..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Killing The Homeless Man from Berlin

Killing The Homeless Man from Berlin

I have still been ruminating on the whole
stumblingblock issue. Mostly trying to
understand why I have been so aggravated
lately by issues of legalism. Then the other
night I had this dream that I must tell you about.

I dreamt that I was with a friend and
we were in a national park. My friend
opened the trunk of the car and, in plain
view, was a pipe. It was the kind that Sherlock
Holmes smoked. I thought to myself,
“The park ranger is coming around and
I wish my friend wouldn't leave the pipe
out in the open, it will cause the
ranger to think we have drugs.”

Sure enough, the ranger pulls up,
and sees the pipe. Of course my
friend conveniently disappears, leaving
me to answer the ranger's questions. I am
aggravated. The ranger asks what
we were doing with the pipe. My friend
had purchased the pipe the previous day
to “ebay” it.

I told her, "If I told you the real
reason, you wouldn't believe me,"
and I walked away." She continued
to ask me questions and surmised I
was innocent but said, "We need to
ask you further questions so you will
have to come to the center."

Oh, great. She takes me to a center
that is a Jewish Community Center.
It is suddenly December and the people
are decorating for “the holidays.”
The director shows me a picture of
a jolly, red-cheeked, Santa Claus,
circa 1940 or 1950, the kind you
would see on the cover of the
Saturday Evening Post during its
heyday. She points to him and
whispers slyly, "We can't celebrate
Christmas." She points to the Santa.
“We have to call him,
'The Homeless Man From Berlin' so
we can still celebrate Christmas
without controversy or offence.”


We are so willing to make it
easy for ourselves and I am still
struggling with the problem of not
causing others to stumble by my
free actions.

Let's discuss a stereotypical problem
in this area, since meat sacrificed
to idols is usually not available at
Stop and Shop.

I want to have a drink
but the people I fellowship with
don't think alcohol is something
a Christian should have. Ok, so
do I really need the drink? No.
Could I have a drink away from them?
Yes. But then what if I go out
with that nice John Freeman to a
restaurant and we decide to have
a glass of imported wine?
South African. But in walk my
nosy tea-totalling friends
who sit right next to me.

I'll tell you where the principle
of this matter is going
to stick with me. I am going to
feel like my life is being
hampered by the judgments of
others, others whom I perceive to
be either weaker or, more likely,
annoyingly legalistic. Weaker I
can deal with, legalistic will
make me angry.

So I think to myself, how can I go
the higher route? What am I missing
here besides a nice vintage? God is
holding out an opportunity for
me to go to a higher place,
a place where I don’t feel held back,
a place that is true freedom. If I look
at it this way, I would trade the
nice vintage for a chance to
go higher in God.

I also think that I might gladly
give up something if I thought
someone were just learning and
didn't know the Lord very well.
But I guess that I have just
realized that if I think you
are a legalistic pain you might run
hard up against my cold shoulder.
What kind of help would God
want to offer the legalistic through
me? I wonder. I don’t think I’ve
gotten that far past my annoyance
to ask yet. I do know that Jesus
was holding something out to
Pharisees when he exercised His
liberty in front of them. He was
also exercising His liberty
when He went meekly to the cross.

Enter 'The Homeless Man From
Berlin.' In my dream my
intent was being questioned and
I was sent to a place that thought
it was a center of "spiritual
correctness." I interpret the
Jewishness of the Center to mean
the Law apart from Christ. It could
easily have been the First
Assembly of Christian Pharisees.
I certainly am not singling
out anything Jewish.

The folks in the center wanted to
party and celebrate but
it went against their tradition.
So they changed things to
accommodate the situation so
that no one would be offended.

It is funny, being that it was
my dream, that it was not
a picture of Jesus causing trouble:
it was just Santa causing a stir.
Jesus didn't even make the
conversation. He was so far out
of the picture He didn't even
make a blip on their Christmas
screen. Can you imagine if it
were Jesus? Yes, lets.

Couldn’t we call Jesus, “The Homeless
Man from Berlin?” Think about
it. Did not Jesus come to His
own and His own did not receive
Him? Did He not have a place to
lay His head? And what
might we think of when we think
of Berlin? Nazis!

It wasn't just the Jews that
stumbled over Jesus, it was
the Aryan nation also. Jesus
as He is would not have been someone
that Hitler wanted or would welcome.
The flesh fights against the Spirit.
Oh, does this ever cut across things!

But before you think that I am pointing
fingers, I will point one back at me
for a moment. When I feel my
"Christian liberty" being infringed
upon, is it my flesh reacting, or
my spirit?

Discerning this will help me immensely.
Discerning this might also be a
challenge. Am I innocently and
obediently living as a free person
in the Kingdom of God or is my walking
in the flesh becoming so refined that
I fail to recognize it until it's tell-tale,
touchy nature is aggravated? In claiming
my right to walk in freedom, am
I still walking in the flesh? Am I just
making things how I want them to be and
calling it freedom? Ouch.

Why would the folks in this dream
Center be ok with celebrating
a homeless man from Berlin?
Well, it is something they could
feel in a position of strength about,
a social issue they could rally around.
"Oh, the poor homeless man, let's
remember the homeless on this
holiday, we in our fine homes,
yes, lets remember the faceless
bums who live on some street other
than ours. Let's have someone bring
them a box with some ham and some
yams." That’s really what Christmas is
all about anyway, right?

The spirit of religiousity runs
deep. The flesh runs deep. We need
to take care that the flesh is
being continually dealt with
so that its latent appearance
does not subtly rise up in the
form of a self-constructed liberty
and deceive us.

And Berlin? That which had been
the enemy of our soul and of our
nation, has fallen from power,
(or so we think), so we can pity
it with refugee programs, and not
oppose it strongly. Underestimating
Babylon is a mistake.

We need to oppose the flesh strongly,
especially the most stubborn
roots of it hidden deep within ourselves.

What separates freedom in Christ from
disguised fleshly liberty is the
amount of aggravation that arises
when my freedom is taken away from
me or I feel that I have to "lay
it down." Like I’m making some
big sacrifice. Oh, Please!

I forget so quickly that I am the Lord's
bondslave. Love works in a completely
different way. Period end. Love trumps
any freedom the law allowed me with
an absolute joyful enslavement to Christ.
Whatever technicality of license I might
have eked out of the law pales at the level of
devotion and obedience I can lavish upon
Christ simply because I love Him.
When I feel put upon I must ask
Christ what grace I am missing.

Renaming a holiday to make
it serve me and my purposes
is not my right. Neither can
I rename Jesus to make Him what
I would like Him to be.

I ask you, “What kind of Jesus do you worship?”
Have you given Him a name or a moniker
that does not due Him justice? Is He Jesus,
Merely Meek and Mild? Jesus, Good Teacher?
Jesus, Purpose-Driven Political Preacher?
Jesus, Prosperity Guru? Jesus, Zen Master?

Jesus, Fielder of My Dreams? Jesus, Lord of
My Sunday Mornings? Jesus, King of My
Marketing Ideas? Jesus, Shaman of Mystical
Encounters? Jesus, Power Broker?

Unless He is Jesus, Lord of All and Everything
He is not Jesus at all.

My "christian liberty" frees me to do
one thing: follow Christ completely
without restraint: make Him completely
my Lord, become entirely like Him.
I no longer look in the rule
book to see if I can do something. The
bar is much higher than that.
Now I look to Christ in every and
all circumstances. Legalism gives
way to relationship. Nothing and
no-one but Christ dictates to me
what I can do.

Let God take care of legalism.
He knows just how to do it.
I don't have to cold shoulder it
or flaunt something in its face.
It will self-destruct because
of its own self-righteous inward

May my goal to be how to
follow Jesus into a higher
place, even laying down
all and any of my “rights”
to win something far greater than
fine wine: the knowledge of Christ alone!
May I call Him “Lord” and nothing

Dear friends, kill “the homeless
man from Berlin”, and all
gods made in and for our purposes.
Living and True One, come visit me.
Shatter everything that is not true.

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