Table Manners!

“…When I was young, we had something that was known as ‘manners,’ even ‘table manners.’ One of the manners was, ‘don’t talk with your mouth full.’

In light of the content of recent weeks, it occurs to me that what’s in our mouth is what is not yet digested. Perhaps our discussion might be a little more fruitful if we were not slobbering undigested religion on each other, and spent more time digesting, and then sharing what is already ours by doing. Hopefully, not by way of a bragging contest, but in a way that helps to bring out the best that is in one another. Of course, this would mean that we are, at least, as interested in the content of the other guy’s heart as we are in our own. Perhaps that’s one of the prerequisite manners of ‘speaking the truth in love’. I think it’s called, ‘drawing one another out,’ in preference to ‘shutting one another down’.

That shared, the revelation of yesterday has to do with digestion, that is the process by which, what’s in our mouth becomes what we are.

‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.’

Notice this last line, ‘Nay, IN all these things…’ What things? Trouble, distress, persecution. famine, nakedness. peril, sword, killed all day long, sheep for the slaughter. It is in all these/those things that we become more than conquerors. We can have a mouth full of great and boasting words, but until we have lived through them, we don’t own them.

A conqueror is one who is successful at making others die. More than a conqueror is one who, him/herself is successful at dying for the sake of others. Like the man/girl says, ‘No pain, no gain.’

I’m not saying that I have been able to digest all of this yet, but I’m seriously working on it, and can honestly recommend it for others, even yourself. Until we are able to embrace life’s suffering, we are bound to be defeated in every painful encounter. (I am in fear, and trembling as I think and say these things.)…

With that as introduction, I have some recently digested revelation, which is bubbling up from within, and I think perhaps this might be the time and place to get it in writing. Perhaps it’s appropriate to begin by speaking just a little more about manners, even “table manners.”

When our children were young, I taught them the following table manners: ‘When you sit down to eat, check to see how many are at the table, then check to see how much food is available to eat, and don’t take more than your share. If you do, someone will go hungry.’ The Table of the Lord is much the same. Jesus said, ‘My meat is to the the will of Him who sent me.’ At least, some of the content of the Father’s will was for Jesus to share the words that His Father had given Him. This is to say that some of His meat was to share the content of his heart, and so it is for us.

Noting the more recently mentioned table manner, ‘Don’t talk with your mouth full,’ I would like to share a recent revelation concerning the Lord’s Supper. I trust that this is a safe place for such a conversation. Where the dry bones of Ezekiel are concerned, I should mention that the first sign of life was that the bones came into right relationship with one another, Ezekiel 37:7.

Right relationship with one another is what The Church is all about. That said, I would like to discuss the parable which best prefigures the relationship between The Church and Her Lord. I call this the sexual parable, and I believe that it is the most powerful and fully loaded parable that God has included in both the ‘created things’ Romans 1:20, and His Word.

We have been created ‘male and female’ in the image of something otherwise invisible about God. If I need to support what I am saying with Biblical references, I am willing to do so, but for the present, would rather leave that for later, if necessary.

In the beginning everything was ‘very good.’ It was very good until the nature of the work required human reproduction, then suddenly, something was ‘not good.’ For the sake of the work of reproduction, the woman was taken out of the man. She was a help ‘meet’ for reproduction. Now please keep in mind that we are talking about the picture or image of a ‘great mystery, Christ, and the Church,’ Ephesians 5:31, 32. One of our great difficulties with this word picture/parable/image, is that we tend to be more religious than God, so we have a difficult time opening the package of our own sexuality, there to discover, ‘Christ and the Church.’ In short, we are hung up on the plumbing.

I would like to get us beyond the plumbing to the truth that it presents. If we can get past the plumbing, we might be able to get to, ‘Christ and the Church.’

The irreducible minimum meaning of ‘male and female’ is relationship. Human flesh, and Divine Spirit have this much in common; the byproduct of relationship is reproduction. I would like to see if we can’t work our way backward from the ‘new birth.’

Depending on where we look in the Scripture, we are already; ‘born from above’; still in, ‘labor pains’; going through a kind of spiritual gestation; conceived of an ‘incorruptible seed’; ‘adopted,’ ‘drawn by the Father,’ and I believe that we could find many more places to discover where we have been and might still be in the whole reproductive process, even to a discussion of ‘menstruous rags,’ and ‘circumcision,’ the real one by the Spirit. All of these word pictures have their spiritual counterpart, except that we have to get past the plumbing to really explore them.

We are at once, already born from above, and, at the same time, waiting for adoption as sons, namely the redemption of our bodies. In short – very short, it is finished, but it’s not finished. Meanwhile we groan inwardly… waiting… It seems to me that we are caught up in a process of conception. In the flesh, we are conceived in a moment with all the DNA complete, but a new birth in and of the Spirit is a different matter.

First of all, the seed by which we are born from above is a Word. And that Word, when It was in the flesh, called what It said, ‘Spirit,’ ‘My words… are Spirit…’ John 6:63. In a very important sense then, our ears have become organs – even female organs of reproduction.

Now please allow me to press this just a little further; Peter tells us, ‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ 2 Peter 1:4. ‘We have become partakers of the ‘divine nature.’ With the new birth, the ‘birth from above,’ comes a new nature, a ‘divine nature.’ The DNA of this ‘divine nature’ is in the, ‘Word’ or ‘Seed,’ (‘sperma’ in the original) of God, and in this context, formed so as to impart ‘exceeding great and precious promises.’

Now here is a complication, not well pictured in human reproduction. In spiritual reproduction, the DNA is imparted over time by promise, even promises. This to say, we don’t get it all in a moment, the nature of God continues to be imparted to us over time as we partake of his promises. Our fertility consists of ‘trusting Him faithful that promised.’ Among other things, he promised that we were or would be, ‘more than conquerors in Him who loved us,’ but for that to become part of who we are, we must first embrace the process that, ‘for His sake we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ In the process we become or receive, what we have believed, by His Spirit.

Baptism acts out or portrays the invisible truth of our passage from one creation to another, from one birth to a new birth. The Lord’s Supper, continues to portray the process.

Let’s go there for a moment. Jesus said, about the Last Supper – the one in which we first saw that the Passover was fulfilled in Him. He said that this cup was a ‘New Covenant in His blood.’ It was, and is, a wedding covenant, a wedding cup. He left it for us as a remembrance, but more than a remembrance, he left it for us as ‘food, in deed, and drink in deed.’ (I’m reminded ‘that all food is sacrificial life.’)

Paul, however, goes on to explain, that if we eat and drink without discerning the Body, it is not the Lord’s Supper, it is our own supper, and results in judgment, 1 Corinthians 11:17-33.

This is the revelation I received about this some time back as I was driving to work. Paul knew that it was their own supper, because the body language of their carelessness with one another, spoke very clearly that they did not see Christ in each other. They were failing to discern the Body of Christ. ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels.’ Sometimes the earthen exterior is so offensive that we fail to discern the treasure within, the Christ within. The Lord draws us into relationship with those that we might not have chosen in the flesh. If beneath or behind the offense by sight, we can discover a treasure by faith, then we have discerned the more abounding grace of the very great and precious promise made to that other member of the Body of Christ. They, themselves are a revelation of the DNA of God. As we discern and embrace them, we also are impregnated or further impregnated with the very nature of God. When this happens, and, I should say that this ought to be the ‘normal Christian Lord’s Supper,’ then our discernment also becomes a female organ of reproduction. The Lord’s supper, in deed becomes food for us, and drink for us. We are what we eat. Out of that transaction, out of that participation in the wedding cup of the Lord, a oneness grows by which even the world can discern that, of a truth, Christ has been in our midst, even in our inward parts, to the increase of His Body The Church.

To the extent that we are already born from above, it is clear that The Wedding Supper of the Lamb has already taken place, and taking place, elsewise we are illegitimate children. Paul tells us that we have a mother, the new and free Jerusalem that comes down from God ‘…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.’

All this to say, that we are called into an ongoing reproductive intimacy wherein, not only the world might be saved, but we also are being formed into the reality which is ours only in Christ. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. What ever the final form of the wedding feast might be, there is a wedding that is already ours in Him, and each one of us is a very important part of that feast.”

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