questions, questions

 

A couple of Sundays ago we had fun attempting to answer some
of the questions that we often ask as people of faith. Jesus loved questions,
asking them a lot – sometimes even answering them. Pastor Theresa and I took
turns pretending to know something. We got to some of the questions that you
offered in confidence during worship, like why God allows bad stuff, what
following Jesus means, the uniqueness of being Presbyterian and respecting
folks of other faith traditions. I thought I’d take a crack at the others that
you submitted. I hope you have a chance to wrestle with these on your own.

 

How is the prophecy of
Revelation is playing out in today’s current times?

Revelation is so full of images and metaphors it takes on a
new life for every era. Prophecy traditionally does not tell us what is to
come, like a soothsayer, but tells us about our God relationship , consistent
in every time and place. There is no five-day forecast as to what’s ahead, only
a reminder that we tend to forget about how God seeks to live out God’s purpose
in us, human to human, loving one other, providing peace and justice for each
other as an act of our love for God. God’s household is not coming closer in
space and time, it has always been imminent, close at hand, on earth as it is
in heaven. What timing God has in mind is unknown, and even thinking in terms
of time (chronos) seems inadequate in the context of God eternal (kairos).

 

Where is God in
protecting children from atrocities (it is the one thing that makes me wonder
if there’s a possibility God does not exist)?

It’s really a question about why God lets us get away with
murder. Sometimes we can reason away bead things happening to adults, because
they may not be so innocent as do children. Elie Wiesel, at the age of 14, when
in a German prison camp watched his fellow Jews being hung found his answer to
where is God, as he experienced God saying to him, “I am here, on the scaffold,
amidst the suffering.” That may not be very satisfying to us. Perhaps it is the
helplessness we feel do be effective., make a difference. Perhaps it is our anger
with our fellow humans who are in positions of authority and could change
things. Perhaps it is our own shame for not doing what we can in our own area
of impact.

 

Nephilim: 1. angels
& human women, 2 royalty & human women or other?

There are 2 fairly obscure references in the Hebrew
scriptures for this group of beings. The Nephilim were intimidating enough to
scare the Israelites away from their desire to enter the promised land. They no
doubt were a tall race and when fear became part of the equation they appeared as
giants. They represent one more excuse that the Israelites had from wanting to enter
the land God gave then for safety and plenty, and they remind us of our own
excuses to think God will abandon us, when we feel powerless.

 

The lord’s prayer says
“forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Does this mean we
must forgive others to be forgiven?

If we seek forgiveness without forgiving others, it seems a
bit one-way and disingenuous, doesn’t it? We feel awfully self-indulgent when
we’re always on the receiving end, don’t we? I don’t think God calls us to put
our gives and our takes on a scale to see if they balance out. I do think that
our capacity to forgive others enhances our ability to receive and live into
God’s forgiveness and acceptance. Certainly God accepts us as we are, and yet
we may find it difficult to accept ourselves when our hurts and resentments
color how we view ourselves. God seeks our healing, the healing that comes with
the forgiveness of others, especially when they don’t deserve it. Forgiveness
has nothing to do with deserving or earning, otherwise where would you and I
be?

 

What does the phrase “walking
with Jesus” mean?

This phrase is not from the Bible so it’s a bit up for
grabs. It could refer to feeling an intimacy, a closeness with Jesus, like one
would hiking along a journey. It may mean to do as Jesus did, although, I
wouldn’t endorse anything with nails. It may refer to a familiarity with his
vision and perspective about how God sees humanity and individuals. Someone
might think of Jesus following wherever they go or following Jesus wherever he
goes – who’s leading and who’s following? The danger of Jesus being so close is
we think he is at our beck and call. The joy of his closeness is the sense of God’s
presence in real, loving flesh, calling us to be real and loving to others in
the flesh.

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