Sonshift study – Chapter Three (part one)

sonshift_3dThis is the third installment of our discussion with my book, Sonshift: Everything Changes in the Father’s Embrace.” This week, we’ll start looking at chapter three titled, “Disciple Shift.” Since this chapter includes a wider range of topics I will cover it in two parts.

Again, I invite you to respond to some or all of these questions, or give additional comments on the chapter that my questions don’t address. My only rules are that you’ve actually read the chapter and that your answers are brief. Okay, off we go!

Chapter Three: Disciple Shift (part one)

I define Disciple Shift as our entering into a cooperative journey of discovery and transformation with God. It’s about leaving a transactional relationship where we relate to God according to our own faulty reflection, to where we allow Him to walk right in the middle of our deepest darkness and pain and transform us so that we see Him, ourselves, and others the same way He sees us. Here’s how I start the chapter:

When we first come to God, we don’t see Him as He truly is. We see Him as we think He should be.

We’re really only looking at an image of ourselves. We see Him as the God of our dreams who has come to rescue us, but not as He really is. Like Narcissus of Greek mythology, our heart is steadfastly fixed on our own reflection that defines everything we do and everything we think God should be in our lives. We are powerless to break this self-absorbed gaze by ourselves. Only Christ can free us from our reflected selves.

It’s not that we haven’t truly come to Christ in this state, we have. But the only image we can see of Him is according to what we need Him to be for us. This is not intentional on our part; it’s the way we’ve seen everything in our life up to this point.

And God is very kind and patient on His part to meet us here in this place. (Sonshift, p. 65-66)

I talk more about this in my blog post, “Christ must free us from our reflected selves.”

Discussion questions:

  1. Can you relate to how we first come to Christ, not as He is, but as you thought He should be? What might be the pitfalls of not progressing beyond this point with Christ?
  2. What does discipleship being about discovery and transformation mean to you? Why is this more important than just gaining Bible knowledge?
  3. What do you think about the author’s point that “Sin is just a behavioral symptom of something much deeper and more hidden from us”?
  4. How would you summarize the subsection titled, “What Are We being Freed From?” (p.68-69, Kindle loc. 1022-1049).
  5. Can you relate to Maureen’s analogy, “The Decorator is Here!” How so?
  6. Can you relate to the “Muddle in the Middle” mid-life crisis with God? (p.70-73, Kindle loc. 1098-1119) Did you, or someone you know, experience this? In your own words, briefly explain why it would be dangerous not to successfully navigate this crisis of faith?

Part two next time!

coffee_commentsAgain, you can comment on all or just some of the questions. If these questions didn’t address something you think is important, please add it in your comments. If you would like to make any comments offline, please email me at mwild@ceuturytel.net.  Thank you!

Now, it’s your turn!

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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13 Responses to Sonshift study – Chapter Three (part one)

  1. paulfg says:

    1. Only with hindsight or insight. Pitfalls? I teach others that is “how it is” – I perpetuate this “me” version of God for others. I can wreck no end of lives.
    2. Living. Simply living and being. Bible Knowledge alone is quiz show stuff (without a prize)
    3. I think it is interesting we have a three letter-word for God and a three-letter word for sin – with both being equally misunderstood.
    4. Learning to love your parents as people rather than labels. Something I have found tends to happen only after each of us has our own family.
    5. Yes. But only so far.
    6. Yes with one addition. A doctor told me that on average it takes seven attempts before one quits smoking for good. The “muddle in the middle” is an attempt. I would be curious to know “on average” how many attempts each disciple makes before living happily in the muddle (because – I have never yet exited it – and I don’t ever want to).
    Dangerous to not? Not sure that is relevant. Re the comment made here.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Very interesting answers, Paul! 🙂 I had a couple questions for clarification. First, can you expound a little on #5. What do you mean by, “Only so far.” On #6, are you saying we have several “muddles” or several attempts to get out of the same muddle? I defined the “Muddle in the Middle” as my crisis of faith when my Christian life (as I had constructed it) has finally came crashing down. Is that how you’re defining it?
      Thanks bro!

    • paulfg says:

      5. I always find anecdotes like this with a “punchline” (between husband and wife) don’t always travel as we might think. I get it, but it doesn’t get me as powerfully – if that makes sense.
      6. I am not sure I was aware of “constructing” anything – not until hindsight. So as I stumbled and fell and got up again – was that the beginning of the muddle, not the muddle at all, or the muddle I walked away from?

      Small concern that “muddle” is a one-off thing (which it may be for some – but not for others)

      The reason it took me so long to quit smoking was because I had been taught if you smoked, and you quit – you stopped smoking. So when I quit and failed – I believed that I could not quit. I believed there was no point in trying to quit because I couldn’t. And the doctors dismissed me as a smoker. Every ailment was because I was a smoker. Until one day and one doctor. He told me that average. It seemed like he saw me as a human being not a smoker. So I believed I was and quit soon after.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for clarifying, Paul. That’s makes perfect sense 🙂

  2. Cindy Powell says:

    I’ll only tackle the question that I was most drawn to this time around …. #2. When I went back to the chapter, I had this highlighted: “Discipleship is about learning to do what Jesus actually did, which was abide in His Father’s embrace.” I think that about sums it up. Really I think the discovery is learning that it really IS a relationship that should be constantly unfolding and deepening. Learning to rest in His embrace through the process is what ultimately brings transformation. As you note, that is what leads to trust (which always takes time to establish). Although I believe the Bible is a precious gift that reveals His heart, it can also actually lead us away from Him if we put our trust in our own understanding of the words on the page, rather than in the One they testify to. My two cents!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Cindy. Amen. You summed it up perfectly. 🙂
      God is relationship, He’s not a formula or a book of principles to follow. And in that relationship, we learn to trust and also take on His nature. The Bible without this relationship just makes us divisive and judgmental.

  3. AfroScot says:

    1. We sometimes think because we may not approve of something, that is how Christ feels. Often, our image of Christ is based on our self-centredness. Not progressing beyond this could make us dissatisfied in ourselves and unloving to others.
    2. As you rightly said, when I read the bible only what is revealed to me belongs to me. Looking at the rich young ruler, Jesus’ message for him to sell all he had and give to the poor was a message for only him. He never demanded this from Joseph of Arimathea who was also wealthy but used his wealth for the kingdom of God.
    3. I can only love my neighbour only as far as I love myself. Not seeing myself clearly in the light of God’s love could produce sin in me towards others.
    4. Ourselves
    5. Yes, I can relate to it. Totally surrendering was a struggle for me initially as I had a very wrong perception of God. I thought the Christian life was boring and full of struggles. Now I know better, I have never felt so completely loved and satisfied. My life is complete in Him.
    6. Having grown up in church, my mid-life crisis was questioning everything I had been taught in the light of scriptures. What I was and saw around me was not in line with scriptures and began seeking for truth. I would have remained bound by traditions and legalism if I had not navigated my crisis of faith.

    Thanks Mel. I really enjoyed reading this chapter. The others have been good as well but this one really stood out for me.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, AfroScot. I loved all your answers! I want to highlight what you said on #1 and #5. With #1, that we think God automatically disapproves of what we disapprove of. So true! And even if He does disapprove, it’s not in the ungracious and judgmental way we do!
      On #5, what you said about surrender is so good. We believe the lie that surrender means constant struggle, when it really brings constant joy and love! When our perception of God changes, surrendering is ALL we want to do!
      Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. Blessings.

  4. Hey, Mel, sorry to respond so late; been sick. OK now.
    1. I can understand because, as you said, “it’s the way we’ve seen everything in our life up to this point.” We all have a worldview based on our history and experience. The pitfalls of any non-progressive state is to be unteachable.
    2. Bible knowledge is “learning about.” Discipleship is being in relationship and being open to truth and wisdom from the Spirit that I wasn’t ready to learn before; it is allowing His love and grace to move into parts of my heart I wasn’t ready to let Him fill before.
    3. Totally agree: “It’s not about being sorry about something; it’s about becoming someone new.”
    4. It is about breaking the chains of seeing everything and everyone from our own worldview and opening the prison door to allowing us to see everything and everyone from a Trinity point of view.
    5. YES! Life is a journey, and there is always some part of us yet to be completed. To allow ourselves to be comfortable with this process is to acknowledge the freedom from perfection, knowing we are loved unconditionally as God’s son or daughter.
    6. Oh yes. Many times I could have made the choice to walk away, but knew He would either walk with me or carry me through it. The danger of walking away is falling into rage or blame against God, from which either is difficult to return.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I’m glad you’re feeling better now. Maureen caught a little bit of the influenza that’s been going around here. She’s doing better now, too.

      As Richard Rohr would say, we must have the same mother! Wow! (Of course, more likely because we have the same Spirit.) Your answers really hit the points I was trying to make, and they expound on them beautifully.

      Thanks, as always, for your comments, Susan. You add so much to the discussion. 🙂

  5. dawnlizjones says:

    1. Like coming to the Thanksgiving Day table as a kid, not to be with family, but to chow down! Forget the prep and clean up, but where’s the pie?! What might be the pitfalls of not progressing beyond this point with Christ? As you so well described, multiple opportunities to crash and burn, leaving casualties in our wake. Did Paul call it “ship-wrecked faith”?
    2. What comes to mind is a “cookie cutter” approach, which makes me think more of cults; whereas you use the word discovery—like a treasure hunt for some unknown gold I didn’t know was buried within me that God Himself put there and God alone can bring out. And transformation—something that has been bent or misshapen that only God can fix and reform to renewed purpose and beauty. Gaining mere knowledge (from a book) alone cannot bring this about; it must be done with cooperation under the skilled hands of the Master Craftsman.
    3. Cancer is likewise a symptom of a bad genetic code. We have a bad spiritual genetic code…
    4. Free from trying to live His life in my image, and learning to let Him live my life in His image; this will consequently effect all other relationships immensely. (Still having trouble wrapping my head around this. Hoping for more on this further in.)
    5. He comes in His own time, not necessarily when it’s convenient to my schedule, and makes a “mess”. Things seem to get worse before they get better.
    6. Which time…?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks again, Dawn. I love your answers! I chuckled on #6…which time is right! Hopefully, they’re less devastating with each one as we grow and learn. I’ve found it best to ask right away, “What is it in me that You’re working on right now, Lord?” I don’t like delaying the process any more than necessary! 🙂

    • dawnlizjones says:

      …or “make me a fast learner, Lord!!” Great study! Thanks so much for the time you put into it and your willingness to share so much.

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