Here is a selection from the last few pages of Chapter 2, of Parables of Grace by Robert Farrar Capon (who just died a few days ago by the way). I have emphasized certain lines that I think are critical to understand where he is going in this book.
"When the disciples argue about who is greatest
(no. 166), Jesus tells them that anyone who wants to be first must be last of
all and servant of all. He then stands a little child in their midst and puts
his arms around him, saying, "Whoever receives one such little child in my
name receives me." We twentieth-century Christians-with our basically
nineteenth-century view of childhood as a wonderful and desirable state-miss
the point of this passage. In Jesus' time, and for most of the centuries since,
childhood was almost always seen as a less than human condition that was to be
beaten out of (Kindle 229-233) children as soon as possible. Therefore when
Jesus sets up a little child as an example, he is setting up not a winsome
specimen of all that is simple and charming but rather one of life's losers. He
is telling his disciples that if they follow him in his mysterious messiahship,
they will-like him-have to become something no one has any real use or respect
for. He is exalting not the plausible greatness that is the only thing the
world understands but the implausible greatness that he himself intends to pursue.
He is, in short, proclaiming his own version of what Paul in 1 Cor. 1 later set
forth as the "foolishness of the preaching," namely, that God works not in the great, the wise, and
the powerful but in the weak and the foolish: (Kindle 233-238).
"for the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of
God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).
Accordingly, even though Jesus' holding up of the
little child contains no reference to death as such, I find that his emphasis
here on life's "little
deaths"-his exaltation of a panoply ofunsuccesses which, before he is done, he will round out to include lastness,
leastness, and lostness, as well as littleness and death itself-is
part and parcel of his ever-deepening awareness of himself as a Messiah who
will do his work not at the top of the heap, as everyone expects, but in the very depths of the human condition.
Likewise, I find that Jesus' warnings (no. 168) against scandalizing "one
of these little ones" have the same force. His disciples are to be extreme in their pursuit of lastness, lostness,
and littleness: "If your hand scandalizes you, cut it off . .
." (Mark 9:43ff.). They are to become, in other words, what he will
become: despised and rejected" (Kindle 238-243).
Questions for discussion:
What does it mean for us to become last?
In what ways are we already lost? Last? Least? Little?
You would be surprised, and perhaps even worried, by my theological thoughts and the conclusions that they lead to: and this is where I miss you most of all, because I don’t know anyone else with whom I could so well discuss them to have my thinking clarified. What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is, or indeed who Christ really is, for us today.
The time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, is over, and so is the time of inwardness and acience – and that means the time of religion in general. We are moving towards a completely religionless time; people as they are now simply cannot be religious any more. Even those who honestly describe themselves as ‘religious’ do not in the least act up to it, and so they presumably mean something quite different by ‘religious.’
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (ed. Eberhard Bethge; New York: Touchstone, 1997). for the original notes, click here
Principle #1: Leave your parents and cleave to your spouse
Genesis 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
Matthew 19:5 and said,' For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'?
Ephesians 5:31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.
INTRODUCTION: God created marriage and His word is the handbook and owner's manual. There are just a few biblical principals that can make a tremendous difference in our marriages if we apply them in our lives. The principle of "Leaving and Cleaving" is one of them.
Whenever a scripture appears in the Bible more than once, the Holy Spirit is making a special emphasis. Whenever a biblical truth appears in the book of Genesis, it is one of the fundamental truths of God's word. The principle of Leaving and Cleaving first appears in Genesis chapter two and appears again in the New Testament in both the words of Jesus and Paul. It opens to us a tremendously important biblical principle about marriage that we ignore at our own risk.
The first step in marriage is to leave your father and mother. The top four causes of divorce are finances, sex, child discipline and interference or influence of the in-laws. Many marriages fail because the husband or wife fail to "leave" their father and mother. Biblically speaking, how do we leave our father and mother when the Bible also tells us to respect and honor them? Changing Priorities The issue is one of priority. The Bible is not telling us to cut off our relationship with our family, or to dishonor our parents -- it is telling us that we must be released from their authority and commit ourselves to our spouse. Our wife or husband becomes our family -- our spouse must become our first and highest priority!
In other words, if a man continues to prefer his mother over his wife and to put more priority on his mother's wishes than his wife's, he will damage his marriage and violate a basic spiritual law.
In the same way, if a wife continually compares her husband with her father and runs back home to "daddy and mommy" whenever there is a conflict in her marriage, she will also damage her relationship with her husband and endanger the future of her marriage.
Wise parents understand this and release their children to their new family. Wise parents will not interfere in their children's relationship with their spouse. However, many times family members will unintentionally try to continue to control or manipulate a son or daughter and will eventually succeed in destroying their marriage and keeping the child dependent upon his/her parents.
We must honor and love our parents, but firmly resist any efforts on their part to interfere with our new family.
Changing Patterns: Another way in which we should "leave" our father and mother is to leave behind their patterns of relating and raising children. We all enter marriage with models of relationships what we have learned in our parents home; some good and some bad. We tend to carry these models or patterns into our new relationship with our spouse. Unfortunately our spouse also enters into the relationship with patterns and models from their childhood.
Chances are that even the good patterns we have are vastly different from our spouse's patterns, since they were raised in a different family. In order to have a successful marriage, we must work together to choose and develop the model of marriage and the patterns of relationship that we both agree are desirable The negative patterns need to be removed from our minds. We can keep the positive patterns provide we both agree to incorporate them into our family life.
Example of a negative pattern: Alcoholism and abuse.
Example of a positive pattern: Family conversation at the table.
The second step is to cleave to your wife. Cleaving to your spouse means making him or her the first priority. The traditional wedding vows include the words, "and leaving all others, will you cleave only unto him/her?" and the answer is "I do." The choice to marry someone is a choice to cleave to that person for the rest of your life and to make their happiness and well-being your top priority, even above your own needs in many cases. Cleaving to your spouse involves making him/her your priority, bonding to him/her and maintaining communicating with him/her on a regular basis. According to the book Bonding by Dr. Donald Joy1, there are 12 steps in the bonding process. It would be well for each of the marriage partners to learn these steps, especially the husband. Below are listed the normal steps in the bonding process.
Many of you may disagree with me, and thats alright. But I think I am seeing a new way that the Spirit is moving in the world and in people's hearts lately. Please watch it all the way to the end for the full effect. Watch it with your heart and discern what the Spirit is blessing. Check it out:
The Spirit used to move mostly in church, or at least that is my impression. I suspect the Spirit has always moved far more frequently and dramatically outside the church than we ever knew. After, it is the Spirit through which Christ holds all things together with his word (Col) and it is the Spirit who not only ordered the universe (Genesis 1) but probably operationally manages it. I believe the Spirit is always at work in social settings ... like the one in the reality show above. I often sense the Spirit working through the popular Radio Show called Delilah, for example. (In Miami after 7 pm on 97.3)
Stop looking for the Spirit only in church meetings (my impression is that he does not go there much anymore, but I really don't know since I don't go either) and start looking for his initiative all around you, Monday through Saturday in the mundane world. You will be amazed....
The idea behind the creation of this blog is to find new and creative ways to “be” church in Miami, rather than just to “go” to church. There is a huge diversity of churches in Miami and we embrace and bless the church in Miami in all of its diversity and uniqueness: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Anabaptist, Pentecostal and non-denominational. We also affirm our respect for other historical faiths such as Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. It is our desire to contribute in a positive and constructive way to the kingdom of God in Miami as well as to the churches of Miami by finding new and innovative ways to help young people become followers of Jesus.