Monday, 21 March 2016

The Liberating God

In a short post I read the other day, entitled How Much God Loves Change, this paragraph caught my eye:
And so God, creative as God is, seems to thrive on change. To change landscapes, oceans, hearts, possibilities, and alternatives. This cannot help but clash with those in power. As the prophets can attest. And so, the creative God is also the liberating God.
For me, those words beautifully articulated my journey out of the institutional church.

I was deeply grieved that despite the clear indications of God's call to change - his invitation to walk into a new reality as his people - there was resistance and ultimately rejection of that way.

Those with power asserted their 'authority'. The prophetic voices were silenced. And business-as-usual was reinstated. 'Church' settled back into what was familiar, predictable, and most importantly, controllable.

Image courtesy of

God was put back in his box and all was well with the world again...

...except that God snuck out the back way and simply kept on being creative.

And liberating!

And thank God he did! I'm so grateful he set me free!

And the good news is that for those who have ears to hear, God continues the call to something fresh and new.

He's liberating his people from performance-based religion - from man-made traditions which nullify the word of God. He's setting captives free to be unashamedly themselves when they worship; to live in love, not judgement; and to recognise that the Kingdom of God is at hand no matter where they are, who they're with, or what day it is.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Fear and Crusades

Recently, I left this comment on Jory Micah's blog post regarding Mark Driscoll's unhealthy teaching on submission:
"The whole ‘biblical submission’ teaching is absolutely toxic! Despite the fact that it is a residue of the shepherding movement (whose leaders have long since repented of their teaching) men are still peddling versions of this crap because it panders to their egos and means they get to be ‘over’ others. It damages lives and is the antithesis of Jesus’s teachings. 
In my own experience, when I complained about the abusive and bullying behaviour of my male co-leader, that behaviour was not even questioned and I was made out to be the problem. I was given the choice to submit to his “godly leadership” or resign! And just like MD, this man now runs his own church, and I fear for those ‘under’ him!"
A short time later an anonymous reader replied with this:

Bad grammar aside, this is exactly the sort of behaviour I was subjected to at my ex-church! Threats and intimidation to keep me in line - to control my behaviour!

Now I seriously question the intent behind using fear as a motivation for anything, let alone to preserve your 'salvation'. Can you imagine a god who says in effect, "Behave acceptably or I'll throw you out of the club!" It's worth based on compliance - on conforming to a set of prescribed behaviours! 

That just doesn't sound like the one who was happy to hang out with the social rejects of his day; to openly display how much he valued them. And it sure doesn't sound like the one who spoke out against the self-righteous religious leaders' and their willingness to unnecessarily burden those supposed to be in their care.

The interesting thing I've found is that since leaving the religious institution, I'm no longer driven by fear. I no longer fear making mistakes; I no longer fear getting it 'wrong'; I no longer fear failing to have the 'right' doctrine; I no longer fear not measuring up to the expectations of others.

Instead, I have found a beautiful confidence in the capacity of God. His capacity to love me, to redeem me, to be enough for me. Confidence that I am fully acceptable to him, period!

The other thing I question is the concept of "crusading for truth". It's not about loving others, it's about "crusading". It's about insisting on your truth trumping that of others. Just the use of the word 'crusade' speaks volumes to me about the mindset behind the words. It speaks of a militant and aggressive approach - an 'us' versus 'them' attitude.

Somehow, that doesn't sit well with the life of the one who chose to die rather than use power and might to prove his point.

I don't know about you, but I am completely over the use of fear and crusades to push religion. I'm ready to try the suggestion Jesus made: to simply love God and love others...