Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Practically Something

Do you ever have days that feel like you're sleepwalking? I have a lot of those lately. I think I'm suffering from discontent. Strangely enough, it's not about my life. I like my life. I have a good job, wonderful family, house to live in, money to pay all of the bills. It's a charmed life, really. So what's the problem? The problem is that I have this nagging feeling that there is something more. Jesus promised this fantastic life. He didn't give me a doctrine, or a 5 step plan or a presentation. What he gave me was hope. In fact, that's what he gave everyone. Not a program to join, but a kingdom to be part of. The promise of this kingdom is that I could have a full, vibrant life.
The reality is that all too often, I act too much like Jesus came to earth to meet my needs, make sure that my wants are satisfied. The truth is that on Sunday I act like a Christian and say and do all the things I'm supposed to. Would the people around me on Monday through Saturday say the same thing about me? Too many Christians are that in name only and would be more correctly called Practical Atheists or Practical Agnostics. Shouldn't what we say and do match what we say we believe? Is heaven really the home we're headed for? Some of us believe it like we believe in fairy tales. Others of us believe it because it makes us feel secure, like an insurance policy. Still others have this sense of obligation about it. We don't really feel any heavenward pull on our lives, but we know that we're supposed to so we just commit to it and numb ourselves to the fact that there is no life in our life.
Maybe the problem is that I like my life too much. To answer Jesus' call could mean that my life become about something other than the life that I'm attempting to create for myself. I'm beginning to understand more than I ever have Paul's comlaint in Romans. I know what I'm supposed to do and I want to do it, but not all of me does. Part of me does the very thing that the rest of me doesn't want to. Can anyone save me from me?
The answer is yes. This is the essence of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news. Here's the good news. There is someone who can save me from me. Someone who calls me to a greater life than the one that I could create for myself. What will we do? Will we trust him to do what he says or will we continue to hedge our bets and "believe" the Bible, just in case

Monday, November 10, 2008

Name Brand

You can't see it, but I had this whole big piece about the election and what I think and how it related to Christians and church. You'll have to trust me that it was an impressive piece of work. Just imagine all of the best things you've read and pretend I wrote those in there. I deleted the whole thing because it degenerated into nonsense.
Having said that, I spent a lot of time after the election thinking about what I'd seen and heard. Here's the thing that kind of stuck out to me. All throughout the campaign, there was an effort by both sides to "brand" themselves and the other candidates. Countless dollars were spent to hang labels on some people and remove labels placed there by others. It's no different than detergent, cereal or aluminum foil. Companies go to great lengths to attach labels to their own and their competition's products and then they brand by getting you to associate their name with a particular label, so that we view Bounty as durable and Quaker as healthy. In this case, parties tried to brand their people as insiders, outsiders, agents of change, savvy, patriotic, etc.

The only reason I mention this is because we, as Christians, have a brand as well. Additionally, people that disagree with us have taken great effort to attach other labels. We've been accomodating enough to allow the "Christian" label to mean a variety of things, ranging from compassionate to hateful. What is the Christian brand supposed to stand for? Put another way, how could a person recognize a Christian? It's not as much as I thought. According to 1 John, the ideal of the brand is that we should be full of truth, resistant to sin and guided by love. Would we use those 3 things to describe ourselves? If not, why wouldn't we? Equally as important is whether or not those around us would use those 3 things to describe us. If those are the things a Christian should show, why isn't it evident?

Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm sitting in class on Wednesday night. As you might expect, the class centered on Satanism and related themes. It wouldn't be the week of Halloween without it. As we were talking about this, someone said something that floored me. Essentially, his point was this - these people that seem to be so diametrically opposed to what we believe have to go through a sanctification process like we do. As the words are being said, my first impulse was to bristle at the choice of words because it seems wrong to say that an active Satanist would be considered sanctified. He went on to explain that these people must wake up every morning, die to themselves and make an active choice to do all the requisiste things: dress appropriately, decide how to communicate their faith clearly and then act accordingly. That should sound pretty familiar. Here's the kicker...they do a better job of "sanctifying" themselves better than we do. There is usually very little ambiguity surrounding them.
I, by comparison, appear lukewarm and pliable. How can I be convinced that I'm right about what I believe and someone whose beliefs are the polar opposite of mine appears to be easily more committed than I am? Is the truth in me? Why do I say that? Is it because it's true or because it's convenient to believe? Is my faith clear to those around me or do I just say that I'm "living out my faith" because believing that relieves me of the responsibility to act out directly what I say that I believe.