Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Beyond the Rituals:Letting God Reign in Our Lives

The Metronome: Rhythm for Life

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” –Hebrews 13:8

I like music, but I don’t like all music--especially what I call, “Idiot-Music”.

I know. I know. I’m supposed to be “Open minded. Flexible. A creative thinker etc.”, but the fact is I don’t like music that is chaotic, scrambled, rhythm less, haphazard. I like order. Music, true music, has a beat that is orderly. Random screaming lacks order and it bespeaks a problem….with the ‘musician’.

The metronome is a wonderful little device that some of these chaos-musicians (oxymoron), need to discover. If you aren’t a musician you may not know that the metronome is a rhythm keeping device. It tocks at a consistent rate. No matter whether the musician plays too fast or too slow, the metronome remains the same.

This morning the sun rose at our place around 6:40 a.m. The fog was heavy, only allowing a brief glow from the sun. Then, the curtain closed and the sunrise was cloaked beneath the foggy blanket. Though I didn’t see it clearly, I know the sun rose fully. It does so consistently.

The Fall season is coming. Though warmish still, weather in Tennessee is gradually cooling and nights are stretching. It will be freezing by January or February. Benjamin, my 10 year old, asked me when it would snow this year. I took a shot at, "Between Thanksgiving and Christmas." Though guessing about this year's first snow I am solidly confident that it will not snow here next June. I’m confident because a summer-snow is not the pattern of nature. Nature is more consistent than that.

Life itself has a flow that is regular: day-night, wake-sleep, birth-death, generation-generation, body-spirit. Consistency is, I believe, a virtue. It is, after all one of God’s character qualities—therefore, it has to be a virtue. As such, we should desire it.

Jesus is “the same” yesterday, today and forever. Autos is the Greek word. It is translated “he, she, it, himself, herself, itself, the same one”. Jesus is autos. He is himself yesterday, today and forever. He is the same one today as he was yesterday and as he will be tomorrow. He is unchanged. He is consistent.

“I, the LORD, do not change” (Malachi 3:6). The Hebrew word means ‘do again, disguise, pretend, change’. God is saying that He is who he is and isn’t fooling us. What we see is what we do and will get-- no pretending, no presenting himself again differently.

When the guards came to arrest Jesus he said, “I am he.” He went on to explain, “I taught in your temple. Why do you come out to me with spears?” Inferring, “I have always been a peaceful, law abiding citizen, why would I be any different now?” He was and is consistent.

God is consistent. Christians should be consistent. I know we aren’t (can’t be) perfect, but we can become, or at least persistent in our pursuit of becoming, consistent. The New Life, if relegated to occasional rituals (Sunday meetings, Easter holy-days, Meal-time prayers, daily devotional rituals etal), is out of sinc with God’s metronome. That’s why it produces a sense of tension, interruption, frustration, and fatigue. It’s like Idiot Music that no one likes-- except wierd, out-of-sinc people like Big-Haired TV Evangelist types, and empty women who get warm fuzzies from doing ‘church stuff’, or from being into whatever is currently ‘Sooooo wonderful!’. (Please understand what I mean by those comparisons and what I DON’T mean.)

The New Life, to make my point, is non-compartmentalized. It’s 24/7. It goes on at all times. It is at the store, the job, weekends, when you buy things, when you are listening, watching, reading, writing, talking. It is yesterday, today and forever. Tock, tock, tock, tock like a metronome.

Let’s begin to pray that we can get in, and stay in, rhythm with God. The music will be delightful….. and sane.

4 comments:

Michele said...

The New Life, to make my point, is non-compartmentalized. It’s 24/7. It goes on at all times. It is at the store, the job, weekends, when you buy things, when you are listening, watching, reading, writing, talking. It is yesterday, today and forever. Tock, tock, tock, tock like a metronome.

Let’s begin to pray that we can get in, and stay in, rhythm with God. The music will be delightful….. and sane.


The New Life! How often have I heard about my relationship with Jesus discussed as the new life? I certainly may have heard discussions on how to live this new life, but not delving into the reality of this life with Him.

I couldn't agree more. Our life with Him goes beyond what we think we know, into something, no, someone who compels our hearts and minds to find that rhythm of the Master and play along. He centers us and then creates in us such perfect harmony as we respond to His daily call of service, of love and of compassion.

For too long, I was that women who got "warm fuzzies" from being busy in "church stuff." Now,I would much rather be calm and listen for His voice, for He calls out and echos sweet embraces of perfect tune and clarity, which are consistent with His nature, His character and His expression of Himself. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

May we each hear His consistent voice and sing along!

Milton Stanley said...

Thank you for your post. You are on-target that the new life needs to be 168 hours per week.

If you check, however, I think you'll find a rather distracting flaw in your post. You make a point of quoting part of Jesus' words in Greek (In Greek he said, “I am autos.”). I don't think the Greek texts, however, have Jesus saying (as most English translations do) I am "he". There's no autos in the Greek text. Jesus is quoted as saying simply "I am" (ego eimi). This may seem a niggling point, but it does matter because there's good reason to believe that in those words Jesus is expressing his identity as the one who "was in the beginning with God and was God."

Stephen Meeks said...

Milton,

Thank you for your comments and thank you for 'niggling'. These aren't baseball stats (which to some may be more religiously watched) we are using here--accuracy is VERY important, and I made a mistake.

I looked and the synoptics don't have the statement, only John. He used it twice (18:5, 8). Emi is used, not autos. The phrase emi (I am) is, I believe an equally strong support for the point of this particular article:that he was no different that day than on any other. Jesus does not surprise us with chaotic/random behavior.

I'm supposing that Jesus didn't have deeply theological meaning attached to his every usage of emi. It could therefore, without a stretch, be within reach, in this case, that he simply meant "I am the one you are looking for".

The added commentary about being with them everyday in the temple courts adds weight to the idea that he was astonished that these guards would expect him to be any different than he had been the week, or the evening before.

My mistake on not taking the time to double check the text. Thank you for the check-n-balance. It is important to be careful in these matters. I got sloppy, but I'll be more careful. I guess you could say, "I'll try NOT to be the same tomorrow as I was today!"

Thanks brother,
Stephen

Stephen Meeks said...

Michele,

You are to be commended for your confession and congratulated for your new song. I am humbled by your honesty and stand in ovation as you sing.

Stephen