Saturday, 1 October 2016
*Therefore.* Romans, and indeed Christianity, is a structured argument, an article accelerator, a rhetorical cathedral, a homeletic centrifuge, channelling explosive doxological compenents through 'therefore'-pipes to the combustion chambers in the engine of your soul. Rm7 ∴ Rm8 ∴ go and sin no more, live for free, enjoy peace, make much of God.
*Now.* We are here, and this is now. Now. On Thursday morning. Now. In 2016. Now. In this infinitesimal slice through the soup of time's continuum. Now. On the cusp of history, on the brink of eternity, after waiting for so many BC ages, we're AD from this moment. Now. In the blink of blurry morning, as autumn dawns over London, as the guard changes. Right now. Christianity is now. Active. Present. Intense. Perpetual.
*No condemnation.* No comeuppance. No shame and no blame. There is nothing outstanding to pay, nothing unsightly to hide, there is nothing you can be condemned for, there is no one you can be condemned by. No one can lay a finger on you because there are no charges to press, no debts, no fetters, no caveats, no latent clauses, no loopholes, nothing to bite you in ass later, nothing to regret, no apologies to make. You can go into work with the shields down and armour off. You can be vulnerable because you are fundamentally invulnerable. You can risk everything and lose nothing.
Rm8v3-4 The law is part of the reality of God, or a picture or a representation of the reality of God, but the old self struggles, for the reasons of Rm7, to be present to, to connect with, to live inside this reality. The law remains the ultimate external environment, but the law in itself can't enable is to be present to it. Yesterday in unrelated reading I came across this cog sci definition of presence: 'The feeling of being & acting in a world outside us'...'A subject is 'present' in a space if she can act in it.' Resurrection reality, through Christ, is alive to the Spirit. The Spirit is an internal and and an external reality, bridging the gap. Through the Spirit we can be present to God's reality, and able to act within it.
Rm8v5-6 What's your mindset?
*Flesh.* σάρκα And not in the good sense, not in the honorific sense of enfleshed embodiment which Christ made glorious by his own incarnation. Flesh in the carnal carnage of a car crash at a carvery sense. Flesh in the blood smeared streets around Smithfield Market at 7am, a rotting meat market mentality of rancid rare steak left out in the sun. The mind set on the flesh is a savage mind that grills the goose that once laid golden eggs. People become flesh when you take the immortal life out of them. You become mere meat as you consider yourself as a tradable commodity, a pound of flesh extracted and exchangable, a zombie kit of parts stitched back together.
*Spirit.* πνεῦμα And not in the ethereal, escapist, vegetarian sense. Spirit not in any dualistic sense that pours scorn on the physical world of wonder, colour and form. The mind set on the Spirit is charged with the electricity of the God-encounter, life lived before his shining face. In this mindset you have met no mere mortal friends, and designed obsolesence is anathema, so when we build let us think we build for ever.
What's your mind set upon?
a hasty host
of hostile hate
this harboured heat
He who yet hallows
Dwell, dwell, dwell. Dwell is one of my favourite words, conveying purposive qualitative depth to ordinary inhabitation. Dwell is a word mudanely practical but richly and necessarily poetic, casting all the artefacts of regular furnishing into a Heideggerian cosmic fourfold of earth and sky, gods and mortals.
SPJ made the point last night evocatively, preaching on Jn14v10 goo.gl/9R40NA that the Trinity is a community of mutual indwelling, and we participate in the Trinity by dwelling-in and being-dwelt-in.
Dwell-in: In your Father's house there are many rooms, and the preparation of those rooms by Christ for your dwelling-in Jn14v3 is no mere lick of paint, no simple sprucing up or hasty papering over: the place he prepares, the plans he has, these are the tailoring of heaven's interior design for you, furnishing for dwelling for relating and enjoying God forever.
Dwelt-in: In your reciprocal hospitality, your 1Co6v19 temple, your Rv3v20 rooms which are in view here in Rm8. There is an architecture to the Spirit's presence in your life, minimally there is a door with Holman Hunt's inner handle, and there are the facilities within to dine-with. So, enjoy God, dear Christian, furnish your soul to dwell-with, enjoy life in all of it's ζωὴ with, life is single malt sipped by the fireside with, shelter from the storm with, jointly attending to the task of householding with. The Spirit of God dwells in you, let him dwell richly Col3v16 maximally ~ very dwell.
Rm8v11-12 The same Spirit who raised Jesus from death dwells in my body, bringing new life. That to say, the union with Christ that enables death to old self and my own new creation life *is itself* a work of the Spirit. The Spirit enables the union which enables resurrection which enables us to know the Father. The life trinitarian, where life begets more life.
Rm8v13-14 Sons of God. Sons here is (υἱός/huioi) the term Paul prefers, which can be contrasted with John's preferred (τέκνα/tekna). Both are true.
John's nurtured infants are (re)born into a quasi-biological lineage ~ passive, dependent descendents, collectively a brood of new-Jews, a new tribe with new fam, a we-experience of care.
Paul's adopted heirs are individuals considered worthy, through Christ, to be legally partners in the family business, included now in the God&Sons painted on the back of the truck. A more filial relation which carries with it privilege and dignity.
One of the commentaries speaks of these in the phrase "felt sonship", how does it feel?
Rm8v15-16 Could there be a more unanxious, more trinitarian set of verses? Utterly apt for this day and this season, these words ask not to be commented on but surrendered to: the Spirit of God causes us to be free. The Spirit of God unites with our own spirit. In this unity we discover that the Creator is also our Father. I commit this day to the stability, freedom, risk, play, joy, care and truth of God the trinity.
Heir apparent. IFTTT.
Suffering shared. Brownlee.
Merked so it's #Merky.
Have to vs Get to. Glory.
Rm8v19-20 Listen to creation, take her seriously. She too is speaking of God, waiting for God. We can jointly attend to God with created nature, which is perhaps like discovering God anew for ourselves revealed in creation. A powerful convicting theme of the summer: creation care is essential, and it is essential for many reasons, but one reason is this, that when we alienate ourselves from nature we alienate ourselves from a source of knowing God. Spend time with a tree today, listen to what it says about the Creator.
Rm8v21-22 Creation is subject to decay. Creation waits. Creation groans. Creation will be set free. What is creation? Or even, who is creation? For these are verbs conjuring actions of agency.
Creation groans. Do you hear it? How does it sound? Like Michael Jackson's crying Earth with weeping shores? Like Pocahontas' mournfully aphoristic Grandmother Willow? Like Hurrican Katrina's devastated fury screaming up the coast? Or the more passive groan of an battered accordian kicked into the corner wheezing it's dischordant last. Fearing the bogey pantheism, we err towards the latter, the passive, inert, dead view of nature, a creation groaning like the creaking of a ship. Lynn White has angrily and influentially claimed _"Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects."_
Creation waits. Waits for the children of God. Waits for such as I, such as we are. Waits for us to be revealed. Does it have to wait all day?
Rm8v23-24 This ache is inherent, indeed it swells the closer one gets. This is our posture: not static certainty, not despair, not distraction, but the painful hopeful longing of love, that can know in some ways and not in others, yet stakes its life. 'My contemplation is an excruciation only because it is also a joy', to borrow and transpose from De Beauvoir. God help me to sit here, in the structure & substance of Hope.
Rm8v25-26 v26 'pray as we ought' Prayer has an ought? How then ought we? Prayer is groaning: v22 Creation *groans* waiting for sons of God; v23 the sons of God *groan* waiting for the Spirit; v26 the Spirit *groans..*. By prayer we are a cosmic conduit for these subsonic reverberations, we pray in the resonant frequency of infinite longing. Prayer is the legitimate exclamation of a thing broken, and needs no justification, explanation or diagnosis, no apology or caveat. God, let Hb5v7 be my 'prayer voice'. Prayer is translation: *Prayer translates what we do not see into what we cannot say* Rendering the invisible in the inexpressible, and the impossible in the imminent. Prayer is synaesthesia of the void. Prayer demands the gifts of tongues and a life balletic, music and artistic practice, intuition and preconceptual emotion, raw and unmediated and untransposable expression. Prayer is patience. Not if but when. Oh but when, God, and how long?!
Rm8v27 On Thursday a theologian declared that we live in a world that is 'in' the 'in-between' the Father and the Son. Yes. But so too in the in-between the Father and the Spirit. Can we picture ourselves 'in' the in-betweens, and even in the in-betweens of the in-betweens on the trinity? Surely this would change how we pray, how we breathe.
Rm8v28 The signature in all things is redemption, if I learn how to look in-love.
Your future is future proofed, neat gin.
Now your name is a new start, Genesis,
Christian, born of the spirit you were cis gin
And now (Jd1v24, Ac2v15) to the G they be the same thing.
You're branded with a fresh face, contour.
Christ our lights and foundation, concealer,
You're branded by his grace, conformed.
And your brother is a rock star, Knophler.
Sinning by ommision, you're a blank page, white trash?
Now your glory is a done deal, hard cash.
Pauline fatigue got me 'hashtag rapping', a tad hash.
And tho I'm justified by grace .. it'still a car crash.
Rm8v31-32 J preached a compelling sermon on Romans yesterday, suggesting that the tortured neurosis of Rm7 is Paul's caricature of the person who has not grasped the height & depth of the grace of God, the 'no condemnation' of 8v1, the goodness and for-us-ness of God in these verses. We tend to prefer an addiction to a guilt-confession-forgiveness cycle, but freedom from sin means not having to obsess about sin all the time, as Rm7, but rather it is Rm8: to fix one's mind on Christ, to allow the fruits of the Spirit to burst forth, to be swept up by the Father who is for us, & gives us all things.
Rm8v33-34 *Who?* In the nuclear bunker of my identity, my bulletproof hermetic ontology, I hear a noise. Huddled in my hall of shame, with the blinds down, the drawbridge up, and there's a distinct scratching from within the walls. The fear creeps over cool, the icy hand of 6am anxiety pins me and tingles shooting pain through my heart's plumbing. Somebody knows I'm here. Like every horror movie ever, the fear is not of a what, but of a *who*, a someone, a personal, infinite, justifiably angry someone with ample cause to hurt me with vindictive force.
In the peace of my own meditation, calmly collecting my own selfunderstanding, arranging the library of my soul, there is a whispering in the aisles. The needling voice of condemnation, a chorus of second-personal pronouns in a surging hum of noice. The viciously effective, self-fulfilling voice of shame: you are a dirty person who does dirty things, you are a liability, you are a person of no value who will never amount to anything. Who said that? Called down the street, bellowed into the cosmos. Who?
Rm8v35-36 We can live dangerously if we're already safe. We can live dangerously. We're already safe.
Rm8v37-38 *More than.* Has 'more-than-conquerors' struck you as strange? If you're #1.. where do you go from there? It has been helpful to consider (via J) that Rm7 can be read in the sardonic voice. This then frames 'conquer' almost pejoratively. That in this race of life there is a striving runner who speaks to his limbs thusly:
"I delight in the law of God, in my inner being [a conqueror's mindset?], but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! [conqueror becomes the conqueree?]" [7v22-24]
This Rm7 runner gets off on the wrong foot; preoccupied with mere conquering, he sets out on this race, and tangles up in himself internally. It is a vain desire to conquer as if it were in any way not assured; it is a vain desire to conquer rather than a resting-easy that you have so-much-more-than-merely-conquered. The pressure to be a successful Christian, the onus on me to be busy, look busy, and demonstrably play a part in engineering victory, invariably degrades to a just-enough form of conquering, a time-management approach portioning my finite energies to the task, a focus on minimum standards, the just-in-time, cost-engineered minima of bounded-set 'Christian' ethical living, lowest common denominator church unity, the letigiously defensive, over-cautious, heaven-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth forms of striving.
God is not interested in you marginally scraping over the line, God wins with us and for us, by a country mile. Your salvation, your sufficiency, are secure. Secure in the face of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, and other miscellany from a catalogue of an ordinary day at 41.
Rm8v39 Seperation anxiety. I can be inside an infant's total terror and desperate clinging, utter bodily fear that the parent will leave and therefore I will not be okay. Yet all cosmic separation anxiety is founded on illusion. God is union, & we are in union with God. Jn14v18 we are not left as orphans, so Ps131v2 dear heart, nothing in creation could leave you abandoned.