Tuesday, October 21, 2014
ALL OF IT!
Is Christianity primarily a matter of doing, thinking, or being? Chances are you know the "right answer." It's "all of the above." Christianity embraces doing, thinking, and being. That's clear enough.That's a good description of my journey to date. Although I will say that often The doing is not base upon which I build, but an approach which I abandon. I think it is right and good that we go through these stages, but we cannot abandon what we have learned for the sake of what we are learning. That is the hard part. It is also the secret to becoming a whole Christian.
I agree. But, in practice, most of us tend to lean strongly in one direction or another. If you grew up in a Christian home, there's a good chance you learned to think of Christianity as a matter of doing (and not doing)....
Then, somewhere along the way, we discovered that Christianity had to do with thinking. We learned that theology matters, that having the right theology is vital to authentic faith....
Then, perhaps a little later in life, our hearts yearned for something more. We wanted to go deeper than just doing and just thinking. We sought to know God more experientially, to learn what it meant to be God's child,...
Lord. make me a whole Christian!
Christianity complete wholeness
Monday, October 20, 2014
What's God Up To In Your Life?
Sometimes, we can think of the Christian as a minor remodel. When we put our faith in Christ, we add a few new beliefs and behaviors. But, for the most part, we think and live much as we did before receiving God's grace through Christ.Being a Christian is radical stuff. Not "workers of the world unite radical," rather radical in the sense that what God is about in our loves is not adjustment, but re-creation.
This minor remodel approach to Christianity falls far short of the biblical vision.
As I sit here thinking and praying about this I am tempted to write about what this means for my life personally, and your, I hope. But the thought keeps also running through my mind about what this means with regards to how we invite people to join us. We present the world with a kind of Christianity Lite becasue we think the world will be afraid of the real stuff. But what I keep wondering is if Christianity Lite is really that appealing. It looks so much like everybody else, just in churchy clothes. You have to be a sheep for the sheep's clothing trick to work and people are not sheep.
But as I think about that, maybe I really am thinking about what this means to my life personally. Maybe present Christianity Lite to the world is the excuse I use to prevent God from making the real radical changes He wants to make in my life. Maybe if instead of worrying about the image I present to the world for the sake of evangelism, I worried about what it is God is doing in my life and let the image thing take care of itself my life might actually attract people to God.
Or is that too radical a thought?
evangelism spiritual formation
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014
As I sat here looking at the mountain outside my window (not as clear today as in this photo), the question that revolved in my mind as I meditated on this was not so much Where does my help come from? but rather Where does my inspiration come from? It is a question I often get asked, and I thought it was time to share some of what motivates and inspires me.Not that there is anything wrong with this - there most definitely is not. It is vitally important to take time away to listen to God. But there are times when we must act when we are uninspired.
Of course it is not an easy question to answer. In a nutshell, my inspiration comes from an integration of contemplative practices with my observations of life and creation. Often when I sit quietly in the presence of God aware of each life giving breath and of each loving heartbeat, listening to the quiet whispers of the eternal One’s voice, I sense the energy of God surging through me. Busyness, tiredness, anxiety and just plain distractedness all quench that.
Christ himself prayed at Gethsemane, "Not my will but thine." I would guess there is no amount of withdrawal that could inspire one to go through the trial and crucifixion. Sometimes, there is only duty.
I think it is an important point in our Christian growth when we learn that we will not always be inspired, that sometimes we do simply becasue we are supposed to. The next important point is when we learn that even when we act out of duty, we must act cheerfully, patiently and energetically - that's the point when we reach maturity.
That's why I think God often withholds inspiration. It's not that He is absent, it's that He is teaching us that we are so deeply His that He cannot be absent.
duty good cheer inspiration presence
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Did you catch that last phrase? Here it is again: "as each part does its work." The original Greek of this phrase speaks of the energeia of each part, a word from which we derive our word "energy." Thus, the body of Christ will grow to be what God intends it to be only if each one of us invests our personal energy in this great work. When it comes to the growth of God's people, yes, you do matter. You are essential.I wonder if we realize how many parts there really are? We all know about arms and legs and eyes and heads, but do we know about organs and structures and cells? Do we know about those parts of our bodies that are constructively destructive - that damage us in small ways so that better things can take place?
Now, I realize that many Christians don't believe this. Perhaps they have never been taught that they are essential to the health, life, and growth of the church. Perhaps they have heard this, but simply don't believe it. Perhaps their church is structured in a way that suggests they don't really matter. It is all too easy for churches, by their very organization, to imply that the ones who really matter are the clergy and, perhaps, a few major donors. Yet this is not the church as God intended it. Rather, the church is, by its very design, something that requires the energy of each and every part
The body is not a harmonious machine all pointed and traveling in the same direction. Simply bending you knee or elbow involves flexor and tensor muscles in competition with each other. Biochemically huge parts of your body are at war with other parts. Our bodies appear to bend to our will on the surface, but underneath it is a near chaos of competing forces and reactions, deconstructions and constructions.
This is a state called "equilibrium" - think of it as a balance set just right. Problem is if one force gets to strong or one gets too weak, the whole system falls out of kilter. Therefore, the church will always have counterbalances - those who say "NO" when the everybody says "YES." It is in fact a legitimate role in the church to be a pain-in-the-neck, a fly in the ointment. Otherwise the whole system can fly out of control. In the Old Testament such people were called prophets. It is a lonely, humbling and often martyred existence. But it is necessary.
Body of Christ Role prophet
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Words and Meaning
This is where matters get more dicey. Does it make a difference that the word sin might be replaced with evil in the proposed revision? I believe it does, yes. To oppose evil does not necessarily entail recognition of its presence within myself. I can reject the evil found in oppressive systems out there or in the pettiness of my neighbour next door. But I needn’t look into my own heart. I can, if I like, but the altered rite itself seems not to require it. By contrast, if I am asked, “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”, I am compelled to look within, to weigh my own heart in the balance and actively to renounce certain destructive tendencies within myself.I find this to be an extraordinarily concise description of that problems confronting most of modern Christianity. It is as if by becoming a part of the church, we are joining the army to battle evil out there, never realizing that we are the source of the evil. The problems all seem to be "out there." We fight poverty and hunger, we go on short term missions, we sally forth in political battle, but we never sit down and look at ourselves.
This may not comport with a modern or postmodern worldview, but it nevertheless flows out of a biblical framework within which repentance from sin brings divine forgiveness and is tied inextricably to salvation in Jesus Christ. No liturgical revision should obscure this central element of the gospel message.
Christianity will "fix" the world - it promises that, but it does so by helping each of us fix ourselves, one person at a time.
evil fixing things sin
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
But, practically speaking, what does Christ actually supply so that we might grow up in him?This is, I believe, a challenge for the modern church. Because we are so interested in being attractive, we often fail to help others grow because it would present them with challenges that they might find off-putting.
that Ephesians 4 does not advocate a private "just Jesus and me" Christianity. We don't figure out the truth of Jesus on our own. Rather, the teaching and learning of truth happens in the context of the body of Christ. Thus, the church is one of the major resources Christ gives to foster our growth. You and I cannot become what God intends us to be without deep connection to the church, a connection that involves both receiving and giving. And, as we'll see tomorrow, the church will never be what God intends it to be apart from you and me.
Even in small group settings there are all these efforts to "listen, not fix." There is indeed a time to just listen, but if we are to truly play the role of the body of Christ, there is a time to challenge, correct, cajole, as well as encourage and support. It seems to be forgotten that it is loving to correct someone engaged in harmful behavior.
The body of Christ is a varied and complex thing. When we emphasize some of its functions at the expense of others, we compromise much more than we realize. IN this case we are babies raising babies. If this continues will we even know what maturity looks like?