Stopping the rot

woman with lamp

For over a year now, since moving into our apartment, I have become a pipe surveyor, regularly checking out the unattended leaking pipe in the roofing over our allotted parking space in the parking lot beneath our housing block. I have visions of the whole building caving in over night, though my husband, who trained as an engineer, reassures me about the reliable, solid steel structure holding it all together. Just a continual drip, drip, drip over the months has created a lot of damage. Not that long ago a large piece of damp ceiling collapsed, and finally the repair company came and patched it up with a rectangle of strong cardboard-like tiling….but a week or so later the leaking pipe continued to expend water until another huge damp spot encircled the cardboard patching. It now threatens once more to give way whilst rust advances and thrives in a salmagundi way along the dysfunctional pipe.

I’m no expert regarding the loss of absolute truth in the world but the way it has permeated the church is like a slowly spreading gangrene, corroding away the centrality of the gospel message with the drip, drip, drip of political correctness and ‘open-minded’ thinking, intravenously feeding church life and placing upon us the expectation or pressure to open ourselves up to alternative ideas, suggestions, imaginary exploration and changing-with-the-times doctrinal thinking. Leading us away with a tentacle-like grip from taking the bible too seriously or literally. Increasingly there is a need and acceptance to express our rights and explore our individuality like the world does, with no right or wrong answer, so that even our sin is changed into an alternative way of being, or a medical problem or a personality disorder rather than an act of disobedience against God and His word. We might even begin to lose the need for a Saviour altogether.

It all takes place so subtly at first and then begins to creep out like a fungus infecting the whole batch. In one dark, damp corner there is more and more emphasis on how awesome and wonderful we are as women, congratulating, complimenting and encouraging each other in our worldliness, achievements and ambition rather than seeking to spur one another on to reflect the meekness and lowliness of Jesus Christ who, in His servanthood, took up His cross and gave up His rights. Instructions to women in the bible are classed as outdated or unmentionable in our culture today and sadly ignored maybe because they don’t fit just as we want them to. In another dank corner feminist theologians are even developing and expanding the idea of an alternative Jesus called ‘Christa’, the female messiah who can be seen as the new, risen saviour. It all sounds so much more positive and reasonable and loving than the need to ‘stick to the word rigidly’ or to ‘interfere with another woman’s creative relationship with God’ by warning a sister of her sin and encouraging her back to biblical thinking.

I do understand in part how this infection begins and then gets underway, causing us to drift further out from shore, like a boat without an anchor, towards comfortable sounding ideas that help us to discover ‘more about ourselves’ and shape theology to suit where we are at. It can take place in our woundedness, or through simple, sincere exploration, or lack of submission to God, or because our “natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him…..[and] are spiritually discerned”.

During my 30s I yearned for more of God’s presence and to know Him in a deeper way and began regularly attending group and individual retreats, which blessed me in many ways. I then became involved in training to become a spiritual director and whilst learning a lot and being extremely grateful to those who trained me, I later saw in hindsight the danger of the journey becoming more about myself and others around me. As time went on and I met with different people, mainly women, I found myself opening up more and more to spiritually different ideas and causes and shifting away ever so gradually from biblical doctrine, which somehow became less important. So gradual was it that I didn’t even notice at first until later God stopped me in my tracks and showed me the meandering path I was on and the spiritual battle that was raging not just in the world but in my life, seeking to alter my thinking and loosen me from His truth, by nullifying His word through my newly formulating ideas and spiritual ‘openness’.

There is one thing I believe many women love and like to live for and that is a good cause to fight for. There are many causes out in the world to take hold of, but we have to be so very careful in our desire for justice and truth that we do not end up fighting a cause that is ultimately anti-God. We need to pray to discern all things by looking first at the word of God to see if our thinking and ideas are in alignment with scripture and not the other way around, trying to make scripture fit our ideas or mystical thinking, otherwise we risk losing the truth which sets us free and we might not find our way back home again.

Sadly there is much worldliness in our lives as Christian women both inside and outside the church building. It truly is a battle but not an impossibility to meet quietly with God in that secret place where He is unseen. And not only that but to read His word and feed on it, believing in it and submitting joyfully to it with trust in our hearts that He is good and His word is life. What words He has for us! Stuffed with amazing promises of hope and meaning! He cannot fail to meet our godly expectations or let us down if we follow His word. It reaches into our lives, in mysterious and wonderful ways as only the Creator’s wisdom can, revealing the measure of His love and ours. And if we allow Him to be Him instead of trying to change Him or His words then we can become us, women of God, with the immeasurable beauty that reflects our reigning and living Saviour – Jesus.

Alison Joy

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