Thursday, May 10, 2007

content, container

my friend brandon and i are talking about legalism and what it means to follow the guidelines of religion. he's asking cool questions. this is a response i gave him about part of that conversation.

I am not a legalism kind of guy, at all. Part of that is I’m just too old to put up with people telling me how I should or should not be, and a lot of my inner work is clearing the decks of those old tapes from shaming/repressive parents and school and teachers and coaches and all that crap, and shaming/repressive church structures, and knowing that I am the beloved child of God and a grown man and full of healthy God power. It’s a good thing to be learning.
But what's funny about that is that while I am against false and artificial legalism, I’m deeply committed to what I believe is fundamental and important. one of my teachers, Leonard Sweet, says that he is a fundamentalist about content and a total libertarian about containers. For him, the content is the Gospel of what God does in us and what God did in Jesus; the containers are all the things human beings have built to hold/deliver/share/display the content. We human beings, Sweet says, are often way too concerned with making sure our containers are the best, the brightest, the rightest, the most righteous and important and godly. The point is to know what the true content is.
And that’s what Jesus came to say – y'all are so focused on the containers that you’ve forgotten what the content is. The content is the Kingdom of God. The containers are all these freakin’ rules and regulations and laws. The content is what inspired the containers, and I know a lot of y'all are trying really hard to be faithful by following the guidelines. But you're missing it. So wake up. Giving, forgiving, loving, being healthy and strong, honoring commitments, loving God and others, confessing, serving, being open, following – those are and have always been the true content, all throughout the Law of Moses, the prophets, all of it.


nonprofitprophet said...

Amen my brother, Amen.
Jesus - content. People misusing Paul - container.
I don't know if Sweet addresses this or not - but I think it is even worse, as Container people put the lid on really tight as to keep the contents from spilling out... ~npp

Rick Diamond said...

I'm reading a book now in which Sweet says there are Gardens, Parks, Glens, and Meadows. I'm gonna blog about it because it's dead on - but the point is, the Garden is a place with walls where everything is in place (doctrines and methods); the Park is a place where things are open and fun (methods) but there are established paths (doctrines); the Glen is a place where there are all kinds of insights (doctrines) but the structure stays in place (methods); and the Meadow is a place where it's all happening and open and innovative. That doesn't mean the Meadow is chaotic - it has a deep belief in the presence of God in every thing, every seed, every plant, every possibility.
I live in a Meadow.
Jesus lived in a Meadow. at least, that's what I thank ...