The message this morning was an emphasis on self-reflection, which was "well taken" and the pastor had some good observations about what the world would say to the Church. But, the whole idea of the message was a stumbling block to me. Why?
The message was taken from Jonah. The pastor spoke to the Church, as if the Church was Jonah. Jonah was the "prophet of God" who was running from what "God had called him to do". In the process of running away from God, Jonah causes difficulties to others, due to God's anger shown in a storm, which is capsizing the ship.
Though our minds look for causes, Biblical imagery makes for a pre-sceintific view of reality. When the storm came, it was caused by the "supernatural God" due to "sin". The unbelieving sailors were seeking an answer to their "weather problem" and calling out to "their gods". Jonah is disobeying "God's will" by not sharing "the Gospel". Some believers still believe that there is a direct correlation of cause and effect to "God". This is a primitive understanding of the weather, and an 'intervening God". And understanding "Jonah's predicament" as a direct "message from God" is a little presumptuous, to say the least.
The pastor's point in the sermon was "well taken", though, as he suggested that believers have as much to learn from the "unconverted" as the converted think they have to offer the "unconverted". But, the pastor was still suggesting that there is something "more" to Christianity, than humanism, or humanity. The difference is "holiness", which is a perfection in/of love.
I wonder how this pastor sees this perfection coming about? "Love" is a personal word, and is not a value or does not function in the political realm. The real world functions on "power", and the pastor suggested that those that serve "God" should do so at "great sacrifice". A "God" that demands human sacrifice isn't becoming to me. Such a "God" is a primitive view of "political power". This seems oddly "out of place", when one talks of 'love". He mentioned John Wesley's attempt to convert the 'noble Savages" (the Indians) and his experience at Aldersgate. He suggested that there was some "preparatory work" that had to be done in Wesley's heart before Wesley would be open to an experience such as Aldersgate. The preparation required for Wesley was "failure" in his missionary attempt to convert the Indians.
I find that "perfection" itself is wrongly focused, for whenever one finds themselves "perfected", then is there no more need to grow or become? This is a dangerous idea and belief because it compels those that believe this way to "perform", rather than "be", besides the ideas behind supernaturalism and an intervening "God'.
But, those that believe that they are "called" to a "Divine Destiny" are also a danger, because these believe that what they have to accomplish is mandated by "God Almighty" and it is THEIR responsibility and duty to follow through!!! This belief can damage the peace of the nation, as these will be passionate, and convicted about their "mission". Such zeal was never in our Founder's intent or persona!!! The Founders were level headed and rational.
The bottom line for me, is that people are people. All of us seek significance and value. Some of us find it in religion, and when we do, our identity is caught up in such beliefs. Others find their significance or value within our family or our jobs. Humans are seeking meaning. And "life" in a free society should allow everyone to find meaning however they want to. This is the value of Liberty. And such liberty will bring the nation "happiness" and peace, because we all are agreeing that we might differ in how we answer those questions about meaning and purpose!!!Otherwise, we will find ourselves warring against ourselves and destroying the very thing that allows us the liberty to pursue our own meaning!!!