Los Alamos Church of Christ
This morning I want to introduce a concept that may help us to understand the Contemplative temperament. We have finished 7 of the 9 temperaments…
--The Intellectual connects through knowing God; there is joy in learning about God. – Knowing nod.
--The Caregiver connects in serving Jesus. There is joy in serving Jesus by serving the needy. - Give yourself a hug.
--The Traditionalist connects through the symbols of faith. There is joy in the traditional rituals. – Hand of God sign
--The Enthusiast connects in the praise of mystery. There is enthusiastic joy in celebration. – Whoop whoop.
--The Sensate connects in creating beauty. Ooooh… Aaah…
--The Ascetic connects in the discipline of solitude… a space is created while doing a million boring things. quiet…
--The Naturalist temperament connects through stepping into the thin place of worship in God’s creation. As Tanya said last week… “When I step outside I feel closer to God.” That was a fun service we had last Sunday. It might become a tradition. The Naturalist says… “Wow, look at that…”
This morning we move to the Contemplative. For me it is the hardest to understand. It may be one of those things… that you intuitively get it or you might not be able to. In order to have a shot at understanding I need to introduce an enlightening concept. Life is lived through metaphor.
Here is what I mean…
When I use the word metaphor I am not talking about the high school English class definition…
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that usually applies to one kind of experience is applied to another, suggesting that something is alike between them. They help us understand one thing by referring to another.
That is a superficial understanding of metaphor. What we are talking about this morning is a deeper, more internal, kind of raw, often subliminal understanding of how we relate. Let me give you a couple of metaphorical phrases we use that can move us to understanding… Life is lived through metaphor.
“I am in a relationship.” Relationship as container --You resent being captured or you might be afraid the other person might escape.
“We are working on our relationship.” Relationship as a job – How fun can working be?
“My relationship is paying off.” Relationship as investment – If the relationship stops being profitable then you have to cut your losses.
“We are at a crossroads in our relationship.” Relationship as journey – You might be on the right road or the relationship is not going anywhere. Divorce is said as going our separate ways.
“Our relationship is healthy.” Relationship as living organism – Living things tend to eventually die.
“We broke up.” Relationship as fragile object – You have to be careful?
The metaphor you work out of can effect that connection.
Life is lived through metaphor.
This is particularly true when talking about our relationship with God. Because God is God and we are not. The easiest way, perhaps the only way, we connect to God is through metaphors. Consequently, the Bible is chocked full of metaphors. I am going to advocate, this morning, we connect to God primarily in metaphor. And, and, and… if makes a difference which metaphors we live in.
Here are four major biblical metaphors of our relationship with God…
The Bible frequently talks about our relationship to God as servant/master.
ESV Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.
ESV Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'
ESV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle,
ESV James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
ESV 2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ
ESV Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James
An important way of thinking about your relationship with God is… God is the master/owner/boss. I am a slave. I am not going to put much distinction between slave and servant. God is the boss. I obey. A servant is all about obedience. The servant obeys! The servant works out of an obligation to do his Master’s will. The servant asks… “What does the master want? What must I do?”
If you view yourself, fundamentally, as a servant of Christ you would be focused primarily on determining the will of God and doing it. This is a good thing. We must be obedient to our LORD. We need to ask… What must I do?
But our thinking changes if we have as our core metaphor with God… soldier/commander.
ESV Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
ESV 2 Timothy 2:3-4 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
ESV 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
This is fascinating. Soldiers are concerned with fighting for the kingdom. There are enemies out there. Satan is scheming against us. There are battles to be won. We need courage. We advance the kingdom of God to the very gates of hell. I will fear no evil.
The soldier asks... “How do I advance the kingdom?” This is different. “Where is the battle? How do I advance the kingdom? The soldiers, actions are different than the servants. Life is lived in metaphor.
Let’s keep going… the next metaphor is son/Father.
I say son and not child, not to be gender specific, but to reflect the New Testament idea of inheritance. The sons received the inheritance. The sons had the rights. We can metaphorically be sons, regardless of whether we are male or female. We will flip it on the next one to all be brides.
NIV Galatians 3:26 - 4:7 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
A son has a very different relationship than a servant or soldier. A son has access. A son is going to inherit. A son has a closer relationship… more honor, more glory, more privilege, more connection. The son calls God… Abba, daddy… rather than Master or LORD. Both the son and father are invested in the other’s success. The son learns to imitate the Father.
The son asks… “How can I be like my Father?”
Working with this question changes the way I operate.
One more… Bride/husband
ESV Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
ESV 2 Corinthians 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
ESV Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God."
The bride is pursued. The bride is interested in intimacy with the Beloved! The bride is looking forward to the wedding day. The bride wants to be beautiful for her groom. Wow, that is an amazing thought! The bride asks… “What can I do to be beautiful for my fiancé?”
There are many other biblical metaphors about our relationship with God, because that is how we understand God. But within these four metaphors… the nine temperaments gravitate towards one of these metaphors. Some are pretty obvious…
--Caregivers are about being servants.
--Ascetics are soldiers with discipline for the advancement of the kingdom.
--As are Activists, who will right the wrongs as soldiers.
--Naturalists rejoice in being sons/heirs of creation.
Some others are less obvious…
--Intellectuals move a bit towards servants of the Word who want to know right theology.
--Enthusiasts… sons who love playing with the Father.
--Traditionalists are soldiers who love the symbols and rituals of being in the army of God… banners and uniforms and flags…
--Sensates move toward the beauty of brides… the loveliness of bringing glory to and from their lover.
--But none of the temperaments move any more in metaphor than Contemplatives… Contemplatives are all about intimacy with Christ. That is their thing. The Contemplative seeks to move from… servant to soldier, to son, and ultimately toward spouse. Contemplatives crave the intimacy of a bride.
The contemplative seeks to perform the work of adoring God. Christ is the heavenly spouse in whom all the contemplatives’ delight to meet. While some seek to serve the Lord, others seek to celebrate him, and still others seek to explain him, the contemplative seeks to gaze lovingly into God's face. They are caught up in the rapture of a lover's experience. Contemplatives want to enjoy God. They learn to love him in ever deeper ways. Contemplatives remind us that God does not seek obedient but dispassionate servants, but rather a passionate love that is so strong it burns all other bonds.
While the rest of us seem content to experience it drop by drop, Contemplatives simply want to bathe in the ocean of God’s love God. Without hesitancy, with no sense of obligation, contemplatives appreciate Christ with unadulterated adoration. Time is one of the best gifts we can give God. Contemplatives love giving their undivided attention to their fiancé.
It is time for the Contemplative temperament test…
The Contemplative Temperament Test…
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being who you are…
1) I have conversations with God. Not so much prayer/want lists, but talking with God.
2) I have learned to pick out the voice of God. There are lots of competing thoughts in our head. The Contemplative can discern God’s.
3) I am at peace when I am with God. There is a secret place of joy when alone with God
4) I can spend an hour on the couch thinking of how much God loves me. Let me count the ways
5) I don’t mind being by myself, because I never am.
6) I journal.
7) I am often late because I was “with God”.
8) I can focus on God for a long time.
9) When I hear a “love song” I think about God.
10) My prayers are mostly “I love you.”
Add your scores up. Who all is over 50, 60, 70? Put up our score
The Contemplative loves Psalm 63…
ESV Psalm 63:1-8 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
CONTEMPLATIVE Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Loved One:
The Lord our God, the Lord is your husband.
You shall love the Lord your God…
…with all your heart, dwelling in love
…with all your soul, totally consumed.
…with all your mind, empty of everything, but me.
…with all your strength, in a lover’s embrace.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
August 7, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ