Saturday, April 17, 2010

THE MOVE FROM LAW TO GRACE IS A DIFFICULT ONE

Our minds have been so shaped by law, due to fear and shame and guilt and the fear of punishment, that this idea that the Father Jesus revealed to us just seems to be too good to be true, so we just settle for the old paradigm instead with a little language of grace and freedom added to it. Believe me, I know, I lived in that dysfunctional environment myself for a long time. The dismantling of the dysfunctional environment I myself had been living in is by far the toughest thing I have ever had to face and then walk through. And yes, that environment included other people, but I'm more specifically referring to my inner core...my head, my heart, and my soul...my false self. The Spirit does business with our dysfunction with us as individuals. It's a real shock at first because the law has mostly kept us believing that the mess was mostly everybody else's fault and at that moment what others are doing doesn't seem to be causing a bit of concern to the one that has come to set you free.

These dysfunctional houses we build are very difficult to deconstruct, and on our own, it's actually impossible. The pain involved in the process can not be avoided and often we end up wrestling with and resisting the liberator that has come to set us free. I'd like to once again share something that speaks to the painful process of liberation. To be set free we must understand we are going to lose something/many things. What is so stunning is how the dysfunctional environment has become such a part of us...has become so familiar that we will fight God and others in order to hang onto it. Sometimes we have even convinced ourselves that the dysfunctional environment is God.

The move from law and bondage to grace and freedom is a radical move.

"Man is so much the prey of the powers, so closely associated with their work, enjoys himself so thoroughly to their profit, desires so much all that they offer, conceives his life to such a degree separated from God, that every approach of God, every positive work of God, appears to him as an unacceptable disturbance and finally an attack against him. When God comes to deliver him, he does not at all perceive his liberation; he protests against the breaking of those marvelous objects, which are his chains or the doors of his prison: the adored chains. This is clearly the situation of Man."

"And we must take account of the fact that every work of liberation (the process of freeing us) is in fact destructive of the evil environment. And that which assures his liberty is felt by Man as a frightful personal offense. "How can God who is good permit…?" In uttering this phrase so frequently, Man does not envisage for a minute, first of all, that the evil deed is most often the result of the liberty that God allows to Man and of the independence and autonomy that man has seized over against God. Man is responsible for what is done (and he has wished it), but he protests against God for what is done. In short, he would demand that God mechanize him and take his liberty from him."

"Next, that evil also takes place by the interplay of the spiritual powers who act in the world and in society. Finally, that which does ‘evil’ to him can very well be the act of God who liberates him. But this liberation causes suffering. I do not know anything better to compare this to than to an operation. The surgeon who takes out a cancer destroys the power of death to the profit of the living body. But he removes something of this body, which had become "flesh of his flesh’; he amputates something which had become the body itself. And the patient who does not know what has been done, from what he has been saved, could perfectly well interpret that as a frightful torture, as an illegitimate extraction, being aware only of the pain that remains after the operation is finished."
Jacques Ellul

11 comments:

Sue said...

You know, there's a vantage point I can sit in reading this where it is possible to laugh at all of this. I think the Buddha sits a few paces away from this vantage point. And of course Jesus knew all about it.

But oh, how easy to fall to earth with a bang, haha!! :)

Kent said...

can you elaborate more

Bones said...

Kent, I'm just about to a place where I believe I'm ready to begin a journey with Ellul. So I'm wondering if you'd be willing to be my "librarian" and make suggestions as to where to begin and how to proceed. I'm currently working my way through various parables with Fr. Robert Capon, thanks to Interlibrary Loan, and since those will need to be returned by the end of the month, I'd like to get my order in for my next title. What say you?

Kent said...

Bones, I would probably begin with The Ethics Of Freedom. It's not an easy read...partially due to it being 800+ pages, but also due to Ellul's thinking being so radically different than we in the West have been shaped to think about freedom and all that works against that freedom that we have actually grown so accustomed to. So, that is probably the heart of Ellul's works when it comes to living free in Christ and what that means to us as we walk through this world that is set against that.

As far as politics go...Anarchy And Christianity and another paradigm shifter in regards to these things is The Politics Of God & The Politics Of Man. A & C was the first Ellul book I read. Both it and this other one are so helpful in seeing the futility of thinking there is a political solution and how we get all crossed up by thinking there is.

As for seeing how off the mark Christianity (Christian religion and it's training) is...The Subversion Of Christianity

If the situation we find ourselves in in regards to money and power and economic systems go...his book Money and Power is very thought provoking.

And with regards to violence and how we are effected by it....the little book Violence is helpful.

Some of these you can find on line and can read them there for free.

Sue said...

Can I elaborate more? Hmmm, not sure if I can! I think it has a lot to do with the passing of all things, with the ultimate simplicity and beauty of everything.

I cannot help suspecting that God does a whole lot of laughing when we wouldn't be expecting it.

No, turns out I can't really elaborate :)

Kent said...

I think you are right about the laughter Sue

Sue said...

Have you read The Presence of the Kingdom, Kent? It's sitting waiting in my bookshelf for me to read. It too will be the first Ellul book I will read from cover to cover.

I am trying to finish reading Rene Girard's I See Satan Fall Like Lightning which is just so way over my head but sort of exhilarating at the same time. I am only grabbing the ends of a couple of threads of the entire blanket he has written, but that will have to do for the moment :)

I was talking to my new beau the other day :) about the difference between the thoughts you have that are incessant and ruttish and the thoughts you have that are delightful, that lead to great ideas. We agreed that the difference between thoughts and ideas is an amazingly big one.

Blah blah blah to you this morning, Kentster :) Going off to eat some oatmeal, listen to my local station (Radio National, they talk about all sorts of wonderful and amazing ideas) and do those smelly dishes.

Top of the day to ye both :)

Sue said...

PS: I have ditched Wisha Wisha Wisha and the two-blogs thang and now I'm back at Discombobula, all mushed up into one again :)

Kent said...

and just so you know. my gmail account is trashed. so send emails the the nthergarden address

The Presence of the Kingdom is one I have yet to get to. It's suppose to be really good.

Rich said...

Kent,

Bro, I love your heart and I especially Loved this quote..."Next, that evil also takes place by the interplay of the spiritual powers who act in the world and in society. Finally, that which does ‘evil’ to him can very well be the act of God who liberates him. But this liberation causes suffering. I do not know anything better to compare this to than to an operation. The surgeon who takes out a cancer destroys the power of death to the profit of the living body. But he removes something of this body, which had become "flesh of his flesh’; he amputates something which had become the body itself. And the patient who does not know what has been done, from what he has been saved, could perfectly well interpret that as a frightful torture, as an illegitimate extraction, being aware only of the pain that remains after the operation is finished."

Kent said...

Yep Rich, I know some of what that feels like