by Carel
(South Africa)

Metaphor Of The Universal Church

Metaphor Of The Universal Church

I would like to share something I experienced a few years ago that is very relevant to this article.

Being the anniversary of the publishing of Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin Of Species” the Theory Of Evolution was the topical subject of discussion.

I had accordingly been asked to address our church’s Evangelism class on the different interpretations of Creation narrative held by fellow Christians.

Amazingly, there are at least ten models, ranging from “New World” concepts that everything was created +/- 6000 years ago in 6x24hr days,through to “Old World” concepts going back billions of years to the "Big Bang". There is even one, held by some to be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, which eagerly embraces Darwinism. They argue that, if we say God created everything, we then accuse Him of creating sin. They believe that Darwinism’s principle of spontaneous evolution somehow lets God off the hook!

I had a problem however deciding how I should handle the subject. In the knowledge that an individual’s convictions regarding creation would be so fundamental to their belief structure that it was imperative to handle the subject with care. It is also probable that the more fundamental an individual’s beliefs are, the more fragile the foundations of their faith would likely be.
In addition, apart from the variance in each class member’s personal beliefs, how could one motivate them to not let their personal opinions become an obstacle in evangelizing people whose views might differ from theirs?

While mulling this over in my mind before our Sunday morning service, I observed a number of young people on the podium engaged in “worship dancing”. At the time I still happened to be uncomfortable with this is form of worship, as it felt foreign to the church culture I had been brought up in.

Then my “Observer Self” kicked in questioning my attitude, reminding me of how I myself enjoyed worshiping with song and asking myself: “ what was the difference if these young people preferred another, equally genuine, way of rendering worship?”

Suddenly, I envisioned a rambling building set in a beautiful valley surrounded by high mountains with a winding road wending its way towards the horizon. I hesitate to call this a “vision” because that holds connotations I don’t aspire to, and also because cognizant thought was somehow involved.

It wasn’t a conventional church building either, but rather a rambling ranch-type structure which I realized represented the Universal Church. Inside, church members were standing in various groups. I suddenly realized the significance of the fact that each group’s view of the outside world was determined by which window they happened to be looking through!

Some could see only the courtyard and others the of the mountain crags towering over them. Others looked out on the front lawn, bordered by beds of roses. A few could see further, observing orchards flanking the road leading to the entrance gate. Still others, standing before a large picture window, could take in the whole beautiful vista of the valley stretching all the way to the horizon.

This, of course, determined how I would addressed the class:
” Respect the other guy’s view – he’s just looking at the same creation through a different window, and none of us can see the whole picture!”

Since then this particular picture as a metaphor of the Church constantly comes to mind, becoming more detailed all the time and I see the Church constantly interacting with the world passing by. Evangelists are stationed at the crossroads inviting passers-by in. Missionaries, doctors, nurses and teachers are being sent out into the world..

Inside the building, debates and arguments are taking place. Some groups even claim certain rooms for their exclusive use. Others work in the kitchen serving everybody. The whole changing dynamic of the Church as we know it is being played out somewhere.

I suppose this is my mind’s way of trying to actually observe, and make sense of, the “whole picture” while also being able to zoom in on particular aspects. It has become an incredibly meaningful tool for meditating, that can be continually updated and kept topical by changing events.

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“Unity In Diversity”: The Father’s Name As The Source Of Life.

by Carel
(South Africa)

Tiena, thank you for your latest post. In what you write, you are touching on some very profound concepts of faith. Please allow me to offer a few thoughts.

1. The Name Of God The Father. I would like to pass on the meaningful thoughts regarding the name of God taken from Richard Rohr’s book "The Naked Now". He writes:

“I cannot emphasize enough the momentous importance of the Jewish revelation of the name of God. It puts the entire nature of our spirituality in correct context and, if it had been followed, could have freed us from much idolatry and arrogance.

As we now spell and pronounce it, the word, is ‘Yahweh’. For those speaking Hebrew, it was the Sacred Tetragrammaton: YHVH.

It was considered a literally unspeakable word for Jews, and any attempt to know what we were talking about was ‘in vain’, as the commandment said (Exodus 20:7). Instead they used Elohim or Adonai in speaking or writing.

From God’s side the divine identity was kept mysterious and unavailable to the mind. When Moses asked for the divinity’s name, he got only the phrase that translates something to this effect: ‘I AM WHO AM.......This is my name for ever; this is my title for all generations’ (Exodus 3:14-15).

This unspeakability goes even deeper. Formally, the word was not spoken at all, but breathed! Many are convinced that its correct pronunciation is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation. The one thing we do every moment of our lives is therefore to speak the name of God! This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world!

There is no Islamic, Christian, or Jewish way of breathing. There is no American, African, or Asian way of breathing. There is no rich or poor way of breathing. The playing field is utterly leveled. The air of the earth is one and the same air, and this divine wind “blows where it will” (John 3:8) – which appears to be everywhere! No one and no religion can control this spirit.

When considered in this way, God is suddenly as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly – breathe. The same breath that was breathed into Adam’s nostrils by this Yahweh (Genesis 2:7); the very breath that Jesus handed over with trust on the cross (John 19:30) and then breathed on us as shalom, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit all at once (John 20:21-23). And isn’t it wonderful that breath, wind, spirit, and air are precisely nothing – and yet everything?

And we are now told that the atoms we breathe are physically the same as the stardust from the original Big Bang. Oneness is no longer merely a vague mystical notion, but a scientific fact.”

2. Unity In Diversity: Even this oneness with all creation, however, still does not detract from our individuality.

Does any one have further thoughts to share?


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"WINDOWS: Further Thoughts

by Tiena Gerhard
(Centurion SA)

Ephesians 5:28-29
"In the same way the husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ also the church"
Husbands should love their wives because loving their wives is loving their own bodies. Men always nourish and cherish their own bodies, and Christ also nourishes and cherishes the church. These verses show us that the church is the Body of Christ. In the eyes of Christ the church is His own Body.
We must realize that the greatest hindrance to God's will is not outward divisions but ourselves, as individual persons, who do not know the life of the Body.
We need to see that the Body is one, and we need to see that we are part of it, that we are members of this Body.
(The Glorious Church: Watchman Nee)

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Something to say on the "Further thoughts on Windows" comments

by Tiena Gerhard
(Centurion SA)

Why I cannot go along with "Unity in diversity", has to do with the Lord's prayer in John 17:11:

"Holy Father; keep them in Your name, which You have given to Me, that they may be one even as We are."

To be kept in the Father's name is to be kept in His life, because only those who are born of the Father and have the Father's life can participate in the Father's name.

The Son has given the Father's life to those whom the Father has given Him, hence they share the Father's name by being kept in it, and they are one in it.

The Father's name denotes the person of the Father. The Father is the source of life (John 5:26). Since the oneness which the Lord desires originates from the Father as the source, there is no need for our own person.

We are not the source. Only the Father is the source. Hence we should not live by our human life. We should live by the Father's divine life.

Hence, basically speaking, we have to see that the oneness of the believers for which the Lord Jesus prays is with the Father as the source rather than with man as the source.

*John 17:2

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