Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What are you learning about God? Part3

There is a large population of Amish in the area where I grew up and now live.  After living among and working with the Amish my entire life, I still cannot understand why they view cars, electricity, and telephones (but not cell phones) as sinful.  Or why the Amish women continue to submit themselves to head-coverings and simple dresses (even in the dead of winter, as they are riding bicycles to work).  Usually, when I ask younger Amish today why they hold to such strict religious rules, they only say that it is their tradition, a matter of being separate from the world.

I have a great deal of respect for the Amish and their simple ways.  There are lessons we all could learn from their frugality, modesty, hard work, and sense of community.  

And I have to believe that there was a day years ago when the Amish had very good reasons for the way they interpreted remaining "separate from the world" and choosing to maintain a very simple lifestyle.  Surely with new technology came new fears, new appearances of worldliness, and the Amish church was probably very sincere in their attempts at being a holy, set-apart people.

But along the way their desire to please God was formed into laws and they stopped.  changing. 

Change is necessary in every generation.  Every church experiences change, must change, must question the rules of their culture and let go of the things that no longer have life in them. 
Christ called it pruning the branches that don't bear fruit.  

There was a time when wearing your nicest clothes on Sunday represented giving your Best to God.  Maybe it was born out of a period of depression, when there weren't many nice clothes and so one outfit was kept for Sundays.  But over time, when the outward appearance became a religious "measuring stick", it became apparent that this had become a dead branch and not a life-giving branch, and had to be pruned, to the chagrin of many in the  pantyhose-tugging older generation, who still (I'll assume the best here) were adorned in their uncomfortable Sunday finest to reflect the place that Christ held in their lives.  

I posted a letter from Jim Wallis to James Dobson . . . 

These men represent change in our generation.  And change is scary.  

James Dobson has been a voice for morality and the family for many years.  Many of us were raised by parents directly influenced by his teaching.  But James Dobson will not speak for the next generation.  God is raising up new leaders, with new vision, who are seeing things that our parents missed, or are speaking out against traditions or rules that no longer have life in them.  (It bothered me that  Dobson inferred that the "younger evangelicals" were responsible for swaying the vote to Obama and therefore, apparently, ushering in the doom and destruction of America.  Surely Dobson himself went against certain traditions in Christianity when he began his ministry??  It seems to me, judging from history, that this is how God works).

I really believe that God works in the youth of a culture.  I think that God gives the young among us eyes to see hypocrisy, and ears to hear what His Spirit is saying to the Church.  We would do well to hear them.  (I've heard a theory that some of the disciples could have been as young as 12 or 13.  I like to think of this when I see our youth, and I wonder sometimes, if I am already too old to really "get it," and if the best thing for me to do is to step back and learn from the "prophets" of our youth ).  

On Election Day morning I opened my Bible to this:

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Psalm 90.1
For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations. 
Psalm 100.5
Praise God!

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