Restored to a forfeited condition


Church Set Free

 Qualified.

That word says so much about us. What training have we had, what exams have we passed, what trust should be put in us now we are qualified … and the division is seeded.

Qualifications.

He is not qualified to do this, she should get some qualifications, why do I have to be qualified – it’s only a piece of paper … and on and on.

Church.

Has this exact problem: seminary training, theological training, the institution’s demand for “knowledge about” on the assumption that “knowledge of” is the minister’s problem – because the training and assessment will weed out those who have “not found the right God” already.

Division.

A qualified leader, shepherd, whatever you name you use – and an unqualified flock, congregation, called out something. A divine relationship made for heaven. A relationship relying on God to fix the shortcomings. That fixing relying on the fix-ees realising they need…

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4 thoughts on “Restored to a forfeited condition

  1. As ever – very thought provoking. I’ve got the luxury of 10 minutes in my busy schedule(sic)! so thought I’d think out aloud.

    There is nothing that I’m going to do, however hard I try, that’s going to make me “qualified” for God’s love, understanding and forgiveness. In the old day job, I would be the first to admit that qualifications mean very little.

    On the other hand, as you imply later on, that is only one word that could be used to describe what was probably the original meaning of Luke 6:40. Being ‘fully prepared’ – which is always a journey where we haven’t reached the destination, is an alternative.

    However, we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is a legitimate place for the bits of paper qualifications (as long as they stay in their place!)
    If I need brain surgery, do I want to be operated on by somebody who is really enthusiastic to do the job (scalpel in hand, so very “active”), or do I want a surgeon who is “qualified”, through having not only ‘got the knowledge’, but gained a triangulated understanding with others who are also on the journey of learning? We all know triangles are really strong. ‘God + Me’ makes only two sides. I think ‘You’ is the third vertex.

    So, in the church (how I criticise people who unnecessarily start sentences with “so”!) what’s the place of qualifications?
    The danger, in the church, is that if a qualification is got for its own purpose, it is dead. However, in terms of how can I learn more about God’s nature, then qualifications in colleges can be the means to an end. Often training in ‘theology’ probably has a bad name. When that study gets so deep and introvert that it is of no earthly (or heavenly) use, then it is cancerous and has no place. But if that training (too longwinded to use the better phrase of ‘dedicated time to devote to gaining knowledge of’) is rooted in real life then it can be an enhancing experience.

    One way of me gaining that ‘knowledge of’ is by living, day by day, closer to my God and taking time to read books and study the scriptures. Hermits, recluses and monks in closed orders have done that.

    There’s a big weakness in that, I feel. On the whole we are pretty poor communicators. If I spend all my time learning of God in glorious isolation I am not allowing God the chance of the relational experience of sharing that spiritual growth, step by step, with other seekers.
    What is there to stop me going off and, as a result of my studies, forming my own little sect? We could say that might be God calling me to do that, but my faith isn’t strong enough for me to be certain that would be true, as opposed to me just getting the wrong end of the stick.

    Sorry, I have waffled a great big red herring (there’s a tasty dish – red herring on waffle) and strayed from your flow, but that’s how God works sometimes, I guess.

    Dare I hint at what I think is an error in what you wrote! Love isn’t ‘like’ God – it IS God. When we get hung up about using the G word and substitute ‘love’, we realise that we are not just describing an aspect of God’s character, but his very essences.

    I’ve gone on too far. I pray we all have a blessed day!

    • Hiya Keith – you pack a lot into 10 minutes!! Phew! 🙂

      Thank you so much for such a thoughtful commentary. Within which one thought pinged:
      “There’s a big weakness in that, I feel. On the whole we are pretty poor communicators. If I spend all my time learning of God in glorious isolation I am not allowing God the chance of the relational experience of sharing that spiritual growth, step by step, with other seekers.”

      Because when you also say:
      “Sorry, I have waffled a great big red herring (there’s a tasty dish – red herring on waffle) and strayed from your flow, but that’s how God works sometimes, I guess.”
      I must disagree!

      More and more (and I hope somewhere in this post) is a realisation that “isolation” is cool, but contagion is way cooler. That triangle you write? Amen, Mr Biggie!

      I infect you, you infect me, we infect each other and in so doing we free up God, Love, Give me a Name – any Name … And in doing that we free up each other to both allow, to journey better, to reflect and indwell better – better meaning “allowing more and more” (whatever name) we call the “indwelling”.

      As for qualifications? In knowledge – those who have their own journeys of knowledge marked with a piece of paper? Yes please. In matters of brain surgery – yes please. But I would prefer a qualified brain surgeon who sees me – against one who only see his/her own esteem, stature, prowess, and skill. One who sees me – rather than simply as a “brain to be fixed”. I would prefer someone who listens to me – so we fix my brain together. Him allowing me, and me allowing him.

      That (to me) is “qualifications” – a partnership mutually rewarding. And allowing both to allow each other. Or else the qualification is simply a divider – another us and them.

      I think we are saying the same thing in different ways – blessed diverse abundance – bring it on!!

      (and you can never go on “too far”) your words bless me!!

      🙂

      • I think you are right – we’re more or less saying he same thing. In the Western world we are very used to thinking of our lives in broken down categories (work; family; leisure etc.) even “body, mind and spirit”. Though I’m very ignorant of the detail, and I wouldn’t want to suggest that Prince Charles has got it right(!), I believe in the more eastern cultures, there is a far more holistic view of life. You are right that the healing of an injury I might have is God working in a partnership of the doctor and myself. And as we all know, recovery from injury is not just a ‘body thing’ – how effective our recovery is determined by our mental and spiritual states. So how really unhelpful it is that we too often split ourselves into an unholy trinity! Jesus got it right. When he wanted to focus on our spiritual needs, he’d share some food. Now about that church breakfast….

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