Mission Statement

Cyber Sabbath's goal is to begin to mend the division between Christ and the world (society) that Church has created through reflections, sermons and devotionals

Cyber Sabbath is a place for the stifled Christian voice to be heard. Media gives way to much time to the extremist - over looking the theologically educated and/or the moderates in favor of what sells their view point. Here, politics aside, a pastor reflects on God's voice in every day life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Living WORD

One of the things that makes John my favorite Gospel is the wonderful language that John uses.  His language reminds me of the poetic verses found in much of the Old Testament but especially the psalms.  And as a true fan of the psalms it is no wonder, that I enjoy reading John.  

But John’s language can be deceiving.  For there a many levels to Johns writings - and John begins with a creation story.  All of the Gospel begin by telling about Jesus and how he came to be on earth.  But the other three Gospel tell the story of how Jesus the human was born into existence.  John however, beings his differently - and poetically.  He begins by bringing in two concepts - not necessary new but concepts non-the-less that needed to be stated.

The first concept is the “Word of God”
    Now, John means Jesus when he is referring to the Word.  John is saying that the WORD is God’s manifestation on Earth.  God’s manifestation on Earth.  John is also giving authority to Jesus by saying that he is the WORD.   For words have power - during this time, leaders - kings, people of power and importance would set decrees - laws that must be followed and they would inscribe their laws and have their laws read out loud.  Those who control the written word - the scribes - had much more power and influence then the average Joe who couldn’t read or write.  So by saying that Jesus is THE WORD - he was making a statement about God’s law, God’s rule, God’s way being above all else, especially above the Earthly laws set in place.  Jesus’ teachings thus are of a higher power then any other’s.

The second, and important concept is that Jesus was around at the beginning of Creation
    This might seem like a duh moment to us, but this was a huge controversy and revelation for those during this time.  The connectional relationship between God, Jesus and the Spirit was just beginning to be understood.  The divinity of Jesus now fully being understand would mean that Jesus was with God in the beginning and be of God.  So John is expressing this new understanding that the early Christians were developing.  

You see, although Jesus taught much of this, although Jesus told his disciples time and time again about things - these were such new concepts a took awhile for some of them to sink in - for people to get it.

Today the Bible is the Word of God.  Why? Because the Bible is the manifestation of God on Earth.  For it is through the Bible that our relationship with the Holy can be developed, unpacked and strengthened.  Today, this is a very controversial subject, some believe that the Word is complete and flawless and should be followed to the T; while others believe the WORD was inspired by God but ultimately it was a human with free will who wrote it.  Today, I am not going into that controversy not because I am afraid of offending people or causing a stir but because to me that isn’t the true question behind the WORD of God - we shouldn’t be asking if it is literal or through the spirit what we should be asking is how is the WORD is living and working within our lives - and how do we approach the Bible willing and able coming into conversation with that WORD.

And this is where the idea of the Living WORD comes into play.  But what is this idea?  Living WORD? No, I don’t actually believe that the Bible eats and breaths - and I do hope you don’t either.  No, I don’t believe that the Bible is in fact alive - but what I mean, what John means, what the Christian community general means by Living WORD is that as it is the manifestation of God here on Earth, it is not only still relevant but that it invites us into conversation.  We say that the word is living because the Word is still acting in our lives and in the world today.  It is living because of our interaction with it and the fact that God’s will can still be understood through the Words.  More amazingly is that God’s self can be manifested through the reading of the Bible and presence felt.

Yup, the Bible invites us into conversation.  The Bible invites us to NOT just read it’s passages, NOT to just memorize a saying here or there, NOT just to quote the 23 palms.  The Bible invites each of us into conversation so that God’s will can be understood and felt.

The WORD is living - so long as we continue to enter into conversation - a two sided conversation of not just reading and memorizing but of study, of interpretation and most importantly of listening to God’s response.  

But the WORD is dying...the WORD is dying... Wait?! What?  I say this because today, too many people are failing the integrity of the Bible - failing the authenticity of God. Let me explain...

When the different books of the Bible were written and eventually put together, they were not read and/or understood by all.  You see for the Hebrews Rabbis - the Priestly people were the only ones who read the Bible and understood it.  In fact, today, the Jewish faith continues to keep the scared books in the Hebrew language and it is through education that the Jewish people can learn to read this scared text.  When the New Testament was put together, it was done in Greek and only the Church leaders, or well educated people, had access to be able to read the Bible.  During the reformation, Calvin and Luther pushed for the Bible to be written in common languages and be available to all God’s people - the idea of the Priesthood of all Believers.  And thus began a mad dash to translate.  Some translators were better then others and years later we still have thousands of different translations of God’s word today.  
   But the Word was written within a context - the Word was written to people with a certain understanding of every day cultural norms.  And this context has changed - this context is in no way the same today as it was.  And this is were the Word’s relevance gets mucky.  
    For you see - for the Word to truly be relevant we need to be able to have a conversation with that Word - we need to understand completely what that Word is telling us - not just in today’s context but in it’s own context.  For there might be more revelation there.  Studying the Bible is more then just reading and being able to quote it.  It is truly looking at the WHOLE picture and coming out with a new understanding. And when the WORD is read with authenticity in sight then our eyes are opened to the amazing understanding of God - but when we read the bible for our own gain and with the self centered idea that context doesn’t matter then the revelations we glean are not of God’s will but of humans.  
  I am not saying that one has to be a Biblical scholar to read the bible and I am grateful to our forefathers who paved the way to make God’s word available to all.  But today, we have lost sight of what true Biblical study means and this has lead to a great corruption in our religious community.  One is which the will of God is being mangled with the will of people.  One in which more evil then love is being spread in God’s name.  One is which many people don’t want to be a part of, heck the Campus Crusaders of Christ just took Christ out of their name for fearing that the name of Christ prevented them from being able to spread his message!

Many people of Jesus’ time thought he was just another crazy man going around preaching about things - until they met Jesus - until the witnessed Jesus in action and felt his Spirit.  People thought he wasn’t much - until his death and resurrection!  Until he fulfilled the Old Testament.
And that is the same with the WORD of God - you have to get to know it.  Not just the words, not just memorizing the lines or what the English translator decided to use...but you need to study the bible...study the context, question the word choice, look up words - investigate common items Jesus time.  What did an actual shepherd do?  What did a mustard seed turn into?  what was a lepar?
The other day I was listening to a Christian Radio station and the DJ asked people if you were stuck in an elevator for 1 hour with Jesus what would you ask him?  He wanted real and honest answers.  Someone called in and said that he would ask Jesus if he was upholding his message.  That like a child seeks assurance from their parents he would seek assurance from Jesus that he is indeed teaching Jesus’ way and spreading God’s message.  
I enjoyed this person honesty for this is my own struggle.  Am I upholding Jesus’ message? Am I doing right by God - isn’t that all of our struggle?  But I do know that when we enter into conversation, willing and able to listen to God’s response.  We are coming with integrity.  
But too many are coming with agendas.  Too many are using Christ’s name to puff up their own ego.  And this is all over - it is on both sides of the theological spectrum and more shameful is throughout our political world.  The media coverage is bias towards radical theological perceptives.  There are several seminaries throughout the US with Biblical scholars still writing great books on the character of God and the manifestation of God in our lives and YET when the media need to have a special guest to talk about the Christan perspective, they don’t ask one of them...
Calvin and Luther didn’t bring the WORD of God to the common people so that the WORD would become a dead grouping of verses but instead brought it to the common people so that the conversation with God could expand and the Spirit could move even further, reaching more people and allowing God’s salvation to come to all.  
Let us break the cycle.  Let us begin to truly enter into conversation with God through the Word. For only when you are truly in conversation with the text - understanding and studying the historical, contextual, translational aspects - then God’s revelation happen.  Only then can the Word become living and relevant.