May 30, 2011

Theological Castle vs Life of Struggles

In the community we lived in a safe theological castle, but the life of most of people consists of various struggles: for job, health, relationships, caring for kids and/or other relatives etc.
We had much free time for Bible talks together and with outside people. The tasks were divided between several brethren, so less burden remained for everyone. We didn't need to deal with people who didn't join our life-style. But in outside life one has to take care for all his/her material needs and those of his/her family, and of cause for the spiritual, mental, emotional and any other need. And in the broken world around us there are many broken people and broken families who do not meet the standards of our community. So one has to and can experience God in the middle of his daily duties and struggles, not first of all via thological discussions. (there should be some Biblical knowledge as well, of cause)
In the desert, Israel had to learn very basic lesson of depending on Jahwe for their food and everything. In usual family life, there may remain not much energy for special Christian meetings or activities (like mission and Bible discussion). The Christianity must be intergrated into the usual life, into the ways we do things. Well, i think the community did not say we were not Christians while we were at work or in university, but they emphasized being together too much. They didn't consider the (outward) diversity of ways one may live with Christ.

February 9, 2011

Confess your sins... so that you may be healed (James 5:16)

Confessing of  sins has been a question for me as well. To how many people? How detailed? What sins? etc.
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (Jm 5:13-16)

James says the aim of confession is forgiveness and health. He doesn't call to deal with sins constantly, but in case of sickness. I think 'sickness' needn't be only bodily problem but also mental, emotional or anything that hinders our relationship with God.

What I've heared and read, it's not healthy to dig in our sins constantly nor remember old forgiven sins and worry again about them. But in some cases, e.g if there are emotional wounds or unconfessed sins from the past, it should be healing to bring these into the light, to give them the right judgement, to forgive to your hurters, to ask and accept forgiveness. When it is cleard up, we shouldn't dig any more.
Well it's more complicated with present repeting sins. I don't have a good answer here.

And even we don't look for sins constantly, it's probably sensible to check from time to time various areas of our lives, if these are ok in front of God.

It's also good to remember that Satan can accuse us without a reason, reminding our past sins and failures, to discourage us. He can also make us restless and feeling guilty without a real sin. He wants us to feel hopeless. When the Holy Spirit convicts us in a sin, it is something specific. He calles us to clear it up with God and find peace.

Justfication and sanctification

Once at a talk about faith and deeds (after the community) I came to conclusion that one can distinguish two terms. All Christians are called saints in the epistles of the NT because we are justified or 'declared righteous' through our initial faith and repentence (change of our minds). On the other hand we still have to become more holy because our sanctification or 'making holy' is a process lasting as long as we live on earth.

 Rev 22:11b "and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still: and he that is holy, let him be made holy still."(ASV)

One should avoid both extremes:
a) focusing on salvation: I'm saved and forgiven, I cannot loose it, I don't need to worry about my deeds nor spiritual growth.
b) focusing on good deeds so that it becomes base of salvation.

I think we should believe we are accepted by God because He is gracious. We needn't panic about loosing salvation, but anyway to be aware that if we take God too easlily, it may happen.

February 8, 2011

We want you to show this same diligence to the very end

Heb 6:9 "Even though we speak like this, [warn against falling away] dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your casethe things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."

'Convinced of better things', but anyway, salvation seems to be accompanied by works of love. What to do if I think I don't have these enough in my life? Really, not easy. Right now, I don't manage much more than taking care for my little kids, and even this is far from perfect.   I'm not able to add much more deeds to my life, but I can still fight for patience, faith and other good attitudes in everything I do.
2 Pe 1:5-9 "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, loveFor if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."

January 28, 2011

Saved by grace for doing good

I don't remember significant change in the theory about grace, neither in the community nor after: saved by grace for doing good. We should do what is good and right but we cannot deserve our salvation. Grace contains the power for  sanctification, for doing good and avoiding bad.
Concerning feelings, I felt rather expectation to change this or that, and not that much trust, hope, encouragement that GOD should and can change me. But also now it's rather upon myself to find such encouragement.

I agree a commenter that our heart/mind/thinking is what influences our deeds and is important for God, Paul invites us to renew our thinking/mind (Ro 12:2). Right behavior without deeper change ceases when the circumstances change. We can see it from the Old Testamet how much the behavior of Israelites depended on the godliness or ungodliness of their king.

January 24, 2011

Tasks of an excluded one

Anonymous commented:
"I am very astonished about the loss of recognition of my former brothers and about the way many of you speak about the church in this blog and in some other websites, instead of fighting for deep humility and to find out the deep roots and reasons of your sins which led to the exclusion. Only this may help to remain in relation with God. Not the church is guilty but we our self. It is not our task to criticise and accuse the community, although not everything was good. We all where church and responsible at that time. Now, we can have an influence only on our lives! "

Yes, we were all responsible and we should have shared our recognitions already there more clearly, but it wasn't easy, as explained in the previous comments of the linked topic.

Concerning me, there was a time when I was examining myself in front of God and the community's teaching, and repenting as well as I could. I was thinking, praying and reading the Bible much and God clearly supported me during this time. I had also talks with the community. My final conclusion was: I wasn't excluded, first of all, for my selfishness or lack of faith in God, but for my lack of faith in the community. Unfortunately, their main interest was not my relationship with God, but submission to the community. I think most of them sincerely wanted to help me, being convinced this was right in front of God. So it was love, but in my opinion lacking some recognition. 

As I realized I could not sincerly agree with the community in some matters in the light of the Bible, I saw it loving (according to community's own measure), to share my recognitions. I wrote to them, but as they think they cannot learn anything from the excluded ones, I decided also to publish my thoughts for those who happen to become open to learn from it.

Unfortunately, I don't have much free time, so I don't manage to write very deeply and exhaustively, but only some thougts.

Another comment:
"My only task I see now as excluded one, is to fight for a deep regret and not to loose the right cognitions and standard, not to fall into grave sins."

Yes, I also think, it is important not to fall into grave sins.

January 22, 2011

Good and bad side of the community

To give some balance I try to list what I think was good and what bad in the community.
 Good was:
- everyone encouraged and allowed to contribute - teaching that every Christian is called to serve God and people, not just the clergy.
- Bible-study, knowing the right teaching valued and practiced (but probably too strict concerning some details and too demanding for mentally weaker ones)
- meeting often to strengthen, encourage/admonish and serve each other, sharing our lives  (but in expense of all other relationships)
- relationships, loving of every brother/sister the same way was valued, building relationship with every brother, not only symphatic ones. 
- evangelization encouraged and practiced (the content of message was not always ok: community-centered instead of Jesus-centered)
- devotion, giving all our life (but sometimes extreme) 
- discipline, balance between bodily and spiritual: daily walks, rest after work/before common time (only too uniform, for all the same)

 Bad was:
- discouraging personal time, making too dependant on each other instead of God. (I mean, it was seen negative, when somebody didn't join common activities, but wanted to be alone)
- making our life-style as the only possible for a Christian. Daily meeting and frequent traveling are not affordable in poorer countries and for families with little children. Some may have specific tasks for certain social group (seniors, orphans, homeless, addicts, poor, prisoners, etc). etc.
- extreme, loveless, dependent-making delimitation/separation form all outsiders, including own family. So they cannot experience our love.
- too exhausting schedule. There were changes for better: walks became shorter, WM topics not at night etc.
- activity as the main measure of endeavoring, bodily weakness sometimes mixed up with little endeavoring 

Good theory but bad application
- no hierarchy, 'all are brothers', but the special position of GH (rather according to other's words, I don't have much personal experience of it)
- theoretically allowed to marry (theory about marriage probably insufficient because of lack of practical experience), but in practice forbidding marriage -> making the yoke too hard for several + insincerity
- according to the Apologia we were open, but really closed for justified corrections and learning from people outside
- fighting for holiness together, but sometimes too much dealing with sins, calling too many things a sin, not trusting enough one's self-assessment and God's work in the other

January 14, 2011

"It is better to marry than to be aflame" II

As the comments show, the question of marriage is not that simple.
I try to explain more my thoughts.
I just combined two facts:
1) rather many sexual, but also other kind of wishes connected to marriage (like having children, having special deep relationship with somebody, etc) in the community. Exclusions and leaving the community because of these.
2) teaching that it is not good to marry
And I tried to show that it is not biblical to forbid marriage.

My aim was not giving an exhaustive view about reasons to marry or not to marry.
Marriage doesn't delete all sexual temptations, but can make them easier to bare.
Who marries only because of sex, will probably disappoint soon. Marriage is sharing whole life, not only bed.
Even looking solution for sexual temptations, I would advice an individual to seek to know God, to avoid tempting situations, to focus on thinking and doing what is God's will. But I think we cannot exclude marriage as possible way with God, if somebody wants to marry. Of cause one should look for His leading and good advice also concerning whom to marry, so that it may take place "in the Lord"

January 12, 2011

R.A's comments on 'Decrease'

As comments of Decrease, following the comments under the post.. 
R.A. said...
"Concerning 'humane', I remember some distinction between 'human' and 'humane'. One was the opposite for 'spiritual', the other was positive. But it wasn't used much."

R.A. Exactly that I wanted to say: HUMANE was seen negatively, too. It was NOT seen positively, as you say. Behind that was our despise for the society built up to humanistic ideas from Enlightenment (Aufklärung) period. We saw it as a basis of individualistic and tolerant society, which is quite exact counterpart to our community's ideas.
R.A. said...
"We saw it as a basis of individualistic and tolerant society, which is quite exact counterpart to our community's ideas."

I correct myself. I meant, our community is exactly the opposite to the ideas of humanistic society.
Quotation from Josef's apology, which may imply, that 'humane' is not seen as good in our community. Capitalized letters from me. And remind, that we are talking about 'humane' and 'humanistic', and not about 'inhumane':

"Theology without the pursuit of holiness is blasphemy. Pure concentration on leading an ethical life without corresponding theological foundation, leads to a HUMANISTIC concept and away from God."

'Humanistic' is seen clearly as negative notion. Every concept outside concepts from Bible is seen negative, because we presupposed, that these concepts are always connected with other concepts, which are not good.
Again, I think it might be reason to think so. Nevertheless I doubt, that most people in our World are conscious of its theoretical base. 'Humanistic' and 'humane' have rather become equivalents to the general meanings of being kind, greathearted etc. If community wants to ignore the development of this notion into this direction, then it is sad. If truth might be monopolized to our community, then language is common property of society, which they cannot monopolize.
R.A. said...
"Well, we all were 'missionaries' who had to evangelize."

R.A. Well, if there was any 'missionary' in the sense that would fit to the meaning in other Christian congregation, then it was HIM. He didn't come to my country at random to look, what will happen (as we usually did). He had been set to quite specific task, because he was intelligent, he had gift to languages and he was according to my opinion quite unusual in the point, that he had a certain charisma, certain ability to be emphatic. In short - he had just these features, which makes somebody a missionary in its most understood sense.
My intention here is not to say, that to be a missionary is destined only for certain Christians. I wanted to say, that THIS missionary wasn't just a simple guy among us. Far of that.
R.A. said...
I know, I may explain as much I want, community would understand it in its own way.
Let's make it more clear: yes, every Christian is called and sent out for missionary work. But in the same way we sent out somebody to buy food for weekend (and not for mission), in the same way was sent out this missionary we talked about. He was sent out to foregn country for specific task to evangelize and to keep an eye on our brothers, and not with task to buy food or be just a companion for us, because we were fed up of brothers, who were only fellow countrymans.
R.A. said...
The aim of my apocalyptic description about our community is not out of hate and despise. I just say out my opinion, that community is on th threshold of crisis. I don't want to claim, that my opinion is a final truth about this matter. I've said reasons, why I am thinking so as I think.

As well you may see, that in every posting it does not succeed by my side to love enough my opponents, who have another opinion. Oh, I really like to experience, how great is God's grace towards me. I have so much to grow in love.
Actually, for me it seems to be impossible to love enemy, to love community in that way, so that also community and everybody would experience it in the same way as described in Mt 5:38-47. And this is truth, that for man it is impossible. But this is possible for God. Thereffrom differs God's love from world, too.
For this impossible love is God calling us.
Really, incredible. Wonderful. It is difficult to love enemy. And not because enemy doesn't let to love himself. Vica versa, this is the best opportunity to practice the love described in Mt 5. It is difficult to love enemy, because our own attitude, our own lack of mercy.

It is hard to acquire this attitude, which has the effect described in Mt 5, according to which the consequenced of love are experienced in the way described Mt 5. This good attitude has the results described in Mt 5, which does not forget first to pray for those, who persecute us (Mt 5:44), which is perceived to EVERYBODY as we can read out from Mt 5. And thereafter we may try also to 'say the truth' and 'assess' them, if we need it necessary. If it is necessary at all, because to assess your enemy is nothing special we can identify with love. It is quite easy to 'assess' your enemy and to 'say the truth' them. It gets easy. This is the first reaction, that comes from human behaviour.
We know, how much unjustice there is in the world and in ourselves. It is no news. Th good news is, that god has shown us the love, which reached us before any of us was worthy to.

Let's do something special: keep trying to excercise together the impossible love? I think it is good to start with them, whom it seems impossible to love, with whom we don't have any 'common background'. Because:
"And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Mt 5:47)
R.A. said...
I would take as an object to love my former community, and then Gerald Kluge. And I think Gerald Kluge would choose my former community (and then maybe me?) ;-)

I wish that we would find the common ground in Jesus' love. This would be really a powerful sign for those who don't believe, that God does still miracles.
R.A. said...
For me is the biggest challenge to love them, whose love to Jesus is mostly experienced with their overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sell doves.

January 1, 2011

There was so much love for the truth

There was so much love for the truth in the community. Can we imagine that also something bad happened there?
As creatures of the perfect God we long for perfection. We are called to be perfect and holy as God is. But unfortunately we are all still imperfect.. It is sad. It can make me angry sometimes: why we are so weak? But anyway we are only on the way to perfection and sometimes we mistake or sin. We sin as individuals, but as interdependant beings we may mistake also as a community of Christians. It may be hard to believe or accept, but if we look honestly at our community and the fruits of it's practice both inside and outside, I think we have to admit that not all has been holy, loving and merciful.
Concerning an individual I think it was clear, but concerning the community it was taught that we are the church and the church is the pillar of the truth - infallible. Because the Lord is with His church. But why have all forms of the church in the history proved to be imperfect?  I suppose because all men except Jesus have been imperfect. Is GH or Josef or anybody else from the community perfect? Of cause not. Everyone can make a mistake and being that much connected to each other the whole community can make a mistake.

 Looking for the truth was good, but the truth is not measured by our community's understanding.

"It is better to marry than to be aflame"

Somebody explained the community's reasons for celibacy (see the comment from 01.01.2011).
I agree there are benefits of staying unmarried as Paul writes.
But Paul also writes:
1Cor7: "1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is well for a man not to touch a woman."  2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. .. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.... 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind... 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion"
   Unfortunately there are many sexual tempations also nowadays, so many in the community - especially brothers - were fighting them and many failed to overcome and had to leave the community. Paul wishes and recommends all to remain free from marriage duties, but he also gives permission to marry, if somebody doesn't control his desires. He says, it is better to marry than to be aflame. It is better to marry than to go to hell.  Is is better to control one's desires, but if it takes too much energy, it's better to use the sexuality in the way God designed it to be used: in the marriage. 
  So the responsible ones in community make the way narrower than Paul, when they don't allow brothers-sisters to marry..