Members of One Another

“Is this one better, or this one?” the eye doctor asks as she flips between lenses.

“I don’t know,” I finally admit.  One lense has clear, crisp lines, but a shadow to each line.  Another lense has no shadows, but fuzzy lines.  The lenses can assist my imperfect eyes to see, but ultimately they cannot fix my eyes.  Aging eyes need different lenses for different situations, reading glasses are good for close work, but miserable for driving.  Glasses help us to see some things, but blur others.

The same is true of culture: we see God through our cultural lenses, and while some things are clearer, some aspects are blurred. If we are not aware of our own culture, we may find ourselves trying to “drive with reading glasses”, so to speak.  Because of our individual culture, some values stand out more.  We give more weight to one ideal, while forgetting or neglecting another ideal.  In other instances, our cultural ideals dress themselves up as Godly and go masquerading into our thoughts as impostors of the truth.  What needs to change is our eyes.

Christians in my culture, the self-made American culture, cherish the idea that “God is all you need.”  I have been wrestling with this “only God” concept, presenting it to my friends on Facebook, and finally resolving to read through the entire scriptures in search of God’s heart.  It has been only a week, and I have made it through the first five books.  My theory, in the beginning, was that the “God only” concept is favored because our culture is so independent by nature.  What I found is that this thinking is borne of something far more universal than the spirit that won the west:

betrayal.

Experience speaks, “God is the only one who will never fail you.”  Of course this is true.  My limited study of Genesis through Deuteronomy agrees.  However, I am greatly alarmed by the foregone conclusion that if God is the only one who will never fail you, then He is the only one you need.  

After fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah, losing his wife to her own regrets and backward longing, Lot concludes he cannot live among people.  He takes his daughters and goes to a cave.  Betrayal drives him to isolation, and he concludes not only to trust in God alone, but to need no one but God.  His daughters determine they need someone else to help them carry on the family line, and seeing their father as the only man left, “lie” with him.  Ew.  Just ew.  (Genesis 19:30-38)

Do you see why I’m alarmed?

In defense of my friends who shared the sentiment “to only trust God is to need only God”, I know from their lives that they have followed God back into life-giving community in the midst of recovering from deep betrayal.  They may speak with their words to need only God, but with their lives, they speak the truth of the Kingdom.

God, in his own perfection and self sufficiency, chooses to bind Himself by covenant to a man and a people, knowing full well they will fail him.

What?

Knowing full well they will fail Him, God binds himself to a man and a people by covenant.  Binds Himself.  By covenant.  To a man who lies, laughs at the promise, and then connives with his wife to fulfill the promise on their terms.  God is still faithful.  God.  Binds Himself.  By covenant.  To a people who will break His heart, as he tells Moses in Deuteronomy, “will rise and whore after the foreign gods” (Deuteronomy 31:16)  Knowing all this He still chose them and bound Himself to them, and through them blessed all the nations of the earth.  Through this people, God shows His power, His love, His glory.  Through this people, God brings the family line of Jesus.

While WE were still far off and hostile to God, he chose US, Jesus died for us.  Betrayal tempts us to forsake community, but the way of the Kingdom is forgiveness and reconciliation.  To trust God is to embrace our need for others, for community, despite their obvious lack, because He is strong in our weaknesses.  God is not only strong in my weakness, but in my neighbor’s weakness.  Like our Lord, we are bound to His people.  We are members of one another.   For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5, ESV) In 1 Cornthians 1, when Paul talks about the Corinthians having no lack, he is talking about the community.  We as a community have everything we need.  To receive the fullness of the gifts God has for us, we must overcome the fear and pain of betrayal, and receive the gift of relationship.

 

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