Monday, August 20, 2007

Living the Truth+Loving the World=Confusing

Proverbs 3:3
"Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart"

As followers of Christ we live in very torn world. We exist in this broken society where self is glorified, and yet we are called to deny self and live for a bigger, better reality where Christ is the center. We have to live knowing "the Truth" and live accordingly and yet love "the world.".
You know, I always used to read proverbs and think "they should probably rename this book broken record. Yah yah, do what is right, don't do what is wrong, blah, blah, blah"( yah, its ok, i'm forgiven) But this one proverb has really shaped my life in the past couple months.

Let not mercy and truth NEVER leave you.

these are two critically important and unwavering themes of the Christian life. Mercy and truth. Yet, they are very different and sometimes difficult ideas to grasp together and practice parallelly. Of course they spur on one another once we choose to embrace these radical ideas. Mercy will lead us into truth and the truth will spur us onto mercy. But living in congruence with both has proved quite arduous.

The problem lies in the way we live this out around the people around us. You see, when you are around a group of people who have not been introduced to Jesus, it would be most advantageous for us and Jesus' kingdom to let them experience both, but we need to have more mercy to make our relationship with God seem appealing, because honestly, the truth can be a little hard to swallow sometimes. On the other end of things when we are in our Jesuscentric circles we need to have more truth in order to keep ourselves disciplined. I think the Christianese term is "rebuke." So, I'm guessing that overall its about discernment and keeping in step with the Spirit. We all should be watching our Holy Spirit meter to see where we should dispense mercy and truth and what the concoction of each wil look like.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Counter Culture Vs. Sub-Culture

So, for the last two years or so, something has been be perfectly frank, pissing me off about Christians and Christianity. I could not put my finger on it, but i could plainly see instances where said grievances were taking place.

Well, last week after conversing with my friend Greg while he was delivering Pizza I had a small epiphany of sorts.

[Start Transmission from 123.21.453.21.1]

coun·ter·cul·ture [koun-ter-kuhl-cher]
the culture and lifestyle of those people, esp. among the young, who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.

[End Transmission]

So, as followers of Jesus we are supposed to be different.(Romans 12:1-2) Jesus outlines practical ways to live this out in His famous Sermon On The Mount. He explains to those unknown onlookers that day that the way we are supoosed to interact with the rest of the world is to do the opposite of what your natural instincts tells you to do and what the world tells us we are entitled to do.

We are called to give up our rights to serve and love those around us.

Problem 1.

It's Hard.

Half-ass solution to Problem 1.

[Start Transmission from 121.54.656.43.2]

sub·cul·ture (sŭb'kŭl'chər)
A cultural subgroup differentiated by status, ethnic background, residence, religion, or other factors that functionally unify the group and act collectively on each member.

[End Transmission]

So, instead of living counter culturally we haved demeaned ourselves by creating our own sub-culture. We now live in this safe and sanitary enviroment where we can live away from the corrupt world and feel good about it. This proverbial bubble that we have created for ourselves is warm and fuzzy and safe, but it is not condusive to Kingdom or missional living. See, we have our own Christian music, clothes, lingo, even theme parks. But would anyone not under this umbrella we have go out and purchase these things? take Christian music for example. A few months ago i was having a conversation with a few friends that were on tour and were staying at my house after a show here and one of them brought up the point that having a whole genre of music dubbed as christian is very confusing. What does christian music sound like? now, obviously there is Praise/Worship music because it has a certain sound and quality that makes it unique. But, as above said friend stated, " the only reason to label yourself as a christian musician or band is to make money, because you are marketing yourself to a certain type of people." anf then he so eloqeuntly staed "If we are to be the light of the world then we should be letting our light shine to everyone, putting ourselves out there so others that have not been introduced to Jesus can see a glimpse of the amazing God we worship."

So, here in lies the problem, we have segregated ourselves from our own culture and created a dangerous Us vs. Them mentality while all the while trying to grab people from the outside and pull them in to our bubble. Eric Bryant writes in his book Peppermint Filled PInatas,

" The world too often sees the invitation to connect to the church as irrelevant or at best a cumbersome process. People have to learn our religious language, sing our songs, and discuss our topics. For those who make the effort to connect with us, we reward them with rules, traditions, and conditional acceptance, yet Jesus offered grace, forgiveness and love. Rather than religion, Jesus offers relationship. As part of the body called the church, we need to strive to eliminate barriers that keep others from connecting with our community and connecting with Jesus."

I think that Jesus' idea of life is good enough to stand on its own, we dont need to give it a spa treatment, dress it up in a pretty outfit and sell it at the lowest price. We just need to live in the way Jesus described and the condition of the heart will begin to change and then people WILL notice. Grace is irresistable, but only if it is lived out. not just talked about.

.....bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent; apposite

I have been thinking lately about how to relate to the world around me and the term relevance keeps beeing thrown around, especially in Jesus centered circles. its everywhere, you hear at evangelism seminars, marketing meeting, theres even a magazine called RELEVANT. but looking back at what Jesus says about this world and His kingdom is this thought.

"Relevance is a consequence of kingdom living, not a cause"
-Rick Mckinley

I know that many of my friends are interested in Jesus but can't grasp going to a stuffy, judgemental church enviroment. But if we understand what His Kingdom is about and use that as the measuring stick of our lives then we don't have to worry about being relevant. Jesus is smart like that. If we stop building our lives around church culture and start living around Jesus cluture than maybe we can bring the gospel to the culture instead of trying to bring the culture to church.

i don't know maybe dreams can come true.

sorry, how gauche of me.....

i think he was a universalist... this doesnt make any sense. how can all paths lead to anything? That's like saying that I-5 and I-80 will both take you to Seattle.

how to reach out without selling out.

1) wait... i have no idea what i'm talkng about.