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How does a stuck girl get unstuck?
To find the answer, I have to take you back.
All the way back.
And I plan to do just that on my blog, shedding insight about how I got “unstuck” from the all-or-nothing thinking that was holding me back and allowed myself to jump into the colorful world of mystery that only comes after abandoning certainty.
I’ll show you that black/white, all/nothing thinking is a very common but all too fatal flaw of humanity.
We want to be certain of something because we think certainty keeps us safe. But what this kind of thinking really leads to is a serious case of dissonance, anxiety and perfectionism; and no matter how hard humans try, we will never be perfect.
The Good News is that the Gospel never told us to be perfect! (Yes! It’s true!) The Gospel gently reminds us to trust that God has the world under His control. Our job is to rest in His love (love God) and to treat others with the kind of respect, dignity and empathy we’d want for ourselves (love your neighbor).
Every other law hangs on these two most important ones, and you can’t have one without the other!
My prayer as we begin is that you will open your heart and mind a little each day by reading, journaling and meditating on what you’ve learned. Conservative Christianity, what many people call Evangelical Christianity, has convinced us that concepts like “opening your mind” and “meditation” are evil, or, at the very least, should not be part of the Christian journey.
But as you will see throughout our study, not only were centuries of Christians contemplative and not at all literal in their beliefs of the Bible, but you’ll also find that expansion is life-changing and life-giving!
The Bible is a living document, open to changing and evolving throughout eternity! Isn’t that exciting?
Speaking of exciting, look at the following passages from Hebrews 4 and Hebrews 6.
(For citing purposes, all passages come from the website biblegateway.com.)
[Hebrews 4] God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. 4 We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5 But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest…”
[Hebrews 6] So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.Hebrews
Freeing women from the bondage of faulty theology that leads to perfectionist thinking has been my lifelong mission.
I’m willing to bet when you read the above passage the first thought on your mind was that the “rest” Paul was referring to wasn’t for now, Earth, but for later, Heaven.
And I bet you also thought that when he said some people will not enter rest, Paul was talking about all the “bad” sinners.
But if you go back and read it again, this time, you’ll see who Paul says will not have rest. (Hint: it’s the Jewish leaders, not because they were terrible people, but because they had a corrupt theology.) Also think of the rest you would feel in your soul if you were at peace with life and totally content with where you were, what you had, and who you loved at this very moment.
The promises of God are for both the here and the later. But in order to do that, you must first repent.
Changing your mind (no pun intended–you’ll see what I mean in a second) about this small word is the catalyst I pray opens your heart to every other lesson we’ll learn this month.
But first, what does the word “repent” even mean? (Just so you know, I use the trustworthy Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary in my writings and cite it as MW.)
Did you know that what the definition of the word “repent” means for us 21st century folks is different from what the definition of the word “repent” meant for Jesus and his people?
Monks worked for the Catholic Church, of course, because it was the only church around back in medieval times. Other than monks, only priests were privy to owning a copy of the Bible (different from our modern Protestant Bible, by the way), but often in tiny villages spread out over hundreds of miles in feudalistic societies, even the priests were illiterate and at the mercy of whomever was doing the interpreting!
If you get nothing else out of today, please hear this: The medieval church needed people to believe. Not to save their souls, mind you, because in their God-haunted world just about everybody was going to Purgatory (a waiting place for sinners), not Heaven, and many more were going straight to H-e-double-hockey-sticks.
The Church needed the laymen to believe because believing meant fearing and fearing meant power.
And power kept those who had it feeling “safe.”
Therefore, to repent in medieval times meant to physically do something, such as pay for the forgiveness of your sins through financial means, recitation of chants, or even self-harm (known as asceticism).
We know this form of repayment for being human as penitence, where we get the same repent we understand today:
Repent: to feel regret or penitence about (MW)
But the Greek word for repent, the one that the supposed-author Paul would have chosen in the Book of Hebrews, meant to change one’s mind. (For future reference, when I need to use a lexicon, I’ll be using the one on biblehub.com.)
It is my hope, dear friends, that you will repent from seeing God’s character in the wrong light, and that you will rest knowing that our Creator both understands and has made allowance for all people! My prayer is that you’ll release every fear you’ve ever had about the Bible and your faith!
I will leave you today with the following passage from Luke 3:
[Luke 3] 7 When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 9 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?”
11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”
14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers.
John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”Book of Luke
The crowds asked what they must do in order to repent, and John told them to stop gossiping and getting drunk, stop watching R-rated television and practicing homosexuality, stop voting democratic, and stop living in debauchery, right?
He told them to be content with what they had instead of being greedy for more (Love God) and to give to the poor and be fair in their financial dealings. (Love others)
Christians, let’s be more like John.
Focusing on love thaws us out. We get unstuck by sticking to loving others the way Christ loved us.
See you soon,