Sabbath – Identity and the Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:8 – 11 Work is not a curse, it a part of the image of God we bear. For the first man and woman in the garden, work was an expression of their communion with the Creator. Part of the reflection of his glory to the world. But for a people who were in the midst of exiting slavery, work would not have felt like a gift or a product of design, but rather a death sentence. So, God reminded the Israelites that He set the standard for work. In the days of creation. Then He introduced Sabbath, a day of rest that would have been startling to a person who had spent their entire life in slavery. God created the rhythm of work and rest. Yet, in the garden, at the fulcrum event of the Fall, mankind’s relationship with work changed. Rather than responding, the creation was not going to fight back. There was going to be pain and toil. Mankind was also going to look to work...

Correction That Lasts

In the mail last week I received a book to review that was billed as a ‘Christian response to 50 Shades of Grey‘. This book was an attempt at correction for Christians who had bought into sexual submission fantasies. As I flipped through the pages, it occurred to me that this book might be just as confusing to the message of the Gospel as the pleasure-is-all-that-matters message of 50 Shades. The idea of correction was centered on creating a sense of shame as a way of changing behavior. Both of these books are bound to leave the souls of their readers unsatisfied and untouched. The lead character was led to cover her shame by making herself the plaything of a man. On the other hand, covering shame with ‘right’ behavior will lead to a religious person who is far from God. Which beckoned the question, what is godly correction? Without a doubt, when we notice – in our self and others – behaviors that do not honor God, we should make every attempt to curb them. As we see unhealthy ways of relating, people should be counseled out of them. When our decisions are destructive, we should lovingly be made aware. But correction does not end with the command to ‘just stop‘. Correction must go deeper than simply telling our self and others to ‘try harder‘. That is the gospel of self-effort, and it ends miserably in exhaustion and burnout and the rationalization that God must not care because nothing has changed. The behaviors, decisions, and ways of relating we exhibit are symptoms of a deeper problem that must be addressed. That is...

Covering Up the Broken Image

The moment they partook in the fruit that was forbidden by God they realized their nakedness. Everything changed. One moment their greatest worry was finding a new place in the garden to experience the beauty of all God made and the very next moment they realized that they stood naked before one another. That perfect image was broken and the first couple experienced shame.   Their vulnerability was on display and it was overwhelming. As they each looked at the other, instead of security, they were filled with questions and doubt. Shame entered the picture – the fear of not being loved nor accepted – and the result was an uncontrollable urge to make themselves more acceptable to the other.   So they sewed together fig leaves. To cover up their nakedness. The openness in which they lived with each other was now hidden behind a protective layer of chlorophyll. It might as well have been a wall.   New questions must have flew through their mind – Does this person love me? If s/he really knew me, deep down, they would run away. They are just using me. – Trust was in doubt. Instead of oneness, there was fear.   But this was not the end. Far from it – there are footsteps in the garden – God is coming! We must hide. Shame caused Adam and Eve to lose touch with the image. It was broken, and so was their relationship with the Creator   Rather than trust, there was now doubt about God’s goodness, doubt about whether He really wanted what was best for them. With the Creator,...

The Opposite of Masculinity

Femininity is not the opposite of masculinity. They are complements. The opposite of masculinity is passivity. Passivity waits to be acted upon. Masculinity initiates. Passivity avoids. Masculinity enters. Passivity enables. Masculinity leads. Passivity backs away. Masculinity stands firm. In the garden, men and women were both giving the image of their Creator. They were created differently; they were created to be complements; they were created for oneness. (see Created In God’s Image) Yet, in relationship, men tend toward passivity. It is the pattern of male brokenness started in the garden by Adam, who backed away to let his wife – bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh – face the temptations of the serpent alone. He was not the bearer and handler of truth, so his wife succumbed to the lies. It the sin of looking away from God – in fact, just looking away and choosing not to see. And God spoke to Adam’s sin first. Passivity is not the complement of femininity. In the presence of a passive male, women are allowed (or encouraged) to live out of sync with their own design, leading to anger and resentment toward their spouse. A friction that creates shame and thus ingrains the passive pattern more deeply. Passivity is a manifestation of the false self. It is a covering that is apart from God. It provides the false sense of comfort, security and protection that the false self craves to cover shame and prove “I’m OK.” (see Justifying a Diminished Masculinity) Passivity says… If I don’t risk, then I cannot feel the shame of failure. If I don’t initiate, then I cannot...

No Images – Identity and the Second Commandment

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. – Exodus 20:4 – 6 In the first post of this series No Other Gods, the point was made that God wants exclusivity. He will not compete for our attention with idols. Within the second commandment, the Lord takes this idea a step further and commands that we not even make an image or likeness of what we assume him to be like. God, the One true God, is our source of significance and wholeness. His truth becomes our truth and the definition of who we are and our purpose in this world. And God is bigger than we are. With regard to our identity – our sense of self and our worth – there are a couple of good reasons not to make for our self an image… 1. When we construct an image of God, we create a caricature of God with which we are comfortable. {click here to tweet that!} This image that we create will not challenge our false sense of self. We settle for something lesser that, by comparison, makes us feel more righteous. God is then created in our image. Like the...

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