Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Where is the Love? ...an old post revised

I had wanted to post this a while ago – around the end of May – and actually had it posted up for a little while, but then took it down because I felt it needed revising..

I've managed to go through it, and I think there's still some stuff in it that I want to say, so here it is:

A few things happened leading up to the original post that left me wondering: why is it that we who call ourselves "Christians" find it so hard to love others?

I had initially meant in the way Jesus loved others, but realized that I'm not even aiming that high. It seems that we, the Christians, the "Christ followers" often struggle to love others. And never mind our enemies. We struggle to love even those who claim to be one of us, a part of the church. We struggle to love the world that Jesus gave His life for (the 'lost') – the world that every one of us was a part of at one point or another.

True, there are times when we really step up to the plate (like the relief that has been given to the Xenaphobia refugees), but then again there are times when we drop the ball badly it seems we're pro actively encouraging hate and division.

So, the question I'm asking today is this: Why do we struggle to love others like Jesus did?

As I'm reviewing this post, I have the distinct sense that I need to tread lightly. It isn't my heart to stomp around like a self-righteous fool pointing fingers at "all the other" Christians, without a thought as to my actions. To be honest, I don't want to point fingers at all. However, I do think we have a problem with this. As Christians, Jesus left us with 2 simple instructions - actually one in the end: love your neighbor as you love yourself (I presume that Jesus took Loving God with our heart mind and strength as a given).

The problem is, I've recently experienced, and had an unsaved friend of mine experience, some people - active members in their congregation - behaving in a manner that was pretty devoid of love. This experience has really saddened me, because of the effect it has had on my friend. I don't wish to judge the others concerned, as any of us can behave in an unloving manner at any time, it some times just seems that it is our distractions, and poor understanding of Father that brings out the worst in us.

1 John 4:19 says in the NLT translation: "We love Him, because He loved us first." I think it may be somewhat safe to presume that the measure of our understanding of God's love for us, is directly proportionate to the level of love that we will be able to express to God and to others in return. So when we, as Christians, drop the ball on loving others, then quite possibly, it's because we've dropped the ball when it comes to understanding the love that the Father has for us.

What really gets to me, though, is that often the people in the world are doing a better job of loving others than we are. In some way, this might tie in to what Jesus said when He spoke about loving our enemies – and said something like: Don't be impressed if you love your friends and family – even the heathens do that. Unfortunately, it seems we find ourselves on the other side - with Jesus almost saying, look at the 'heathens' - even they love their friends and families - you guys need to get past that and further - don't think that you're doing great when you love the people that are easy to love. How often do we even get that bit wrong!?

I strongly feel that we need to have a revelation of the Father's heart and love for His children. And it's something I think God is eager to give us. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to complete the work that He started in us. We need to seek real relationship with a Father that loves us more than we can fathom. We need to learn to live in His peace that passes understanding. And in that place, the loving will come naturally. It will be as natural as "loving because He loved us first".

It won't be a religious act or something that we force or put on. It will be something natural. An obvious extension of where we find ourselves nestled in Dad's love. It is something that God does in us, as we allow Him to do it. He changes us from the inside out. I'd like to propose that it's not so much about gritting our teeth and doing the thing - it's about learning to rest in God's grace, and letting God do 'the thing' and more in you.

As I've read through the original post, I've realized how pretty darn bummed I was by what had happened (the situation mentioned a few paragraphs up).

I have been watching Dad slowly reveal himself to one of His children (this friend of ours) that doesn't quite understand what a real relationship with Him is all about. Most Christians most probably wouldn't call her a Christian. I don't know that she would either. She seems to be really struggling to give up what she thinks God requires of her to 'become a Christian'. Not that I think God is asking her to change her life on her own, because she really can't do that without Him doing it in her anyway. So I've been watching this process, as she comes nearer to God and then seems to fade away as she wrestles with her own preconceptions and misconceptions, and also I suppose a lot of it is that she simply likes the 'unsaved life' too much.

However, recently she came into contact with some Christian people, and the way they treated her, I fear, has hurt her and possibly pushed her further away from God again. Not that God can't use this for good. Or that she is now 'forever lost' and there is no hope. I think I've just seen this kind of thing so often. We often mean good - but seem to have blinkers on to people's hurts and longings, and just bulldoze through them for our own benefit (and often feel like we've done a good thing after)...

It's this kind of behavior that really saddens me. How have we gone so wrong? How have we managed to move our belief structures so far from a real living relationship with the I Am, to some stale, dead, actions-treadmill?
When did we give up love for duty?
When did we trade our hearts for the self-righteousness of activities?
When did we leave behind the only thing Jesus asked us to do, to serve the system?
What has happened to this body, this church? What have we done to Jesus' bride?
Why does it all remind me so much of the picture we get of the religious rulers in Jesus' day - thinking they were doing 'right' in the eyes of God, but yet they were so very far off the mark?

Today I am sad to call myself a "Christian".
A follower of Jesus? Yes.
A beloved son of the I Am? Yes.
But the stigma, even in my own eyes, when I think about "Christians" is so tarnished that, sadly, it repulses me.

I'm not saying that I'm more righteous or better than the people I've spoken about. I'm not talking about works at all. I think what I'm trying to say is this: we, as followers of Christ, need to refocus on God. It seems we've allowed so much to clutter our lives, and I'm not really referring to the dreaded 'worldy' stuff. I'm talking about the religion clubs. All the activities that are so very good at numbing us to anything real. We've been sold a bad replica, and many of us have bought it hook-line-and-sinker.

We need to look at ourselves again. We need to take stock of where we find ourselves. Is this thing we call Christianity really what Jesus modeled or called us to?

Is the thing we do on Sunday really going to get us where we want to go? We are sold it like that. We're sold the idea that if we just go to the meetings we'll be ok. We're sold the idea that if we do everything the leadership tells us, we'll be ok. We're so caught up in 'not getting it wrong' that we don't ever question whether we're ever getting it right.

We substitute relationship for meetings; love for accountability; submission for lording it over and hearing Dad speak to us for what someone wrote in the vision and values.

We created the Sunday morning meeting. It typically ranges (in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles) from 1 1/2 to 2hrs. It has a little bit of worship - maybe 1 song intro, then the announcements. 2-3 songs 'worship' then a good 40-50min preach. Then it's maybe have some coffee with those who stick around, and that's it for some of us till the next week.

I'm not sure when it was, but someone realised that if all we have is a Sunday meeting, we start getting dry around the middle of the week.. (I actually
heard a leader in a congregation I used to frequent say "you can't have a relationship with God, without going to Wednesday Life Groups") - I think it might be better to say - you can't score the necessary points with this congregation without the wednesday night thing. Besides, large 'corporate' meetings lack something of the relational.

So we introduced 'The Bible Study', the Church In The House, the Cell Group or Life Group - aimed at giving a more personal environment to hopefully build fellowship - which doesn't sound to bad - and wouldn't be too bad if that's really what it achieved. I'm not sure it's much more than a semi-random group of people thrown together and then structured it roughly on a sunday morning - a worship cd maybe playing in the background, then the announcements, some 'worship' songs and the leader gets to say speach (although sometimes the rest of the group - ie the loudest person (usually the 2IC) gets to say something), then it's prayer time where we all pray our own agendas and then maybe a few people stay for coffee, and some relationship time happens.

But, we realised that 2 meetings a week still wasn't enough. Maybe it's because it wasn't enough to 'carry us through' or it was that there wasn't enough 'activities' driving our subliminal works-based theology - but we figured we needed another meeting.

Enter the prayer meeting. Now some congregations aim it at the die-hards and make it for 6:30 in the morning.. although it seems most congregations in my area have opted for a more reasonable time of post 6pm in the evening. Strange thing is, maybe it's because prayer meetings have traditionally been such a hard-sell, but, in my old congregation, there was a definite subliminal current that if you aren't at the tuesday prayer meeting, you're not really part of the core "super righteous Christians" group. You might be doing the sunday morning and the wednesday group thing.. but tuesday prayer is really where it's at… (not to mention the post-prayer meeting leadership training time for everyone "because we're all leaders").

I think I need to clarify what I'm saying here by mentioning - I'm comparing this 'being at the meetings' drive against the prevalent lack of encouragement for people to have real active relationships with God. So I'm not saying that meetings in and of themselves are bad things. I'm not saying that prayer or 'corporate' prayer is a bad thing, I'm saying that I don't agree with the fact that all to often, 'being at the meetings' is the focus point and walking with people in their journey with God is ignored.

We seem so preoccupied with the things we should do. We keep on heaping up the activities. Heaping up the 'shoulds'. Hoping, I presume, that one day we'll find the optimum amount of things that we should do to have a fruitful walk with God. But I think we realise that isn't going to happen, so instead of looking at what we're doing and asking: "is this really where God wants us?", we change the goal posts. We change the requirements about learning to walk with and know Abba, to "how many meetings were you at this week?". What we've effectively done, is thrown out the baby, looked at the bathwater, and said "I'm sure there's a baby in here somewhere, so let's just call the bathwater the baby - that way it'll feel like we're winning".

But I think somewhere inside we know it's not enough. It will never be enough. We can try doing stuff until we roll over dead, and we still won't be doing enough, because it isn't about the "doing" at all. It's kind of like trying to make a cake, but doing so in the garage and only using wood and screws for ingredients. You're never ever going to get there. You'll make something that might look like a cake. If you're really good, it might even smell a bit like a cake, but it will never ever BE a cake.

Dad is calling us - and has been calling us - to a full vibrant life of relationship. A life where we rely on Him. Where we find who we are in Him and by what He is doing in us. It's a life full of surprises and excitement and joy and Life. It's about Him abiding IN us and.. here's the shocker.. us IN HIM (Them)! We are called to a life lived in joyous relationship with Abba, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That is our destiny. That is what we are called and encouraged on to. It's not some dry desert-life of duties, activities and 'shoulds'. It is so very very much more than that.

I wish I could explain this better, and I hope if you're reading this it doesn't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Meetings work for some people. They are often helpful in giving a regular place for people to go and get into fellowship with fellow Jesus-followers. However, when the meetings start becoming the reason for having the meetings, then we're treading on dangerous ground.

My hope is that if you find yourself disagreeing with much of what I'm alluding to, by 'bashing the meetings' that you will hear my heart, and start thinking about the reason we have these meetings, and if they really are accomplishing what we want them to.

I'd encourage you to take stock of your relationship with God, and if it's really where you hope it to be. God is holding out the best gift any human being could wish for. He is opening up His heart, and offering us to abide with Him, in Him. We are called to the fullness of this relationship. It is our destiny.

Let God draw you into a deeper relationship with Him, which doesn't rely on meetings to get you through the week, it relies on Him. Where you don't go to 'your leaders' for direction on every turn, but you go to Him, and learn to hear His voice for yourself. I'm not saying that you shouldn't go to people for advice or get a well grounded opinion, but I strongly believe that it should be only that - an opinion or wise words - the guidance and direction should come from Dad. Jesus said - my sheep know my voice - so if we really are His sheep - let's learn to hear Him when He speaks.

Again, I say, God is holding out to you the offer of real relationship. Relationship like nothing you've ever experienced - and I mean that in a good way. It isn't non-existant relationship, but rather perfect relationship. Deeper than any other relationship you've ever experienced. I'd like to offer some resources that have helped me to begin to comprehend what Dad really has for us, and what I have in Him. I've already done a post about some of the stuff,

here, although I'd like to also make a mention of Baxter's blog and Perichoresis (especially this), oh, and I've just started reading some stuff by Jaques Ellul which I have been finding very insightful.

oh yes - and The Shack. That book has had a profound impact on my view of Dad and how much He loves me and wants to be active in my life.

Sadly, I honestly think we so often miss what Dad planned for us when we look at things through our religious eyes. So often, when we read the Bible we read condemnation and 'things we need to do' and then gloss over the numerous places of God promising to do it in us, or Jesus saying 'It's finished' or the fact that 'there is now NO MORE CONDEMNATION'!! Something inside us thinks- that can't really be true? God can't seriously love me that much? He can't seriously expect nothing from me.

I'd like to say - that view diminishes who God is. God, Himself, says He is something different; yet we don't trust Him enough to believe that - we rather prefer the sinful control that religion gives us. Relationship is not about controlling. Love is not about controlling. It's all about submitting. In love God submits to us. And we, in love submit to Him. That's what it's about.

I will leave you with this on brief extract on belief systems as opposed to faith by Jacques Ellul :

Belief relates to things, to realities, to behaviors that are raised to the status of an ultimate value that it worthy dying for. Belief transforms next-to-last human realities into ultimate, absolute, foundational realities. It turns everything that belongs to the order of the Promise, of God Word, of the Kingdom into epiphenomena, into sweet pious words, ways of making life easier, and a process of self-justification. Faith runs totally counter to this. To begin with, faith acknowledges the Ultimate in all its irrefragable truth, and so it depreciates and attaches little importance to whatever offers itself as a substitute for that Ultimate. It is not a matter of looking to some external ultimate reality; the Kingdom of heaven is (at present) in you or among you. As of now it is you who constitute it. Faith is the demand that we must incarnate the Kingdom of God now in this world and this age.

Jacques Ellul (read the rest here)


Your brother in Abba,

cam

4 comments:

Marc said...

Hey Cam,

Read your post! I've known you a long time, so i know you won't take offense or it the wrong way when i say i disagree on a few points.

One statment left me particulary unsettled: "It's all about submitting. In love God submits to us. And we, in love submit to Him."
I would struggle to belive that God submits to us ... Yes he is our Father and loves us more than we could ever fathom, but i do not believe that he submits to us, cos that would put us above Him in some way. I submit to God and His ways out of love because He loved me first. God is a loving father but at the same time he is the all powerful, just, mighty God who reigns in His utter supremacy over every iota of creation. Like your dad here on earth, he loves you more than you could imagine but does not submit to you - he even disiplines you out of love sometimes when you step out of line!
We must also draw the line between justification and sanctification - we are justified yes, and there is no condemnation ... but like Paul says ... What then, because grace abounds more should we sin more (paraphrasing obviuosly), may it never be, he says! Sanctification should be a natural fruit of justifiaction - its a process yes but, we should strive to be more and more like Jesus!

1Ti 6:11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

There is an onus on us to "take hold" and "persue".

Regarding the prayer meetings etc. I have been reading a book on John Spurgeon recently - paraphrasing once again ... "Prayer is the most powerful force in the universe, more than gravity or electricity or any other force... !"
Remember the setting on the day of pentecost - they were all together in the upper room praying. Prayer meetings are not about meeting but about changing and impacting the world, hearing from God. Imagine if everyone that went to a prayer meeting honestly believed in their heart that God hears and answers our prayers and petitions and our prayers are the most powerful force in the universe - how would a prayer meeting look then? Would people go out of duty or because they knew that the Living God of creation was listening to them and willing to act on their requests?
I am the first to admit that we are human and sometimes too structured and religion does sometimes creep in ... but what should i do? Throw the baby out with the bathwater? As the old cliche' goes - "change begins with me". It's easy to see the problem but am i part of the solution?

This turned into a long comments - i have more to say but not the time to! Would love to hear what you have to say!
Like i said, no offense - i think its great that we can disagree. I am just offering you my perspective.
We must still braai sometime!

Love Marc

Cam said...

Hey Marc :)

I'm glad we can disagree! It's a good place to be in I think, when we can wrestle with these things within relationship.

To be honest, I thought someone would disagree with God submitting to us, as it sits kind of funny with me too. But strange thing is, Jesus himself said it. He became a servant, serving His own disciples.

I don't think that God submitting removes any of His awe, greatness or glory - if He is the one submitting, then it cannot reduce Him - if anything it makes Him greater. If it is us assuming He submits to our will - then that's a different story.

So, I firmly believe that God does submit to us in love. That doesn't mean that we're greater than Him - quite possibly it means the opposite!

I agree that God disciplines us. I agree with everything you say about God, however I don't think that reduces God to inability to submission through Love - I think what this means is that God doesn't force His will on us, but when we learn to live in mutual submission, I think we learn a vital lesson of living in God.

Regarding the Grace:Sin thing. I think we often misinterpret that verse. Paul also says - where Law abounds, sin abounds more so. So either we have a loose-loose situation where both grace and law is ineffectual against sin, or what Paul is saying is that grace is sufficient. We *could* sin all we want and grace would cover it. But that doesn't mean we should dive into sin with glee.

I'm not too sure what you're saying with the sanctification thing. I know there is a hang of a lot of strive-talk in the NT, especially when we read it with the religious striving glasses. However almost every passage that eludes to striving also talks about the Spirit doing it in us, so I don't know that they're talking about striving at all. If anything it's submission talk.

When we see grace as an excuse to sin, we are misunderstanding what Jesus did. You see - if we could add cancer to ourselves, it's like taking chemo, just so that we could pack on the cancer. It's destructive behaviour. However, if we are so stuck in our cancer that we cannot escape it, then the process of living in God's grace will pull us out of that. It will complete the removal of the tumor, as it were - and it's something we can never do ourselves. So by attempting to remove this thing ourselves, removes our focus from God and refocusses it on the sin we're trying to "remove", and places us under law once more - which is far removed from what I believe God has planned for us.

I don't get where we think now that we're 'saved', the onus is on us to get it right. Without constant reliance on Jesus, it's just striving - I venture it falls into the 'dirty rags' category that God so despises.

Did you notice how many things in the 1Tim6:11 verse are also the fruits of the spirit?

1Tim6:12 - it's something we should take hold of. There is a place for pushing through, but it isn't something that we can ever do on our own or through our own striving.

1 John 4:18 is a big point to living in the perfect love of God, free from fear of punishment. I think when we're 'striving' from within the boundless grace of God's love, it isn't really striving at all, and it comes naturally - it will be a natural extension of what He has done in us. Outside of that, it's just pointless striving.

Regarding prayer meetings. I'm not saying praying is wrong. Far from it. What I am saying is that all too often we move our focus from drawing into God to anything and everything else. I've experienced the notion that if someone isn't at prayer meeting, they aren't 'part of the core group following God' and had an elder say something to the effect of 'you can't have a relationship with God without going to life group on wednesdays'. Both of those notions aren't further from the Truth.

What I was saying is that we have redefined what a 'good christian' is. We have moved from a relationship with God to what meetings are you attending regularly. How 'involved' are you in the activities that have been set up.

And so I'm trying to point out how horribly horribly skewed that is!

Who says that what God wants us to pray about is the pre-concluded list that whoever is leading the prayer meeting comes up with every week.

I believe that if everyone who attends a prayer meeting would learn to dive into a real relationship with God, and learned to listen to what Dad was saying, then their prayers would be powerful, simply because they would be praying God's agenda into action. Not our own ones, however great and holy we assume them to be.

I'm not keen on throwing the baby out with the bathwater either. Although, sometimes I think we've thrown out the baby, but kept the bathwater. To flog this metaphor, I'm trying to refind the 'baby' and throw out the bathwater.

I don't think that meeting together in prayer is necessarily a bad thing. But I don't think that it's automatically a good thing either. The same with any meeting that's set up on a continuing basis. Just because God says something once to a certain group of people doesn't mean it's His dream for the rest of life on earth. I'm not sure I'm making sense. What I mean is that all too often we hold with iron fists to the things we've built up as important, even to the extent that we lose sight of the thing that is important. Like relationship with God. Or loving God. Or loving others. How often does issue arise over church attendance or non attendance, or believers 'outside of the walls'.

I venture to say that by holding onto the bathwater, we've inadvertently turfed the baby. I'm not saying this is the same for everyone, or even that all people suffer the same symptoms. But it is a prevalent situation in the church today.

All I was trying to do with the post was point out that maybe our focus is a little wrong. That we are getting so caught up in doing stuff, that we lose sight of having real relationship with Dad or doing what He has for us.

Hmm.. I think my comment might be longer than yours.. sorry hehe..

I'm keen on that braai sometime!

Hope you're doing well, my friend..

cam

Marc said...

Cam,

I get where you are coming from, I admit that there are those who are more concerned with the bathwater than the baby. In the same breath, there are those who are infinitely concerned with the baby and what it is doing in the bath and hence are also concerned about the bathwater ... (metamorphasis from metaphoer to uber extended metaphor hahaha!)
The fact that these meetings happen on a pre-determinded days and times is merely due to the realities of day-to-day living. It would be hard for me to get to a prayer meeting if it was just a spur of the moment thing ... practically, how do I plan my life!?
The statement that "the core group of the church is those who go to prayer meeting" - well i would say there is huge amounts of truth in that: people who regularly go to prayer meetings are the guys in the body who have caught something, the value of a prayer meeting and what it means and how powerful it is. Yes, there are those who go to, because its what you do... but once again i see that baby and bathwater again :-)
Picture this - someone goes to prayer meeting consistently for a year solid and completely out of duty ... but one day, the Holy Spirit breaks in in one of those meetings and radically changes that person's life ... heals them even! Was that year for nothing or was it worth every minute? God can take our poor, imperfect human motives and STILL use that for His glory.
So going to prayer meeting doesn't define you as a core member, but if you are a vital member to the local body - then prayer meeting is something that you will automatically value! Sure - you can't get there every week but so what.
A poor anlogy - like being part of a sports club ... you go every week to practice cos you enjoy the game and value the practices cos you know what it means to the team if you are fit and your skills are honed - but somedays you just can't make practice cos "life" just gets in the way.

About the lists - well ... In a perfect prayer meeting everyone has got with God and is on the same papge as Him and come ready to flow in the Spirit ... BUT, out of exprience, that is not the case - everyone is in a different place with God and have good and/or bad angles that they want to grind. There needs to be someone who takes ownership for the meeting and comes prepared so that everyone that comes is honoured and we don't waste everyones time - whether it be in a small group in a home or in a hall on Tuesday or Sunday evening!
Yes, we can get caught up in just trying to get through a list and some meetings are far more organic in their flow than others. Sometimes a list is good, sometimes just worshipping God is just as good.
You made a statement:
"I believe that if everyone who attends a prayer meeting would learn to dive into a real relationship with God, and learned to listen to what Dad was saying, then their prayers would be powerful, simply because they would be praying God's agenda into action."
I agree 100 000 000% ... but there is a process for people to get there - God has grace for the processes we are all in ... who am i then not to have grace for them aswell. How does everyone get to that place ... someone takes the God inspired innitiative and leads people to that place.
God does give us the grace we need to strive, but there is an element of "nose to the grindstone" - God gives us grace as we need it - so sometimes I need to step out to a place of "sheeesh God, I am feeling overwhelmed by how hectic things are at the moment, give me the grace i need to push through"

Saved by grace, through faith and apart from works ... but works are a natural fruit of faith!

one last thing quickly (this was meant to be a short comment once again) I would say that God is bound to us covenentally rather than He submits to us. He does not force himself on us, but he can cause us to realise that we need him and call out to him!? Jonah is a good exmple!

anyways i must go

chat later

Marc

Cam said...

I must say, I'm really starting to enjoy this convo :)

Ok, I think, sometimes I get carried away.

But what I was trying to say, but maybe didn't convey too good, is that it isn't so much about whether we have meetings or not. It's about our relationship with Dad. Or that's what it should be, anyway. I get that different people are at different stages in their walk - I really understand that - and I don't want anyone to feel pressured that they're 'not there' yet - because God takes us all on different journeys at different paces.

I think what I was saying is this: Often, in my experience, the emphasis is on what meetings and activities there are and who is/isn't at them. Things very quickly seem to degenerate from having the meetings (bathwater) to support our relationship with God and Others (the baby), yet, in my experience, we very quickly get so caught up in making sure the "stuff" runs well and properly that we loose site of the relational aspects altogether.

If there really is life in the organised meetings, be they every week or some on-the-spot arrangement between a few believers, then great. But when the things we're told to do and be at overshadow our relationship with God and others in our lives (family included) then I think they start losing their value and become our 'god'. Kind of a process of the bathwater becoming the baby. And then feeling comfortable with turfing the actual baby as if it were bathwater.

Not sure if I'm making sense, but I hope you get what I'm saying. When the meetings become more important than what they're ultimately about, then I think we need to start rethinking things.

Your club analogy is quite on target, I think.. but in the sense that often that's exactly what the local congregation is - a club where people go to get a certain experience, and as a club, certain things are expected and required for it to function.

I just don't know that it truly expresses who God's Church and Body really is. It's is something that a large part of God's Church is involved in - and I think when it's healthy, it's has a place - although I'm hesitant to think of it as 'the place' as one can experience church and growth through relationships and friendships by never meeting on a sunday morning.

hmm - this was supposed to be a short comment.. hehe

and regarding the 'one last thing' - the submission thing is something Jesus refers to himself as doing. Also - I don't know that we can look at an OT parable/story and tie that in with the New Covenant we find in the NT with regards the way Father chooses to relate to us. I think there is a distinct difference - but it was a small partially inconsequential comment, because it really doesn't make too much difference whether God does or doesn't submit to us - and I think maybe that statement is a little too wide. I think he submits in love - the same way as a father might submit to and serve a young child - by doing what is best for the child and not himself (ie changing it's dirty nappy, etc) - that's the kind of submitting I'm talking about - one that is drenched in God's perfect love, that calls us to submit in a similar way to His will.

I think I'll leave it there for now..
I don't know that I've addressed everything in your comment though.. so if you feel I've missed something, please point it out - I don't want you to think I'm avoiding discussing stuff :) - not that it's a you're right, I'm wrong kind of thing on most of this.. but it's growing to discuss our differing points of view in the hopes that it'll lead us to a better understanding of Dad, and how we live this life.

chat soon, my friend!