Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wild vs Mild in God, Conversation with Joshua Gravis

This is an e-mail convestaion I had with a friend of mine from college. Here is his original e-mail.

Finally, as a closing note, I did a word study on the Greek work for "wild," and found that it is used only once to describe people, in which it is translated as "raging." The Greek word, "agrios," is defined as "wild; undomesticated as well as uncontrolled." It is used in Jude's epistle to speak of false Christians who are leading people away to pursue the desires of their flesh instead of the desire of the Holy Spirit. I am looking forward to experiencing our "Band of Brothers" the real meaning of "Wild at Heart." The Lord sends us out into the "wilderness" so that we can learn to depend on Him, love Him, and serve Him.

We will live life's adventures, seek God's glory, and step outside of our boxes of what we believe our God is capable of. This will be "wild," but we will be under the control of the Holy Spirit, guided by the Sovereign Lord who is never "out of control." Here is our word, which combines the "wild" power that God gives us in Christ and the "mild" control, which He also provides us in that same Christian spirit of self-control. Our word is "meek," which in the Greek, "praus or praos," is defined as "gentle, humble, considerate," and further, as "the positive moral quality of dealing with people in a kind manner, which humility and consideration."

Jesus was "meek (Matthew 11:29; 21:5)," and taught us that we'd be blessed if we followed his example and were meek (Matthew 5:5). This goes well with a particular definition of meekness, which I heard in a Church service at Harvest Christian Fellowship back in 2001, but have never forgotten (a miracle in itself!). Pastor Jim defined meekness as "power under control." Check out Romans 12:1-2, and consider what a great privilege it is to be called sons of God, and then consider more deeply what a great calling it is to lay aside our sonship, and to humble ourselves before others, whether they deserve it or not. See Jesus' example in Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:2-6.

I am looking forward to this Band of Brothers with great fervor, and look forward, especially, to seeing you, my brothers in Christ, grow into the fulness of Christ's mission and calling on your lives. I have been praying for you each, and will continue to do so even more, as I hear you share your stories about His glory!
wild vs. mild ~ "meek"

God bless you ~Joshua

Here is my response:

Dear Joshua,

In considering wild vs. mild, have you seen the film The Chronicles of Narnia? There is a good line in it where Mr. Tumnus says that Aslan (the Christ figure) "is not a domesticated lion, but he is good." I'm reading the books right now and there is that same kind of interplay that C.S. Lewis makes between the fearful thrill of being in the presence of Aslan as well as the feeling of security and peace that he gives, the wildness and mildness of God, if you will.
This I have found to be so true in my own experience. There is that striking and often terrifying truth with which God convicts us of sin, but not to dash us down as if we were horrible and worthless, but rather to illuminate us to show us our need for Him and to then provide the sweetness of his grace and mercy. Unlike others who try to show us who we are in order to put us down, God shows us who we are in order to raise us up. It is terrifying being shown one's self. But it is ever so sweet and ever so good to be raised up and embraced by His grace.
Thanks again for sharing and for the prayers.

Peace and goodness,


Here is Joshua's reply from his blog and his posting of our converstaion:

I want to share this conversation with you about our Awesome God within the context of his power and the beauty of his forgiveness. Here is a perfect example of what happens when we enter his presence and become aware of his holy perfection and sinless beauty. Note that the speaker, the prophet Isaiah, went on to becoming Israel's most famous, most revered, and most quoted prophet in the New Testament, especially by Jesus himself, when he quoted scriptures referring to prophecies about himself. Here is what Isaiah spoke at his meeting with God, when he was called out to be a prophet to Israel and to the gentile nations around it:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.'

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.'

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched you lips, your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'

And I said, 'Here I am. Send me!'" ~ Isaiah 6:1-8

thank you, chris, for your input. yes, God is fearsome in his ability to find the fulness and exact nature of our sinfulness, as well as our individual sins. but praise Him that He is more desirous to cleanse us than He is to condemn us! It is like the lyrics to amazing grace: "twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved." again, i am going to post this thought provoking work of yours on my blog, brother, as i hope it will inspire others to consider God in his wildness and mildness, that they might turn to Him for mercy and grace, seeking his forgiveness for their sinfulness, and asking his salvation from their deserved path toward eternal death, accepting his sacrifice on their behalf that they might receive eternal life. wow, that was a long sentence!

thanks again, brother, and i look forward to chatting more! i will also include my original work below, which inspired your response about our God, who is perfectly both wild and mild. and, yes, i have seen "the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe," and i love it. it is on my favorite movies section of my personal section of my blog.

I'm often slow on email, so call me if you need to talk soon.Here is the link to my BLOG: bless you ~Joshua

May you come to meet this God who is both wild and mild, inspiring in us both fear and confidence.

Br. Chris

Reflection for Evening Prayer Jan 20th

In today’s gospel (Mark 3:13-19), we see God’s hidden wisdom revealed (cf 1 Cor 2:7-10a). Jesus summons those who he wants. They come to him, and he appoints twelve of them as apostles. The names of those who were called by Jesus to be apostles are well known to us. But they were even more well known to Jesus. He knew them through and through. He knew their strengths, their weaknesses, their vices and their virtues, and he loved them and continually called them to what Pope John Paul II called the “school of faith.” Only in God’s wisdom, only in Jesus’ revelation of himself and His Father to the disciples, made clearer to them with the coming of the Holy Spirit, could these simple men learn to grow in faith, hope and love, though like each of us, they were, sometimes full of doubts, sometimes competing with each other to be the best, or sometimes relying on their own strengths instead of on the Lord.
Looking at the life of Saint Peter, we can know what this school of faith entails. Meeting the Lord through his brother, Andrew, Peter in getting to know the Lord also comes to know himself as well. After working all night and not catching any fish, Peter comes face to face with how little his faith is when he sees, after objecting to Jesus’ request that they put out into the deep for a catch, that with the Lord, that which may seem impossible to man is possible to God. Peter, seeing his own unbelief, would have Jesus leave him. Yet Jesus, in his gentle faithfulness will not let him remain discouraged, but instead calls him again to the task he has for him, that of being a fisher of men.
After professing his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God, Peter meets another set back when he comes to find out that, despite getting it right concerning who Jesus is, he is rebuked by Jesus for trying to impede him from going to the cross simply because the prediction of the passion challenges Peter’s notion of who Jesus is. Yet, to comfort Peter and prepare him for the scandal of the cross and death of Jesus, the Lord leads him up to a mountaintop where he reveals his glory to him, giving him the needed impetus to face the coming trial.
When Peter thinks that he will die with Jesus and stand by him till the end, Peter comes face to face with just how weak he is and how quickly he denies his Lord when it could mean his life. Yet Jesus, after the resurrection invites Peter to renew his love for him and calls him again to continue the journey that he set out on, a journey that would end with Peter dying giving witness to Jesus, standing firm in the end after having learned, despite many falls, to place his trust in the Lord.
At anyone of these falls, Peter could have become so discouraged as to stop trying to advance in the spiritual life. He could have said that there was no way for him to overcome his faults or his vices so he should not try. He could have given up and justified his surrender using his knowledge of Jesus’ forgiveness as an excuse not to try to continue in the way of perfection. Instead, he continued to listen to the call of the Lord, a call that led Peter face to face with his own self-conceit, so that he could learn after many falls just how much he trusted in his own strength and needed to trust the Lord completely.
Peter instead began to live in the mystery to which the Lord calls each one of us, a mystery in tension between two extremes, that of grace and that of corresponding to grace. Jesus called Peter and all the apostles, and even us, to enter through the narrow gate, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. And yet when we fail by our own efforts, when our self-conceit lays in ruins, we will begin to see even more clearly what Jesus means when he says to us “What is impossible to man is possible to God,” and we will grow in the school of faith, growing in our trust of God and of his power to overcome all our weaknesses and sins, a trust that will spur us to eagerly set out for the deep, and with God’s help, bring in a great catch.