2012-03-03: On Re-Rooting
Sometimes, the best way to explain something is to skip the explanation and go straight to examples. This helps the reader or hearer to use induction to discover your meaning. If an explanation is then needed, it is frequently more about boundary conditions (x is included, y is not included) and the underlying principles.
Example 1: David after his sin with Bathsheba
God exposes David's sin through the prophet, in a way that makes it quite impossible for David to pretend he was not guilty or that he did not knowingly commit a murder to cover up adultery. David's response was to begin to seek to restore his relationship with the God who had chosen him and raised him up. He also sought to have God spare the child borne out of his sin from dying of its illness, but that was not granted.
Out of that time, we get one of the most intense portraits of confession of sins and request for restoration that we have anywhere. President Clinton's ordeal (when his infidelity was exposed) was probably pretty intense, but he wasn't faced with the possibility of death. He wasn't faced with losing a lifelong relationship with God over this. He, like David, could have lost his job as national ruler, but David was also their combat hero, and his fall from office could conceivably have given the Philistines the encouragement they needed to conquer and possibly even exterminate the Israelites.
Read Psalm 51, and you see someone who was desperate, not to hold onto the throne (or the White House), but to reacquire his lost relationship with God. David wasn't concerned with appearances any more, else we'd not be able to read his prayer. Psalm 51 is not a one-time prayer. It isn't the magic words ("pray these words once and you'll be saved forever"). Psalm 51 is earnest, agonizing, desperate prayer.
Example 2: Isaiah's trip to heaven
It is difficult to determine the time-sequence of many biblical passages. However, I feel confident in saying that Isaiah was already serving God as a prophet when he was taken to heaven and given a more intense and direct calling. He didn't have a lot of time to accomplish his re-rooting. He could only return to the earth and the people of God, with a new and more intense calling and a message that is rumored to have led to his death by being stuffed into a hollow log and then sawn in half.
If you think an experience like Isaiah's is sheer pleasure, or that you want what he had, you haven't been reading his book (in a modern translation--We need to stop pretending that a four hundred years-old translation accurately represents God's message to us today. It doesn't. It is the same tradition-holding that led Catholics to continue to hold their services in Latin long after no one spoke that language anymore). While I would love to be able to see God face-to-face (or rather, see him appear in a form like that of a human) and get some important pronouncement about the future from him, the truth is, no one I know would receive that message, and I'm not tough enough to willingly allow people to saw me in half.
If you are still wanting to patty-cake it, if you still want to play games (denominational, doctrinal, political, racial/ethnic/gneder/language-spoken, or whatever other games you've been playing), if you are not willing to allow God to shake your life to its foundations, you're probably not ready for re-rooting. And that's sad, because America's churches are playing games. America's church members are playing games.
We put our denominations, organizations, affilliations, positions, and histories before the activities necessary for re-rooting, such as sitting before God without pretense or precondition, praying and reading his message (the Bible, in any decent modern translation). We put our race, nationality, citizenship, ethnic group, or the language we speak before the activities necessary for re-rooting. We put politics, left-wing and right-wing, before re-rooting. We put our adoration for celebrities and politicians before re-rooting. All of that must cease. We as believers, living in the United States, as it slips from it position of world dominance, must know that letting things slip helped to accellerate the downward path of our nation.
But it is not just our nation that is in trouble now. It is our churches, our leaders, our next generation, and ourselves.
Get desperate for a new and vital relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Place that ahead of your political party, your political views, your views on race, on the roles of the sexes, on church governance, and even on doctrinal purity. You'll not have the relationship you desire until you are willing. God, the Bible (in a modern translation), and you. That's all you need.