Saturday, September 11, 2010

Setting Up A Tent

I hate to admit it, but sometimes the direction of my quiet time feels more like an exercise with the Magic 8 Ball. Anyone know what I am talking about? That children's toy that is filled with liquid and a triangular die that contains answers to "all" of life's questions. I feel fairly random a lot of times as to where it is that I end up in my Bible reading as if I were casting lots. The great thing about it is, through prayer and intent listening to God, I am pretty confident that I end up exactly where I am supposed to be. My latest excursion has been into the Gospel of Mark.

I was reading through Mark 9 the other day and I came upon the section which is labeled in my Bible "The Transfiguration." Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to a mountain and during their time there, Elijah and Moses appear. Peter, generally being the "Activator" of the group, tells Jesus that they need to put up three "shelters" for him, Elijah, and Moses. Before Jesus responds, a voice from heaven says, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" After that, they look around and Elijah and Moses are gone.

As I read through the passage, I wondered what drove Peter to want to set up tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Living in the Ancient Near East in the first century, the idea of the tabernacle, though somewhat far removed temporally, was still fresh in Scripture to Peter and other Jews. Essentially, it seems that Peter wanted to set up a holy place for each of them to dwell, just as God had dwelled among his people in the tabernacle during their 40 years in the desert.

As I continued to ponder, I thought that Peter might fit all-too-well into the 21st century church. Peter had experienced an incredible act of God and he wanted to stay there, enjoy it, and even have the opportunity to continue enjoying it. He wanted to set up a sacred space around it so that nothing could hinder or harm it. How like the modern day church does that seem? When we find something that "works" we tend to set up tents around it, making it sacred, and protecting it from the influence of anyone or anything else.

I'm not suggesting that we never duplicate things that work. What I am suggesting is that sometimes, we experience God in a new and fresh way and that experience is for a specific time and a specific place, not to be encapsulated in order to duplicate in the future. By attempting to encapsulate the experience, I think that we miss the point of what the experience is all about. If our experience doesn't lead us to transformation and Christ-likeness, then no amount of repetition will matter. If our experience becomes more about making the experience sacred rather than worshipping the One who has allowed us the experience, we are guilty of idolatry.

What kinds of things do you find yourself wanting to put "tents" around? What things have become so sacred to you that if anyone suggested touching or changing them, they would be at risk of getting a finger or limb chewed off? Are you attempting to make sacred the means of worship or the One who is to be worshipped?

No comments:

Post a Comment