Friends from a neighboring local meeting are uprooting themselves to follow a leading at an age when most of us are looking at brochures for retirement venues.   Another Friend couple try to follow their hart in establishing a Christ centered Friends Meeting in a major metropolitan area but can't find a neighboring Quaker Meeting to help them because of their belief that Jesus has something special to offer to the World as much today as He did back in the day.  It is refreshing to see someone sell all that they have and do their best to follow their hearts.  I recently attended a meeting where a call to follow a leading was met with mostly practical objections.  All of which brings me to ponder the same question Jesus pondered in Luke 18:8 where he asks if when the Son of man comes shall he find faith on the earth only in this case shall He find faith among Quakers?

Is there room for Faith in a community that extolls a history launched by men and women of Faith but has become a group of bureaucratic organizations loosely united by that history?  Organizations that spend much more time and money on maintaining their own "brand" of Quakerism, their historical buildings and burying their dead,  than in seeking the face of God and selling all they have to follow Him?  This might sound like I am condemning Quakers but that is not my intent.  My intent is to call Quakers to do what a Catholic Pope did years ago - to open the windows of our Meeting Houses and invite the Holy Spirit to enter and blow away the dust and cobwebs and to quicken the hearts of all who enter those buildings.  My intent is to call all who consider themselves to be Friends to ask what role faith plays in their lives and are they satisfied with that role.  There is a simple solution to those who would seek to be a people of faith for as Paul says at Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Bible isn't the best selling book because the church mandated that it be read.  In fact the organized church has a history of being afraid of the Bible as shown by the death of so many who were instrumental in enabling it's distribution.  When they failed at preventing its printing and distribution they used other means of limiting its power by convincing us they could be trusted with deciding which parts we should hear on a Sunday or which parts were anointed and which ones weren't.  My intent is to repeat what George Fox has been quoted as saying.  There is one Jesus Christ that speaks to our condition and and I would add that He alone is the one we should trust in deciding which part of the Bible is anointed and in this day and age can quicken our faith.  I ask you to consider that Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.  Don't settle for being a doubting Thomas insisting on being able to see and feel the open wounds of that one who spoke to George Fox's condition but strive to be one  who is blessed though they have not seen, and yet  have believed.

Views: 351

Comment by Forrest Curo on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 10:38am

I'm not entirely sure what faith does come by -- except that it seems to come in its own way, in its own time, by whatever crazy circumstances God spins people through in the meantime.

I've found that a lot of things have become clear through discussion -- when I've found people inclined to do that freely -- but lately this seems to break down via people stuck in proclaiming whatever-it-is they already think.

Some people have no interest in any of That Old Stuff; other people want to cling to it to Keep People In Line. To insist that the authors didn't have-it-all-down, while also insisting that God was at work in it and can still use it to illuminate the so-called-real-world -- leaves me in an iffy deserted place.

Everyone seems to think that either 1) It's all about them and the need for encouraging/discouraging people's various politics & sexualities or 2) That its overall meaning is already so obvious that there's nothing needing to be thought about. Despite this frustrating situation, life remains as clearly choreographed as a game of peekaboo with Daddy... and continues to get closer.

Comment by James C Schultz on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 11:19am

You are right on point in that too many of us are caught up in our own ideas of what is or what should be.  My wife and I were discussing how upset we are in not seeing more fruit from our prayers.  We see God answering lots of our daily little prayers but seem to do poorly with the bigger ones.  We can each tell stories of really great things God has done for us in the past but we can't find any key to repeat them.  There are too many variables on our side that we can't seem to understand never mind overcome and just when we get totally frustrated He intervenes again.  All we know is we have to persevere because no one ever finished a race standing still. 

Comment by Adria Gulizia on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 11:22am

Thanks for the great post, Jim. Here are my thoughts:

We [human beings] love to be in control, and we love to be certain. This is why we generally prefer to trust in a "process" [e.g., "Quaker process"] or a ritual [e.g., waiting worship followed by afterthoughts/joys and sorrows followed by announcements followed by coffee hour] rather than either experimenting with things like ministries of intercession or than committing to keeping  Sundays free so that we can be available if the Holy Spirit leads us into a 6 hour meeting for worship. We can teach processes and rituals and, when we see them in action, we can reassure ourselves that everything is as it should be. This reassures us in our love of order, which is, fundamentally, a manifestation of our pride and fallen nature - our desire to be "like gods".

By contrast, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is not taught, it is caught. It looks different in different people and in different contexts. Understanding whether someone who is praying or preaching or speaking in tongues is acting under the influence of the Spirit or under the influence of the flesh or even under the influence of an unclean spirit is not immediately obvious but depends on discernment, which, fundamentally, many of us don't trust. We are happy to come to consensus amongst ourselves and we are happy to plan, but leaning on the Lord, trusting in his unfailing guidance and protection, does not come naturally to members of the management/professional class from which many of our meetings draw their membership.

But our plans can only take us so far. They can only lead us to the limits of our imagination and strength. This is not the limit of God's power! We follow a God of miracles, who split the sea to liberate the Hebrews, who raised the dead from the grave, and who daily empowers us to live into a reality that we have not seen and cannot imagine - if only we can learn to trust and obey him. I yearn to live into that vision, to incarnate that Kingdom, to abide with other friends of Jesus.

As a Society, we need to decide: Do we have the courage to trust in God's promises together? Or are we content to be trapped by the limits of our own (feeble) strength and our own (dim) vision? 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 12:50pm

Adria Gulizia -- Yes!!!

James, I think the problem with your first comment (deleted since then?) is that people keep reading 'sinners' and 'carnal' in a moralistic mind-set. But if 'sin' means 'what keeps us from welcoming God's Kingdom' and 'carnal' means 'limited', then of course! (But we are created 'limited', which turns out to be as functional as the fact that a two-year-old [unless he's armed, arrgh!] can't really kill everyone he gets mad at.)

Yes, prayers are our requests, not something we're ordering for dinner. Not a matter of variables but of seeing it all from ground level. As I read this, we do get prayers answered when they're in tune with God's purposes, and are usually spared receiving the really unwise requests. 'Limited', remember!

Comment by William F Rushby on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 2:50pm

I just came across this thread.  You folks are raising important questions, and sharing valuable thoughts!  Please keep it up!

Comment by William F Rushby on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 3:00pm

From James Schultz: "Is there room for Faith in a community that extolls a history launched by men and women of Faith but has become a group of bureaucratic organizations loosely united by that history? "

"...open the windows of our Meeting Houses and invite the Holy Spirit to enter and blow away the dust and cobwebs and to quicken the hearts of all who enter those buildings."

"the organized church has a history of being afraid of the Bible as shown by the death of so many who were instrumental in enabling its distribution.  ...There is one Jesus Christ that speaks to our condition and and I would add that He alone is the one we should trust in deciding which part of the Bible is anointed and in this day and age can quicken our faith."

"Don't settle for being a doubting Thomas insisting on being able to see and feel the open wounds of that one who spoke to George Fox's condition but strive to be one  who is blessed though they have not seen, and yet  have believed."

Comment by William F Rushby on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 3:08pm

From Forrest Curo: "I've found that a lot of things have become clear through discussion...but lately this seems to break down via people stuck in proclaiming whatever-it-is they already think."

"To insist that the authors (of That Old Stuff") didn't have-it-all-down, while also insisting that God was at work in it and can still use it to illuminate the so-called-real-world..."

"Everyone seems to think that either 1) It's all about them and the need for encouraging/discouraging people's various politics & sexualities or 2) That its overall meaning is already so obvious that there's nothing needing to be thought about."

Comment by William F Rushby on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 3:14pm

From Adria Gulizia: "We [human beings] love to be in control, and we love to be certain. This is why we generally prefer to trust in a "process" [e.g., "Quaker process"] or a ritual [e.g., waiting worship followed by afterthoughts/joys and sorrows followed by announcements followed by coffee hour] rather than either experimenting with things like ministries of intercession or than committing to keeping  Sundays free so that we can be available if the Holy Spirit leads us into a 6 hour meeting for worship."

"We are happy to come to consensus amongst ourselves and we are happy to plan, but leaning on the Lord, trusting in his unfailing guidance and protection, does not come naturally to members of the management/professional class from which many of our meetings draw their membership."

"As a Society, we need to decide: Do we have the courage to trust in God's promises together? Or are we content to be trapped by the limits of our own (feeble) strength and our own (dim) vision?"

"We follow a God of miracles, who split the sea to liberate the Hebrews, who raised the dead from the grave, and who daily empowers us to live into a reality that we have not seen and cannot imagine - if only we can learn to trust and obey him."

Comment by William F Rushby on 6th mo. 1, 2015 at 3:16pm

From Forrest again: "Yes, prayers are our requests, not something we're ordering for dinner."

Comment by Olivia on 6th mo. 2, 2015 at 11:31am

Thank you, James.  Thank you, Adria!

James: "My intent is to call Quakers to do what a Catholic Pope did years ago - to open the windows of our Meeting Houses and invite the Holy Spirit to enter and blow away the dust and cobwebs and to quicken the hearts of all who enter those buildings."

Adria: "Understanding whether someone who is praying or preaching or speaking in tongues is acting under the influence of the Spirit or under the influence of the flesh or even under the influence of an unclean spirit is not immediately obvious but depends on discernment, which, fundamentally, many of us don't trust."

So true.  Thank you both for the inspiration.  I would add to Romans 10:17 that faith comes by all kinds of vibrations (owning my inner Hippie).  hearing, tasting, needing, loving, touch, smelling, healing, and the sort of things that ricochet off of one person with a message or a pain, to another.

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