the difference between a circle of relationship and a chain of command.
A There is perfect unity, agreement and oneness in the circle of relationship that exists ONLY in the trinity. Because of sin, that probably can not and so far has not existed among any circle of believers. Our fallen nature makes it impossible for us to live without some sort of hierarchy and command structure. Each of us are too selfish and independent to live in that kind of harmony. It hinders us from joining in true relationship but there is NO REASON WE SHOULD NOT TRY. Obviously there would have to be some basic agreement on the plan or submission would be tantamount to becoming someone’s slave. Ideally, a body of believers could, should and will adopt a new ideal and head in this direction. Sadly, until we are perfected we will fall short. Better to fall short trying. To the degree we succeed in community, we will experience a little heaven on earth. A good place to start:
PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

PHP 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:…..

Why would the trinity NOT need or desire an authority based structure?
A They are one, united, equal, indivisible, unique, infinite, perfect, complete, finished. They have no need to grow in any sense.
Why is it hard for humans to reach true relationships?
A Independent spirit always looking out for self first. Unworthy, unwilling, untrusting.
Does a hierarchy have to act like a circle of relationship?
A NO and realistically as much as possible, yes. I am the pastor of a small church made up largely of interrelated families. I am the unchallenged leader by all standards. I would love to live in unity with all but I do not know how to stop babies from acting like babies. NO way will I let the toddlers decide what they are going to do in the nursery. They need protection and love. If I just let them run they would play in the parking lot and eat all the cookies. A very strong hierarchy must exist for their protection. Similarly, I cannot just encourage every young Christian to do whatever they want when they want. Some structure must exist and God has placed me there to lead. My goal is simple: Unity and maturity according to Eph 3:14ff. I know I will die without reaching it completely, but maybe I can set the stage for the next generation to come closer to the “wonder of relationship we intended”. Right now if I killed off every aspect of institutionalism, the patient would die also. It is the best I can do today.
123 How have we confused “adaptation for intention or seduction for reality”?
A Because of our stubborn independence we have had to adapt to a hierarchy over relationship, but that was not the original purpose in the garden. Reality of life exists in relationship with people, not power over them. Note here that Papa tried to get Mack to go easy on the greens making him pull twice. She warned him he was eating too much and told him she was looking out for him, but let him eat all the same. Why? Papa already has a solution at hand. Sarayu gives him the herbs to settle his stomach later, but he still got sick to his stomach first.
Is it always dangerous to choose independence over relationship? Are there any exceptions?
A To the degree that we choose independence (read I want it my way) over relationship in any human, be it church, work or marriage, there is danger. Independence produces power struggles, each side looking for some advantage, neither side willing to give in for fear of the loss of control. The golden rule of the street kicks in here. “He who has the gold makes the rules!” Proverbs is full of wisdom of who to stay away from. In relationship living the other golden rule applies; Do unto others.
How does God work within our systems while trying to free us from them?
A As we learn to live loved in relationship with God and each other we will discover that God works in, around, through or without the institution and approaches the individual and offers a new way of living in relationship with Himself that is void of institutional trappings, rules, expectations, performance, demands and any laws that do not fulfill the first and great command to Love God and each other.
What systems do you need to be freed from?
124 Why was man made in the first place?
A To live in relationship with Him and each other.
Are you yielding to the matrix?
A PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. PHP 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
PHP 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
PHP 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. PHP 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! PHP 2:9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, PHP 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, PHP 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What would life be like “unencumbered by structure and simply free to be in relationship with God and one another”?
A Heaven
What kind of hierarchy will there be in heaven for eternity? What could that imply?
A Assuming there is not a hierarchy as we would understand here on earth, we would live in the circle of love and relationship with God, sharing all that he is. If that is correct, to some degree we can begin that kind of living now by consciously refusing independence and choosing relationship with God and others.
In your life has “everything that has taken place …occurred…exactly according to this purpose, without violating choice or will”?
125 Why does God not stop evil?
A He will not over rule free choice in general and the evil that effects any individual can only be understood in the context of his life and eternity. We cannot understand all that God knows and sees now. People living under the illusion of the God of their imagination instead of the God of revelation will turn against their God for failing to protect them from harm. They confuse WHICH God they are angry with, often blaming the God of revelation for something He did not desire or cause. They become hardened against God in general insisting on their own independence and power. The alternative is to recognize the difference between the self inclined God and embrace the scripture defined God who promises to work it all together according to his purpose. The God of Scripture is not a liar. He wins every case in court.

If God does not stop evil, does that make him complicit in the evil? Explain
A To make God complicit because he does not use the totality of his power to control all evil is comparable to making the US Army complicit in terror attacks. One well placed nuke would stop all terrorist activities in Bagdad. Build a wall all around some cities and don’t let anyone in or out. Restrict all movement with the threat of death to violators. That would defeat the entire purpose of trying to set them free. The goal for both is freedom, not annihilation.
Can any choice I make cause God to have to alter his plan or purpose? Why do you think so?
A He already took it into account. A fun mental exercise is to consider that because God is the ultimate source of everything of any description and is timeless, he never planned anything or thought anything as a man would think. He simply is I AM It leads to the conclusion that he is large and in charge and can be trusted with every detail, big or small. RO 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
Does God literally use every choice we make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome?
Why doesn’t it always feel like that?
A We have limited vision and understanding of our fractal. We also fail to see God is bigger than our sin or problems. Our view of God will also cloud our feelings. We fail to believe that God really does love us completely and totally.
126 What were the lies that Mack had bought into that caused him to say that the ends justified the means?
A That God uses or is in some way associated with evil. God is not totally good or trustworthy. A self centered view of the universe. Mack is feeling insignificant, like he does not really matter when the truth is that he is the highest of God’s creation.
Is there a sense in which you share Mack’s underlying flaw?
If you are worried or anxious about something, is that an indication that you share Mack’s ailment? Why or why not?
What is trust? How is it achieved?
A Trust is the “fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved” It is achieved by growing in the relationship one step at a time. It is not about performance, rule keeping, standards or any institutional set of values. It is walking and talking together, sharing and listening. It is truly believing that God is love and has your very best interests at heart.
How did Papa say he would help Mack learn and change? Would that same thing work for you in your life?
What did Papa mean when he said it was not performance?
A Nothing we do can make Him love us any more or less. We must believe God truly loves us.
127 What did Papa mean when He said, “we’re not justifying it, we are redeeming it”?
A Mack was trying to make sense of his daughters murder and did not feel any good result could justify his loss. God was doing much more than justifying it, he is redeeming it by breaking the power of evil. Mack is only seeing this from his personal perspective not the totality of what God is doing both now and in eternity. Consider the greatest sacrifice, Jesus. God made that work for the good of all mankind even though the disciples and Mary could not see it or understand it.

1 comment:

shannondale said...

i had no idea the group had started back up is it still on thursdays at your house