Issuu on Google+


UN VRAI CROYANT Pour moi, un vrai croyant : c’est quelqu’un qui, comme Jésus, ne pose jamais de jugement sur autrui, c’est quelqu’un qui est très tolérant, c’est quelqu’un qui essaie d’accepter les gens comme ils sont et non pas comme il voudrait qu’ils soient, c’est quelqu’un qui n’essaiera pas de convertir les autres à tout prix, à coups de versets bibliques, c’est quelqu’un qui inspire les autres par sa façon d’agir, qui devient un modèle malgré lui, par la qualité de sa vie, par la qualité de ses gestes, c’est quelqu’un qui va révéler à l’autre sa beauté intérieure. Je pense que c’est le rôle du vrai croyant, de convaincre les gens qui n’ont pas confiance en eux-mêmes de leur valeur réelle – de leur grandeur intérieure, en se demandant lorsqu’il rencontre quelqu’un comment Jésus aurait agi avec cette personne. Le vrai croyant doit essayer d’avoir le visage de Jésus, rempli de tendresse. Et quand ses yeux se posent sur quelqu’un, le fasse se sentir important et qu’il sache qu’il compte vraiment pour lui. A REAL BELIEVER For me, a real believer : is somebody who, like Jesus, never passes judgment on others, is somebody who is very tolerant, is somebody who tries to accept people as they are and not as he would like them to be, is somebody who will not try to convert others at all costs; with tons of biblical verses, is somebody who inspires others by the way he acts, who becomes a model in spite of himself, by the quality of his life, by the quality of his actions, is somebody who reveals to others his inner beauty. I think it is the role of the real believer to convince people who do not have much self-confidence of their inner greatness - by wondering, when he meets somebody, how Jesus would have acted with this person. The real believer must try to reflect the face of Jesus, filled with tenderness –and when his eyes gaze upon somebody, make him feel important, make him know that he really counts for him. Marielle Charron Trois-Rivières


C

O

N

T

E

N

T

Let Nothing Be Wasted

S

T

3

Jesus saw a large crowd coming toward him, and he asked Philip, “Where will we buy enough bread for all these people?”

H

I

S

M

O

N

T

H

S

T

H

E

M

E

Christianity In French Quebec Le christianisme au Québec français A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

G

rowing up in a small mining town in Northern Ontario, I soon became aware of the fact that there was a bigger world outside the confines of Wawa. One summer day when I was 4 years old I was playing in our neighborhood park with my “older” friends, (they must have been 5 or 6) when a kid named Serge joined us in the playground. Being the same age, we quickly became good playmates. He often joined me at the playground or at the sand hill behind my house where I played with my trucks and cars. The interesting thing about Serge was that he could only speak French, while I only spoke English. But we didn’t seem to notice and we continued to play together until we started kindergarten. I never saw much of Serge until high school as he attended the French Catholic school. « Que rien ne se perde »

6

Jésus a vu une grande foule venir vers lui, et il a demandé à Philippe : « Où achèterons-nous assez de pain pour tous ces gens ? »

Planting Churches in Quebec: A Challenging Task

16

Planting churches in French Quebec will always be an enormous challenge, especially because of the three facts, which are specific to Quebec.

The Winds Of God

22

The title of this article is taken from an epic E.J. Pratt poem, the masterly “Brebeuf and His Brethren,” a salute to the French missionaries who laid the groundwork for the rise of New France, the seedbed of modern Quebec.

Personal ÉDITORIAL Director’s Desk Focus On Grace The Journey Women’s Ministry Pastor’s Corner Theme Articles Bible Study National News

3 6 9 11 12 13 14 16 25 31

Cover Photo: © Designpics Inside and Back Cover: © Designpics Additional photos and illustrations: JupiterImages © 2000 - 2005 unless otherwise noted

Northern Light magazine is the official magazine of the Worldwide Church of God, Canada. It exists to share the stories of our members and congregations on their Christian journey. Northern Light does this by featuring articles that encourage, nurture and inform.

However, there were some occasions when he would play street hockey with me. While I and most of my friends were Maple Leafs fans, Serge, for obvious reasons, was always a Montreal Canadiens supporter. Those days growing up in Wawa were brought to mind a few years ago when I came across the book The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier. In it he relates the story of his early childhood in Ste. Justine, Quebec, where kids lived and breathed hockey—just like they did in my town. They also had their hockey hero, the “Rocket,” Maurice Richard. All the kids wore the red, white and blue uniform of the Montreal Canadiens with Richard’s number 9 on the back. However, one day Roch discovered that his hockey sweater had become too small, so he begged his mother for a new one. As was her practice, his mother ordered another from the Eaton’s catalogue. Yet to Roch’s shock and surprise, he received a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater by mistake. His mother refused to return it and forced him to wear it when he played hockey with all the boys at the local outdoor rink. Because of the offending sweater, he was not allowed to play. In his frustration, he lost his temper over this form of persecution and injustice. As a result he was sent to church to ask for God’s forgiveness. The last page of the book shows an illustration of Roch praying in the church balcony that God would send a hundred million moths to eat up his Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. In this issue of Northern Light, we highlight the challenges faced by our brothers and sisters in French Quebec as they follow Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel in their context. As an English-speaking Canadian residing outside of Quebec, I don’t always appreciate these challenges. We all tend to get wrapped up in our local situation. Sometimes our different cultures and backgrounds are a cause for irritation and misunderstanding. Yet reading The Sweater reminds me that we have many things in common, such as our love of hockey. This story could have easily taken place in Wawa

1


D a n s

c e

n u m é r o

(although it would have been a Montreal Canadiens sweater that would have caused a similar outcry from many of my friends). While we may have to adapt our approach to preaching the Good News about Jesus to fit our individual cultural context, we still have one great thing in common: our desire to serve and follow our same Lord and Savior, Jesus. Let us all pray together for his help in this great endeavor.NL

yant grandi dans une petite ville minière du nord de l’Ontario, je me suis vite rendu compte du fait qu’il existait tout un monde en dehors des limites de Wawa. Un jour d’été, à l’âge de quatre ans, j’étais en train de jouer dans le parc de notre quartier avec mes amis plus âgés (ils devaient avoir cinq ou six ans) quand un garçon, appelé Serge, s’est joint à nous dans l’aire de jeu. Étant du même âge, nous sommes rapidement devenus de bons copains. Il me rejoignait souvent au parc ou à la colline de sable derrière chez moi où je jouais avec mes camions et mes autos.

A

2

La chose intéressante à propos de Serge était qu’il ne pouvait parler que le français, tandis que moi, seulement l’anglais. Mais nous semblions ne pas nous en apercevoir, et nous avons continué à jouer ensemble jusqu’à ce que nous commencions la maternelle. Je n’ai revu Serge que très rarement jusqu’au secondaire, parce qu’au primaire il fréquentait l’école française catholique. Cependant, à quelques occasions, nous avons joué au hockey de rue ensemble. Tandis que la plupart de mes amis et moi étions des partisans des Maple Leaf, Serge, pour des raisons évidentes, était toujours un partisan des Canadiens de Montréal. Ces jours où j’ai grandi à Wawa me sont revenus à l’esprit, il y a quelques années, lorsque je suis tombé sur le livre The Hockey Sweater, de Roch Carrier. L’auteur y relate l’histoire de son enfance à SainteJustine, au Québec, où les enfants respiraient le hockey et s’en nourrissaient, tout comme ils le faisaient dans ma ville. Ils avaient aussi leur héros, Maurice Richard, le « Rocket ». Tous les enfants portaient l’uniforme rouge, blanc et bleu des Canadiens de Montréal, avec le numéro 9 de Richard sur le dos. Mais un jour, ayant découvert que son chandail de hockey était devenu trop petit, Roch a supplié sa mère pour en avoir un nouveau. Comme c’était sa coutume, sa mère en a commandé un autre du catalogue Eaton. Toutefois, à sa grande surprise, Roch a reçu par erreur un chandail des Maple Leaf de Toronto. Sa mère a refusé de le retour-

ner et elle a forcé son fils à le porter lorsqu’il jouait au hockey avec tous les garçons à la patinoire locale. À cause de son chandail offensant, on lui a refusé de jouer et, dans sa frustration, il a perdu son sang froid devant cette forme de persécution et d’injustice. Il a donc été envoyé à l’église pour demander pardon à Dieu. La dernière page du livre montre Roch, sur le balcon de l’église, en train de prier que Dieu envoie cent millions de mites pour dévorer son chandail des Maple Leaf de Toronto. Dans le présent numéro de Northern Light, nous soulignons les difficultés que rencontrent nos frères et sœurs du Québec francophone, alors qu’ils obéissent au commandement de Jésus de prêcher l’Évangile dans leur contexte. En tant que Canadien de langue anglaise, résidant à l’extérieur de Québec, je ne suis pas toujours au courant de ces difficultés. Nous avons tous tendance à être absorbés par notre situation locale. Parfois, nos cultures et arrière-plans différents sont une cause d’irritation et d’incompréhension. Cependant, lire The Hockey Sweater me rappelle que nous avons beaucoup de choses en commun, comme notre amour pour le hockey. L’histoire du livre de Roch Carrier aurait pu très bien se passer à Wawa (bien que ce serait un chandail des Canadiens de Montréal qui aurait causé des protestations similaires de plusieurs de mes amis). De même, tandis que notre approche réciproque pour prêcher la Bonne Nouvelle de Jésus peut avoir été adaptée pour correspondre à notre contexte culturel individuel, nous avons toujours une grande chose en commun : notre désir de servir et de suivre notre Seigneur et Sauveur Jésus-Christ Prions tous ensemble pour son aide dans ce grand effort d’évangélisation.NL

Bill Hall NORTHERN LIGHT


P E R S O N A L

Let Nothing Be Wasted

J

esus saw a large crowd coming toward him, and he asked Philip, “Where will we buy enough bread for all these people?”

Jesus already knew what he was going to do, but he asked the question because he wanted Philip to think about it and learn something from it (John 6:56, my paraphrase, throughout). John included this story so that we could think about it and learn something from it, too.

Spiritual significance Let’s fast-forward into the story so we can see what Jesus already knew would happen. He miraculously fed the large crowd, and they later asked Jesus to prove that he was the Messiah (v. 30). Jesus told them, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven—bread that gives life to the world.” J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

“Well then,” they said, “give us some of this bread” (v. 34). Their response was like the Samaritan woman at the well: When Jesus said that he had water that would give eternal life, she said, “Give me some” (John 4:15), and eventually Jesus said that he was talking about himself. And in John 6, Jesus also reveals that he is talking about himself: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (v. 35). Jesus is the bread who came down from heaven to give life to the world. Just as bread is nourishment for our physical lives, Jesus is the source of spiritual life and energy. The miracle of feeding the large crowd pointed toward a spiritual truth, and that is why Jesus did it, and that is why he wanted Philip to think about it, and that is why John tells us the story. Jesus did many miracles that John did not include in his book, but John includes certain ones to help us have faith in Jesus (20:30-31)— not just believe that Jesus did certain things in the past, but that we would trust him with our eternal future. The miracles are signs pointing us toward Jesus’ spiritual significance. Let’s look at the story again.

By Joseph Tkach Pastor General

It was almost Passover, John tells us (v. 3). Bread was an important feature of the Passover season, but Jesus is revealing that salvation does not come from physical bread, but from Jesus himself. Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we going to buy bread for these people?” And Philip answered, “It would take (roughly) five thousand dollars to buy enough bread for this crowd!” Andrew did not speculate about the price, but he must have been good with kids. He had already befriended a boy and learned that he was carrying a little extra food. “This boy has five small loaves and two dried fish, but that’s not near enough, is it?” Perhaps he was hoping that the crowd included a few more boys who had the foresight to bring lunch. “That’s good enough,” Jesus said. “Have everybody sit down.” So everybody did. Jesus thanked God for the food, and gave everyone as much food as they wanted (v. 11). It was quite a crowd— larger than many towns are today—and the people began to talk among themselves, “Surely this is the Prophet” (v. 14). They thought that Jesus was the leader Moses had predicted (Deut. 18:15-19)— and yet, ironically, they were not willing to listen to him. They wanted to make him a king by force—forcing him into their idea of what a Messiah should be— rather than letting Jesus do what God sent him to do. When everyone had enough to eat, Jesus told the disciples: “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12). Doesn’t this strike you as a little odd? Why would Jesus want to gather all the leftovers? Why not let the people keep the extra? Or let it be a bonanza for the birds and chipmunks? The disciples picked up 12 baskets full of leftovers, John tells us—but then he says nothing about what they did with all those half-eaten loaves. I think there’s

3


P E R S O N A L

C O N T I N U E D

The bread of life The people searched Jesus out again, looking for another free lunch, and Jesus encouraged them to look for spiritual food instead: “Do not look for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life” (vs. 24-27). “The Son of Man will give you this food,” Jesus said, but instead of asking for this gift, they asked what they should do (v. 28). They were asking for works instead of grace. “What does God want us to do?” they asked, wanting to meet the requirements of the messianic age. Jesus told them: “God wants you to believe in the person he sent” (v. 29). The messianic age has already begun, so don’t try to work your way into the kingdom—just trust Jesus, and you’ll be in. Just take that one step, and you’ll be there!

something going on behind the scenes. What is there in the spiritual realm that Jesus does not want to go to waste? I think that John gives us a clue later in the chapter. Walking on water The disciples took a boat back home— but they left Jesus stranded there, without any other boat to pick him up (vs. 17, 22). John does not indicate that anything was out of the ordinary with this, so I conclude that the disciples often left Jesus alone, presumably because Jesus wanted to be left alone sometimes. He needed some time on his own for prayer, no doubt. (As an aside, I might point out that this is also true for pastors today—they need some time to themselves, even though there will always be people who want more of their time.) As far as I know, Jesus was not in a hurry. He could have walked back to town on the roads that went around the

4

lake. Or he could have waited for a boat, like the other people did (v. 23). But he walked on the water, apparently to make a spiritual point. In Matthew, the spiritual point is faith, but John says nothing about Peter walking on water or sinking and being saved by Jesus. What John tells us is that when the disciples took Jesus into the boat, “immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading” (v. 21). This is the feature of the story that John wants us to take note of. If Jesus could do teleporting, why did he need to walk on water? Why not just zap to wherever you want to go? What’s the point? You might have a better idea, but here’s mine: The story tells us that Jesus is not limited by physical circumstances, and as soon as we accept Jesus, we are spiritually at our destination. It may not look like it, but Jesus is not limited by physical appearances. Spiritually, the reality is set; it has been done.

Could it really be that easy?, the people wondered. They asked for evidence—as if feeding 5,000 people had not been enough! “What miraculous sign will you do that we might believe you?” As an example of a miracle they might be willing to believe, and in keeping with the Passover season, they mentioned a miracle of bread associated with the Exodus—Moses gave them manna (bread from heaven) to eat. Some Jews thought that God would provide manna in the messianic age, too. But Jesus said that the real bread from heaven doesn’t just feed the Israelites— it gives life to the world! (v. 33). “Give it to us,” they said, probably wanting to examine it to see if it met their qualifications. Jesus replied that he was the bread from heaven, the source of eternal life for the world. The people had seen Jesus perform signs, and they still did not believe in him (vs. 33-36), because he did not meet their qualifications for a messiah. Why did some believe, and others did not? Jesus explained it as the work of the Father: “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me.” He repeats this idea in NORTHERN LIGHT


P E R S O N A L

verses 44 and 65: “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him … unless the Father has enabled him.” Once the Father does that, what does Jesus do? He tells us his role when he says, “I will never drive them away” (v. 37). Perhaps they can leave on their own, but Jesus will never push them away. Jesus wants to do the will of the Father, and the Father’s will is that Jesus will lose none of the people the Father has given him (v. 39). He does not let anyone go to waste. Since Jesus does not lose anyone, he promises to raise them up at the last day (v. 39). This is repeated in verses 40, 44 and 54. Jesus stresses that the person who believes in him has eternal life (vs. 40, 47). Eating his flesh? Jesus also says that people who eat his flesh and drink his blood have eternal life (vs. 51, 53-56). Just as he was not referring to the stuff made from wheat when he called himself the true bread, he was not referring to muscle tissue when he spoke of eating his flesh. Some of the Jews wondered, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52), but in the Gospel of John, it is often a mistake to take Jesus’ words in a literal sense. For example, Nicodemus asked, How can people enter their mothers’ wombs and be born again? (3:4). Similarly, the Samaritan woman said, Give me some of this living water so I won’t have to come back to this well (4:15). They pushed the literal meaning, but the story shows that Jesus meant something spiritual. Here in chapter 6, Jesus said, “The flesh counts for nothing; the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (v. 63). Jesus is not making a point about his muscle tissue—he is talking about his teachings. And his disciples seem to get the point. When Jesus asks them if they want to J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

C O N T I N U E D

go away, Peter answers: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). Peter was not worried about having access to the flesh of Jesus—he focused on the words of Jesus. The consistent message of the New Testament is that salvation is experienced through faith, not special food and drink. From heaven Jesus repeats one more point several times in this chapter: that he is from heaven (vs. 33, 38, 41, 42, 46, 50, 51, 58, 62). The reason that people should believe in Jesus is because he has come down from heaven. He is absolutely trustworthy, because he does not just have a message from heaven, but he himself is from heaven. The Jewish leaders did not like this teaching (v. 41), and some of Jesus’ disciples could not accept it, either (v. 66)— even after Jesus made it clear that he was not talking about his literal flesh, but rather his words themselves were the source of eternal life. They were troubled that Jesus claimed to be from heaven—and therefore more than human. But Peter knew that he had nowhere else to go, for only Jesus had the words of eternal life (v. 68). Why did he know that only Jesus had these words? Because only Jesus is “the Holy One of God” (v. 69). That is the reason his words are trustworthy; that is the reason his words are spirit and life. We believe in Jesus not just because of what he says, but because of who he is. We do not accept him because of his words— we accept his words because of who he is. Since Jesus is the Holy One of God, we can trust him to do what he says he will do: He will not lose anyone, but will raise us all at the last day (v. 39). Even the crumbs will be gathered, so that nothing goes to waste. That’s the Father’s will, and that’s something worth thinking about.NL

5


ÉDITORIAL de Joseph Tkach pasteur général

J

ésus a vu une grande foule venir vers lui, et il a demandé à Philippe : « Où achèteronsnous assez de pain pour tous ces gens ? »

Jésus savait déjà ce qu’il allait faire, mais il a posé la question parce qu’il voulait que Philippe réfléchisse et apprenne quelque chose (Jean 6.5, 6 paraphrasé). Jean a inclus cette histoire dans son évangile pour que nous aussi nous réfléchissions et apprenions quelque chose de ce récit.

« Que rien ne se perde » une grande foule, et ces gens ont plus tard demandé à Jésus de prouver qu’il était le Messie (v. 30). Jésus leur a répondu : « Car le pain qui vient de Dieu, c’est celui qui descend du ciel et qui donne la vie au monde. »

son livre, mais l’apôtre en a inclus certains pour nous aider à croire en Jésus (20.30, 31), et pour que nous lui fassions confiance avec notre avenir éternel. Les miracles sont des signes qui montrent la signification spirituelle de Jésus.

« Seigneur, dirent-ils alors, donne-nous toujours de ce pain-là » (v. 34). Leur réponse a été semblable à celle de la femme samaritaine au puits de Jacob. Lorsque Jésus lui a dit qu’il avait de l’eau qui donne la vie éternelle, elle a dit : « Donne-moi de cette eau-là » (Jean 4.15), et plus tard Jésus a expliqué qu’il parlait de luimême.

Examinons cette histoire de plus près.

Et en Jean 6, Jésus révèle aussi qu’il parlait de lui-même : « C’est moi qui suis le pain qui donne la vie. Celui qui vient à moi n’aura plus jamais faim, celui qui croit en moi n’aura plus jamais soif » (v. 35). Jésus est le pain qui est descendu du ciel pour donner la vie au monde. Tout comme le pain est nutritif pour notre vie physique, Jésus est la source de la vie et de l’énergie spirituelles.

Signification spirituelle Avançons rapidement dans l’histoire pour voir ce que Jésus savait déjà qu’il arriverait. Il a nourri miraculeusement

6

Le miracle de la multiplication des pains enseigne une vérité spirituelle, et c’est pourquoi Jésus l’a fait, c’est pourquoi il voulait que Philippe y réfléchisse, et c’est pourquoi Jean nous le raconte. Jésus a fait beaucoup de miracles que Jean ne mentionne pas dans

C’était presque le temps de la Pâque, nous raconte Jean (v. 3). Le pain était un élément important de la célébration de la Pâque, mais Jésus révèle que le salut ne vient pas du pain physique, mais de lui-même. Jésus a demandé à Philippe : « Où pourrions-nous acheter assez de pain pour nourrir tout ce monde ? » (v. 5b.) Et Philippe a répondu : « Rien que pour donner à chacun un petit morceau de pain, il faudrait au moins deux cents pièces d’argent » (environ 5000 $) (v. 7). André n’a pas spéculé sur le prix, mais il devait avoir de la facilité avec les enfants. Il s’était déjà lié d’amitié avec un garçon et a appris qu’il avait un surplus de nourriture. « Il y a ici un jeune garçon qui a cinq pains d’orge et deux poissons. Mais qu’est-ce que cela pour tant de monde ? » (v. 9) Peut-être espérait-il qu’il y ait dans la foule quelques autres garçons qui avaient pensé à apporter un lunch. Jésus lui a dit : « C’est suffisant, faites asseoir tout le monde. » Alors la foule s’est assise. Jésus a remercié Dieu pour la nourriture et il en a donné aux gens autant qu’ils en voulaient (v. 11). C’était une foule immense, plus nombreuse que la population de plusieurs villes actuelles, et les gens ont commencé à se dire entre eux : « Sûrement qu’il est le prophète » (v. 14). Ils pensaient que Jésus était le prophète dont Moïse avait parlé (Deutéronome 18.14-19), et pourtant, ironiquement, ils n’étaient pas intéressés à l’écouter. Ils voulaient faire de Jésus un roi par la force, l’obligeant à satisfaire leur idée de ce qu’un Messie devrait être, au lieu de le laisser faire ce que Dieu l’avait envoyé faire. NORTHERN LIGHT


ÉDITORIAL

Lorsque chacun a eu suffisamment mangé, Jésus a dit aux disciples : « Ramassez les morceaux qui restent pour que rien ne soit gaspillé » (Jean 6.12). Cela ne vous frappe-t-il pas un peu ? Pourquoi Jésus voudrait-il ramasser tous les restes ? Pourquoi ne pas laisser les gens garder le surplus ? Ou l’offrir en aubaine aux oiseaux et aux tamias ? Les disciples ont ramassé douze paniers pleins des restes, raconte Jean, mais ensuite il ne mentionne rien de ce qu’ils ont fait de ces pains à demi mangés. Je pense que quelque chose se passe dans les coulisses. Que se passe-t-il dans le domaine spirituel pour que Jésus ne veuille pas qu’il y ait du gaspillage ? Je pense que Jean nous en donne un aperçu plus loin dans le chapitre. Marcher sur l’eau Les disciples sont revenus chez eux à bord d’un bateau, mais ils avaient laissé Jésus en plan, sans un autre bateau pour le ramener (v. 17, 22). Jean n’indique pas qu’il y avait quoi que ce soit d’inhabituel dans cela, alors j’en conclus que les disciples laissaient parfois Jésus seul, probablement parce qu’il en manifestait le désir. Il avait sans doute besoin de temps à l’écart des autres pour prier. (J’aimerais souligner que c’est aussi vrai pour les pasteurs aujourd’hui ; ils ont besoin de passer du temps seuls, même s’il y aura toujours des gens qui voudront plus de leur temps.) Autant que je sache, Jésus n’était pas pressé. Il aurait pu revenir à pied à la ville empruntant les routes qui longent le lac. Ou il aurait pu attendre un bateau, comme les autres gens l’ont fait (v. 23). Mais il a marché sur l’eau, apparemment pour apporter une leçon spirituelle. En Matthieu, la leçon spirituelle est la foi, mais Jean ne dit rien à propos de Pierre qui marche sur l’eau ou qui s’enfonce dans l’eau pour ensuite être sauvé J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

par Jésus. Ce que Jean dit est que, lorsque les disciples ont fait monter Jésus dans leur bateau, « au même moment, ils touchèrent terre à l’endroit où ils voulaient aller » (v. 21). C’est l’élément de l’histoire que Jean veut que nous remarquions. Si Jésus pouvait se transporter immédiatement là où il le voulait, pourquoi avait-il besoin de marcher sur l’eau ? Pourquoi ne s’est-il pas transporté directement à sa destination ? À quoi bon ? Vous pourriez avoir une meilleure idée, mais voici la mienne. L’histoire nous raconte que Jésus n’est pas limité par les circonstances physiques, et aussitôt que nous acceptons Jésus, nous arrivons spirituellement à notre destination. Il peut ne pas en avoir l’air ainsi, mais Jésus n’est pas limité par les apparences physiques. Spirituellement, la réalité est établie ; elle a été réalisée. Le pain de vie Les gens cherchaient de nouveau Jésus, désireux d’avoir un autre repas gratuit, et Jésus les a encouragés à chercher plutôt la nourriture spirituelle. « Travaillez, non pour la nourriture périssable, mais pour celle qui dure pour la vie éternelle. Cette nourriture, c’est le Fils de l’homme qui vous la donnera » (v. 24-27), a déclaré Jésus, mais plutôt que de demander ce cadeau, ils lui ont demandé ce qu’ils devraient faire (v. 28). Ils demandaient des œuvres plutôt que la grâce.

« Et que devons-nous faire pour accomplir les œuvres que Dieu attend de nous ? » ont-ils demandé, désirant satisfaire les exigences de l’âge messianique. Jésus leur a répondu : « L’œuvre de Dieu […] c’est que vous croyiez en celui qu’il a envoyé » (v. 29). L’âge messianique a déjà commencé, alors n’essayez pas d’entrer dans le royaume par vos propres forces ; faites simplement confiance à Jésus, et vous y entrerez. Vous n’avez qu’à faire ce pas et vous y serez ! Serait-ce vraiment si facile ? se sont demandé les gens. Ils voulaient une preuve, comme si nourrir 5000 personnes n’était pas assez ! « Quel signe miraculeux nous feras-tu voir pour que nous puissions croire en toi ? Que vastu faire ? » (v. 30) Comme exemple d’un miracle qu’ils accepteraient de croire, en cette période de la fête de Pâque, ils ont fait mention d’un miracle de pain comme celui dont il est question dans le livre d’Exode. Moïse avait donné aux

7


ÉDITORIAL

Israélites la manne (le pain du ciel) à manger. Certains Juifs pensaient que Dieu leur donnerait aussi la manne à l’âge messianique. Mais Jésus a dit que le vrai pain du ciel ne nourrit pas seulement les Israélites, mais qu’il donne la vie au monde (v. 33). « Seigneur, dirent-ils alors, donne-nous toujours de ce pain-là » (v. 34). Probablement qu’ils voulaient l’examiner pour voir s’il répondait à leurs critères. Jésus a répondu qu’il était le pain du ciel, la source de la vie éternelle pour le monde. Les gens avaient vu Jésus opérer des miracles, et ils ne croyaient toujours pas en lui (v. 33-36), parce qu’il ne satisfait pas leurs qualifications d’un Messie. Pourquoi certains ont-ils cru et d’autres, non ? Jésus l’a expliqué comme l’œuvre du Père : « Tous ceux que mon Père me donne viendront à moi. » Il répète cette idée aux versets 44 et 65 : « Personne ne peut venir à moi à moins que le Père l’attire […] à moins que cela ne lui soit accordé par le Père. » Une fois que le Père nous a attirés, que fait Jésus ? Il définit son rôle lorsqu’il dit : « Je ne repousserai pas celui qui vient à moi » (v. 37). Peut-être que les gens partiront d’eux-mêmes, mais Jésus ne les repoussera jamais. Jésus veut faire la volonté du Père, et la volonté du Père est que Jésus ne perde aucun de ceux que le Père lui a donnés (v. 39). Il ne veut que personne ne se perde. Étant donné que Jésus ne perd aucun de ses enfants, il promet de les ressusciter le dernier jour (v. 39). Cette promesse est répétée aux versets 40, 44 et 54. Jésus souligne que celui qui croit en lui a la vie éternelle (v. 40, 47). Manger sa chair ? Jésus a aussi dit que les gens qui mangent sa chair et qui boivent son sang ont la vie éternelle (v. 51, 53-56). Tout comme il ne fait pas référence à ce qui provient du blé lorsqu’il affirme qu’il est

8

le pain véritable, de même il ne fait pas référence aux tissus des muscles lorsqu’il parle de manger sa chair. Certains des Juifs se sont demandé : « Comment cet homme pourrait-il nous donner son corps à manger ? » (v. 52). Mais dans l’Évangile selon Jean, c’est souvent une erreur que de prendre les paroles de Jésus au sens littéral. Par exemple, Nicodème a demandé à Jésus comment les gens pouvaient entrer dans le ventre de leur mère et naître de nouveau. (v. 3, 4). De même, la femme samaritaine a demandé à Jésus de lui donner de l’eau vive pour qu’elle n’ait plus besoin de retourner au puits (4.15). Ils insistaient sur le sens littéral, mais l’histoire montre que Jésus parlait de quelque chose de spirituel. Dans le chapitre 6, Jésus a déclaré : « C’est l’Esprit qui donne la vie ; l’homme n’aboutit à rien par lui-même. Les paroles que je vous ai dites sont Esprit et vie » (v. 63). Jésus ne parlait pas de son corps physique, mais de ses enseignements. Et ses disciples ont semblé saisir la leçon. Lorsque Jésus leur a demandé s’ils voulaient s’en aller, Pierre a répondu : « Seigneur, vers qui irions-nous ? Tu as les paroles de la vie éternelle » (v. 68). Pierre ne pensait pas à avoir accès à la chair de Jésus ; il se concentrait sur les paroles de Jésus. Le message constant du Nouveau Testament est que le salut vient par la foi, et non par une nourriture ou un breuvage spécial.

Les chefs religieux n’aimaient pas son enseignement (v. 41), et certains des disciples de Jésus ne pouvaient pas non plus l’accepter (v. 66), même après que Jésus eut clairement expliqué qu’il ne parlait pas de sa chair comme telle, mais que ses paroles étaient la source de la vie éternelle. Ils étaient troublés par le fait que Jésus déclarait qu’il venait du ciel, et donc qu’il était plus qu’un être humain. Mais Pierre savait qu’il ne pouvait aller nulle part ailleurs, car seul Jésus avait les paroles de la vie éternelle (v. 68). Pourquoi savait-il que seul Jésus avait ces paroles ? Parce que seul Jésus est « le saint, envoyé de Dieu » (v. 69). C’est pourquoi ses paroles sont dignes de foi, et qu’elles sont esprit et vie. Nous croyons en Jésus non seulement à cause de ses paroles, mais à cause de qui il est. Nous ne l’acceptons pas à cause de ses paroles, mais nous acceptons ses paroles à cause de qui il est. Étant donné que Jésus est le saint, envoyé de Dieu, nous pouvons avoir confiance qu’il fera ce qu’il a dit : il ne repoussera personne, mais il nous ressuscitera au dernier jour (v. 39). Même les miettes seront ramassées pour que rien ne se perde. C’est la volonté du Père, et c’est quelque chose qui vaut la peine qu’on y réfléchisse.NL

Du ciel Jésus répète une autre chose à maintes reprises dans ce chapitre : qu’il vient du ciel (v. 33, 38, 41, 42, 50, 51, 58, 62). Les gens devraient croire en Jésus parce qu’il est venu du ciel. Il est absolument digne de confiance non seulement parce qu’il a un message du ciel, mais parce que lui-même vient du ciel.

NORTHERN LIGHT


D I R E C T O R ’ S

DIVERSITY

G

od has designed a marvellous variety in creation. The tremendous scope of sounds and textures around us manifests a seemingly endless mixture. The range of animal and plant life on the earth is so enormous humanity hasn’t been able to even catalogue it all. In fact, new forms of life are discovered each year in various spots around the globe. Humanity also mirrors this diversity of the creation. We are made male and female, experiencing a common humanity, though at times from a different but complementary perspective. This gender difference forms the basis for marriage and family life, as well as simply adding to life’s rich texture. We see the range of differences in human skin, eye and hair colour. This diversity even carries over to the enormous range of languages and culture—be it food, music, dress, or other customs. This great variety adds so much to our world. Yet, given the propensity of humanity toward evil, such differences have been used as a reason for division. Rather than mutual respect and admiration for the evident variety among the various races, cultures and linguistic

J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

groups, prejudice, jealousy, rivalry, competition and even hate have all too often emerged. Yet, through Christ the human family is able to rediscover the unity in its diversity that God originally designed. When an individual accepts Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, he or she becomes part of the church—the body of Christ on the earth. They come to share in the common fatherhood of God, and thereby become spiritual siblings (Galatians 3:26-29). The unity of the human family—male and female, both made in the image of God (Galatians 1:26-27) —is restored through Jesus. The human family is even raised to a higher level, as it now includes the full spiritual potential made possible through Jesus Christ. As Christians, God expects us to rise above the petty rivalry, jealousy, and prejudice that can divide us. He wants us to come to see humanity as he does, with each person made in God’s image. Everyone is of such incredible value to God that he gave his Son to die in order to reconcile back his wayward creation (John 3:16).

D E S K

By Gary Moore National Director

10 provinces. Now as Canadian Director of the Worldwide Church of God, I have visited congregations from coast to coast, including our francophone congregations. While there is great diversity in this vast land, there is also the common bond of the Spirit of God. The Spirit is very clearly evident in the lives of believers and he unites us in the most important issues of all. We are all the children of God, and his desire is for his children to reflect his nature in all aspects of our lives, and to share his purpose with those around us. Let’s determine as God’s own children, to respect and celebrate the diversity of the human family as something positive, designed by God. Let’s also make sure we value each person—no matter how different from us in certain characteristics he or she may be. Let’s look upon one another as God would have us do, with respect, understanding and love!NL

Before my present job, I was privileged to serve in the ministry in 5 of Canada’s

9


CHRONIQUE de Gary Moore directeur national

Diversité

D

ieu a créé une variété merveilleuse de choses. La large gamme de sons et de textures qui nous entoure manifeste des combinaisons apparemment infinies. Le nombre d’animaux et de plantes sur la terre est si grand que l’humanité ne peut même pas tous les répertorier. En fait, de nouvelles formes de vie sont découvertes chaque année dans des endroits divers autour du monde. L’humanité reflète également cette diversité de la création. Nous, qui avons été créés mâles ou femelles, expérimentons une humanité commune, bien que parfois d’une perspective différente mais complémentaire. La différence de sexe forme la base du mariage et de la vie familiale, en plus de simplement ajouter à la riche texture de la vie. Nous constatons l’éventail de différences dans la couleur de la peau, des yeux et des cheveux. Cette diversité s’étend même jusqu’à une énorme variété de langues et de cultures, qu’il s’agisse de nourriture, de musique, de vêtements ou d’autres coutumes. Cette grande variété ajoute tellement à notre monde. Cependant, puisque l’humanité a tendance à faire le mal, de telles différences ont été utilisées comme motif de division. Au lieu d’un respect mutuel et de l’admiration pour la variété évidente parmi les différentes races, cultures et groupes linguistiques, les préjugés, la jalousie, la rivalité, la compétition et même la haine ont trop souvent émergé. Toutefois, par Christ la famille humaine peut redécouvrir l’unité dans sa diversité conçue à l’origine par Dieu. Lorsqu’une personne accepte Jésus-Christ comme son Sauveur et Seigneur, elle devient une partie de l’Église, le corps de Christ sur la terre. Les membres de l’Église partagent Dieu comme Père et deviennent ainsi les enfants spirituels de Dieu (Galates 3.26-29). L’unité de la famille humaine – mâle et femelle, les deux créés à l’image de Dieu (Galates 1.26,

10

27) – est restaurée grâce à Jésus. La famille humaine est même élevée à un niveau supérieur, parce qu’elle peut maintenant atteindre son plein potentiel spirituel par Jésus-Christ. Dieu s’attend à ce que nous, chrétiens, vivions au-dessus des petites rivalités, des jalousies et des préjugés qui peuvent nous diviser. Il veut que nous voyions les êtres humains comme il les voit, tous ayant été créés à son image. Chaque personne est d’une valeur tellement incroyable aux yeux de Dieu qu’il a envoyé son Fils mourir à notre place afin de réconcilier sa création déchue (Jean 3.16). Avant d’occuper mon emploi actuel, j’ai eu le privilège de travailler dans le ministère dans cinq des dix provinces du Canada. Maintenant, en tant que directeur canadien de l’Église universelle de Dieu, j’ai visité des congrégations d’un océan à l’autre, y compris

nos congrégations francophones. Tandis qu’il y a une grande diversité dans notre vaste pays, il y a aussi le lien commun de l’Esprit de Dieu. L’Esprit est très évident dans la vie des croyants et il nous unit sur les questions les plus importantes. Nous sommes tous les enfants de Dieu, et son désir est que nous reflétions sa nature dans tous les aspects de notre vie et que nous communiquions son plan à ceux qui nous entourent. Déterminons, comme les enfants de Dieu, à respecter et à célébrer la diversité de la famille humaine comme quelque chose de positif, conçu par Dieu. Assurons-nous également que nous estimons chaque personne, peu importe combien elle est différente de nous sous certains aspects. Considérons-nous les uns les autres comme Dieu le veut, avec respect, compréhension et amour.NL

NORTHERN LIGHT


F O C U S

Amazing Grace:

O N

G R A C E By David Sheridan

Pastor, Grace and Truth Fellowship, Red Deer, and Lethbridge congregations

Empowered To Love The Lord

A

land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border. Canada’s paramount political problem is meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care and education services after a decade of budget cuts. The issue of reconciling Quebec’s francophone heritage with the majority anglophone Canadian population has moved to the back burner in recent years. Support for separatism abated after the Quebec government’s referendum on independence failed to pass in October of 1995. Ten years of grace have passed since then. Some Christian leaders believe it is only by the grace of God that the nation remains united. Outsiders often consider even the thought of Canada separating as scandalous. Scandalous grace offends the moral feelings and sensibilities of those who insist they have a part to play in their own salvation. Outrage and indignation was a common reaction to the Lord’s message of grace. Author Philip Yancey often uses the expression the scandal of grace. He finds grace scandalous because “grace is not about finishing last or first; it is about not counting” (What’s So Amazing About Grace, page 61). Yancey says, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” The root of the word scandal is a snare or a stumbling block. The ministry and message of reconciliation between God and humanity is to be proclaimed during these days of grace.

Entering salvation today “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). This includes all Canadians, both anglophone and francophone—in fact, all who have ever lived. God’s grace promotes the restoration of human fellowship with himself. God gives salvation for this present time to every person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation is the gift of God by grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Merit or good works cannot earn salvation. By dying in our place “our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father…loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Those who believe in Jesus already have eternal life and have entered salvation. By God’s grace, nothing can snatch a believer out of the loving hands of the man from Galilee. Entering the kingdom of God The most important person in the kingdom is the king! Jesus the King of kings sits on a “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). We go the foot of the throne with confidence to receive mercy and grace in times of need. The apostle Paul considered the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace to be one and the same—“the Lord Jesus Christ has given me…the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again” (Acts 20:24-25).

Days of Grace The time allowed by law for payment of a sum of money due is referred to as days of grace. Credit card companies usually have a 17- to 25-day interest-free grace period for purchases. However cash advances have no such grace period. The principle is giving people a little extra time to do what needs to be done. The apostle Paul wrote, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer anyone” (Colossians 4:6). Asking questions provides a wonderful opportunity to give the other party extra time to respond. Answering questions with the grace of a soft answer will often “turn away anger.” Those sharing the good news need “lips anointed with grace” (Psalm 45:2). This is the age of grace and the days are endless.

Believers by grace enter the joy of salvation in the kingdom of God. No earthly scandal could ever match these days of grace!NL The final article in this series will explore sharing the good news of God’s grace.

J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

11


T H E

J O U R N E Y

By Phil Gale

W

hen we used to sing soprano as very young choir boys, my brother and I could not have appreciated the fact that God was actually listening. To us, we were performing a duty at our local church every Sunday, and at the occasional wedding. I do remember Brockham church (in the county of Surrey, UK) being invited to Southwark Cathedral one time to join with them in a commemoration service. My recollection of the choir experience is that the singing was beautiful, everyone in harmony and on key. Looking back, I realize now that the services we performed were in fact acts of worship, and had I known God was in attendance, I might have paid more attention to the sermon instead of reading a book, which most of the young choir boys did. Today, worship services have much more meaning. I know we’re singing God’s praises—he hears every word and surely enjoys the outpouring of adoration and reverence. When we sing, we are expressing our desire to honor and glorify the great Being who gives us life. As we raise our voices, we are stirring up the Holy Spirit within to honor and glorify our Creator. We will be singing his praises forever. Now, we worship a God we can’t see, but in faith we believe and pay our respects through praise and singing. Later, we will throng around his majestic throne with all the angels and see him in all his glory. We will sing to him as a small group of school children singing to their teacher. The last five chapters in the Book of Psalms all start with the same words— “Praise the Lord”—and are dedicated to God’s praises, illustrating the fact that praise can be expressed through songs and music. The Book of Revelation contains examples of how we can worship God: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God

12

Worship From The Heart Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (4:8); “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (5:12). These words and others from Revelation are used in songs composed by Handel and other great musicians. A few weeks ago a thought suddenly struck me, that as I lead worship services, and seek to encourage the congregation to sing from the heart, I myself am doing the same thing. It is also my time of praise and worship. I knew this was what I was doing, but a leader is also a participant. Having been a very young choir boy, and later a member of a church congregation, I can say that there were times when I was singing because that was what we were supposed to do. We learnt the words and the melodies and enjoyed singing the songs. But the fact that we were participating in worship and praise was not always apparent. Perhaps for others the experience has been different. But now I understand that a worship service is an expression from the heart to God: “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!” (Psalm 150:3-4). Many times the Psalmist expresses passion from a heart that adores God with every fibre in his body.

© Design Pics Inc.

Member, Victoria congregation

We are extremely blessed and privileged to come before our heavenly Father and tell him how much we appreciate what he is doing. He has given us truth and understanding, which will eventually be passed on to all humanity. How fitting for us, as “salt and light” to the world, to demonstrate faith and express passion to our Eternal Father through the weekly worship service.NL

NORTHERN LIGHT


W O M E N ’ S

M I N I S T R Y

By Dorothy Nordstorm

For God So Loved The World

These early morning road trips give me hours to enjoy God’s creation and meditate. As I watch the world pass outside the windows of the car I reflect on John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This verse is one of the most quoted in the Bible and so it should be, as it is the heart of the gospel. Yet it is so familiar that sometimes I take it for granted. Today I wonder at it and feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what it is saying to me.

aches and pains. Our Father sees beyond the mess we have made of his beautiful creation; he sees each man, woman and child, and loves us. In my life there have certainly been people I did not love. I’m sorry to say I’ve

had my share of prejudices and hard feelings toward others. Unfortunately it is usually the result of forming opinions without taking time to really get to know the people. As Christians we fight the same prejudices all people do. Humanity is filled with hate and prejudice; this must hurt our God who loves this world so much.

What does this really mean? Our God, who is above and beyond time and space, loves this world. How can God love this world? There is so much to hate. God sees the horror, the wars, hatred and illness, he sees the starvation, orphanages and man’s cruelty to others, and yet he loves this world. The Bible tells us so. What exactly is this world that God loved so much he sent his Son to die for it?

To love this world as God does, our hearts must be changed and healed. God desires that we “not turn away from our own flesh and blood…feed the poor…give shelter to the wanderer…loose the chains of injustice…clothe the naked” (see Isaiah 58:67). This involves looking outward and loving our fellow man. God’s desire is that we have his heart for the world.

God made this earth a perfect dwelling place. “The world” is all of us—everyone who has ever lived—with our troubles,

The more I read God’s word the more I realize that each scripture is filled with some precious gem, waiting for us to

J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

reach out and grasp it. One such scripture is Mark 8:22-25, the healing of a blind man of Bethsaida. At first glance it seems that Jesus’ first attempt at healing the blind man failed. It appears that Jesus had to try again in order to completely heal this man. Beth Moore shares an interesting thought on this passage in her book The Beloved Apostle. She suggests that Jesus is trying to teach us a lesson about how we see each other, that until we see one another clearly as God sees us, we are not completely healed, spiritually speaking. I found this thought very helpful. At first, the blind man does not see clearly; he sees people as walking trees. If we see others as trees, we dehumanize each other. When we devalue one another it is easier not to love. Even as Christians we feel prejudice and hatred all too frequently. © Averil Hall.

“T

his world is so beautiful!” I think, as multicolored light streams through the car window. The sun is making its appearance over the hill and life is awakening to greet a new day. The blue sky is dotted with white fluffy clouds and the earth is a thousand shades of brown and green. All seems peaceful in the world. My heart swells with love for God and his creation.

Canadian Women’s Ministry Coordinator

I reflect back to what God says in Isaiah 58:7-8, “…and not turn away from your own flesh and blood…Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear….” God wants people who will look beyond themselves to see a hurting world and reach out in love to help. The desire of my heart is to love this world as God does. What a “Possible Dream”! NL

13


P A S T O R ’ S

C O R N E R

By Jonathan Buck

Living At Peace

Pastor Barrie, Huntsville, North Bay, Peterborough, and Sudbury congregations

F

rench or English, Canada is a pluralistic, multi-faith culture and Christians are learning to adjust to it.

ism “God” is whatever you imagine or believe him to be, or not to be.

Pluralism claims no religion is wrong or more right than any other. “All religions are equally valid,” pluralists say, therefore Muslims must accept Christians, Christians must accept Buddhists, Buddhists accept Hindus and so on. “But why shouldn’t we accept each other,” a minister once asked me, “when religions are just different paths up the same mountain? They all lead to God eventually.”

Can Christians accept that? Absolutely not. God is what he defined himself to be, as revealed to us by Jesus Christ, and any other definition is just human imagination or empty idolatry. So, how do we respond to these pluralistic notions? Do we publicly condemn them or just put up and shut up for the sake of unity and tolerance?

They do? It’s a nice, unity-minded thought, but I know my orthodox Muslim friends wouldn’t agree with it for a start. They believe there’s only one path up to God and that’s Islam. Buddhists, meanwhile, don’t believe “God” was ever up there on the mountain in the first place. Satanists, on the other hand, believe God’s up there, but who cares? That’s three vastly different views of God. They can’t all be valid, surely? “Oh yes they can,” the pluralist cries, “it doesn’t matter if religions totally contradict one another, they all lead to God in the end, so let’s just ignore our differences and all get along, eh?”

I had to answer that question myself recently because I was asked outright what I thought of Muslims. It was a delicate moment because the person asking the question had struggled for years with Christians claiming Jesus is the only path to God. To him, it’s typical Christian elitism. If I knocked Islam, then, I’d be

branded a “Christian elitist”, but if I accepted Islam as a valid path to God I’d be denying the uniqueness of Christ as our only means of salvation. It was typical of the dilemma we Christians face in a multi-faith culture.

Well, for unity’s sake, why not? But hang on a minute, how does a pluralist know all religions lead to God? Has he personally lived as a Jew, a Sikh or a Jehovah’s Witness long enough to “find God” in each of these religions, himself? And more to the point, how would he know he’s found God when God could be many gods, one god or no god at all?! Confusion doesn’t bother a pluralist, though. In his mind it’s no problem if religions differ widely on what path we take or what sort of “God,” if any, is waiting for us at the top. It doesn’t even matter if we’re on different paths on different mountains; in plural-

14

NORTHERN LIGHT


P A S T O R ’ S

Fortunately, Jesus answered the question for me. He said himself he came to save the world, not condemn it. He doesn’t condemn Muslims, he won salvation for them. So that was my answer, that “because of Jesus, people of all religions are saved; they just don’t know it yet, that’s all.” I was in exactly the same boat myself at one time, of being saved by Jesus’ death but not being aware of it yet. The only thing that separates me from a Muslim, then, is awareness; I know my salvation is assured, he doesn’t, but one day he will because God loves him as much as He loves me and it’s all just a matter of timing. Rather than condemn, therefore, I respect the heartfelt desire of people in all religious persuasions to follow what they believe is the right path to God. But I also deeply wish they could understand what Jesus has already done for them. Think of the pressure it would ease on those trapped in performance-based religions (including some forms of Christianity) who wonder every day if J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

C O R N E R

C O N T I N U E D

they've done enough to deserve God's favour, but never knowing for certain until the day they die. Pluralism tries to answer that uncertainty by claiming all paths lead to God in the end anyway. Can any pluralist prove that, though? No. But God offers Jesus as proof we already have his love and favour, so there’s no need for anyone to be crawling up to God in the first place. That path has already been trodden for us by none other than God Himself. So, is it true what pluralists say, that "all paths lead to God"? No, but the path Jesus trod has opened up the way to all people to eventually find God. Their salvation has been taken care of in exactly the same way mine has, and knowing that has helped me mix happily and peacefully with members of other religions.NL

15


T H E M E By Glenn Smith Director, Christian Direction

P

lanting churches in French Quebec will always be an enormous challenge, especially because of the three facts, which are specific to Quebec.

First, the French-speaking world is going through a period of great upheaval. Globalization affects not only the economy, technology and demography, but also missions. We now live in interconnected city-states and the “Francophonie,” composed of 51 different political entities, is only one example of these types of international networks that are shaping the planet. Quebec tries (and successfully so) to be in the heart of the “Francophonie” and it looks more in this direction rather than towards English Canada. Second, we observe that, within this political network, urbanization is exploding. Montreal and Quebec City lead the list of the 40 Francophonie cities with more than 500,000 people. This offers countless possibilities and yet the Church hardly begins to understand what it means and the influence it could have in the French-speaking world. Finally, institutional religious life is in perpetual decline and is losing its meaning in our society. However, Quebecers remain attached to rather traditional beliefs and to their spiritual roots. Three facts about Quebec’s religious landscape New research underlines three specific trends in religious life in Quebec. A good understanding of those trends will enable ministry practitioners to identify the worldviews in post-modern Quebec. The first observation that can be made from an analysis of the worldviews of Quebecers is that religion is alive in this culture. Religious affiliation continues to be very faithful to the Roman Catholic Church. More than 88 percent of Quebecers still identify themselves as Roman Catholics. As Reginald Bibby emphasizes: “In Quebec, nearly nine Catholics out of ten…identify themselves with their parents’ religion. And when they don’t, the tendency is then to say that they have none.” However, it is necessary to take into account more complex considerations. In the last large study on the place of religion in school, (the pollsters) Léger and Léger noted that only 18 percent of those surveyed thought that religion was very important or rather important in everyday life. However, 80 percent thought that religion was important or rather important 20 years ago. (“It is indisputably a case of selective amnesia!” will say those of us who were in ministry at the time.) Nevertheless, when the questions move from perception to the desire, 83 percent of those surveyed want religion to take more place in public life. As Ron Graham said so well when he spoke about Quebec: “Three centuries of mysticism do not

16

Planting Churches in Que evaporate in three decades of materialism” (God’s Dominion, Graham, 1990, page 123). The second observation is that spirituality is “trumping” religious affiliation. It is interesting to note that 63 percent of Quebecers without religious affiliation think that spirituality is very important or rather important in their life. This is just a little lower than for Roman Catholics (74 percent), Protestants (75 percent) and members of other faiths (83 percent). One only needs to pay a visit to the Salon de l’ésotérisme (Esoteric Fair) in Montreal to notice it. In a study by Serge Larrivée, professor of educational psychology at the University of Montreal, he found out that 89 percent of all science books sold in Quebec bookstores in 2002 related to “occult sciences,” i.e., esoteric phenomena, astrology, paranormal phenomena, popular psychology and spirituality, in opposition to the study of the religions. In fact, many bookstores state that more than 50 percent of their sales come from this selection! An interesting fact: in Quebec, 80 percent of the income from Bell Canada’s 1-900 line comes from astrology. Pornography swipes the remaining 20 percent (Sylvie Saint-Jacques, La Presse, Wednesday, March 12, 2003. Section E, pages 1-2). Finally, a third observation shows that the contents of beliefs are connected to the socio-cultural changes that took place in Quebec in the last 40 years. Among these changes, a noticeable fall of 67 percent in church attendance! Moreover, even if 85-88 percent of Quebecers say they believe in God (Angus Reid, April 2000 and CROP, April, 2000), things become muddy when they are asked to define this “God.” About 31 percent say that it is God as preached by the Church, 46 percent believe in a Creator “in my own way,” 14 percent state that this Supreme Being is simply a power (which corresponds to New Age beliefs) and 8 percent of those who “believe in God” assert that, in fact, “life is purely biological.” All this shows that Quebecers adhere to Christian doctrines in a very selective way. Like a majority of Canadians, 61 percent of Quebecers believe in angels, 67 percent in heaven and 62 percent still believe in miracles. Lastly, 52 percent of Canadians believe in hell and Satan, compared with only 32 percent of Quebecers. We also want to bring to the reader’s attention two phenomena that are very significant for local churches: charitable donations and volunteer work. Quebecers are the least generous (and by far) in terms of charitable donations. Saskatchewan is the most generous with an average donation of $308 per person per year. In Quebec, the average donation is $127 (Statistics Canada, March 2002). Not surprisingly, 60 percent of French-speaking churches in the largest Protestant denominations are still subsidized, even after 20 years of existence. NORTHERN LIGHT


T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

ebec: A Challenging Task This, however, is only true in Frenchspeaking churches. Anglophone and ethnic congregations in Quebec are much more generous in tithing. Moreover, a Quebec sociologist, Gary Caldwell, mentions the surprising decline in Quebecers’ participation in volunteer work, in comparison with Ontario (which reflects the national trend) and Saskatchewan (which exceeds by far all other provinces). Up to 54 percent of the population in this prairie province takes an active part in volunteer work, whether they be sports, school, leisure or clubs of any kind. In Ontario, this rate drops to 43 percent, which corresponds to the average national rate. However, in Quebec, it is a slight 33 percent; a percentage that decreases further among people less than 44 years of age. These facts often baffle ministry practitioners, particularly those who work in church planting. Even if culture marginalizes the social meaning of religion—as one can note with the fall of weekly church attendance and the curious trend to remain attached to certain traditional beliefs—people remain faithful, in words at least, to religious traditions. And for this reason, I believe that planting churches will remain a challenging task in Quebec. As long as issues related to worldviews are not being addressed in the way we invite people to follow the God of Jesus Christ, evangelicals will remain on the fringe of culture. Even more so because the movement seems to have had little interest in contributing to the social “capital” of culture and to the common good of society. In fact, there is very little in the evangelical tradition that stimulate an interest.

modernity and post-modernity (just think about the movie The Barbarian Invasions). We must seriously take into account the pluralism that has settled in, and realize to what extent people’s faith has been “privatized.” They believe that religion pertains to the private sphere only! It is surprising, but after reflection, one can note that, contrary to what we could expect, secularization does not eliminate religion. It appears that the secular and religious aspects of public life overlap and influence each other. Meanwhile, people read their world without referring to religious practices and symbols. The celebration of Christmas attests to this situation, since society celebrates it by divorcing it almost completely from the birth of Jesus. Religion no longer serves as a driving force to define the values to which people hold. “Made in Quebec” secularization will be characterized by the two following aspects. Initially, people will maintain a religious affiliation while confining their faith and its practice to the private realm. Then, post-religious cultures tend to put their faith in other devotional objects, such as the economy or consumerism. Sociologist David Martin states that for societies that were homogeneous Roman Catholic societies, hope becomes political. In Quebec, we can note two transfers. Quebecers stopped putting their hope in God to put it in consumer society and in government.

1. Secularization: when the public sphere turns a deaf ear to the voice of the religion.

The great popularity that faith has known and the structures of the Church have given way to technology and the economy, as well as to urbanization. The trends conveyed by post-modernity are very attractive to urban cultures. People who choose a postmodern worldview would rather talk about relative and nonabsolute truth. They deconstruct what supporters of modernity adulate and they generally feel more at ease living with the elusive.

In Montreal, nothing is easier than to find intellectual evidence of the existence of

Sadly, urban cultures were emerging without Roman Catholic and Protestant

Three significant challenges

J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

churches able to help their members adapt to the changes that have now emerged. The impact of the Church on culture is trivial. 2. Poverty: four of the five poorest cities in Canada are in Quebec. These cities are Montreal, Quebec, Longueuil and Hull. The chart below shows the extent of poverty in the largest cities of Canada, particularly in Quebec. Poverty has a harmful impact on the development of someone’s identity and vocation. The poor often see themselves as abandoned by God and as not having anything to offer to others. Money and power lead us to believe that we can do everything our own way. The poverty prevailing in our cities divides society in two, creating two solitudes, which have absolutely nothing to do with religion and language. The face of one has educated features and wealth, whereas the other shows a female face, an impoverished and uneducated appearance. The feminization of poverty is as striking here in Quebec as it is in other parts of the world. If we are to be in God’s service in the city, we must equip ourselves with a right theology of creation. Knowing that we are all created in God’s image, that we are the Creator’s children, restores our identity. Knowing that we all have received gifts from God, and that we all are called to use them, gives back meaning to our existence. 3. Training men and women for ministry in this context: theological and practical training is overtaken by these new realities and the challenges that they involve. In the middle of the 1990s, we carried out a study of missionary societies and Protestant denominations at work in the Francophonie cities. Initially, we wanted to know the number of church workers in these cities. The results confirmed what

17


T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

41.2 % 34.7 % 31 % 30.3 % 29.2 % Rate of poverty of 28.3 % cities in large 27.8 % metropolitan areas 27.6 % 27.6 % 26 % 26 %

Montréal Québec Vancouver Longueuil Hull Ottawa Burnaby Toronto Hamilton Edmonton Richmond we feared from the start: the very small number of workers assigned to a French-speaking urban environment. Of the 179 missionary societies that took part in the survey, only 70 were present in a French-speaking urban environment. They were present in 51 Frenchspeaking countries and reported 10,415 missionaries, of which only 751 were in cities of 500,000 people or more! Then, we wanted to evaluate the quality of training that missionaries had received, and how it enabled them to work out strategies and projects in a French-speaking urban environment. We noted the two following important issues. In spite of the very great poverty that exists in French-speaking urban environments, only 15 percent of missionary projects dealt with compassion ministries. And even if the majority of missionaries had received a recognized theological formation, very few of them had acquired the skills to choose relevant strategies according to the context of their ministry, to implement suitable projects and to evaluate their effectiveness. The missionary societies believed that their workers excelled in this field, whereas these workers did not think that they succeeded in achieving these tasks. All those who train men and women for effective service must

18

include, as priorities within their training program, new approaches allowing the integration of traditional theology to “practical” theology or a theology of service.

being of their time.” It seems to me that Jesus succeeded in making Biblical revelation contextual for His time. Let us thus endeavor to do the same.NL

Conclusion Because of secularization, the fear of religion stands as a sizeable challenge to those who wish to help others to become disciples of Jesus Christ. However, as this fear conceals an authentic thirst for spiritual experiences, we must equip ourselves with effective ways to bring these thirsty people to a new understanding of the Christian faith. Moreover, even if the government sets up large-scale programs to address the various aspects of poverty in urban environments, it is really only through God’s people that the Lord’s compassion appears. The tangible expression of His mercy is transformed into credible and authentic testimony. Lastly, our Christian theology does not come down to a set of highly moral aspirations kept in books on which dust accumulates. It conveys our thoughts with regard to God and the way in which He encourages us to be “salt and light” in a lost world. At the time of his recent visit in Montreal, theologian John Stott made the following statement: “Evangelicals excel in the field of the Bible, but experience difficulties with NORTHERN LIGHT


T h è m e

Implanter des Églises au Québec : une bataille ardue

I

mplanter des Églises dans un Québec français sera toujours un défi monumental, surtout à cause des trois réalités suivantes propres au Québec. Premièrement, le monde francophone traverse une période de grands bouleversements. La mondialisation touche les missions en plus de l’économie, la technologie et la démographie. Nous vivons maintenant dans des villes-états reliées entre elles et La Francophonie, composée de 51 entités politiques différentes, n’est qu’un exemple du type de réseaux internationaux qui se forment un peu partout sur la planète. Le Québec, lui, s’efforce (et avec succès) d’être au coeur de La Francophonie et il regarde plus dans cette direction que vers le Canada anglais. Deuxièmement, on constate qu’au sein de ce réseau politique, l’urbanisation est en pleine explosion. Montréal et Québec sont en tête de liste des quarante villes de La Francophonie comptant plus de 500 000 habitants. Cela offre des possibilités infinies et pourtant l’Église commence à peine à saisir ce que cela signifie pour elle et toute l’influence qu’elle pourrait avoir dans le monde francophone. Enfin, la vie religieuse, en tant qu’institution, est en perpétuel déclin et elle perd son sens dans notre société. Cependant, les Québécois restent attachés à des croyances plutôt traditionnelles et à leurs racines spirituelles. TROIS RÉALITÉS CONCERNANT LE PAYSAGE RELIGIEUX QUÉBÉCOIS De nouvelles recherches soulignent trois tendances dans la vie religieuse au Québec. En les comprenant, les praticiens du ministère peuvent identifier les visions du monde du Québec (post)moderne et ils peuvent aussi réfléchir sur la spiritualité dans ce contexte. La première observation que nous pouvons faire lors d'une analyse de la vision du monde des Québécois est que la religion est bel et bien vivante dans la culture. L'affiliation religieuse continue d'être très loyale à l'Église catholique romaine. Plus de 88% des Québécois J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

s'identifient toujours comme catholiques romains. Comme le souligne Reginald Bibby : « Au Québec, près de neuf catholiques sur dix … s'identifient à la religion de leurs parents. Et s'ils ne le font pas, la tendance est alors de dire qu'ils en ont aucune. » Cependant, il faut tenir compte de considérations plus complexes. Lors de la dernière grande étude accompagnant le débat sur la place de la religion à l'école, Léger et Léger a relevé que seulement 18% des répondants pensaient que la religion était très importante ou assez importante dans la vie actuelle. Pourtant, 80% pensaient que la religion était importante ou assez importante il y a 20 ans. (« C'est sans contredit un cas d'amnésie sélective ! », déclareront tous ceux d'entre nous qui étions dans le ministère à cette époque.) Néanmoins, quand les questions passent de la perception au désir, 83% des répondants veulent que la religion prenne une plus grande place dans la vie publique. Comme l'a si bien dit Ron Graham quand il parlait du Québec : "Trois siècles de mysticisme ne s'évaporent pas en trois décennies de matérialisme" (Graham, 1990, p.123). La deuxième observation est que la spiritualité a remplacé l'affiliation religieuse. Il est intéressant de remarquer que 63% des Québécois qui n'ont aucune affiliation religieuse pensent que la spiritualité est très importante ou assez importante dans leur vie. Cela est juste un peu inférieur aux catholiques romains (74%), aux protestants (75%) et aux adhérents d'autres fois (83%). Il ne s'agit que d'une visite aux Salons de l'ésotérisme de Montréal pour le constater. Dans une étude de Serge Larrivée, professeur de psychologie éducationnelle à l'Université de Montréal, on a découvert que 89% de tous les livres de sciences vendus dans les librairies du Québec en 2002 portaient sur les « sciences occultes », c'est-à-dire les phénomènes ésotériques, l'astrologie, les phénomènes paranormaux, la psychologie populaire et la spiritualité, en opposi-

de Glenn Smith directeur général, Direction chrétienne

tion à l'étude des religions. En fait, de nombreuses librairies déclarent que plus de 50% de leurs ventes proviennent de cette sélection ! Fait intéressant, au Québec, 80% des revenus de la ligne 1-900 de Bell Canada proviennent d'astrologie. La pornographie rafle le 20% qui reste. (Sylvie Saint-Jacques, La Presse, mercredi, le 12 mars, 2003. Section E, pages 1-2). Finalement, une troisième observation montre que le contenu des croyances est relié aux changements socioculturels qui ont eu lieu au Québec dans les quarante dernières années. Parmi ces changements se retrouve une chute remarquable de l'assistance à l'Église de 67% ! De plus, même si 85 à 88% des Québécois affirment croire en Dieu (Angus Reid, Avril 2000 et CROP, Avril, 2000), les eaux deviennent troubles lorsqu'on demande aux gens de définir ce « Dieu. » Quelque 31% affirment que c'est le Dieu prêché par l'Église, 46% croient en un Créateur, « à ma façon », 14% affirment que cet Être suprême est simplement une force (ce qui correspond aux croyances du Nouvel Âge) et 8% de ceux qui « croient en Dieu » affirment qu'en réalité : « la vie est purement biologique ». Tout ceci démontre que les Québécois adhèrent de façon très sélective aux doctrines chrétiennes. Comme pour la majorité des Canadiens, 61% des Québécois croient aux anges, 67% au ciel et 62% croient toujours aux miracles. Enfin, 52% des Canadiens croient à l'enfer et à Satan comparé à seulement 32% des Québécois. Nous voulons aussi attirer l'attention du lecteur sur deux phénomènes qui sont très significatifs pour les Églises locales : les dons de charité et le bénévolat. Personne n'ignore que les Québécois sont les moins généreux (et de loin) dans leurs dons de charité. La Saskatchewan est la plus généreuse avec des dons moyens de 308 $ par personne, par année. Au Québec, le don moyen est de 127 $. (Statistiques Canada, Mars 2002) Ainsi, 60% des Églises des plus grandes confessions

19


T h è m e

francophones protestantes sont encore subventionnées, même après vingt ans d'existence. Ceci n'est pourtant vrai que dans les Églises francophones. Les congrégations anglophones et ethniques du Québec sont beaucoup plus libérales dans leurs dîmes. De plus, le sociologue québécois, Gary Caldwell, a fait mention de la baisse étonnante de la participation des Québécois aux activités bénévoles au Québec, en comparaison avec l'Ontario (qui reflète la tendance nationale) et la Saskatchewan (qui dépasse de loin toutes les autres provinces). Jusqu'à 54% de la population de cette province des Prairies participe activement aux oeuvres bénévoles, qu'il s'agisse de sports, d'école, de loisir ou de clubs de toute sorte. En Ontario, ce taux tombe à 43%, ce qui correspond au taux national moyen. Mais au Québec, c'est un mince 33% ; taux qui diminue encore chez les gens de moins de 44 ans. Ces réalités déconcertent souvent les praticiens du ministère, particulièrement ceux qui oeuvrent dans l'implantation d'Églises. Même si la culture marginalise le sens social de la religion - comme on le constate avec la chute de l'assistance hebdomadaire à l'Église et la curieuse tendance à demeurer attaché à certaines croyances traditionnelles - les gens restent loyaux, en parole tout au moins, aux traditions religieuses. Et c'est pour cette raison que je crois que l'implantation d'Églises continuera d'être une

Montréal Québec Vancouver Longueuil Hull Ottawa Burnaby Toronto Hamilton Edmonton Richmond 20

bataille ardue au Québec. Tant et aussi longtemps que les questions rattachées aux visions élémentaires du monde (donc les plus subtiles) ne seront pas abordées dans notre manière d'inviter les gens à suivre le Dieu de JésusChrist, les évangéliques resteront en marge de la culture. D'autant plus qu'il semble que l'Église soit peu intéresser à contribuer au « capital » social de la culture et au bien commun de la société. En fait, il y en a très peu dans la tradition évangélique qui stimule cet intérêt. Implanter des Églises au Québec : trois défis de taille Premier défi : la sécularisation ...quand la sphère publique fait la sourde oreille à la voix de la religion. À Montréal, rien de plus facile que trouver des preuves intellectuelles de l'existence de la modernité et de la postmodernité (nous n'avons qu'à penser au film Les invasions barbares). Nous devons tenir compte sérieusement du pluralisme qui s'est installé et se rendre compte à quel point la foi des gens s'est « privatisée ». Ils croient que la religion relève du domaine de la sphère privée. C'est surprenant, mais après observation, on peut constater qu'au contraire de ce que nous pouvions penser à prime abord (ceux d'entre nous qui étudions la culture), la sécularisation n'élimine pas la religion. Il appert que les aspects

séculiers et religieux de la vie publique se chevauchent et s'influencent entre eux. Entre temps, les gens lisent leur monde sans faire référence aux pratiques et aux symboles religieux. La célébration de la fête de Noël en atteste puisque la société la célèbre en la divorçant presque totalement de la naissance de Jésus. La religion ne sert plus de moteur pour définir les valeurs auxquelles les gens tiennent. La sécularisation « fabriquée au Québec » se distinguera par les deux aspects suivants. D'abord, les gens maintiendront une affiliation religieuse tout en confinant leur foi et sa pratique au domaine du privé. Ensuite, les cultures postreligieuses ont tendance à mettre leur foi dans d'autres objets de dévotion, tels l'économie ou la consommation. Le sociologue, David Martin, affirme que pour des sociétés qui étaient auparavant des sociétés catholiques romaines homogènes, l'espoir devient politique. Nous pouvons constater au Québec deux transferts. Les Québécois ont cessé de mettre leur espoir en Dieu pour le mettre dans une société de consommation et le gouvernement. La grande popularité que la foi a connue et les structures de l'Église ont cédé leur place aux mondes de la technologie et de l'économie ainsi qu'au phénomène d'urbanisation. Les tendances véhiculées par la postmodernité ont beaucoup d'attrait pour les cultures urbaines. Les personnes qui optent pour une vision du

41.2 % 34.7 % 31 % 30.3 % 29.2 % Taux de pauvreté 28.3 % des villes dans 27.8 % les grandes 27.6 % régions 27.6 % métropolitaines 26 % 26 % NORTHERN LIGHT


T h è m e

monde postmoderne préfèrent parler de vérité relative et non absolue. Elles déconstruisent ce que les tenants de modernité adulent et elles se sentent généralement plus à l'aise à vivre avec l'insaisissable. Tristement, les sociétés urbaines ont vu le jour, sans pour autant que les Églises catholiques romaines et protestantes soient en mesure d'aider leurs membres à s'adapter aux changements que de telles sociétés ont entraînés. L'impact de l'Église sur la culture a été minime. Deuxième défi : la pauvreté ...quatre des cinq villes les plus pauvres au Canada se trouvent au Québec. Ces villes sont : Montréal, Québec, Longueuil et Hull. Le tableau présente l'étendue de la pauvreté dans les plus grandes villes du Canada, particulièrement au Québec. La pauvreté a un impact néfaste sur le développement de l'identité d'une personne et de sa vocation. Les pauvres se perçoivent souvent comme des êtres abandonnés de Dieu et n'ayant rien à offrir aux autres. L'argent et le pouvoir nous portent à croire que nous pouvons tout faire à notre guise. La pauvreté qui sévit dans nos villes scinde la société en deux, créant deux solitudes qui n'ont absolument rien à voir avec la religion et la langue. Le visage de l'une se remarque à ses traits éduqués et à sa richesse alors que l'autre affiche un visage féminin, une mine appauvrie et non éduquée. La féminisation de la pauvreté est tout aussi frappante ici au Québec qu'elle l'est dans d'autres pays du monde. Au service de Dieu dans la ville, nous devons nous doter d'une bonne théologie de la Création. Le fait de savoir que nous sommes tous créés à l'image de Dieu, que nous sommes des enfants du Créateur, restaure notre identité. Le fait de savoir que nous avons tous reçu des dons de Dieu et que nous sommes tous appelés à les utiliser redonnent un sens à notre existence.

J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

Troisième défi : la formation d'hommes et de femmes pour un ministère dans ce contexte ...la formation théologique et pratique sont dépassées par ces nouvelles réalités et les défis qu'elles entraînent. Au milieu des années 1990, nous avons effectué une étude auprès de sociétés missionnaires et de confessions protestantes à l'oeuvre dans les villes de la Francophonie. D'abord, nous voulions connaître le nombre d'ouvriers qui travaillaient dans ces villes. Le résultat a confirmé ce que nous craignions au départ : le très petit nombre d'ouvriers qui étaient assignés en milieu urbain francophone. Des 179 sociétés missionnaires qui ont participé au sondage, seulement 70 étaient présentes en milieu urbain francophone. Elles ont fait un décompte dans 51 pays francophones et elles rapportent 10 415 missionnaires, dont seulement 751 se trouvent dans des villes de 500 000 habitants ou plus ! Ensuite, nous voulions évaluer la qualité de la formation que les missionnaires avaient reçue et comment elle leur permettait de concevoir des stratégies et des projets en milieu urbain francophone. Nous avons pu relever les deux questions d'importance suivantes : malgré la très grande pauvreté qui existe dans les milieux urbains francophones, seulement 15 p. cent des projets missionnaires touchaient le domaine des ministères de compassion ; et même si la plupart des missionnaires avaient reçu une formation théologique reconnue, très peu d'entre eux avaient acquis l'habileté de choisir des stratégies pertinentes selon le contexte de leur ministère, l'habileté d'implémenter les projets appropriés et de faire l'évaluation de leur efficacité. Les sociétés missionnaires croyaient que leurs ouvriers excellaient dans ce domaine, alors que ces ouvriers ne pensaient pas qu'ils réussissaient à accomplir ces tâches. Tous ceux, qui s'affairent à former des hommes et des femmes pour un service efficace, doivent inclure comme priorités

à leur programme de formation de nouvelles approches permettant l'intégration de la théologie traditionnelle à la théologie pratique. À cause de la sécularisation, la peur de la religion se dresse comme un défi de taille pour ceux qui désirent aider d'autres personnes à devenir des disciples de Jésus-Christ. Mais, comme derrière cette peur se cache une authentique soif pour des expériences spirituelles, nous devons donc nous munir de façons efficaces pour amener ces gens assoiffés à une nouvelle compréhension de la foi chrétienne. De plus, même si le gouvernement met en place des programmes d'envergure pour répondre aux différents aspects de la pauvreté en milieu urbain, ce n'est vraiment que par le peuple de Dieu que la compassion du Seigneur se manifeste. L'expression concrète de sa miséricorde se transforme en témoignage crédible et authentique. En dernier lieu, notre théologie chrétienne ne se résume pas à un ensemble de hautes aspirations morales conservées dans des volumes sur lesquels la poussière s'accumule. Elle traduit notre pensée à l'égard de Dieu et la façon dont il nous incite à être « sel et lumière » dans une société égarée. Lors de sa récente visite à Montréal, le théologien John Stott a fait l'affirmation suivante : « Les évangéliques excellent dans le domaine de la Bible, mais éprouvent des difficultés à être de leur temps. » Il me semble que Jésus réussissait à rendre la révélation biblique contextuelle à son époque. Efforçonsnous donc de faire de même.NL

21


T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

By Neil Earle Pastor, Glendora, California congregation

T

he title of this article is taken from an epic E.J. Pratt poem, the masterly “Brebeuf and His Brethren,” a salute to the French missionaries who laid the groundwork for the rise of New France, the seedbed of modern Quebec. Pratt wrote: The winds of God were blowing over France… The saints came back in their incarnate forms. The monks were summoned from their monasteries,

The Winds Of God this and understanding these reasons can teach us lessons about our own faith journeys in the Worldwide Church of God. Though the Jesuits and early missionaries are often harshly criticized today as the shock troops of extreme Catholicism, abusers of the native tribes, enforcers of stern tradition upon generations of impoverished peasants, establishers of the “tyranny of the priesthood” (and there are reasons for these charges), there are still other lessons to be drawn from Quebec’s 350-year history as a Catholic bastion. Three come to mind. A passion for evangelism

Nuns from their convents… Pratt was referring to religious revival, part of the Catholic CounterReformation that swept Europe in the late 1500s. Religious fervor often stimulates the desire to reach out, to spread the faith, to preach the word. Thus, as historians have well said: “The devout of France saw the discovery of the New World as a command from God to convert the heathen.” Mysticism versus materialism

Just to mention Father Jean de Brebeuf of the Jesuit order and the Huron mission evokes romantic and even mythical memories of the saga of New France. In The Dream of Nation: A Social and Intellectual History of Quebec, Susan Mann Trofimenkoff claims that “the religious dream was more powerful than the state in the seventeenth century.” She adds: “Without it there might have been no New France at all” (page 3). As she notes, those crusading missionaries, Ursuline nuns, nursing

And now recent research on Christianity in Quebec carries the rather surprising discovery that, while the church as an institution is in decline in Quebec, nevertheless “Quebecers remain attached to rather traditional beliefs and to their spiritual roots.” As Ron Graham reported in 1990 in God’s Dominion (also quoted on on page 16 of this issue) : “Three centuries of mysticism do not evaporate in three decades of materialism” (page 123). In other words, in spite of the Quiet Revolution and the careers of Rene Levesque, Pierre Trudeau, Guy LaFleur and Jacques Parizeau, 88 percent of Quebecers still list themselves as Roman Catholic. There are reasons for

22

NORTHERN LIGHT


T H E M E

his fellows to adapt as far as possible, to the ways of the potential converts…. ‘You must have sincere affection for the savages,’ he wrote in 1637, ‘looking upon them as ransomed by the blood of the son of God, and as our brethren with whom we are to pass the rest of our lives’” (A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, page 19). Not all missionaries felt that way but Brebeuf advised his priests to put up with their strange food and ways, “they must be endured for the love of God.”

orders, and Sisters of the Congregation all possessed “an intense longing to change the world for God.” They also knew that the Gospel must deal with practical matters, must attend to the body as well as the soul: “They founded schools for Indian children, colleges for French boys, convents for the daughters of the colonial elite, hospitals for the sick, asylums for the needy, and day schools for girls in the countryside [and all] ‘to bring about the glory of God and the salvation of the Indian.’ Their letters home were advertisements and pleas for the colony and rarely did they go unheard. Money, settlers and supplies followed in the wake of the religious [establishing] a network of clerically administered social institutions that would not only outlive New France but be an enduring feature of Quebec society until well into the twentieth century” (page 4). Stripped to its essence, here is the spirit of evangelism. Though these zealot mystics might well have tragically killed more Indians through disease than they converted, their labors were not in vain. Not at all. They were key to establishing what we today call “the French fact” in North America. In the name of God and glory they pushed out from Quebec across the Great Lakes down the Mississippi eventually to New Orleans, a port named after the French royal family. Along the way they left waymarks— Sault Ste. Marie, Marinetta, and Fond Du Lac, Champaign, Terre Haute, and St. Louis. The winds of God were blowing strongly in the 1600s and they enlivened the French presence as they blew. Fathers Jogue and Lalemant, and a string of devoted Mother Superiors earnestly believed that “the blood of the martyrs is J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

C O N T I N U E D

The fancy theological term for this is “contextualizing the Gospel”—reaching people where they are. There is no effective Gospel work without this approach. As much as possible Brebeuf tried to present the message of salvation in the Huron language. Here, for example, is his translation of the Christmas story:

the seed of the Church.” Such zeal may well have had its dark side but we are looking back comfortably in more settled times at a church that has had its ups and downs, its corrupt and listless periods and a final losing battle with the forces of the modern world. And is it just possible that one reason we decry these Catholic zealots so shrilly today is the stark fact of their genuine zeal for sacrificial Christianity? “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1). The roots of religion still run deep in Quebec and with it, perhaps, hope of recommitment as well. ‘A sincere affection’ One fascinating thing about Brebeuf’s generation was that zeal to proclaim the Gospel in the message of the Indian converts. Brebeuf enjoyed considerable success among the Hurons, Mark Noll writes, because “he regularly counseled

Within a lodge of broken bark The tender Babe was found, A ragged robe of rabbit skin Enwrapp’d His beauty round; But as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high—Jesus your king is born… This is taking that most successful missionary Paul of Tarsus’s words to heart: “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law…. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). Marie Guyart (1599-1672) was a French widow from Tours in France who came to Canada as an Ursuline nun. She played a major part in writing grammars, liturgies, and catechisms in the Huron and Algonquin language. That is contextualizing with a vengeance. No wonder most of the French missions survived and no wonder the old faith has such a strong subliminal hold on today’s Quebecois.

23


T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

Quebec ‘Christendom’ This heroic phase of Catholicism in Quebec gave way to struggles between the clergy and the other classes in society—merchants, soldiers, free enterprise fur traders, etc. But with the defeat of the French general Montcalm in 1759 outside Quebec City a new period began, a period that paradoxically saw Catholic Christianity in Quebec emerge stronger than before. For one thing the Ursuline nursing sisters won the gratitude of the British for tending the wounded of both sides. For another the British government looked to Quebec’s conservative church establishment to help keep order in Quebec as war began with the American colonies (1776-1783). The British were careful to respect the Catholic church’s rights and this earned them official clergy support during two abortive American invasions of 1777 and 1812. The 1800s were thus a time of social stability in Quebec with her population doubling every 25 years—“the revenge of the cradle.” Quebec Catholics were key players in the negotiations for Confederation in 1867 and centers of cohesion in the anguished conscription crises of World Wars One and Two. But, this social and political prominence came at a cost. In spite of being known as a supporter of schools, hospitals and colleges, the church in Quebec became identified overly much with the traditional establishment. “Jesus and God were always mad at me, only Mary held out any hope,” commented one Montreal pastor on the situation in the early 1900s. “Most of the time we were told to attend mass and make babies.” This is a bitter indictment. Exaggerated or not it helps explain the mass exodus from Catholicism during the modernizing 1950s and 1960s, not a few of these people, incidentally, joining such new religious groups as the Worldwide

24

Church of God. Quebec Christianity— largely Catholic—was paying the penalty for being too much part of the status quo, part of “Christendom” wherein the church calls the shots allied to the powers that be.

Called to authenticity “The end of Christendom,” added Muggeridge, “but not the end of Christ!” This is a brilliant and helpful insight. Researchers tell us that Quebecois, like many others turned off by traditional religion, nevertheless retain an authentic thirst for spiritual experience. That is the challenge facing Quebec’s Christian communities today and Christian communities all across the Western world. “We become forgetful that Jesus is the prophet of the losers’ not the victors’ camp,” Muggeridge explained, “the One who proclaims that the first will be last, that the weak are the strong, and the fools are the wise.” It is a long journey from Brebeuf to the Quiet Revolution but to those who are responsive the winds of God are still stirring, still blowing, still ready to call men and women to true faith and authentic spiritual existence. Jesus is still there, still calling men and women to be his disciples. Just how to present that invitation is the challenge facing Quebec Christianity and all Christians in the Western world today.NL

Lesson three thus seems to be for the church, any church, to be wary of becoming too closely identified with success, with the way things are, with the status quo, with the establishment. This is precisely what the British critic and Christian Malcolm Muggeridge meant when he told an audience in Waterloo, Ontario in 1978 that we are seeing the end of Christendom—that is, a power structure based on Christian principles but constructed by human agents. The Quebec experience with Christianity bears this out most clearly. NORTHERN LIGHT


B I B L E

The Three Way Stuggle

S T U D Y

By Michael Morrison

A Study Of Romans 7

I

n his letter to the Romans, Paul has explained that we are saved by grace, not by observing the law, because Christ died for us. This does not give us permission to sin—rather, we should serve God by being slaves of righteousness. Paul clarifies the relationship between law and sin in chapter 7. He begins by giving us an analogy from marriage, and he speaks to the Jewish believers, because they are the ones who are most concerned about the law. An illustration from marriage Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? (7:1). Paul has already argued in chapter 6 that believers died with Christ, and we have therefore died to sin. In chapter 7, he will argue that, in our union with Jesus Christ, we also died to the law. When we die to sin, we also die to the law. In the eyes of the law, we are dead. However, Christians have been given new life with Christ, so where does that put us? Paul’s second point is that we are under a new authority. In verse 2, Paul uses the analogy of marriage, in which a death can affect the legal status of the living: For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. The law of marriage has force only as long as both partners are alive. As soon as one dies, the marriage restrictions are gone. By analogy, Jews were once bound to the law. But since they died with Christ, they are released from the law, and as a result, a new union can be formed. That’s what Paul is interested in—the new union: So then, if [a woman] marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulterJ U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

ess. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man (v. 3). Because a death has occurred, a new relationship can be formed. A new authority in our lives Paul applies his analogy to the law in verse 4: So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Paul’s point is that death breaks the bond with the law, and a new bond is permitted. The Jewish believers died to the law through the death of Christ, and their allegiance is now to him rather than the law. We have to be released from the law so we can be united to Christ. Jesus was born under the law, but in his death and resurrection, he escaped its obligations. The risen Christ does not have to keep the Sabbath or the other laws of Moses, and when we are in Christ, we don’t have to keep them, either. We are supposed to avoid sin, but sin is no longer defined by the laws of Moses. Rather, it is defined by the character of Christ. We are to conform to him, and since he is not bound by the law of Moses, neither are we. We belong to the one “who was raised from the dead.” Why? To “bear fruit for God.” We are to serve him. Paul contrasts the before and after again in verse 5: For when we were controlled by our sinful nature [some translations say “the flesh” – the Greek word is sarx], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. Before Christ, our lives were dominated by our sinful nature, and our sinful desires, instead of bearing fruit for God, brought us death. But with Christ, our life is no longer controlled by the flesh.

Paul says that our sinful passions were “aroused by the law.” As he said in Rom. 5:20, the law had the ironic result of increasing our desire to sin. Before Paul develops that thought more, he makes this conclusion in verse 6: But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. The law once bound us, but we have been released from it. Instead of serving God according to the law, we serve in a new way, defined by the Holy Spirit. Paul explains that in chapter 8; the rest of chapter 7 is a discussion of law and sin. The law and sin What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? (v. 7). If the law causes our desire for sin to increase, is the law bad? Paul says, Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. The law reveals what sin is (Rom. 3:20), and that is a dangerous bit of knowledge. Paul illustrates the problem with the tenth commandment: For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting (vv. 7-8). Paul, like everyone else, had covetous desires, and the law told him that his desires, although normal, were sinful. Paul could keep the external rules of Judaism, but he couldn’t prevent himself from coveting, and he learned from the law that this was sin. But the relationship between law and sin is worse than simply giving information. Paul is saying that the law, by defining sin, told his sinful nature how to sin more. Our sinful nature wants to violate laws. If you give it a rule, it wants to break it. So the law, by prohibiting certain things, made people do them even

25


B I B L E

S T U D Y

C O N T I N U E D

more, because of our perverse nature. At least this is how it worked for Paul. But is Paul really talking about himself, or is he just giving a general principle? Some people are troubled by the idea that Paul struggled with sin throughout his Christian life. They would like to put all that struggle in Paul’s past, but Paul describes it in the present tense, and I think we should let Paul describe himself the way he wants to, without our theories telling him that he can’t mean what he is saying. In the literary flow of Romans, Paul is talking about something that happens after we come to faith in Christ. In chapter 6 he says that we died to sin, but we still have to fight it. In chapter 7 he says that we died to the law, but we are to serve Christ in the way of the Spirit. He does not want to make it sound effortless or automatic. He’s talking about life right now, and so he discusses the relationship between the law and sin. The struggle that began before we came to faith continues even after we come to faith. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died (vv. 8-9). When was Paul alive apart from the law? Presumably when he was a baby, too young to understand. But when he learned the law, the sinful nature inside of him found a way to express itself—by rebelling. Sin sprang to life, and Paul sinned, and he was condemned. He said, I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death (v. 10; see also Rom. 4:15). Paul is apparently speaking from a human perspective here, for in Gal. 3:21 he says that the law could not bring life, so presumably God did not intend for it to bring life. Instead, it brought death. The law showed people what would happen if they went this way, or if they went

26

that way. It gave guidance, but did not force people to go either one way or the other. The Jews assumed that the law would give people life, but it actually gives death. Why? Because sin took over. That’s what Paul says in verse 11:

about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. The law is good, but sin hijacks it and uses the law to bring us death. God allowed this so we could see how terrible sin is.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. Since sin breaks rules, and the law offered rules, it allowed sin to exercise itself. The law allowed sin to trick me, and I got death when I was trying to get life. When Paul tried to be righteous by keeping the law, he relied on himself instead of on God, and that was a sin.

The struggle inside us

The law is not the problem—it’s just that it is so easily hijacked by our sinful desires. The law didn’t cause us to take a wrong turn—it just told us where we would end up if we took it, and the perversity inside us made us take the wrong turn. Sin deceived us and put us on the pathway to death. The law isn’t the culprit—it was an unwitting accomplice. So Paul concludes in verse 12 that the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. The law is holy, but it can’t make us holy. Were the laws of animal sacrifices good? Yes, because God gave them— but that doesn’t mean they are required today. We can’t use this verse to support any specific laws, because Paul isn’t being specific here. He is just saying that God’s law, no matter how you define it, is not the cause of the problem.

Paul describes the struggle that goes on: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin (v. 14). Could this be the Christian Paul, who said he died to sin and is no longer its slave? Yes; Paul will explain how he is both enslaved and freed. In v. 15 he describes the struggle: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do (v. 15). He wants to do good, but he ends up doing bad, and he struggles to know why. He has a converted mind that wants to do good, but a body that does bad. Why? Because there is another power at work within him. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good (v. 16). The fact that he doesn’t like his own behavior is evidence that he likes the law. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me (v. 17). All the blame goes to sin, not to Paul, and that is why he can say that there is no condemnation for people in Christ (8:1). Whatever bad they do is blamed on the sin within them, not on the new person they are in Christ.

So Paul asks, Did that which is good, then, become death to me? (v. 13). Did the law cause my death? Certainly not, he says. Criminals can’t blame the law for what they do. Rather, the law just tells us the results of what we’ve done.

Paul explains the problem by splitting himself in two—there is the old person, in the sphere of sin, and there is the new person in Christ. The new person is enslaved to Christ, but the sinful nature is still enslaved to sin, and they are both active. Being freed from sin and enslaved to righteousness is not automatic—it involves a struggle.

Nevertheless, Paul says, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good [the law] to bring

I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature (v. 18). Paul qualifies his statement by saying NORTHERN LIGHT


B I B L E

that he’s talking about the flesh, the sinful nature, not his new nature in Christ. All the good in Paul’s life comes from Christ living in him, rather than originating in Paul. The good comes from the new nature, the bad comes from the old, and the Christian life involves fighting against the old. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (vv. 18-19). Paul wants to do good, but he sometimes sins. The sin within him is hijacking the law, making him do things he wouldn’t otherwise do. Now if I do what I do not want to do [that is, when I sin], it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it (v. 20). Paul blames sin, not himself. What he said in verse 14, that he was a slave to sin, is only the way it appeared to be. The reality, he says, is that all my sins are blamed on this hostile power within me, and all the good is produced by Christ. It is not me, but my old sinful nature that is still enslaved to sin. Gal. 5:17 describes the same Christian struggle: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

evil within him sometimes causes him to do things that he hates. So he groans, as he says in Rom. 8:23, waiting for the redemption of his body, the resurrection and the ultimate victory over his sinful nature. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? How will I escape the sinful nature that fights within me? Paul knows where his deliverance will come from: Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (v. 25a).

S T U D Y

C O N T I N U E D

Questions for discussion In Paul’s analogy, is it possible to be yoked to the law and united to Christ at the same time? (v. 3) The commandment against coveting helped Paul see that he was sinful (vv. 7-8). Have I had a similar experience to see that I am sinful? If the commandment brings me death instead of life, how can it be good? (vv. 10, 12)

Paul, even as he writes, is in the process of being delivered. It’s a lifelong struggle, but the victory is sure, thanks to God! How does it happen? That’s what Paul covers in chapter 8—life in the Spirit. That’s where the battle is won.

Have I struggled with sin in the way that Paul describes in vv. 15-20?

Paul concludes this chapter with a summary: So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin (v. 25b). Even after he talks about the deliverance being given to him by Christ, Paul says there is a struggle between mind and body. He is enslaved to God’s law, the law of Christ, but he sometimes falls short. He’s got a new mind, but an old body, and he looks forward to all things being made new!NL

Is God delivering me from the shackles of sin and death? (v. 24).

If I blame my sins on a hostile power within me (v. 20), do I reduce the importance of fighting against it?

Paul summarizes it in Rom. 7:21: So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law [or principle] at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me (vv. 21-23). So there is a struggle in Paul’s life. His mind, led by the Holy Spirit, wars against his body, which has been hijacked by sin. Although he wants to do good, the J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

27


Étude biblique de Michael Morrison

La lutte contre la loi, le péché et moi-même Une étude en Romains 7

D

ans sa lettre aux Romains, Paul explique que nous sommes sauvés par grâce, et non en observant la loi, parce que Christ est mort pour nous. Cela ne nous permet pas de pécher ; nous devrions plutôt servir Dieu en étant esclaves de la justice. Paul clarifie la relation entre la loi et le péché au chapitre 7. Il commence par une analogie avec le mariage et il s’adresse aux croyants juifs, parce ce sont eux qui sont le plus concernés par la loi. Une illustration du mariage « Ne savez-vous pas, frères – car je parle à des gens qui connaissent la loi – que la loi ne régit un homme que durant le temps de sa vie ? » (Ro 7.1) Paul a déjà expliqué au chapitre 6 que les croyants sont morts avec Christ, et que nous sommes donc morts au péché. Au chapitre 7, il explique que, dans notre union avec Jésus-Christ, nous sommes aussi morts à la loi. Lorsque nous mourons au péché, nous mourons aussi à la loi. Aux yeux de la loi, nous sommes morts. Cependant, les chrétiens ont reçu une nouvelle vie avec Christ, alors où cela nous place-t-il ? Le deuxième argument de Paul est que nous sommes placés sous une nouvelle autorité. Au verset 2, Paul se sert de l’analogie du mariage où la mort d’un des deux conjoints peut affecter le statut légal de l’autre. « Ainsi, une femme mariée est liée par la loi à son mari tant que celui-ci est en vie. Mais s’il vient à mourir, elle est libérée de la loi qui la liait à lui. » La loi du mariage est en vigueur aussi longtemps que les deux conjoints sont vivants. Dès qu’un des deux meurt, les restrictions du mariage disparaissent. En comparaison, les Juifs avaient un jour été liés à la loi. Mais étant donné qu’ils sont morts avec Christ, ils sont aussi libérés de la loi, et une nouvelle union peut donc être formée. C’est ce qui intéresse Paul : la nouvelle union.

28

« Donc si, du vivant de son mari, elle appartient à un autre homme, elle sera considérée comme adultère. Mais si le mari meurt, elle est affranchie de cette loi et peut donc appartenir à un autre, sans être adultère » (v. 3). Parce qu’une mort est survenue, une nouvelle relation peut être formée. Une nouvelle autorité dans notre vie Au verset 4, Paul applique son analogie à la loi : « Il en est de même pour vous, mes frères : par la mort du Christ, vous êtes, vous aussi, morts par rapport à la Loi, pour appartenir à un autre, à celui qui est ressuscité des morts, pour que nous portions des fruits pour Dieu. » Le point de Paul est que la mort brise le lien avec la loi, et qu’une nouvelle union est permise. Les croyants juifs sont morts à la loi par la mort de Christ, et leur allégeance est maintenant à lui plutôt qu’à la loi. Nous devons être libérés de la loi pour pouvoir être unis à Christ.

vie était dominée par notre nature pécheresse, et nos désirs pécheurs, au lieu de porter du fruit pour Dieu, nous ont apporté la mort. Mais avec Christ, notre vie n’est plus dominée par la chair. Paul dit que nos passions pécheresses étaient « suscitées par la Loi ». Comme il l’a écrit en Romains 5.20, la loi produisait ironiquement une augmentation de notre désir de pécher. Avant que Paul développe davantage cette pensée, il apporte cette conclusion au verset 6 : « Mais maintenant, libérés du régime de la Loi, morts à ce qui nous gardait prisonniers, nous pouvons servir Dieu d’une manière nouvelle par l’Esprit, et non plus sous le régime périmé de la lettre de la Loi. » La loi nous avait liés, mais nous en avons été libérés. Au lieu de servir Dieu selon la loi, nous servons d’une nouvelle manière définie par le Saint-Esprit. Paul explique cela au chapitre 8 ; le reste du chapitre 7 consiste en une discussion sur la loi et le péché. La loi et le péché

Jésus est né sous la loi, mais dans sa mort et sa résurrection, il a échappé à ses obligations. Le Christ ressuscité n’a pas besoin de garder le sabbat ou les autres lois de Moïse, et lorsque nous sommes en Christ, nous n’avons pas à les garder non plus. Nous sommes censés éviter le péché, mais le péché n’est plus défini par les lois de Moïse, mais plutôt par le caractère de Christ. Nous devons nous conformer à lui et, étant donné qu’il n’est pas lié par la loi de Moïse, nous ne le sommes pas non plus. Nous appartenons à celui qui est ressuscité des morts. Pourquoi ? Pour porter du fruit pour Dieu et le servir. Au verset 5, Paul fait de nouveau contraster la loi avec la grâce: « Lorsque nous étions encore livrés à nousmêmes, les mauvais désirs suscités par la Loi étaient à l’œuvre dans nos membres pour nous faire porter des fruits qui mènent à la mort. » Avant Christ, notre

« Que dire maintenant ? La Loi se confond-elle avec le péché ? (v. 7) Si la loi fait augmenter notre désir de pécher, est-elle mauvaise pour autant ? Paul répond : « Loin de là ! Seulement, s’il n’y avait pas eu la Loi, je n’aurais pas connu le péché » La loi révèle ce qu’est le péché (Ro 3.20), et c’est une petite connaissance bien dangereuse. Paul illustre le problème à l’aide du dixième commandement : « […] et je n’aurais pas su ce qu’est la convoitise si la Loi n’avait pas dit : Tu ne convoiteras pas. Mais alors le péché, prenant appui sur le commandement, a suscité en moi toutes sortes de désirs mauvais […] (v. 7, 8). Paul, comme tout le monde, avait des désirs de convoitise, et la loi lui disait que ses désirs, bien que normaux, étaient mauvais. Paul pouvait garder les lois extérieures du judaïsme, mais il ne pouvait s’empêcher de convoiter, et il a appris de la loi que cela était péché.

NORTHERN LIGHT


Étude biblique

Toutefois, le rapport entre la loi et le péché va bien plus loin que simplement nous donner de l’information. Paul dit que la loi, en définissant le péché, dictait à sa nature pécheresse comment pécher davantage. Notre nature pécheresse veut violer les lois. Si vous lui donnez une loi, elle veut la briser. Or, la loi, en défendant certaines choses, a incité les gens à pécher encore plus à cause de leur nature perverse. C’est du moins ainsi que cela fonctionnait pour Paul. Mais Paul parle-t-il réellement de luimême ou donne-t-il seulement un principe général ? Certains sont troublés à la pensée que Paul ait lutté avec le péché au cours de sa vie chrétienne. Ils aimeraient mettre toute cette lutte dans le passé de Paul, mais l’apôtre la décrit au temps présent, et je pense que nous devrions laisser Paul la décrire lui-même comme il le désire, sans nos théories lui imposant notre façon de voir les choses. Dans le flot littéraire de sa lettre aux Romains, Paul parle de quelque chose qui arrive après avoir cru à Christ. Au chapitre 6, il écrit que nous sommes morts au péché, mais que nous devons toujours le combattre. Au chapitre 7, il dit que nous sommes morts à la loi, mais que nous devons servir Christ selon l’Esprit. Il ne veut pas donner l’impression que cela est facile ou automatique. Il parle de la vie actuelle, et c’est pourquoi il discute de la relation entre la loi et le péché. La lutte qui a commencé avant que nous venions à la foi, continue même après avoir cru. « […] Car, sans la Loi, le péché est sans vie. Moi, pourtant, autrefois sans la Loi, je vivais, mais quand le commandement est intervenu, c’est le péché qui s’est mis à vivre, et moi je suis mort » (v. 8, 9). Quand Paul a-t-il vécu sans la loi ? Probablement quand il était un enfant, trop jeune pour comprendre. Mais lorsqu’il a appris la loi, la nature pécheresse en lui a trouvé un moyen de s’exprimer : par la rébellion. Le péché s’est mis à vivre, et Paul a péché et a été condamné. J U L Y



A U G U S T

2 0 0 5

Il a écrit : « Ainsi, ce qui s’est produit pour moi, c’est que le commandement qui devait conduire à la vie m’a conduit à la mort » (v. 10 ; voir aussi Ro 4.15). Paul parle apparemment d’un point de vue humain, parce qu’en Galates 3.21, il dit que la loi ne pouvait pas donner la vie ; alors il est probable que Dieu n’avait pas l’intention qu’elle donne la vie. Elle a plutôt apporté la mort.

que c’est Dieu qui les a données, mais cela ne veut pas dire qu’elles sont requises de nos jours. Nous ne pouvons pas nous servir de ce verset pour appuyer une quelconque loi spécifique, parce que Paul n’est pas spécifique dans ce verset. Il dit seulement que la loi de Dieu, peu importe comment vous la définissez, n’est pas la cause du problème.

La loi a montré aux gens ce qui arriverait s’ils faisaient ceci ou cela. Elle leur montrait la direction, sans toutefois les forcer à agir d’une manière ou d’une autre. Les Juifs ont présumé que la loi donnerait la vie aux gens, mais elle leur a en réalité donné la mort. Pourquoi ? Parce que le péché a pris le dessus. C’est ce que dit Paul au verset 11.

Paul demande alors : « Est-il donc possible que ce qui est bon soit devenu pour moi une cause de mort ? » (v. 13) La loi a-t-elle causé ma mort ? Certainement pas, répond-il. Les criminels ne peuvent pas blâmer la loi pour leurs crimes. La loi nous donne seulement les résultats de nos actions.

« Car le péché a pris appui sur le commandement : il m’a trompé et m’a donné la mort en se servant du commandement. » Puisque le péché a brisé les règles, et que la loi offrait des règles, elle a permis au péché de s’exercer. La loi a permis au péché de me tromper, et j’ai reçu la mort alors que j’essayais d’avoir la vie. Lorsque Paul essayait d’être juste en gardant la loi, il dépendait de lui-même plutôt que de Dieu, et cela était un péché. La loi n’est pas le problème, mais elle est si facilement détournée par nos désirs pécheurs. La loi ne nous a pas fait prendre un mauvais chemin, elle nous a simplement dit où nous aboutirions si nous l’empruntions, et la perversité qui nous habite nous a fait prendre le mauvais chemin. Le péché nous a trompés et placés sur le chemin de la mort. La loi n’est pas la coupable, mais une complice involontaire. Paul conclut donc ainsi au verset 12 : « La Loi elle-même est sainte, et le commandement, saint, juste et bon ». La loi est sainte, mais elle ne peut pas nous rendre saints. Les lois relatives aux sacrifices d’animaux étaient-elles bonnes ? Oui, parce

Paul écrit ensuite : « En effet, il m’a donné la mort en se servant de ce qui est bon pour manifester sa nature de péché et pour montrer son excessive perversité par le moyen du commandement. » La loi est bonne, mais le péché l’a détournée et il l’utilise pour nous apporter la mort. Dieu a permis cela pour que nous voyions à quel point le péché est terrible. La lutte en nous Paul décrit la lutte qui s’ensuit : « Nous savons que la Loi a été inspirée par l’Esprit de Dieu, mais moi, je suis comme un homme livré à lui-même, vendu comme esclave au péché » (v. 14). Est-il possible que ce soit le Paul chrétien qui dit qu’il est mort au péché et qu’il n’est plus esclave du péché ? Oui, Paul explique plus loin comment il est à la fois esclave et libre. Au verset 15, Paul décrit la lutte : « En effet, je ne comprends pas ce que je fais : je ne fais pas ce que je veux, et c’est ce que je déteste que je fais. » Il veut faire le bien, mais il finit par faire le mal, et il lutte pour savoir pourquoi. Il a un esprit converti qui veut faire le bien, mais un corps qui fait le mal. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’il y a une autre puissance qui agit en lui.

29


Étude biblique

« Et si je fais ce que je ne veux pas, je reconnais par là que la Loi est bonne » (v. 16). Le fait qu’il n’aime pas son propre comportement prouve qu’il aime la loi.

paraît être. La réalité, dit-il, est que tous mes péchés dépendent de cette puissance hostile en moi, et que tout le bon est produit par Christ. Ce n’est pas moi, mais mon ancienne nature qui est toujours esclave du péché.

« En réalité, ce n’est plus moi qui le fais, mais c’est le péché qui habite en moi » (v. 17). Tout le blâme repose sur le péché, et non sur Paul, et c’est pourquoi il peut dire qu’il n’y a aucune condamnation pour ceux qui sont en Christ (8.1). Tout ce que les gens font de mal dépend du péché en eux, et non de la nouvelle personne qu’ils sont en Christ.

Galates 5.17 décrit la même lutte du chrétien : « Car ses désirs sont diamétralement opposés à ceux de l’Esprit ; et l’Esprit a des désirs qui sont opposés de ceux de l’homme livré à lui-même. Les deux sont opposés l’un à l’autre, c’est pourquoi vous ne pouvez pas être votre propre maître. »

Paul explique le problème en se partageant en deux : il y a l’ancienne personne, dans la sphère du péché, et il y a la nouvelle personne en Christ. La nouvelle personne est esclave de Christ, mais la nature pécheresse est toujours esclave du péché, et elles sont toutes deux actives. Être libre du péché et esclave de la justice n’est pas automatique : cela implique une lutte.

Paul le résume dans Romains 7.21 : « Lorsque je veux faire le bien, je découvre cette loi ; c’est le mal qui est à ma portée. Dans mon être intérieur, je prends plaisir à la Loi de Dieu. Mais je vois bien qu’une autre loi est à l’œuvre dans tout mon être ; elle combat la Loi qu’approuve ma raison et elle fait de moi le prisonnier de la loi du péché qui agit dans mes membres (v. 21-23).

« Car je sais que le bien n’habite pas en moi, c’est-à-dire dans ce que je suis par nature » (v. 18). Paul qualifie son énoncé en précisant qu’il parle de la chair, la nature pécheresse, et non de sa nouvelle nature en Christ. Tout ce qui est bon dans la vie de Paul vient de Christ qui vit en lui, plutôt que de Paul. Le bon vient de la nouvelle nature, le mauvais vient de l’ancienne, et la vie chrétienne implique une lutte contre l’ancienne.

Il y a donc une lutte dans la vie de Paul. Son esprit, conduit par le Saint-Esprit, lutte contre son corps, lequel a été dérouté par le péché. Même s’il veut faire le bien, le mal en lui l’incite parfois à faire des choses qu’il déteste. Alors il gémit, comme il le dit en Romains 8.23, en attendant la rédemption de son corps, la résurrection et la victoire ultime sur sa nature pécheresse.

« […] Vouloir le bien est à ma portée, mais non l’accomplir. Je ne fais pas le bien que je veux, mais le mal que je ne veux pas, je le commets » (v. 18, 19). Paul veut faire le bien, mais il pèche parfois. Le péché en lui déroute la loi, lui faisant faire des choses qu’il ne ferait pas autrement. « Si donc je fais ce que je ne veux pas, ce n’est plus moi qui le fais mais c’est le péché qui habite en moi » (v. 20). Paul blâme le péché et non lui-même. Ce qu’il a écrit au verset 14, qu’il était esclave du péché, n’est que ce qu’il

30

« Malheureux que je suis ! Qui me délivrera de ce corps voué à la mort ? (v. 24) Comment échappera-t-il à la nature pécheresse qui lutte au dedans de lui ? Paul sait d’où sa délivrance lui viendra : « Dieu soit loué : c’est par Jésus-Christ notre Seigneur (v. 25a).

Paul conclut le chapitre 7 par un résumé : « […] moi-même, je suis, par la raison, au service de la Loi de Dieu, mais je suis, dans ce que je vis concrètement, esclave de la loi du péché. » Même après avoir parlé de la délivrance que Christ lui a donnée, Paul dit qu’il y a une lutte entre son esprit et son corps. Il est esclave de la loi de Dieu, la loi de Christ, mais il échoue parfois. Il a un nouvel esprit, mais un ancien corps, et il anticipe le jour où toutes choses seront nouvelles !NL

Questions pour discuter Dans l’analogie de Paul, est-ce possible d’être sous le joug de la loi et en même temps unis à Christ ? (v. 3) Le commandement condamnant la convoitise a aidé Paul à reconnaître qu’il était pécheur (v. 7, 8) Est-ce que j’ai vécu une expérience semblable pour reconnaître que je suis pécheur ? Si le commandement me donne la mort au lieu de la vie, comment peut-il être bon ? (v. 10, 12) Ai-je lutté avec le péché comme Paul le décrit aux versets 15 à 20 ? Si je blâme mes péchés sur une puissance hostile en moi (v. 20), est-ce que je réduis l’importance de lutter contre elle ? Dieu me délivre-t-il des chaînes du péché et de la mort ? (v. 24)

Paul, même au moment où il écrit, vit le processus de la délivrance. C’est une lutte de toute une vie, mais la victoire est assurée, grâce à Dieu ! Comment cela se passe-t-il ? C’est ce dont Paul parle au chapitre 8 : la vie dans l’Esprit. C’est là que la victoire est remportée. NORTHERN LIGHT


NATIONAL NEWS

Catching Up To God

painter remarked about the email, “That’s an answer to prayer.”

Do you believe God answers prayer? After reading this perhaps you will. I would like to share what happened to my wife Jeana, to whom I have been married to for nearly 40 years. For at least several months she was having what I felt was “sciatica” pains that started in one hip and went down her leg. Then the next time these pains would be in her other hip and leg. The mornings seemed to be worst but as the day went on, with more activity her pain became more tolerable—if not pain or discomfort free. But on Friday February 28th, Jeana was in sheer agony. Seeing her extreme suffering I called on Pastor Al Nordstrom to come and pray for her and anoint her. Shortly after, around 10 PM, Jeana told me that Adriel (our youngest son) was going to take her to emergency at the hospital as she was now experiencing pain in her abdomen. At about 11:00 PM Adriel called me and said that the hospital was admitting Jeana, and a CAT scan and MRI were planned. On Saturday morning I solicited more prayers of members of the church. Later that morning a CAT scan was attempted but Jeana wasn’t able keep down the oral solution needed for the scan so the hospital had to give it intravenously. The scan showed a couple of spots on her pancreas, but it was felt this wasn’t the main concern. As a result an MRI was scheduled for Monday or at the latest, Wednesday.

At the hospital a Scottish doctor doing rounds said the surgery could only happen if Jeana had not eaten any food. As she had been unable to keep anything down for days, it went ahead. On Wednesday, (the day after her surgery) I was at the hospital checking on her condition when that same doctor, pointed skyward and said, “You’ve got someone looking out for you.” I discovered that the doctor that did the surgery was a well-know back specialist who “just happened” to be on call for emergency surgery. It just so happens that I had heard of this doctor in January when I was taking a first aid course. The only person I knew at the course had said that he had performed surgery on her when her first surgery by another doctor did not work out.

Walter W. D. Schmidt Sr. Edmonton Alberta Lancement Béroukhia

d’un

CD

Release of Beroukhia par

Céline Rioux et Hélène St-Onge, membres de l’Église francophone de Montréal forment le Duo Béroukhia. Béroukhia est un nom hébreu féminin qui signifie «bénie de Dieu ».Céline

2 0 0 5

Praise

CD

by

Duo

Duo

Before I left for the hospital, I received an email entitled “God Reigns” which contained the words to music that said, “I believe…that someone hears every word.” As I was leaving work our sign A U G U S T

Vous pouvez commander une copie du CD Toi au coût de $15.00 par courriel à duo@beroukhia.com ou en visitant leur site Web à www.beroukhia.com.

Through this whole ordeal, many friends told us they would pray. I believe they did, and were heard. Jeans and I certainly felt God’s answer to these prayers throughout this trying time in our lives.

C’est à l’occasion d’une assemblée combinée et d’une soirée sociale des congrégations anglophones et francophones de Montréal, le 23 avril dernier, que le Duo Béroukhia lançait son tout premier CD de louange « Toi ».



L’album contient quelques compositions de Céline, dont Toi, le chant thème du CD. Cet album est né de la passion pour le Seigneur que partagent ces deux jeunes femmes. L’écoute de ce CD vous en convaincra et sera certainement pour vous un outil de louange et d’édification spirituelle formidable.

Things went so well with Jeana’s recovery that she was allowed to go home early Wednesday morning instead of the expected mid-day release time.

I went to work Tuesday morning, but was hardly there before I got a phone call from Jeana saying the MRI had been performed and that she was scheduled for surgery.

J U L Y

possède une maîtrise en piano, instrument qu’elle enseigne depuis 10 ans. Hélène a étudié le chant classique et populaire pendant plusieurs années. Elles se sont rencontrées en 1994, et depuis ce temps, leur amitié n’a cessée de grandir. Elles ont la joie d’œuvrer ensemble depuis de nombreuses années dans l’équipe de louange de leur congrégation.

The release of Duo Béroukhia’s first praise CD “Toi” (You) took place on April 23rd, on the special occasion of a combined service and social night of the Anglophone and Francophone congregations of Montreal. Céline Rioux and Hélène St-Onge, members of the Montreal Francophone church form the Duo Béroukhia. Béroukhia is a Hebrew feminine name that means “blessed of God”. Céline has a masters degree in piano, and has been teaching piano for the last 10

31


N A T I O N A L

years. Hélène has studied both classical and popular singing for many years. They met in 1994, and since that time, their friendship has grown tremendously. They have had the joy of serving together in the praise and worship team of their congregation for many years. The album comprises a few of Celine’s own compositions, including “Toi”, the theme song of the CD. This album was born out of a passion that these two young women share for the Lord. Listening to this CD will certainly persuade of this passion and will be a source of spiritual edification as well as a wonderful praise and worship tool. You can order a copy of the CD Toi at the cost of $15.00 by email at duo@beroukhia.com or by visiting their website at www.beroukhia.com. Roger Labelle Ottawa 40th Anniversary Members of the Ottawa congregation are pleased to announce the upcoming celebration of the 40th year since the foundation of the local church in the Ottawa region. To mark the event and honour the founding members and those who have taken on the “baton” since then, a special service, pot luck and social activities will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2005, beginning at 1:30 PM. This celebration will be held at St. Paul’s Presbyterian church, at 971 Woodroffe Avenue, just north of the Queensway (Exit 127 North off Hi-way #417) in Ottawa. All are welcome to attend. Our guest speaker for the event is Canadian Director, Gary Moore.

C O N T I N U E D

Invitation - 40ième anniversaire de la congrégation - région d’Ottawa Les membres de la congrégation d’Ottawa sont fiers de vous faire part des activités commémoratives à l’occasion du 40ième anniversaire de la fondation de la congrégation dans la région d’Ottawa et Hull /Gatineau. Pour bien célébrer cet heureux événement et rendre hommage aux membres fondateurs, ainsi que ceux et celles qui ont pris la relève depuis, une assemblée spéciale aura lieu à 13H30 le samedi 24 septembre 2005, suivi d’un repas en commun et autres activités sociales durant la soirée. Le tout se déroulera à la salle communautaire de l’église presbytérienne StPaul, située au 971, avenue Woodroffe (sortie #127 nord de la voie rapide #417, à Ottawa). Le conférencier invité sera M. Gary Moore, directeur national au Canada. Nous vous invitons à vous joindre à nous lors de cette occasion. Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec Maurice ou Louise Charron en composant le (819) 568-0098, ou faire parvenir un courriel à l’adresse mo.charron@videotron.ca Maurice Charron Winnipeg 40th Anniversary The Winnipeg, MB congregation will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year during the weekend of September 1011th. We will be welcoming Pastor General Joseph Tkach to this event. We plan on hosting a traditional Manitoba fowl supper on the evening of Saturday, September 10th followed by a service and reception on Sunday, September 11th.

For more information contact:

Those planning to attend the Saturday supper, should pre-purchase dinner tickets. The cost is $5.00 per person.

Maurice or Louise Charron Phone: (819) 568-0098 Email: m o . c h a r r o n @ v i d e o t r o n . c a

For more information contact: Alan Redmond Phone: (204) 654-3217

32

N E W S

NORTHERN LIGHT



Christianity in French Quebec