Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

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Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby Relaysignal » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:50 pm

I haven't seen anyone really discussing the book at all so I decided to start! We can probably just use one thread for each section, to keep it organized an' whatnot.

My thoughts on section one:
I really enjoy the tone of the book, which is so matter-of-fact yet actually funny at times. Going through most of the Old Testament (Or Hebrew Scriptures, as they'd say) and seeing the overall story of God's faithfulness was pretty amazing. It's so easy to lose track of what the overall picture looks like while reading the Bible, since it is so long.
The idea of Israel being holy (set apart) also makes a lot more sense now that they explained it a bit - especially Leviticus! I always thought lots of those laws made no sense but it makes sense in the context of Israel being "set apart." I think much the same way we see those laws as 'funny' is how many unbelievers see Christians as 'funny' - we're supposed to be seen by the world as different, unique, and set apart. Even if, and especially if, it clashes with the world.
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby notetoself7x3 » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:30 pm

I agree with you. Many of my atheist friends have used the laws in Leviticus to stump me while we were debating Christianity. I knew there was an answer to why these seemingly silly laws existed, but i couldn't find an answer no matter how much thought i put into the subject. They did a great job of putting it into perspective for me.
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby josh_dies » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:07 pm

in section 1 there's an interesting focus on the old testament (or "Hebrew scripture") narrative, specifically God's original design to be sole king of his people. Not "God is my real king" in the contemporary Christian sense, but "God is my only king" in that there are no leaders, kings or presidents but God alone. But we as people, throughout history, haven't been especially trusting; we've always been afraid to let God be our only king. Just as the Israelites began to miss Pharaoh's tyranny (which at least kept them fed) in Exodus 16, so we in the modern American church cower at the idea of completely trusting Jesus' tough teaching about turning the other cheek, living simply, giving to the poor and loving our enemies. It all sounds good, but we'd rather have food from the Pharaoh and trust in the sword of the empire to protect us instead of Jesus' whole "die for your enemies" thing.
In 2 Samuel 7 God rebukes David for wanting to build Him a nice house. Maybe God is uninterested in dwelling in the houses we build for Him. Maybe God is, like He says in 2 Samuel 7:5-6, "moving from place to place."
Vested in the often long-winded, strange, violent and beautiful stories and history of the Hebrew Scriptures is a story perhaps best summarized for our purposes by Leviticus 20:26: "You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." Or in Numbers 23:9: "I see a people who live apart, and do not consider themselves one of the nations."
The world is what the world is, and we are called to be a peculiar people set apart from that world. Not just to be weirdos hiding from society, but to bring redemption to said society as God has charged us. Tough stuff. We'd often rather trust in kings we can see. In Judges 9 a king's brother has a vision where even the trees are weary of becoming king over one another, lest they be tainted by kingship. So goes our long-history of kings, as the book says "some good, some bad, but always making messes."
From the very beginning we can see that God has always intended to set His people apart from the world and use them to express his amazing love toward it. And he achieves this through some pretty weird means… Means that we, as Christians are well aware of and yet somehow overlook when we expect laws and government can change the world, not a bunch of weird ragamuffins who preach love for their enemies.

Consider these words from Section 1:

"Yaweh continues to be careful to choose the weakest, most unlikely characters to be the heroes of the liberation story… Consider the fact that God chose a shepherd boy to be king. It's like picking a kid from the sweatshops to lead a corporation. It's like choosing a politically powerless carpenter as God's son. (Uh… Hold that thought.)"
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby notetoself7x3 » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:39 pm

I really like the "God is my only king" approach that the first section takes. When I tell people how I'm not going to vote when I'm finally old enough, they look at me like I'm crazy. They think it's weird how I talk about the government and how it needs improvment (if it ever can be improved (it cant, at least that's how i feel)), but I'm not going to bother to vote or deal with politics in any way. It's because God is my only king, not Barrack Obama or any other politician. People ask how i can talk about the government in bad light but not try and do anything about it, and then they are surprised when I talk about my faith seperating me from the kingdom of the earth. So far, this book has really solidified my feelings with government and God.
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby Relaysignal » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:29 am

Interesting you say how we're "weird ragamuffins", Josh - II just started reading "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning... it's really great so far, really expanding on the topic of grace.
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby john_r_bennett » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:58 am

I really like the approach as well. I agree with a lot of what is said and even more with the sentiment that it's not as easy as it sounds to adhere to. Josh said it best when he said that it sounds nice, but we often times find ourselves missing the tyranny (and food) that Pharohs provide.

I've had to learn how to bite my tongue when explaining my point of view to people concerning the governments of this world. I often get the "you're crazy!" response as well and I haven't always been the best at not getting confused and angry and even downright rude at times.

As a matter of fact I got fired up when talking with a girl that I'm very much interested in not too long ago. We're both passionate people and can often act less than Christ like when discussing things. We got to a point of almost whipping out our bibles and showing each other the verses that support our points (of which there are many for both sides) and then God intervened. He kind of made us both realize that He is what is important in our budding relationship and that as long as we focus on Him and not the stupid things of this world that things will be a lot easier. We both apologized (profusely) and resolved to jump into that discussion slowly.

I think it's important for us to realize that while we may see things a particular way and often think that it is the only right way and that everyone else is wrong (which they very well may be) if we aren't able to be humble and show love to them when we explain our points, we are not behaving as ambassadors for Christ, especially with people who don't believe in God or the bible. Theres nothing more frustrating to me than to hear a story of someone who was turned off to Christ by a rude person who told them that they were going to hell for not listening to Amy Grant all the time.

This is something I struggle with and the points in this section reminded me that I don't always have to be right, I just have to show Christ to the world.

What do you guys think?
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby josh_dies » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:41 am

I think you're absolutely right John. The church (as in we, the body of Christ) has always had an interesting dichotomy running through its veins. Debate and discussion are good, healthy aspects of the relationships between believers (theology is big!) but what good is theology without the humility, gentleness and relentless love of Jesus?
I can certainly relate. There are theological ideas that I find very important and "non-debatable" to a certain extent, like anyone, and that can often lead to a rude and argumentative disposition if we take it into our own hands. We as believers—through the holy spirit—have got to learn how to teach and admonish one another with gentleness and with humility.
Greg Boyd had a great sermon on this very topic recently if you're interested:http://whchurch.org/blog/2976/church-of-the-scumbags
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby The_Fedora » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:17 pm

Can i get this book in stores?
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it's all good dude. i know this is super cliche but it's not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean.
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Re: Section 1: "Before There Were Kings and Presidents"

Postby JWat » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:27 am

You should be able to get it most places.
See Kyle's post here, viewtopic.php?f=55&t=1976
and Josh's post on his website, http://joshdies.com/2011/01/12/book-of-the-six-weeks/
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