Yeah, this is a deviation from what I normally write about, but not really. It is what I think about constantly. I try to make sense of my world as much as I can because it is really crazy. But I had a few thoughts about that. Really, it’s about identity. And most of us struggle with who we are really, I suppose.
I have been thinking a lot about prosperity and relationships. I have heard all of the prosperity preachers for many many years. I grew up in a religious culture that was sympathetic to their appeals. I watched Jimmy Swaggart fall, Jerry Falwell bring the hammer to Swaggart, and TBN rise to global status. So instead of the course correction that I thought would happen when those things occurred in the late 80s and early 90s, it seems we have gotten further off course. In fact, to see what is available on Dish, would lead one to believe that these men have become legion. And I am thinking what about this is appealing to anyone? I mean, who sits and listens to the dribble that these men (and women now) spew forth? Wish I had that demographic to examine. So how could God allow his to happen? How could this become so prevalent again? Although, to be honest, they have changed their diatribe a little. Now it’s more fulfill your destiny/purpose/calling. And I am not discounting what they say, there is this nagging inside of me that just doesn’t agree with what they have to say. And it smacks of snake-oil salesmanship. Certainly has a grain of truth but it seems so far-fetched and outrageous. I don’t know. Skeptical.
And then I think about relationship again. What is included in that? What happens when a realization of my identity and how that connects with God and his plan? I wonder what being a son really means to me? And somehow it feels like the whole New Testament hinges on this one idea, this one amazing reality of reconciliation and adoption into God’s family. I have been thinking a lot about the story of the Prodigal. I have been thinking more about the father in the story than anything else and the scene at the very end. Been thinking more specifically what it meant to the listener to hear that the Prodigal received such lavish love from the father. Look at what he received: a ring, the best robe, sandals for his feet, and then this lavish feast. How would the people listening have heard that story?
The self-righteous probably were outraged. The humble would have cheered. What kind of tug would have pulled on the hearts of the outcast? How would they have responded to this story? So, my thoughts turn to control and authority, real authority. Makes me think of the seventy being sent out to preach the good news and their return, especially what Jesus said to them. He said not to rejoice that demons were subject to them but that their names were written in heaven. I interpret that as relationship. Maybe they did too. After all they were chosen of God, his special people, people of the covenant. But even their eyes were not opened to the full extent of the covenant. Don’t think they fully grasped what it meant to be adopted and fully integrated into the family of God. Or maybe they did. I don’t know, really. I am only aware of my reaction to the story. And I am blown away by it. I am blown away because of the position that I find myself in as of now. My marriage is ending, I am away from my four children, thinking lots about making money, why I am still here, what my next steps are. And on top of all that there is this new, totally brand new awareness that I am a son and that is supposed to mean something—something really life-changing. But I can quite put my finger on it. I think it has to do with spiritual authority, or just authority in general. And now I am thinking about warfare, and how that has to do with being a son with the Spirit indwelling, giving me the utterance of “Abba,” the spirit of adoption. Thinking about Jesus giving authority to those who take his name.
I never quite got what praying in Christ’s name actually meant. Mostly, I thought it was like a magic formula. But I am seeing, of course, it isn’t. As with most other things I have thought about Christianity, that has changed as well. What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? Well, a common sense understanding means that if you take something, you are carrying it somewhere. Vain has to do with vanity. So, carrying it without thought, right? How did one carry the name of the Lord? Maybe through circumcision. That was the symbol of the covenant. And then that makes me think of the practices of idolatry that the Israelites engaged in and how furious God became because they were carrying his name into the fertility cult groves where ritualistic prostitution occurred.
I wonder what I have prostituted myself to?