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Posted By Nan

Acts 23-25

"Anything that demands reverence that is not open to being challenged or questioned is problematic" ~ Brené Brown

When that happens it is not reverence it is coercion and extremely abusive (my comment).

Before I start this blog post, I have not posted a blog for 3 weeks due to circumstances beyond my control. Today I am in a position to post again.

You may wonder what a quote about reverence has to do with Acts 23-25.

Last week I was 1,000 kilometres away from home at a family function. Many of the family members there had not been seen for many years. As I caught up with them I found myself having a conversation with a lovely relative.

She is a beautiful person and has a deep faith in God. 

But a comment she made was quite jarring. It was about a family member who she considered could be abrupt and rude at times. This family member had recently been diagnosed with Autism. She commented that she now understood this person’s sometimes rude behaviour. She admitted she had always thought there should be something wrong as she thought the person had been raised the right way because she had gone to a private school.

I was quite surprised by this comment. In my life I have not noticed private school graduates to be any more polite than government run school graduates.

What I have noticed however is that people who attended private schools were more likely to have been taught to keep quiet and maintain the “status quo”. 

In short. They were taught to have reverence for the leaders and to never challenge or question what they were told to believe or follow.

Sadly, this behaviour is what allows abuse to flourish and go unpunished. Hence the quote by Brené Brown. My comment also relates to this as enforced reverence for leaders and/or the rules is coercion and abuse. 

What does this have to do with Acts 23-25?

As we know by now, after all the revelations of sexual abuse within churches that was covered up, Churches are good at demanding reverence that allows abuse to flourish and go unpunished.

Whenever the interests of humans outweigh the interests of God, this abusive behaviour continues.

Paul had a message to give. It was the message of Jesus. 

Just as the religious leaders in Jerusalem had Jesus killed, the same leaders tried to kill Paul.

Just as Jesus did nothing wrong, so did Paul. The leaders wanted Jesus and Paul to be shut up because of their human interests that far outweighed the interests of God.

These religious leaders made up lies to try to get Paul killed. They even planned to ambush the Roman soldiers taking him outside Jerusalem in order to kill him themselves.

They demanded reverence and allowed no challenges or questioning of that reverence.

Human institutions, even churches, do the same. 

Over time, people become invested in their viewpoints and their power within the institution. This leaves them vulnerable to crossing a line where the interests of God are pushed aside for the interests of humans (especially them). It is very insidious and very easy to cross that line. Especially if there is no one there empowered to call out the behaviour.

You need to be vigilant. You need to challenge the demands for reverence. And if you are shut down when you challenge that reverence? You need to walk away. Because anything that demands reverence that is not open to being challenged or questioned is problematic. It is coercive and abuse. 

It is not of God.

Follow God.

Not human self interest.

 
Posted By Nan

This quote is from Eugene H Peterson who translated The Message Bible into language we could understand.

So often in our walk with Christianity we are exhorted to pray.

Pray for what we want.

Pray for God’s intervention in our lives.

Pray for other people.

Pray for the world, a group of people, a country.

And so on.

There is nothing wrong with asking God for these things.

But God knows what we need and will give it to us anyway.

Prayer is more about being transformed into a follower of Jesus.

Research shows that we are influenced by the people we keep company with. If you keep company with people who are negative, you will become negative and your behaviour will change to match that. If you keep company with people who adopt a particular set of beliefs, you will come to share those beliefs.

If you spend time in conversation with God, you will be changed to become more godly in your outlook and behaviour.

If you read 2 Corinthians 3 from verse 7, you will read that Moses came into God’s presence and that presence caused his face to become so bright that people could not look at it.

You can then read in verses16-18 that when you turn your face to God you recognise Him as a living, personal presence, not some idol of stone. 

Being in God’s presence shows you the pure approach to God. The leaving behind of legalism and embracing of who God is. 

In His presence you can be who He created you to be. 

In His presence you can become who He wants you to be. In His presence your life becomes brighter and more beautiful as you allow God to enter your life and you become more like Him.

In Romans 12:1-2 you are encouraged to take every aspect of your life and offer it to God. You are advised to embrace what God does for you as His gift to you and the best way you can be. 

You need to not place your culture – be it the culture of your church, community, nation – above God and His requirements for you. 

You are instead to put your attention on God. 

He will change you. 

He will start in your innermost being and change you into His image. Your response is to recognise that is what He wants and to respond to that.

Instead of allowing the cultures of this world, including religious institutions, to drag you down focus on God instead. When you do this, you allow Him to bring out your best.

And you do this through prayer as you form a relationship with God that involves communication as you sit as His feet.

 

 

 
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Nan
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