The Old Testament Template: How it is Changing Me- Part 1

Hey everyone, Amethyst here!

As part of my internship, I am required to read three different books. Some of you might be blanching at this second, ready to gag yourself; others, well, maybe this sounds fantastic to you! I'm a part of the latter category. I love reading, and the fact that my job wants me to do it seems like a blessing from the Lord Almighty himself! (However, catch me during the school year and I'll be quick to tell you how un-amused I am with the reading that my teachers assign.) I began with The Old Testament Template by Landa Cope.

This is the author! Landa Cope
For those of you who have never heard of it, it is fantastic! It is based on Cope's startling crisis of faith when she realizes that a large Christian population doesn't necessarily benefit a community, and at that Christians didn't seem to care. She writes about God's biblical revelation to every area of culture. It has totally captured not only my mind, but my heart, stirring up some things within me at the messages that it is relaying. In some aspects, it seems as though the Lord is using the book to speak directly to me.


Reading through it gives me a lot of those moments that are kind of like a punch in the gut. Those, hit yourself in the forehead moments. The moments when you are surprised that you were so blinded as to not see it earlier. The first passage that really caught me was this:
Never have there been more Christians, in more churches, in more nations, speaking more languages of world. But I think it is also fair to say that never has the spread of church had less impact in communities. The church today is widespread, but it is also weak, because we have lost most of the gospel message. With our split view of the world, we say the social, economic and judicial issues of our communities are not our concern. We say we are "spiritual leaders" and do not need to worry about "secular" matters. While we do not need to stop preaching the message of salvation, we desperately need to regain the rest of the truths of God's kingdom. We need to renew our Christian minds to see our lives transformed. We need to conform every thought to the thinking of Christ. Then the twenty-first century church will turn our world upside down. Then the body of Christ will not only be large and diverse, but it will regain it's power of influence.  (33, Cope)
Wow.

Can we just take a second to admire that Cope has just written out all the words that it seems nobody else has the guts to say.  It's seriously impressive. She is loving in her approach but forceful in her purpose. In many many ways the book is humbling me. it presents challenges to the every day mundane and the world on a greater scale. Cope proposes eight different areas in which we need to look back to the Bible and begin living in such a way that we abide by the guidelines of the old testament, they are: government, economics, science and technology, church, family, education, communication, and lastly arts and entertainment. Having just finished the part about all of the different areas, I wanted to take the time to process some of my thoughts and share them with you.

Government

Let me begin by telling you that I was raised in two completely different households at two completely different points in my life which believed two completely different things when it came to politics. In one house, when I was young, my grandparents and aunt taught me to love politics, to be involved, to really pay attention and study the wonderful world of government. Then later in my life, my own immediate family taught me not to trust the government. As a result, my thoughts about the government and it's practices have always been a jumbled mess at best. In this book Cope is pointing out that God himself has ordained the government, with officials that he has graciously allowed the people to choose, in order to reveal his domain as Lord of Lords. It's crazy how we make politics out to be so evil. How we have pinned them as something of the Devil, and now, Cope's assertion is one that states that the "primary purpose of government is to serve the population of a nation by providing an objective, trustworthy source of arbitration and justice" (Cope 63). God himself designed democracy! Therefore, it is our privilege, as well as our duty to vote for those who will further God's kingdom, it's not our job to condemn the officials in politics, rather it is our job to accept the responsibility that God has given to us to choose those who will lead us, represent us, to choose those whose character sets them apart rather than their monetary status. We must decide beforehand whether or not their character is one that is fit to govern a people, if they are someone who possesses wisdom and knowledge and actually exhibits it.

How has this changed my life as well as my heart? 

Although I am not yet eighteen, it is important that once I am able to vote for the elected officials of my country that I accept the responsibility. I also believe that it would really benefit me to be aware of the political happenings in our present world. As far as my heart goes, there has been a massive change in focus, I am now able to see the government as an institution clearly created by God and recognize that the people give it authority, not the status of the official. In my heart I have grown to realize that it's not the government that is corrupt, it is the people. Not the system, it is my duty to recognize that the system was actually ordained by God. 

Economics

This is yet another complex subject that the book is presenting. My view of money has become slightly skewed throughout the year as far as my understanding of what money means and how it has corrupted our culture. I approached it the same way that I did politics, believing that it was evil. Again, Cope has changed my heart (this woman is amazing!) The emphasis on money is wrong, not money itself. The old testament is very clear in how God has designed the monetary system, and how he intended for it to work. Money has become a pretty touchy subject for most people lately as the Markets around the world have crashed, but when we use the Jewish population in Deuteronomy as an illustration of God's economic design we are able to see how money can be used in a Godly way. 

In summarizing her chapter, Cope states four points that she has discovered in the Old Testament about a successful economy and they are as follows: 
  1. limit personal debt
  2. eliminate poverty
  3. avoid national debt
  4. address the legitimate needs of the poor
At first glance this list really scared me. To be honest, I was a little taken aback which led me to withhold from reading it for a little while. It seems like a big job, something that certainly cannot be limited only to the individual through Jesus; but as I read through the chapter Cope awakened something within me that had been sleeping for quite some time-a legitimate concern for those who are poor and the practical ways to use my money frugally and faithfully. 

How it changed things...

I understand how I am meant to use my money now. God's system calls me to loan to only those who have a plan to be a productive part of society in order that they may have the means to begin, once they have established themselves as productive members they will have the means to loan to the next person; in doing this we can accomplish the first point, we are able to limit our debt and instill kingdom values. It is our job as a "nation that has" to help the "nations that have not", however a lot of the time this is taken out of context. People believe that monetary donation is a sure-fire way to praise the Lord, and sure, the support, done for the right reasons with a joyful heart is something that offers praise to the Lord, however, people forget that it is only enabling. We are called by God to develop not enable. God will provide for those in need until they are able to sustain themselves. God wants people to recognize what they are capable of and be domestically reliant in order to eliminate national debt. We are not called to give people what they want, God calls us to assist them in getting what they need. So here's the heart change: I now realize that slapping a label on someone as "poor" is not only demeaning, but slightly enabling. I've come to realize that money itself is not evil, rather, it is something that God has created to be used as a blessing. In my job here at the church, I have been astounded by just how much good the money that I believed to be "evil" can actually do! It's encouraging. In addition, I also feel that God is calling me to change my attitude towards  my own monetary donation, frugality, and the economy itself. Many times, my monetary donation becomes my expression of Christ in my life, however, sometimes my motivation is skewed. I believe God is calling me to assess the real needs of the people that I am helping, as well as myself, before I spend my money.

Science and Technology

Science freaks me out! There are so many ins and outs. So many different experiments, I mean, cloning and all that fun stuff...FREAKY. But Cope is astounding in her presentation of this field. Why is it that we as Christian people always declare that science itself is a satanic field that tries to explain away God, when in reality, it is offering more insight into God himself?! This very domain reveals God as the Creator. The discoveries that we make in the world of science reveals just how big God is! God created the stars in the universe, he knows the number of hairs on our heads; he is huge and intimate all at once. Who else has that ability? None other than the Lord himself. On a startlingly personal note, Cope points out that the "unclean scriptures" in Deuteronomy are actually literal and not allegorical the way that they are so often preached. God is giving his people real cures to ailments and diseases and practical hygiene solutions. This, my friends, is practical science ordained by God! If God created the Universe, if he created everything why are we too prude to realize that he created science as well? If anything, to reveal how large he is! We always try to place God in this cozy little box, the "Jesus Box" or "God Box" where we segregate out everything. In reality, God is the box! We cannot contain something that was never meant to ever be fully comprehended. I'm literally awestruck by this knowledge. I have never been so intrigued by the very field that has frustrated me so many times before. 

The realizations of the heart...

Personally, this has led me to realize that although not all science is Godly, a lot of things in science are awesome! The mass size of our universe reveals God's immense span of creation while the complex cells in our body reveal his intimacy. Our Creator did not leave one thing out, in every scientific discovery God is already 1,000,000 steps ahead! We're astounded by the new discoveries while God is looking at us and rejoicing because we hunger for a deeper knowledge of his glorious creation. Cope presents a resounding argument, if God is allowing a discovery to be made, we need to be asking how we can use it to glorify him and his kingdom. We need to have faith that if it is unpleasing to him he will deal with it, but in the instance of scientific discoveries trust that the Creator has given us an immaculate world and universe chock-ful of discoveries and they were all meant to glorify his magnificence as long as we are a community of believers abiding by his first purpose of the practice. 

Church

And onto another touchy subject...Let's begin with a fantastic quote by Cope herself.
"When Luther highlighted that we are all part of the priesthood of believers, he did not mean that there was no structure or leadership in the church...he meant that we do not need a priest to represent us to God. Because of the work of the cross and Christ in our lives, we are all now free to come before God ourselves. All believers are encouraged to fellowship on Sundays. However, some of us go to work on Monday at the same building where we went to church." (Cope, 104). 
What struck me in this chapter was Cope's humility. She stresses the fact that priests are appointed due to God's calling on their life, however, God's calling to have them lead a church does not render the rest of the body useless and less effective.  The directions that God gave for the priests made them "uniquely dependent on the people to whom they ministered" and such should be the way even now. They had "all authority to speak for God and to represent him to the community, but they did not have total authority, for God had limited...their power in the community," thus, we are again able to see the complex dynamic of God's people in his complex creation. Could it be that even the domain of church reveals God's domain as Creator? God had given the priests a unique authority, but he did not grant them all authority. Now, after Christ's death on the cross, we have an even greater role in the church than in the Old Testament which Cope is referencing. The veil was torn! We are able to have a personal relationship with God, and with each gift that he has given us we can make it applicable to the church if that is where he is calling us. As sons and daughters of Christ we are called to minister in our everyday lives, our place of work, and our families.
"Today it is common among Christians to think that if you are really "spiritual," really "obedient" to God, you will be a pastor, missionary, or evangelist. Many Christians feel that all other vocations are less important. The end result is that the majority of Christians today are sitting in pews with no idea of what God has called them to do, expecting the pastor and church leadership to do everything. This was never God's intent. In God's design every believer has a role to play in reaching and teaching the community. The priestly role was unique, specific, and just one of many roles...If we are to see "every creature reached" and "every nation discipled"  we must learn again the specific role of the ecclesiastical institution-pastors, elders, deacons, denominational leaders-and hoe it relates to the calling and authority of each of the other domains." (Cope, 108-109)

Here's my heart now..

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because your job is not in the church it is less holy, and vice versa, some people think that because they do work in the church their job is automatically more important than all others. But, let's be honest, if that were true, how would a church ever function? How would we host events, VBS, and fun things like "Burger Bash" if we did not have help from others in fellowship and the community outside of the direct confines of the church walls and employment? Just because God hasn't called you to ministry does not make your job any less important-he has you where he needs you, and he has told us many times that his plan is so much greater than anything we could dream or imagine. As believers, and part of the fellowship, we need to stop wholly relying on the pastor and lead team/employees of the church to do everything! Get out there! God has given you hands and feet to serve and further his kingdom, be an instrument in instilling his values into our world! We have as much right to share the good news of Christ as the church employees do! We must examine the different domains and realize that God's ministry transfers into everything so long as we are willing to let him take the wheel in our life. We are called to pursue the calling that God has placed on our lives, if that is not within the church staff, its okay! 

Closing thoughts..

This has gotten really long, so here's what I am going to do: I'm going to make this two parts. The next part will have the final four domains and my final thoughts on the book as a whole. I look forward to posting that, and I hope you are just as excited. I pray that in reading this blog God has tugged your heart strings, even if it's just a little, the world is so much bigger and better than we have allowed it to be! 

 

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