Rebellion 2019-10-25T21:21:02+01:00

rebellion

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FALL

WATCH INTRO VIDEO

DISCOVERING AN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY WITHIN

Rebellion

EXILE

Just as God is sovereign over the expanse of all things, He has designed us to be stewards of a small portion of His creation. He is infinite God and we are finite humans. All things God has created are finite. We all began from God and He gives us the free will to determine our fate. We get to choose to mirror Him or pick something else from creation to image. So, His imagebearers have free will to choose to love Him, or not. Worship can be a real choice, but if we have freedom – and God does respect our choices – Idolatry is an alternate narrative that we can choose to live out of. Everything God has given us can be used in worship or abused in idolatry. We can and do move towards Him and away from Him with our choices. When we move toward Him we become more human. When we move away from Him, we become less human, dehumanise others and become inhumane. What God created for good we can abuse for evil. The result of our false choices is that we become exiled, at war not only with God, with creation, even with one another, but also ultimately at odds with ourselves. We become curved in; bent and distorted bearers of His image and we lose context and reference point in the journey.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

– Romans 1:21-22 (NIV)

“I think I’ve learned exactly how the fall of man occured in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and Adam said one day, Wow, Eve, here we are, at one with nature, at one with God, we’ll never age, we’ll never die, and all our dreams come true the instant that we have them. And Eve said, Yeah… it’s just not enough is it?”

– Bill Hicks

“It speaks of the triune God who existed eternally before creation and of ourselves as characters in his unfolding plot. Created in God’s image yet fallen into sin, we have our identity shaped by the movement of this dramatic story from promise to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. This drama also has its powerful props, such as preaching, baptism, and the Supper—the means by which we are no longer spectators but are actually included in the cast… Instead of God being a supporting actor in our life story, we become part of the cast that the Spirit is recruiting for God’s drama. The Christian faith is, first and foremost, an unfolding drama…This story that runs from Genesis to Revelation, centering on Christ, not only richly informs our mind; it captivates the heart and the imagination, animating and motivating our action in the world.”

– Michael S. Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way

Car Crash

BROKEN IMAGEBEARERS

If you have ever been involved in a car crash you will know that time seems to slow down. In an instant, you realise that this moment changes everything and yet while time seems to slow, your reactions are perhaps not fast enough. The moments before and the moments after are now defined by a new reality. Brokenness is so much a part of our lives now, that we can hardly contemplate a time where we did not experience hardship, pain and death. We wake up in the morning and roll out of bed, work hard all day and roll back into bed at night. Life is hard, but even though we experience this brokenness and limitation, we are still, every human, an imagebearer of God and no matter how we broken we become in any part of us, redemption is just as close…

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Exile

THEME

The theme of Exile and Exodus is repeated time and time again in the Biblical account. God has created a world governed by cause and effect. Certain actions on our part when we follow His design for life reap a blessing, and when we act against our nature, and the nature of the Laws God has set in place, we reap a curse. The exile is a painful experience. I know this personally as I have been in exile from my own nation for many years. It is painful to be cut off from family members, from memories, from homeland. There is a longing to return, but also a knowledge that it will never be the same. So, God wants to make a way forward; not back to the garden, but onward to a glorious city that will include our story with His. But it will be painful and there are no guarantees of safety. Every imagebearer is in exile and we are all trying to find our way home again. God is good, He is also with us, but He is not safe!

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Entering into the story…

To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity. – C.S. Lewis

Read the passage linked below and imagine the scene as if you were a movie director working with the characters. Often, we do not enter scripture with our humanity intact and we do not dignify the characters we find there by giving them their humanity in return. The goal of Lectio Divina is to meditate on the scene we find there and allow the characters to speak to us by vividly imagining the scene as if we are standing there physically too. Ask Holy Spirit to make the scenario come to life as you read using all of your senses to visualise everything in the scene…

Genesis 2:25-3:13 – Temptation and the Fall

Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness

What similarities do you see between Adam and Eve’s temptation and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness?

How is Satan tempting both Adam and Eve and Jesus in similar ways to test God, to prove a lie and entice them to become something other than human in doing so? How are they tempted in both cases with human needs like food? How is this is a test for human beings to take on a place in reality that is not theirs to take? How does Jesus respond by adhering to what God says and how do Adam and Eve agree with the lie?

What does free will do in either case? Was it just as much of a risk for Jesus as it was for Adam and Eve? How was Jesus tempted by taking a short cut? How do the three tests of Jesus line ups with the test on Adam and Eve? What can we learn from this exchange in both Old and New Testaments?

Can you see the humanity of both Adam and Eve and Jesus in the midst of their frailty and vulnerability and how the temptation is to become something other than human? Something more? And how it actually makes them something less than human, less than imagebearers of God by design?

1) Prepare: Close your eyes, breathe, clear your mind, and ask God to enter into this time of prayer with you. Ask God to speak to you through this image.

2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and scan the image. Note what draws your interest, but continue to scan the whole image. Close and rest your eyes a minute.

3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and let your eyes be led. Focus on just the part of the image that caught your eyes and name it. Close your eyes, seeing that piece of the image in your mind.

4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your eye. Allow it to bring forth a word, image, or emotion. Close and rest your eyes.

5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze at the whole image. What is God speaking to you today through this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend time processing that with God. Pray or journal about it.

Don’t judge too quickly!

Watch the video one more time and think of the different roles being played by the man, his girlfriend and the lady’s cat. How does it relate to what God is doing in the narrative, to the free will of His creatures and to what we do after there is miscommunication, pain and misunderstanding. In just a second what was meant for good, has tuned to evil. Free will is central to the story of God. He longs for us to have it, defends our right to have it, created us with it and knows the power of it. Your will is the second most powerful will in the universe. It is God-given and it can also be used against His sovereign will. Yet, God will never force, coerce or manipulate you. He loves and that is what makes Him stay to explain how it was good, how it is all fallen and how it cane made right if we would trust Him to explain how it was meant to be and how He will make it right again.

If you were the man in this video, imagine his perspective. If you were the women imagine what you would do? Run, scream, phone the police? Would you stay? So that Gd can explain what has happened and give you context once more? The story of God starts in perfect peace and is an explanation of not only how things went wrong, but also how we find our way forward together. Free will is front and centre for God and for His imagebearers.

The Tilted Room

This video was filmed on a sound stage tilted at a 45 degree angle. So the actor is walking up hill as they cross the room. It depicts the hardships of the most basic human activities. Due to the fall, we accept this as normal, we feel pain, disease and death constantly in different ways every moment of the day. It is totally normalised for us as it is all we have ever known. It is painful but the video is also humorous, as the actor changes the painting on the wall to fit his own perspective, which is bent, crooked and slightly distorted. How is this similar to our own view points in the search for the truth? Sin and the pain it causes was not here in the start of the story and will not be here in the end, it is temporary, but if it is all we have ever known, we no longer even blink at it. So does pain serve a purpose even though it is not from God?

Embodied Spirituality in Practice

A DISCIPLINE OR PRACTICE TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR LIFE.

In our last Embodied Spiritual Practice, we learned that the younger monks were told to “Go to your cell and it will teach you everything you need to know.” Meaning that God has given us abundant lives overflowing and overwhelming us at times with any number of lessons we can be learning from in our humanity. Instead we often refuse to embrace our humanity and pray that God will relieve us of the lessons He is trying to teach us. What if instead of bucking against the pricks, we embraced our lives and asked God to empower us to learn from whatever situation we find ourselves in? Thomas a Kempis, in “The Imitation of Christ”, famously wrote: “Every time you leave your cell, you come back less a man.” I prefer  to say it this way to be inclusive of all imagebearers… “Any time you leave your cell you come back less human.” When I am tempted to leave my cell, it is usually because in my estimation I can do a better job than God… This kind of thinking never goes well for me! If I refuse my humanity, then our only alternative is to become de-humanised, inhumane or less than human as imagebearers. I either accept my humanity and embrace it, or send parts of myself away into exile. Sin makes us inhumane.

IMAGEBEARER: TENSION REFLECTION

Getting in touch with our fallenness…

Notice the Tension between your Fallenness, Brokenness and Blessedness. Where do you feel…

Humanity was naked and unashamed. Sin is not just what we do, it is a curved in state of being – “In curvatu sensei” – it becomes who we are. God wants to heal us from that. After the trauma of the fall, the first change we observe in humanity was that they suddenly had a reason to hide. God’s questions to them was an invitation to relive their story, get in touch with their humanity and He offers them reflection. They are His imagebearers after all, but now there is dissonance. This invitation pushes them to vulnerability once more. They have to uncover the truth, not distract themselves from it. If we refuse to uncover our story we become complicit with the evil that has happened and agree with it. If we suffer trauma, this is a temptation to cover up, to hide or divide. We can disassociate from pain and exile parts of ourselves in the process; but it will show up in our stories, even in our own bodies. To find healing, we must reconcile and welcome back the best parts of our humanity that we are tempted to send into exile as weaknesses.

Where can you see that perhaps you have hidden from hurt and have covered over to protect yourself? Sometimes we learn to hate the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. This is a defensive move meant to help us survive, but it will be etched into our story as shame if left covered. We will be bent out of shape as a result and rather than being outward focused we become self-oriented and curved in on ourselves.

Ask God to help you see what is hidden. How can you answer as he calls out to you, “Where are you?”

Adam and Eve were Whole. Blame allows us space to breathe by blaming another for our situation. It is a knee-jerk reaction and can take the form of disengagement. We can also press blame upon another or enjoy a sense of judgement. Anything to not take responsibility over ourselves, our story or our bodies. We want a scapegoat, a way to place blame where we do not have to own what has happened. It is unhelpful and awful as we make accusations that bind us up in the lie of it all. Blame disintegrates relationship. We get our humanity back by being honest. It is the hardest aspect of being vulnerable, but it also leads to humility, forgiveness and healing. Who are we listening to in the temptation to blame others?

Where do you struggle to own or be responsible for your life and choices today? How can you invite God in, when He asks, “What have you done?”

Hurt can lead to shame. When it is hidden and unaddressed it can fester. Shame is the voice of the accuser seeking to actively steal, kill and destroy. God wants integration, evil longs to divide and conquer. Shame causes us to pull back, cut ourselves off and to a deeper despising of ourselves. It is much more than being about what we do, now we have decided that there is actually something intrinsically wrong with us in our very being, with our humanity and with our frailty and we need to prevent it happening again. We become a victim and act accordingly, either rising to overthrow our oppressor, or sinking into nihilism and resentment and hatred.

In what way do we recognise where we feel shame that has marked our stories, perhaps even our bodies in detrimental ways? How do we answer when God asks,”Who told you?” The accuser will long to tell us who or what we are, but it is always to denigrate our imagebearing ability as fully human reflectors of God.

Of course in trauma or abuse or the pain of our stories – which all of us have experienced in one measure or another – we feel betrayed by circumstances, by even our own bodies and even perhaps by God. He still affirms our humanity as He calls us His imagebearers. What is it that makes us human? Is it our body, our will, our mind, our emotions, soul or spirit? It is the integration of all. We are spiritually embodied beings capable of reflecting God and as long as we are human, we bear the image of God. This cannot be washed away, erased, torn out, scrubbed off or worn through. No matter how inhumane we may become. It is by design and no hiding, blaming or shaming can ever erase our humanity entirely. We may be bent, broken and fallen, but it is in our imagebearing  that we become integrated and whole again in exploring the tensions within integrity and unity. There are many losses and exiles, bits of ourselves we will need to welcome back.

You are the image of God in your story, with your DNA and your family, nationality, gifting and background. You matter eternally in every part of your being.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”

– C.S. Lewis

Here is a related Spiritual Practice called “Dying Well” for you to explore.

Application

DISCOVERING AN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY OF DESIGN, CREATIVITY AND THE ARTS.

At each step along the itinerary of the Biblical Timeline we will look at how the following themes come into play at each juncture of the journey…

Perhaps it is a sign of our own selfishness that we often say,”Why do bad things happen to good people?” When in actuality, God has lost far more than anyone in the fall of humanity. Creation is fallen. His good and wonderful world so carefully created is now riddled with brokenness and entropy. Creation has reverted to being somewhat deformed. It is diseased and infected with pain and suffering that He never intended. Yet, this good God does not just drag it all to the trash and empty it. Nor hit a reset button and restore it back to pristine condition in an instant. No, instead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit had a contingency plan. That if this were to happen they would work to involve and partner with creation, with their creatures and the imagebearers, to work together to continue the plan of God to reconcile all things to Himself. It is going to take all of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all of us; body, soul and spirit to put things to right. He includes us. It is within His power to fix it all in an instant, but to include us in taking responsibility for the problem we created means that we can also be a part of the solution he devises. It is going to cost Him and us in the process, but the result will be worth it. A good God wronged by His creatures and yet not vindictive, bitter or angry… God invites us to come back to reality.

The reality check that God gives us comes in the form of questions he asks us everyday not just after the fall of a common ancestor that we find in Adam and Eve. God comes back into the garden and finds them hiding. Ashamed and blaming one another, He asks questions, not for Himself but as a reality check for us. He asks them of me today too. “Where are you?”, “What Have you done?” and “Who told you?” In seeking for our own honest responses or violent reactions to those probing questions we are confronted with ourselves. Increasingly in touch with our humanity and desire to be something other. Where am I? I am embodied. The choice was made embodied. It was good to my senses, it was pleasant to the eye. I took, I ate and I was told that by doing so I would become more like God and less finite, limited and frail. The temptation that we were offered by evil was to become more like God. As if God did not make us quite right. He is holding something back from us and there might be a way to be less human and much more divine. To partake of His nature and not be His creature. As we are, we are made in His image. Is our humanity something we embrace or wish to escape from? God is calling us to be more and more fully human. We will always be human! To become anything less is dehumanising and inhumane. So what other option do we have? Jesus will come fully human, so if it is good enough for Him, why do we reject our finiteness?

This was a car crash moment. We were met with instant death, and the outworking of that would be felt from that moment onwards. All things were perfect. Heaven and earth were united in a good and whole creation. The moment we refused to be imagebearers of God we instead imaged ourselves after something other than the way God made us and we fell. This was a rejection of God, of His Word, of our design and of our humanity. A third of the angels seem to have rebelled. They had a sense that Humanity had been now given a place of prominence that even angels longed for. To no angel did God ever say, “you are my son!” Or “I am making you in my image”. So, God has endowed our humanity with an ability to mirror him in every part of our being. The rest of creation shows God’s attributes, power and Godhead, but we show Him most of all. This all came crashing to a halt in one moment and will take millennia to unpack the ramifications. To figure out how we are going to negotiate the consequences of this. Of course it didn’t just happen once. We continue to compound the situation by choosing again and again to live out of this alternate reality. An alternate story that we have created by our will and the belief of a lie. Still God honours our will and always will do so. We have the second most powerful will in the universe. If Satan wants power, He has to get us to agree with Him. God’s will is sovereign over all, but not controlling anything He has created. This is pure love and freedom at work. It will cost God most of all as he will need to watch His imagebearers be torn apart and pained for generation after generation. He will not give up and will not erase His imagebearers or their humanity, it is what He loves most about us. Our humanity is our imagebearing ability. He will solve the problem of sin while retaining our humanity forever.

All that God created, He is still sustaining. He holds together every atom, every creature, every ecosystem. All things still reflect Him. While sin is powerful and spreads like a disease there is still good, beauty and order and abundance all over creation. It did not descend automatically into a cess pool of filth. We are surrounded by a beautiful creation that is sustained by God but is now suffering abuse, disuse and becoming brittle since God’s imagebearers have become bent inward, selfish, exploitative and vindictive. The natural world which we are called to steward we now treat inhumanely with so many creatures under our care. So creation began to groan from the fall until now for redemption. Work has become hard, childbirth painful and we groan again and again under the weight of sin. The ache of muscles and the agony of relationships. Even the simple yet hard work of communicating and being misunderstood. There is much to groan about. Nature still reflects God. It is still beautiful, resilient and was the first book that God ever wrote. Without creation we would not have a translation tool for God to make anything known to us. The Bible uses creation endlessly to convey truth. Jesus especially uses human senses and nature to convey endless truths about God as well as the coming kingdom using fish and coins, needles and camels. We are to enjoy creation as a compliment to scripture, all the while realising that nature is tainted and diseased and infected by evil just as every imagebearer is too. All things; everything needs healing and rehabilitation. The spiritual world is no less in need of redemption too. Fallenness is everywhere, but redemption is coming…

This early warning system is a gift from God. It is something he never intended for us, but when we feel pain, we should be paying attention. It is a trigger system that allows us to discover who God is, what hurts and how to go to Him with it. People in pain disassociate from it. This too can be a gift from God. If we are abused or raped or tortured, our body can be treated inhumanely and we can survive incredible pain. We can become disembodied to deal with extreme pain. But in doing so, we also exile a part of ourselves to protect what is left and still be functional. Yet, afterward, we need to be able to find integration again through therapy. Rehabilitation is learning to recover from the cataclysmic event we have just been a part of. To find reintegration and wholeness. This is how we experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We need to be integrated and fully human again. To have every part of us restored and things to be made right. Justice must be given. Mercy must be extended to ourselves. Forgiveness to the perpetrator and healing in the brokenness. It is something we choose to walk out of or we stay mired in it. This is all about choice. Suffering can be used by God, but it is never ever sent by God. He can take the worst suffering and make diamonds out of the pressure. It always depends on our posture towards Him whether we recover from it. Every part of us is engaged in both the joy of creation and also similarly the pain of suffering. If one part of our body or psyche is in agony it will affect our whole person. This is because we are integrated whole persons made in the image of God. We need healing in every single part of us to be fully human.

Work which was a joy before now becomes a chore to do. Before it was fulfilling and a delight. It gave us a sense of achievement and enabled us to follow the vocational call of God which is unique to each of us. Our gifts, personality, physical qualities, mental ability, emotional awareness, creativity and rational all come into play. At work, especially passionate work, we should love what we do in service to others. Sadly, more and more people are not working for enjoyment or fulfilment, simply as a means to an end. The pay check. Most of the modern workforce are not happy in their workplace or job placement, unable to enjoy the labour of their hands or the sweat off their brow. Simple things have become a lot harder. Still, there is joy to be found in selfless work. Serving those in need. Providing services that would otherwise leave families without healthcare, education, food and shelter. Work can be a means to provide for families and a creative outlet. If you are helping someone become more human, with greater dignity, wholeness and health, you are doing the work of God. Whenever we decide to make our world a little more human, embrace our own and others vulnerability, when we exercise or eat right, care for the environment, and nurture relationships as well as seek to serve the other, we bare God’s image into our world as salt and light.

The life we have to live is a human one. As I become more safe in my own skin, I am very aware of my giftedness, finiteness and also my brokenness. I am aware of my failings, my habits and my weakness. Life has a way of showing us where we are not doing well more often than not. We get a clear picture of who we really are since those truths are reflected back to us by our family, as well as our friends, our spouse, our children or our colleagues. We are reflective creatures. We know that if we have a father who is abusive we will lose respect for them as their authority is only as strong as the love they show. In each of our lives we have baggage to carry. Some of it we inherit as fallenness in our family genealogy. Institutional evil can show its ugly head in banking systems or political oppression. In racial segregation or economic disparity. We can get dehumanised by commercialisation. We can hate the way we look or be the target of sexual discrimination. Regardless of what life dishes out, we need to also be aware that God sees you and I as His imagebearers, through which other imagebearers can be reminded of their own imagebearing creativity. That though we are all broken without exception, we are not forgotten. Which imagebearers are in your sphere of influence? How can you give them their humanity and dignity back as a reminder that they are designed to be imagebearers of God?

Creative expression

INSPIRATION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION FROM A CREATIVE

MATT RAWLINS

AUTHOR:

Coming soon…

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Creative Assignments

DISCOVER THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE FALL ON OUR PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL LIFE

This is a chance to express yourself creatively. Perhaps something in this part of the timeline has challenged, excited or inspired you. You may want to think about how your could express that through drawing, writing, painting, filming, designing or photographing something to share with others here at creativeimagebearers.com.

So write a haiku, poem, song or create a piece to express yourself and share it with us!

add-e1557741871377.png Do the Embodied Spiritual Practice above – “Shame, Blame and Hiding” of God’s Imagebearers and write or create something as a response to the Fall and then upload it here. How do you see shame, blame and hiding working its way out into your own life?

Submit Creative Assignments

This is where Creative Imagebearers submit their creative assignments for each module of the coursework.
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Final Take-Away to give context…

PROVOKE THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS…

The Fall sent everything into a death roll. We used our will to do that by joining with a dehumanising vindictive and jealous evil to turn everything on its head. We are as a result suffering the consequences of disease, brokenness and violence every day. Your will is the most powerful thing in the Universe after God’s will. God respects our will and will not overrule it. If there is pain, war or famine we created it by believing the lie and created hell for ourselves. Where evil flourishes good men remain silent. Just as we created this mess, we can also in turn co-labour with God to bring order, beauty and abundance back into the world. God and our creative endeavours are never done.

Though we are fallen it has tainted everything, everything we can see and everything we cannot in the physical and spiritual creation. All is fallen. Though the ground is hard to farm, babies come forth in pain and our lives now end in death. Yet still, we are created in the image of God and our Imagebearing ability is tied to our being human. God will not erase our humanity in order to fix the problem, instead He wants us to image Him. The evil one hates that we are made in His image, even angels can’t do that! So, he longs to make us inhumane so that we in turn dehumanise one another, thus destroying God’s image by idolising something in the created order. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is not God!

We are what we love. Our loves/desires shape us and form us in their image. Love is worship and we can make anything an idol and be defined and enslaved to it if we turn from God as the source of our imagebearing. Only by imaging God in our humanity can we find freedom as that is intrinsic to our design. We need to learn to embrace our finiteness, our limitation and our vulnerability and allow God to be all knowing, all powerful and ever present to our needs.

Your take-away

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU

Questionnaire

Additional Resources:

Creative Imagebearers Workbook – Aleck Cartwright: