How could we not?

Church, God, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love

Earlier this morning, the entire campus of my university was shown the following video during one of our chapel services. As I sat there listening to the words of a famous comic and magician, I was convicted. And it was bad. Take a look…

His analogy got me. Completely got me.

As disciples of Jesus we clearly understand the IDEA of following the Great Commission, but it’s hard to remember to put that into action. Personally, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day of life. It’s easy to sneer at the person that cuts you off in line. It’s easy to be angry towards a stranger. It’s easy to speak scarring words. It’s just too easy. And we blame it on life.

Now sure, there’s the whole “easy” way of evangelizing where we stand on street corners and pass out tracts like advertisements. But frankly, I’ve become embarrassed to be called a part of the “Christian” body when people are yelling and saying these things. Demanding change without interest in who the people are could never ignite a full change. When did we decide this was the appropriate way to bring in the lost?

Instead, we are called to love our neighbor, and we should be using every opportunity we have to show that love. Every action, every word, every deed. Eternity is too important for us not share the hope that we have been given.

Investing in lives is the key. It’s growing a foundation of communication, a foundation of compassion. It’s letting the lost see past the “hypocritical Christian” and allowing love to take center stage.

Sharing the truth and grace has a tendency to become uncomfortable, but why should we be afraid of such a thing? The love we have been given is undeserved, so a little discomfort is nothing compared to Christ’s sacrifice.

So truthfully, how could we not give it back?

Principle or Incarnation?

Intimacy, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Law, Love

“I don’t want religion, I want Jesus.”

I’ve said this before, but I’m not sure it really reflects the truth of the Gospel.  I agree in so far as I want to know Jesus intimately and want to discard anything that keeps me from that relationship.  I disagree as far as the statement means that I have to give up religion to have Jesus or give up Jesus to have religion.

Religion isn’t inherently good or bad.  It’s defined as a system of beliefs, attitudes and practices.  I dare you to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) , one of the most important teachings of Jesus in Bible, and not see a system of beliefs, attitudes and practices.  There are beliefs about the sort of people who are blessed, attitudes towards God and towards humans, and commanded practices.  This sounds like religion to me.  So why do so many people often discard “religion” in favor of “relationship”?

Because we don’t understand the nature of love.  When I was married to my wife we exchanged vows, promises that we would always act in a certain way towards each other, placing boundaries on what was and what was not acceptable in our relationship.  I can’t act in a way that violates those commitments and say that I am loving her.  In the same way, when I say that I want to love Jesus, to have a deeper relationship with him, I can’t act against what he has said is the way of love.  Love isn’t a separate principle(s) that is defined by our individual desires and understandings of the world, it is incarnated and revealed in the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith who is present in the common life of Christian believers through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Relationship without Religion doesn’t work because there is a deficit of communication.  Religion without Relationship doesn’t work because there is a deficit of incarnation.

 

Meaningless Automobiles

God, Jesus, Psychology

I like Ecclesiastes.  It’s a scary book of the Bible unless you read it in one sitting.  The author’s premise seems to be something like “All of life and existence is meaningless without God.”

He points to death, the great equalizer, showing that everyone ends up in the same place at the end: rotting in the ground.  Amassing wealth, making a name for yourself, or being the best in your profession don’t have any meaning because you’ll be forgotten one day. Being popular, having power or being poor don’t matter.  You’ll be forgotten one day.  He goes on and on, pointing out that even wisdom and knowledge are meaningless.  The writer, who has experienced everything life has to offer, states boldly that the activities and achievements that make up our lives have no intrinsic meaning.  Even righteous acts have no meaning.  They’ll be forgotten one day.

Meaningless, meaningless, meaningless.

You’ll be forgotten one day.

If you go to a Sunday morning worship gathering, it’s meaningless unless it is for the glory of God. Otherwise you’ve had an experience that you and others will eventually forget.

If you eat and drink it is meaningless unless it is for the glory of God. You’ll be energized and maybe enjoy the meal, but it will soon pass out of your system; you’ve done the same thousands of times before.

If you work a nine to five job it is meaningless unless it is for the glory of God.  You’ve gotten a paycheck that will be spent and forgotten, you’ve completed projects that will be forgotten.

If you write a blog post it is meaningless unless it is for the glory of God.  You may have contributed to the knowledge or thought of the world, but you’ll be forgotten soon enough.

All of your religious practices are meaningless unless they are for the glory of God.  Otherwise you’ve “made yourself a better person” who will be forgotten one day.

The only meaning in human life is found in God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, because it is our chief purpose to know God and enjoy him forever.  You don’t drive a car that is missing an engine.  You don’t use a phone that doesn’t have a battery. It’s a useless, meaningless object.  If we don’t glorify God and enjoy him then we are like the engineless car or the uncharged phone.

We’ll either be fixed or forgotten.

The Subtle Everyday

Uncategorized

In our culture we’re concerned with the product.  The end justifies the means.  The way you get somewhere is not as important as the destination.  Sometimes we forget that there is a process at all.

We can sit down, write something, post it and have feedback in half an hour or less.  We can find out what is happening around the world in seconds flat.  We’re conditioned for the quick and easy, and my generation has been told we can do anything.

The possible outcome is frustration.  Frustration that we don’t have the dream job yet.  Frustration that we don’t have the marriage that we always wanted.  We don’t have the friendships that we have a deep longing for.

The possible solution is in the subtle everyday.  It is in the small things.  It is in learning how to schedule and be organized even when you aren’t very good at it.  It is learning to sit and listen to someone, or take time and work through interpersonal weirdness.  Like I posted last time it may mean slowing down.

Someone whose advice I value highly has said recently, “Where you are going does not matter as much as who you are right now.”

Originally Posted March 31, 2010