I have been keeping up with Mark Jacobson's discussion "The Cross- I have a Problem" . It has led me to think about the meaning of the cross and, specifically, what it means to live in the cross. Simultaneously, I have been reading and re-reading Paul's description of the law in Romans 7:7-8 and 7:13:

Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from the law sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died....Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment, sin might become utterly sinful.

Those things, as well as the "Expectations for Community" for the Young Adult Gathering coming in May, have gotten me thinking: in a community that is so often free-form, how do we know what is utterly sinful? Are we afraid to call sin "sin"? Does "sin" have a place among people who often believe that anything that occurs between consenting adults is fine? How do we, or should we, encourage one another to live in the cross?

 I wanted to live a life of discipleship, so I became a Quaker to be among God's people, those who believing in Jesus' name, have the right to become children of God. Am I in the right place? Because it often feels like the lion's share of the guidance I am receiving for how to live a righteous life amounts to "First, do no harm." By way of background,I was raised Baptist. I have been a member of a liberal meeting for about a year and a half, and began attending a little less than a year before that.

I'd like to hear the thoughts and reflections from Friends on law, discipleship and living in the cross.



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Show me this "I" who wants its 'ego' killed-- and I will show you the very beastie in question!

Good point...However, I actually think God did a pretty good job with me. I have a lot of good qualities, but I guess by "ego" I mean that part of myself that wants to use those good qualities, those gifts that God has given me, for my own ends rather than for His, that thinks I "deserve" to "do my own thing," to have my own goals even when they contradict God's will. By "ego" I mean that part of me that thinks I should be working for my own glory even when my actions and words take away from God's glory. God is making me more patient, wiser, more considerate. My ego is the part of me that still sometimes resists that change.
Alice, thanks a lot for the book reference. I have not read it yet, but I will. I agree with you one hundred percent that we have a revolutionary commission to bring about God's kingdom on earth. However, I disagree slightly on one thing. You say, "Sin is clear to me in: a billion hungry in a world with enough food; women carrying backbreaking loads of dirty water just to keep from dying of thirst when millions of others are more concerned about being fashionable; torture and war."

For me, this is more evidence of sin than sin itself. People go hungry in part because our Western vanity and gluttony demands that we have a never-ending stream of things we don't need at prices so low that the people who produce them can not make a living. The sin is excess; extreme poverty is just a symptom. War happens when we disobey God's law not to covet another's things, not to steal, not to resist evil. By the time a war happens, a lot of sin has already taken place. The war itself is a sin, yes, but it is mostly a sign of other sins.

For me, injustice is not necessarily a sin in itself ; rather, sin leads unswervingly to injustice. The injustice is a sign that sin has taken place. I guess that is because, for me, "sin" is primarily a verb (I have sinned against the Lord) whereas injustice is only a noun, which diminishes the guilt of the individual. However, since individual actions are what bring about injustice, it seems euphemistic to conflate injustice and sin. Injustice is the state that sin leads to, but somebody had to sin for injustice to exist.

Just a thought.

~Adria
It's refreshing to see another Quaker who still finds the concepts of sin, salvation, the cross, etc. useful. Friends started as a Christian religious society, but many now either deny Christian doctrine or redefine the terms, including Christ himself, in such a way as to make their meaning unrecognizable.
There still are Christians out here, but they can be hard to find. I was attending a liberal meeting for several years, but eventually felt so out of place that I started staying home and waiting on God by myself. I also visit other Christian meetings and Friends when possible, and otherwise try to stay in contact. I hope God helps you to find the Christian support you need to stay among Friends, even if you have to look beyond your local meeting.
Pacific Yearly Meeting _Faith&Practice_ re something they call "simplicity":

"Do I center my life in an awareness of God's presence so that all things take their rightful place."

Obviously, people don't. There's where your 'excess' begins; without that connection to God, fear sets in, and thus anger, and greed, a frantic search for satisfaction by all the wrong means...
and 'ego': not just that wish you mention to enjoy some glory & fringe benefits while doing as one pleases, but the crippling submergence into habitual blinders, assumptions of being righteous and 'knowing how' and having worldly 'wisdom' when Guidance could show one something better-- all adding up to a way of life that makes some suffer from excess while the rest fall to deprivations.
It is God who opens the eyes of an individual to what sin is. If I look at your life and attempt to address the sin in it, then Mark's, then Forrest's..... ok Who's next? Given enough time and your willingness, I can mold you all into the image of Jesus as expressed through me. I know not what you need; healing of, freeing from, or what life to the full will look like for you. Default to Jesus, He will lead you where He wants you, in His time. In the meantime, is relationship being formed or broken?
Briliant
agreed
Jesus isn't who you think he is; Jesus is who Jesus thinks he is! He was almost certain God-conscious in his historical lifetime, spoke truly for God, and is well worth striving to understand!

This doesn't make me comfortable about people saying "Jesus" when they mean "God." I'm not saying there's a substantial difference in flavor or personality, but when I say "Jesus" I'm talking about a certain human being who was the 'de jure' King of Israel awhile back. Anything else confuses me too much.

I don't think your offer to "remold" anybody sounds quite in the spirit Jesus exemplified; God is supposed to do any remolding necessary, whether working from inside as what we call 'Christ' or 'Spirit', or presenting us with useful correctives via our external lives. But I don't believe anyone should let anyone (himself included) warp him into resembling some plaster Jesus.

"One day when he was feeling his own faults very strongly, Murshid went into meditation and asked God what to do. He received the answer: 'Your faults are My Perfections.' " [In the Garden, Murshid Samuel Lewis]
Jesus is God.
In her initial post, Adria said " while Jesus set a higher standard for morality (now looking at someone with lust is the same thing as adultery), he was also clear that responsibility for judgment lay with God, not man. Therefore, we are not called to enforce morality by coercion but should instead encourage one another to ask, "Is this what God wants me to be doing right now?"

I believe this statment to be correct and was trying to encourage her. My comment regarding changing others was sarcasm. It is the last thing I can do. Sorry if I offended you.
My wife says it's not nice to use sarcasm on dumb people; it just confuses us.

Sometimes when Jesus spoke he was speaking for God, as God. ("What you do to the least of my brothers/sisters" etc. for example.) This isn't the same as "being" God the way I understand the word "is". But then we don't have a good language for making what I mean clear; and it probably isn't entirely adequate for saying whatever you mean by "Jesus is God."

So far as God has had a hand in my life, the sort of things he does and the sort of things he works to show me are very much 'Jesus flavored', and many of them come explicitly from things Jesus said. But if he and a particular human being are "the same", in some way different from the way God lives as each and every human being, I don't see it.
I could think of quite a few worse ones, if 'a sin' it is. Self-righteousness is certainly one.

People make assumptions about what it means to be embodied, about what God actually intends to happen when a sperm and an egg do their thing (or when He causes anything else to occur, for that matter.) Such assumptions can easily be mistaken.

A fairly large proportion of fertilizations end in spontaneous abortion, an "act of God," if you will. Most of these occur before getting far enough to be recognized as a 'miscarriage.'

The birth of a child can be a wonderful opportunity, and anyone hates to see that lost. But badly handled, the opportunity for immense suffering is likewise huge.
God has told me no such thing, so far.

This whole sidetrip is way off-topic. Perhaps you would like to find/initiate a discussion of it someplace else, among people who prefer larger numbers of children malnourished or simply neglected, unwelcomed, unloved-- and significant numbers of young women dead of abortion laws-- the way things were in my time....

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