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Guilt Based Deterrents Should Not Become Substitutes For The Self-Examination That Brings Growth In Grace (via Winn Collier)

The Gospels contrast the disciples of Jesus who were not consistently clear about what they wanted with those at the margins (like blind Bartimaeus) who were completely focussed on their need.
Jesus keeps asking a question (actually or implied) of those he encounters to help them understand that their present desire was masking their need or was leading them away from understanding their need of God.

From Winn Collier.

accountability is a Christian buzzword. Designed to aid spiritual formation, the (good) intention is to walk and struggle and live honestly with a spiritual friend who know s our foibles and our mess and loves us toward Jesus anyway. However accountability often devolves into a spiritual lashing, when we attempt to manage our behaviour by the sheer terror of having to ‘fess up. Numerous lists of questions have been designed to serve the accountability process, but they usually tread shallow water, only uncovering external scandalous behaviours: Have I looked at porn this week? Have I used my money wisely? Have I given emotional intimacy with someone other than my husband? However, I have never – not once – seen Jesus’ question make the list: what do I want?

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 147-148.


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Meeting Doubt With A Question And Not A Demand (via Winn Collier)

When Jesus encounters doubt in his disciples he asks why, so that the doubter can explore where their doubt is coming from, and return their focus to Jesus and the relationship they have with him.

From Winn Collier.

When Jesus encountered doubters, he did not leave them to wallow in their uncertainty, but neither did he rail against their human frailty. Jesus showed his pierced hands to Thomas. Jesus met Nicodemus in the middle of the night. Jesus healed the demon-possessed son of the father who pleaded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” And here, with Peter, Jesus did not leave him to drown, nor did he heap vitriol on his wavering faith. Rather, Jesus pulled Peter from the water and asked him a question. Why?
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Doubt as a barrier to trust is where Jesus takes aim. Jesus doesn’t mind questionsHe gives time and space for people to hear and consider and journey into the truth. Peter’s doubt, in fact, had nothing to do with philosophical quandaries or historical veracity. Peter did not have a theological dilemma. Peter did not slip into the waves because of an existential crisis. Peter wavered in trusting his friend. His issue was not creedal, it was relational.
Whatever pushed Peter to doubt, it was obviously connected to fear, understandably so. The disciples had been on pins and needles the entire night. IN a quick turn of events, Peter found himself alone on top of the waves out in the middle of a blustery storm. This doubt had nothing to do with logic or reason. There was no process that led Peter here. An apologetics lecture or a philosophical conversation would not have helped. Often we believe our doubt would be assuaged if God would miraculously intervene in the world. No miracles would have aided Peter. He had just lived the miracle, a few extraordinary aquatic steps. Peter’s doubt detonated in a flash, because all of a sudden he thought he might drown – and his fear was larger than his trust in Jesus..

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 136, 137-138.


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The Dissonance Between What I Expect From Jesus And What Jesus Actually Does (via Winn Collier)

Following Jesus is not thinking that everything you think is what he thinks.
Following Jesus is having your perceptions of self, others, and living challenged and changed.

From Winn Collier.

Do we really think it possible to follow the ways of God without having our world turned over? Do we really expect to follow a God we always understand, who always conforms to our expectations? Could confusion (at times) be a sign that we have actually heard God correctly? Disorientation shouldn’t be disdained, it is inevitable. If the Jesus we hear never finishes a sentence differently that we imagine he would , if the Jesus we claim to follow never offers an ideology in direct contradiction to what we have grown comfortable with, if the Jesus we envision never loves people we would never expect him to embrace, we might need to revisit the Gospels. We might need to be reintroduced to the biblical Jesus.
Anne Lamott says, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” It is a constant temptation to make God a reflection of me, rather than me a reflection of him. There outhitting to be a certain level of dissonance between what I expect from Jesus and what Jesus actually does. There should be some confusion.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 105-106.


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Jesus Is The God We Need (via Winn Collier)

Jesus experienced life with human emotions.
In addition to knowing our need for salvation, Jesus fully experienced everything that we need to be saved from.

From Winn Collier.

Jesus did not come to help us manoeuvre around the our brokenness; Jesus came to enter our brokenness with us. The gospel is not a therapeutic system tooled for enhancing our ability to cope by believing hard enough and smiling big enough and quoting just the right mixture of Bible verses so we can distance ourselves from our negative emotions. The gospel is the story of the world as it actually is, our lives as they actually are. The gospel tells us that we are broken, more broken that we know, and that our world is in a shambles. Jesus does not encourage us to ignore what we have lost, but rather to mourn it, to feel deep sorrow over the devastation we were never supposed to know. The gospel instructs us to want and wait and hope for God to make the world right again. We do not need a God removed from our destruction and insisting we are all okay. We need a God who knows in his bones how sick we are and who will not leave us to ourselves. We need God to rescue us.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 90.


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The Double-Edged Sword Of Spiritual Tradition (via Winn Collier)

The temptation to set use Bible as a buttress against the imperative of the Gospel is strong.
Of course there is no contradiction between the following Jesus and the Bible correctly read.

From Winn Collier.

Spiritual tradition is a double-edged sword. Used properly, it allows those who have gone before us to instruct us with their wisdom. Tradition allows us to hear the ways God’s story has echoed in every generation. We have a rich heritage, and we are most foolish if we do not pay close attention. Used improperly, however, tradition is no longer a friend to instruct and guide us, but it becomes a means we use to dig in our heels, to hold on to an identity that provides us with a sense of security from a world or a God whose mystery frightens us.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 80.


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Unlearning Christian Amnesia (via Winn Collier)

Every Christian has experienced God’s gracious power at work in their lives.
As disciples we consistently evaluate situations as if we’re supposed to navigate them in our own power.

From Winn Collier who is reflecting on Jesus’ interactions with the disciples as he intends to feed a large crowd (again).

…with the dilemma out in the open, only Jesus possessed the imagination to consider any outrageous solution. The disciples had seen Jesus raise corpses and cleanse lepers and cast a herd of demons into a herd of swine. Even more ironic, if this account is seperate from the miraculous feeding of an even larger crowd just a few days before, the disciples had already seen Jesus work a miracle to answer the same quandary. Theologian Frederick Bruner says that here Matthew teaches a “doctrine of Christian amnesia.” In a crisis we seldom remember the many ways God’s grace has flowed to us. The disciples only inclination was to organise a quick exit, hoping to minimise the damage. Jesus, on the other hand intended to arrange a feast.
God knows our pain better than we do. He sees our calamity and feels, even with greater awareness than we, how near we are to ruin. The Gospel narrative is the unfolding of a rescue operation, for those of us unaware of how much we need it and naive in the face of our complete dissolution.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 62-63.


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Jesus Doesn’t Dismiss Our Fears, He Experienced Them And Overcame Them (via Winn Collier)

Jesus doesn’t dismiss our fears.
He spends much time telling his disciples that we’ll experience much that drives to the hearts of our anxieties.
And he goes to the very heart of fear itself, experiences it all, and emerges victorious, for us.

From Winn Collier.

“Incarnation is the place,” says Kathleen Norris, “where hope contends with fear.” Perhaps this hints at the reason, if Jesus was familiar with fear, he was not distraught in the boat that was battered by the ferocious storm. He was not afraid because he was aware of God the Father with him. Perhaps this also tells us why the cross evoked such a different, disquieted response from Jesus. There, as the sky turned black and as Jesus cried out as only a forsaken man could, God was nowhere to be found. That is a place of terror.
Christ has known ultimate fear. He has known fear in ways we never will. It is not that Jesus is unable to understand the range of our fears; it is that we are unable to understand the depth of his. We must resist any easy notion that Jesus never knew fear. This does injustice to his humanity, and it offers little hope when fear engulfs us. How can we say God is truly “with us” if he has not been at times immersed, like us, in the torrent of fear?
This God-incarnated, this blood—and—bone God—in-Jesus, came to “contend with fear.” He did not come only to face nobly fear’s blunt force … and die. Jesus’ face—off with fear did not conclude on a darkened Friday when hope was lost and hell quivered with pleasure. After cross came resur— rection, and in the mysterious hours between the two, Jesus took death and sin—all that makes up the foul side of fear—and placed them squarely under his crushing heel. Fear unleashed all it possessed on Jesus, a torrent of death and shame and abandonment and sin, enough to finish even the strongest of men. But fear did not destroy Jesus; Jesus destroyed fear.
Our comfort and courage do not come from a Jesus who was unmolested by fear; our Comfort comes from a Jesus who went into fear’s very bowels … for us. He drank in every acidic ounce of fright and distress and vexation. For us, he drank it in. And now, as he stands leaning toward us, Immanuel asks, “Why are you afraid?”.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 53-54.