03 August 2016

Calling For Unity


Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Yeshua would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 
- Acts 16: 6-10
This particular portion of Scripture is quite interesting and insightful, I think.

The narration seems to depict how the faithful came to understand God's will, being led by His Spirit.

The manner in which they were prevented from entering a certain area isn't specified (was it revelation, a voice from heaven, a prophecy through someone, something else?).

What is specified somewhat is the vision which signals them to travel onto another place, after unsuccessfully attempting to enter a certain area.

What else is derived and understood in this sequence in Acts?

Notice how God is presented and mentioned.

Looking at different translations, the terms change, yet the depiction and message is the same.

Some designate “Spirit of Yeshua”, others simply “Spirit”.

In place of “God”, “Master” is mentioned, elsewhere “Our Lord”.

What I find interesting is the mention of “Spirit of Yeshua” or attaching “Spirit” to “[of] Yeshua”.

Is the Spirit of Yeshua 'different' from the Holy Spirit or God's Spirit?

I don't think so.

To me, it is the consolidation of the Oneness of God and a preview of the development of what is later termed “Christology” (theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ).

I read a book recently entitled “Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions”, by William Montgomery Watt.

In that work's first chapter, Watt details how a Christology developed in the early church, varying slightly and at times distinctly, in different regions where the faith had spread to.

In some cases, the understanding of Christ seemed very different from other understandings, most likely looking 'different' according to the manner ideas and thoughts were verbally expressed.

Watt explains that different cultures and peoples understood Christ according to their cultural backgrounds, from a backdrop of those culture's previous religious and cultural philosophies.

Among the many perceptions explaining the Mystery of God in Christ also came ideas which would eventually be difficult to reconcile (difficult for those who held their belief and, manner of expressing their belief, to be correct and right and opposed to others).

Some ideas and expressions among certain groups would eventually be seen as heresy and unacceptable by what eventually would become 'orthodox'.

Yet, when reading these ideas and perceptions, at times written in limited terms since man's perceptions are limited, they do not always sound or 'read' to be quite averse.

What is very interesting is that within and among these various understandings, the 'differences' didn't necessarily have to become issues that caused division... but unfortunately they did... or the people couldn't accept further dialogue and efforts towards unity for some reason.

It seems that patience ran out and the love went cold with some groups, and lack of understanding of people's backgrounds became second to the desire to triumph with a popular consensus in understanding Mystery.

This is where humility, unity and love was supposed to overshadow contention... or perceived contention that may simply be honest misunderstanding (misunderstanding between humans and their verbalized expressions).

I perceive and notice that the aim for unity, despite difference of opinions and people beholden to their specific dogma, tradition and doctrine, is still alive Today.

God is One, there is one faith, one church and one body of Christ... and the kingdom of God is “within you”, not perceivable by the human eye.

Thank God that salvation isn't based on a doctorate degree... or the ability to perfectly express the faith and all its nuances, which is cloaked in Mystery outside of Christ's love.

Thank God faith is a gift, and not an effort to achieve a certain esoteric gnosis.

Thank God that knowledge of God is understood by experience and in “living by faith”, not so much by in-depth study or much arguing over who's perception is correct and who's understanding may disqualify them from God's love.

Thank God that God is love, not a religion, but a Mystery revealed in Yeshua Christ!

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