Category Archives: Social Justice

A Note to the Purchaser

Neckless SalesmanRight now in life I am a salesman. Some people have myriad allergic reactions to the word “salesman.” Some of this is rightly deserved. But have you ever taken a moment to consider whether you are just as allergy-causing to the salesman.

This is by no means a gripe session. Rather, it is a call for Christians to be christianly in their purchasing habits. Day in day out I interact with people from so many backgrounds your head would spin. Some people come in my door thinking that I am wicked – this is before they have spoken a word. Their demeanor says everything. Others open up and tell me about how they are getting ready to divorce for infidelity.

To the one who hates the salesman: Consider that this salesman is performing a valid service to your community. In a world where cyberspace has crowded out human interaction. In a world where people are not challenged to buy something they thought they wanted. The salesman provides some kind of sanity in the consumer’s overly righteous, yet uninformed, way. The salesman provides flesh and blood instead of keys and buttons.

To the one who lays it out: even though it can be over the top, but perhaps this is society’s plea for humanity. Like the hemorrhaging woman who reached out in despair, so to the consumer who has had enough of automated prompts and pixelated faces reaches out to their closest friend – a human.

To the Christian: make sure you are purchasing in a way you would if your salesman was Jesus. Don’t say you’ll come back. Don’t ask for a card when you have no intention of calling the salesman. Have some backbone. Don’t be like the boy who wanted to bury his father, spouting lines to get any kind of decision on his part postponed. Realize that the person attempting to sell you a phone or a car or a television needs to feed his family. He is not a shark (always).

Enjoy interacting with humans. Pay the extra $20 in order to feed your neighbors kids. On-line is cheap, but so is the experience and the loving of neighbor. It requires no backbone on your part – read people-pleasing. It requires no sympathy, empathy, or any other emotion than just getting what you want.

Challenge yourself to buy as you would from Jesus. [Matt 25.40, 45; Heb 13.2)

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Is It Okay to Abort If the Woman Was Raped?

This is a question that has been brought up recently in the presidential campaign as Sarah Palin has said that it is not okay for the, woman to have an abortion. I read the comic “Get Your War On” by David Rees in Rolling Stones magazine yesterday that said this:

“I wonder why McCain didn’t just pick Rachael Ray as his running mate? She’s even feistier?”

“Does Rachael Ray oppose abortion even in cases of rape, like Palin does? Remember, Palin’s on the ticket to please fundamentalist Christians. (And rapists.)”

“I wonder if Palin is in favor of pressuring rape victims to marry their rapists? It must break her heart to see unwed mothers.”

Other than the mere emotional arguments in this comic (hey, it’s a comic, but humor often betrays underlying presuppositions), it is telling that those who think such a view as Palin’s is archaic have not thought about the implications of their view of justice. Doug Wilson has written a good post on this issue. Here’s the gist of such a view of justice:

So here is the answer to the “rape and incest” objection. When a woman conceives as the result of a rape, there are three parties involved. There is the rapist, there is the woman, and there is the child. Two of these parties are innocent, and one of them is guilty. What kind of sense does it make to execute one of the innocent parties for the crime of his father?

[Read whole article]

This is not an easy issue to talk about. For we are not just speaking about some mere impregnation, we are talking about a violation of what it means to be human and made in the image of God. May we pray earnestly for all three people involved in this travesty. And may we remember that in no law court would it be permissible to punish an innocent person for the guilt of another. And may we remember that he who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God.

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Filed under Abortion, Apologetics, Culture, Current Events, Family | Parenting, Pastoral, Politics, Social Justice

Dwell Conference Summary

All the audio for the conference is now up.

Here are my notes from the talks. Feel free to copy, paste, and edit as you listen.

Pastoral Priorities: Watching Your Life & Ministry (CJ Mahaney)

Dwelling in the Kingdom Mission (Ed Stetzer)

Dwelling Incarnationally (Eric Mason)

Dwelling in the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Dwelling with Non-Christians (Darrin Patrick)

Dwelling in the Gospel (Tim Keller)

Dwelling Through the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Persuasion (Tim Keller)

A friend of mine asked which two talks I would suggest listening to if you’re crunched on time. I would recommend (in this order) 1) Dwelling in the Gospel; 2) Dwelling with Non-Christians; and 3) Persuasion. I know, but I couldn’t narrow it down to two.

 

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Dwelling in the Gospel

Tim Keller

Rather than share my sporadic notes on this, I thought it would be best to scan the sermon that was printed in our packet (from which Keller “read”). This may help begin dialogue on what the Gospel is and what the Gospel does.

Dwelling in the Gospel – Tim Keller

 

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Dwelling with Non-Christians

Darrin Patrick

Preliminary Questions:

Do you love non-Christians? Do you have good friends that are far from God? Is your heart broken consistently for lost people?

Romans 10:15 – It is your job to realize that you have been sent. He wants to take away excuses for why we are not reaching the lost and propel us to go out and accomplish our task of evangelism.

God is the first missionary in that he pursues fallen humanity throughout the biblical narrative. Genesis 12 (Walt Kaiser calls this the Great Commission of the OT). The seed promised to Abraham is Jesus. Matthew 4, Jesus links evangelism, discipleship, and mission together (cf. chapter 28:18-20). John 17 teaches us that we are in the world but not of as we try to reach the world.

John 1 is the seminal chapter on incarnational ministry. An example is Zacchaeus where Jesus tells him that he wants to stay at his house. He doesn’t just tell him a message but lives out his mission in his home.

1Cor 5:9ff – it’s assumed that you will and must dwell with unbelievers. The problem Paul is addressing has to do with not dwelling with those who are sexually perverse and call themselves “Christian.”

There are opportunities for being around non-Christians: Tailgating, pay-per-view events, happy hour, video game times, basketball at the gym, a hobby (photography). “Theology at the Bottle Works” is a mercy ministry of The Journey in St.. Louis. You are not going to happen to step into personal evangelism, you have to be intentional in it. (1Cor 9; Acts 13; 14; 17 – Paul went to places with the purpose of sharing the Gospel story with Jews and Greeks). Get involved in people’s lives. If someone is terminally ill, find out about their illness through study of what they have. If someone is a “foody” find out about the fine dining culture. Essentially, care about people enough to take interest in their interests.

Recommendation: Becky Pieppert books. The problem with Christians is that we don’t know how to be ourselves.

The Seeker movement has rightly challenged us to think through missional worship. That is, helping people understand what is happening in the service (keeping away from Chriistian-ese – lingo that is not easily definable).

This is an investment and a sacrifice. It can hurt your sermon preparation; but it can help it by making you aware of real needs in your community. Christ sacrificed (through his relationships) his reputation as a good rabbi.

Our non-Christian friends need to see how we are similar to them and how we are different than them. If you are a struggling father, admit that. But also talk about what makes your desire to be a better dad. You don’t have to hit people over the head with some ideological principles that makes us distinct from them. They need to see anecdotally how we are different.

What are the people that irritate you? You have to bathe your homophobia, racism, preferentialism in the Gospel. Christ came to redeem all kinds of people.

 

Table Talk

What are the main obstacles in connecting with non-Christians?

Being yourself and honest. It is oftentimes easier connecting with people we do not know than people we do know. We have to allow people to see our lives that we do not have to have it together.

So much of what Darrin talked about has to do with being intentional in our lives and relationships. We need to try and not be so enmeshed in strategic church planting that that is the only thing we can talk about. Our passion for reaching the lost can become an idol. We theorize about how to reach the lost and do not reach the lost.

Our arrogance that impels us to micro-manage the weekly service or other gatherings of our people.

Many times we can find solace in our title as “pastor” around our Christian friends, but around out non-Christian friends there is no pretense in our relationships with them. We can go from conference to conference and leave ourselves with little or no time for people (Christian and non-Christian).

We presume that our friendships with non-believers can only be superficial and we, therefore, miss the imago Dei present within the non-believer. We short change ourselves when we fall into this false view of humanity and being connected. One of the qualifications for being an elder is “hospitality,” which means to be welcoming into your homes.

We do need to be aware of our weaknesses so that if we are tempted to get drunk ata pub, you need to stay away from those situations. That does not mean, however, that you divorce yourself from being involved in people’s lives. You can have people over for coffee or dinner.

Recommendation: Jerram Barrs, Being Human

What hobbies, interests, and activities do I participate in or could I participate in that might enable me to meet and befriend non-Christians?

We need to be reminded that Christ has redeemed us as humans. We cannot expect to be super-human. We are intended to be sanctified and become human – through and through. We need to learn how to integrate our faith into the hobbies and interests we have in the world. We can affirm our desire to go workout, sports bars, motorcycling. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Missions, Social Justice

Where are the Prophets?

First Things put up an article by Peter Leithart that provokes and informs. I may write more later regarding prophets and prophecy – as this has been a focus of my studies this semester. But for now, read this snippet and pick your jaw up from the last sentence:

Far from simplifying prophecy, the Bible greatly complicates it. It’s as easy to denounce from a distance as it is to launch smart bombs from a command center on the other side of the world. Gestures of repudiation cost little, and adding the term prophetic lends an aura of piety to our reputations.

Prophets in the Bible, though, cannot afford gestures. They are called to speak the word of the Lord from within the court, mounting an internal critique. The pressures on Nathan to keep silent after David seized Bathsheba and sent her husband to his death must have been enormous. He could have vented himself in a scathing editorial and then kept his head down. From all appearances, though, Nathan had free access to the court, was a friend of David, and a close adviser. It is said that prophets spoke truth to power, but that goes beyond cliché when we realize that prophets spoke the truth face to face with power, to powerful men and women whom the prophets knew intimately, frequently from their own position of power.

Power corrupts, and it always has. Court prophets were often pusillanimous yes-men like Ahab’s four hundred, who dramatized Ahab’s coming victory over Aram by shaking around iron horns. But power doesn’t always and necessarily corrupt, and the company of priestly and court prophets also included spokesmen of Yahweh. Faithful “insiders” were always a minority, but the biblical picture shows that we can’t tell a true from a false prophet simply by answering the question, Where is the prophet? Not all prophets are in king’s houses, but some are.

Judging by the biblical evidence, though, we are as likely to find a prophet in a presidential Cabinet, at the Hague, or roaming the halls of WCC headquarters as we are in the mountains of Northern Idaho or the deserts of Arabia or the desperate ghettos of Chicago. God is no respecter of persons, and a Karl Rove or a Paul Wolfowitz, as scandalous as the suggestion may be, is as likely to be a prophet as a Jeremiah Wright. 

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Filed under Bible, Charismata, Culture, Current Events, Ethics, Interpretation, Pastoral, Politics, Social Justice, Theology

One Issue Voting

I have been thinking alot about one-issue voting lately. I have long been an advocate of this as it relates to abortion. I have oftentimes told friends that if both Republicans and Democrats were pro-life then I would have a much harder time – I might even vote for a Democrat. I have heard some evangelicals respond that they are going to vote Democrat because the Republicans have failed or messed things up. I fail to see the validity of such a charge as Democrats have not been the saviors of the world either; merely voting for one will not remedy our situation.

There are so many issues, why have I chosen one to ride my horse on? One of the dangers in calling my perspective “one issue” voting  is the misnomer that there is only one issue that a candidate needs to agree with me on and the rest is chaff. The is a farce since there are myriad issues that I also evaluate when picking a candidate. I have said for several years that if all parties agreed that abortion should be illegal that I would have a much harder time deciding who to vote for.

Am I being petty and naive? I am sure I am in several ways. However, when you talk to people it is obvious that they are also one issue voters. For example, those who are pro-choice have this as their one issue that will steer them towards one candidate over another. Another person may not vote for someone because he wants to leaglized marijuana. Someone else may be allergic to joining hands with the Castros in Cuba.

Why did we go to war with Nazi Germany? We went because they were war-mongerers. This was one issue. The killing of babies (let’s not use “abortion” as the primary term as it is mechanistic and euphemistic for what is really happening to the child) is a heinous crime against humanity. We cringe at the thought of chimpanzees or polar bears eating their own young, but celebrate the virtue of choice in the similar decision to take the weak’s life.

Political renovation does not stop with the illegalizing of the killing of human babies. Movements must start somewhere. This is the most immediate need right now. Of course there are homeless people, hungry people, unemployed people. But if we can’t even take care of those who are helpless, what kind of policy could we dream up that would do justice for the poor?

It is a shame that the Republican party believes that if they say “I am pro-life” then they have the evangelical vote. It is a shame that it is only the Republican party that has said this most resolutely. I wish it would be across the board that sucha  statement would be made. But we are tyrannized by other (yes, important) less immediate issues.

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Filed under Ethics, Politics, Social Justice

Respect & Dignity

<a href=”http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2008/03/cell-phone-came.html”>These videos</a> show the lack of both. How many times have I heard people loathe the draconian-style of the early years of teaching in this country. Yet when I see videos like these I am reminded that much of the disrespect and indignity is a result of the lack of family at home. 

I remember when I was in high school I got a rise out of thorning the side of my teachers. Pride and a desire to be respected by my peers fueled the disrespect. There is a whole lot more going on in these videos than just kids lashing out at teachers lashing out. There is a systemic problem with our education theory. There is a root that has dug deep in the soil of individuality and tolerance which overturns the dignity of the individual and respect of tolerance.

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Some Politico-Relational-Plausibility Structure Links

“Why We Should Not Rather Become an Obama-Nation”: Doug Wilson

“Hundredfold Siblings”: Peter Leithart

“O-Ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma”: Gene Veith

“The Audacity of Hope”: Sherif Girgis (HT: First Things)

“Yes, we can…murder babies”: Rick Santorum (HT: Z)

“I Will Vote for Obama” (Humble Beginnings)

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Filed under Abortion, Culture, Current Events, Ethics, Politics, Social Justice

Winterize Your View of Missions

I am typically dissatisfied with the quality of articles that I find in the Perspectives mailer I get once a month. I took the Perspectives mission class a couple of years ago at The Bethlehem Institute and was challenged as several viewpoints were presented – of which I was supposed to choose (or remain agnostic!). Ralph Winter is the mastermind behind the Perspectives course.

 This morning I was pleasantly surprised as I worked through Winter’s article tracing the history of evangelicalism and its relationship to social change. He divided the history into four ‘influences.’ The first was the First and Second Great Awakening. During this time there was a sense of coupling the gospel with social action due to a post-millenial view of the last days. That is, biblical interpreters believed the world would get better and better before Jesus returned to reign on earth. Christians would usher in the millennium through social change.

The second influence was spawned by DL Moody’s ministry and dispensationalism. Due to the view of the last days, Christians believed that Christ’s return was immanent and that the world would progressively get worse. Since there was an emphasis on the unkown time when Christ  would come, there was a fervency in decision-like evangelism. That is, people were pressed to make a decision before the end of the world came.

The third influence is related to the resurgence of Kingdom of God language by such men as John Stott and Arthur Glassner. This phase in evangelical mission gives a holistic understanding of Gospel proclamation. The Kingdom of God is intended to spread to all corners of the earth. This includes teaching and healing. ((By the way, an excellent ministry that is doing this in a God-honoring way is a ministry I have supported in the past. I knew the, then, president (he was my landlord). Mission: Moving Mountains. )) Winter calls this the “Recovering of the First Influence.” He lables it (rather interestingly) the 4th Great Awakening. While this may seem a little over the top, is it?

After all, there are large movements of people converting to Christ in Africa. Much of this movement is related to humanitarian effort coupled with Good News. This will lead to the Fourth Influence. Winter writes:

I yearn to see Evangelical missions be able to give
more direct, credible credit to Jesus Christ for the impetus
behind the social transformation that they have
been doing, are doing and should be doing. Practically
none of the major religions, by comparison, has any
similar contribution to good works, small or large.

In order for this renewed resurgence, and perhaps Great Awakening, we must see social change linked to Gospel teaching. May God’s Kingdom come through Christians spreading light through giving cups of cold water and their tunic.

!! If you would like a copy of this article, let me know and I will send one to you.

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Mockingbird: The Postlogue

The SuqWell, I have finished up what I had proposed to do several months ago. I have thought through and posted commentary on Derek Webb’s album Mockingbird. It was a good exercise for me. As I already make an attempt to listen to lyrics in whatever song I am listening to, this discipline caused me to listen and interact with what was being said. It is easy to hear words and pasively listen. So much of our culture has been shaped by music, it is uncanny. If you look around at the trends in our society, I think you would probably see the music culture blazing the way with either songs or interviews with those artists.

Pertaining to our evangelical context, so much of the music is fluffy and light-hearted. It is like cotton-candy. It is bright and nutrition-less. Sugar no fiber. What I have appreicated about Webb’s music is that he does not shy away frmo difficult topics. He has jumped into the deep end of politics intersecting with theology. Unlike so much of our theology-less music you buy at your local Christian bookstore, next to the Precious Moments Bibles and Veggie Re-Interpretations, Webb has pressed on us and asked us to think about why wevote for who we vote for. It is one thing to be pro-life. It is another thing to know why you vote pro-life. So many have jumped on the bandwaghon because ti is the right thing to do. And it is! But they could not give two good swats at why it is wrong to abort a child. Unfortunately all of our John 3:16 posters will only strike out in the political circle.

On the whole, I really enjoyed Webb’s album. I did not feel like he was ever being a wanna-be prophet. Rather, he challenges us to THINK. Why is there so much confusion as to whether Creed or Lifehouse are ‘Christian’ bands. Could it be that our criteria for music is so low? That is, we hear someone mention “God” and we assume that they are a Christan band. Are we grasping at the wind so that we can be cool in the music arena. And when men like Webb push against the status quo we label him a blemish rather than a friend. At least his music is giving a message. Far from grunting and throwing in some ambiguous statements about eternity, Webb gets in your face and asks you to give a reason for the hope you have within you.

While I disagree with Webb’s proselytizing of pacifism, it is not without warrant. There have been plenty of theologians who have espoused such a view. The main argument I have against Webb’s pacifism is the fact that when Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies, he was speaking to his disciples, and not the world’s discioples. When we are commanded to turn the other cheek in forgiveness, as a model of Christ who did not revile when he was reviled. One of the beauties of the Christian view of politics is that the government is a gift from God for the meting out of justice in a fallen world. If there were no retributive justice for those who raped, murdered, lied, etc., then the world would implode. The rod of the government is wielded for the protection of the righteous and punishment of the wicked – a foretaste of that glorious day when the saints will be vindicated.

When Webb says he will speak out against a rod not wielded well, he is right. However, governments that are capable will be held accountable for the sin they left unpunished. That’s right. Large, strong governments that look the other way when dictators’ sons rape and burn women will be held accountable for what they did not do. There will be a reckoning. I do believe on many levels that what has happened in the Middle East has been due to poor planning. I am sure that there was plenty of planning, but I don’t think there was planning in accordance to the territory that was invaded. That is, there was a misnuderstanding of Sunnis and Shias. That’s enough for now, I am trying to finish up my interaction with Mockingbird, not give a strategy for bringing about justice per se.

I continue to be amazed at Webb’s vulnerability on the mic. I am sure that even in his vulnerability about pride, he has to guard against the pride in being vulnerable. I know my own heart and am sure it is there for him as well as it would be for me. It is a struggle for those who are in the business of teaching God’s Word (and that is a role I think musicians are in) that sounding provocative and edgy can be a way of ponying up to our own pride and greed.

We are reminded by Webb that Christian love is naything but boring…it can be downright tantalizing.

We are challenged to live a consistent ethic of human life – a reference to a 30 second musical interlude I did not comment on until now. That is, we must be indicted for listening to sermons that give us ten ways to be a more successful Christian when there are ten chapters of Scripture we are ignoring. We will be held accountable for sitting in our newly renovated sanctuary while the inner sanctum of our lives is full of dead men’s bones. While we start the latest building campaign and there are poor men around the corner we are not reaching out to, we will be held to give a reason such oversight happened. May God help us to live such an ethic where the words we listen to and speak are overflows from our lives as a church and Christian.

The Full Series:

Mockingbird: The Album & A Dialogue
“Mockingbird”: A Dialogue
“A New Law”: A Dialogue
“A King & A Kingdom”: A Dialogue
“I Hate Everything But You”: A Dialgoue
“Rich Young Ruler”: A Dialogue
“My Enemies Are Men Like Me”: A Dialogue
“Zeros & Ones”: A Dialogue
“In God We Trust”: A Dialogue
“Please Before I Go”: A Dialogue
“Love Is Not Against the Law”: A Dialogue

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Filed under Books & Media, Christian Living, Mockingbird, Music, Social Justice

Rich Young Ruler

Rich Young Man

I’m back after a long hiatus. I will continue and finish my thoughts and dialogue re:Derek Webb’s album, Mockingbird.

(vs. 1)
poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

My theology was revolutionized when I began to see Jesus in the context of my life. I began to see him less as a good teacher and more as a man whom I must follow. I looked around at my middle class surroundings and wondered if he would be comfortable with Panera bagels and Starbucks coffee. I am sure that he would enjoy them as he enjoyed the tax collector’s delicacies, but would he be as lackadaisical when he watched television or stuck in traffic in a heated sedan pumping out the latest pop Christian music. When he watched the news would he be able to flip the channel? When he saw the drunk beggar, would he easily ignore and walk faster? When his cell phone lost a call would he curse his carrier? When his pants were too tight would he complain about the blessings of food that had gotten him into that predicament?

Obviously, some of the questions are absurd. Jesus did not commit gluttony. He did not have unrighteous anger. He was not complacent. And yet the absurdity of them makes me wonder why I, as an adopted child of God, am so prone to these problems. “Oh, it is so sad that all that is going on in the Sudan.” Oh, I am so sad when I see a beggar on the streets.“ Oh, I should eat less and give more to those in need. In so many ways I had moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood. Watching ”The Nativity Story“ with my wife a couple of weeks ago caused me to pause as I thought of the poverty Christ took on to redeem the vile (2 Cor 8.9).
Christians in the United States have given into the exorbitant culture that surrounds them. We have forgotten that we belong to another land. We have forgotten the journey that we are on, fixing eyes on stones and not on the beaten man on the side of the road.
What is so painful about writing this is that I have no solution that I have performed. In so many ways my faith is theory. How often do we scoff at the idea of social gospel preaching and never lift a finger to take care of our neighbor. As we drive into our inner city church and leave to go to Denny’s, are we thinking of our poor next door? I have to admit that I have thought more of paying my bills than feeding Jesus.

What is captivating about this verse Webb has woven is the last sentence: ”i want the things you just can’t give me.“ Turn of phrase. The things we can’t give are the things we don’t want to give – because we have time and a voice. The other meaning is so true. We can’t give God perfect obedience – unfettered worship. How much of our works is motivated by self-exaltation and attempts to earn marks with the Almighty? What he requires of us is sinless worship in service to others as we usher in the kingdom for our neighbor. The ability to feed the hungry with a pure heart is not something that we can give. Rather, it is something that must overflow from what we have first received (Lk 7.47). Service is a gift from God – all the while it is to God – all the while it is through God.

(vs. 2)
so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

In the spirit of recent talk of prosperity preaching (that which says, ”God wants you to be rich!“), this verse hits the heart. But beyond that, it hits me in the heart – one who is a conservative evangelical who likes to say he loves the lost and wants to see people treasure Jesus more than anything else in life. Now I haven’t bought an SUV, but I own one. I haven’t invested all my money in order to make a lot of money.

But I have to admit that I want to make a lot of money. I am reminded of Ron Sider’s theology that pushes on the fringes of the acceptable in our fluffy North American culture. Have I given in to the idea that contentment is okay? That is, have I become the self-juestifying rich young man who says that he loves Jesus and wants to go anywhere and do anything for the kingdom; and yet I cling to my bag of IRA’s?

After thought, I have decided that Jesus does tell us to give up everything to follow him. There is a fine balance to be walked when it comes to material prosperity and spiritual fullness. Have we forgotten Jesus’ injunction that we use unrighteous mammon (money) to further the kingdom of God. I can’t help but think that if every Christian were to literally sell all he has, then we would not have people to financially support missionaries, pay for higher education, feed the poor, etc.

The remedy? Don’t spend your life and don’t fix the aperture on the lens of your life after material blessings. We should labor and seek to do well so that we can bless others. If I can say that God has blessed me so much that a Lexus with gold-plated rims is evidence of this, I have given in to North American definitions of success – and not conformed to the biblical mandates. If I had submitted to the biblical mandates, then I would have gotten a Toyota, subtracted the difference and given it to a worthy ministry.

(bridge)
because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me

May we never forget this teaching of Jesus. How many are in prison? How many Samaritans are under the bridge smoking crack? These have too often become themes of jest rather than objects of brokenness. Need I remind you of the popular phrase, ”Are you smoking crack?“
May God forgive the plush, obese, lazy, self-centered pride of our lives which seeks to build ourselves up while abandoning the purpose he has given us to do!

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Filed under Books & Media, Christian Living, Culture, Mockingbird, Music, Social Justice

“A King & A Kingdom”: A Dialogue

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Following off some comments I made on the last post we come to my second favorite song (yes, “Mockingbird keeps slipping on the charts!). In our cushy culture we have grown accustomed to our Christian pundits giving Christian commentary with their Christian jargon. Problem is, it has lost sight of the spreading of the kingdom of God. It has opted for political issues here on earth – policies rather than pure hearts. We can write millions of papers of legislation, but it will not usher in the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells. 1)That is done by the Father; 2) We are to be vessels carrying the news of change with us.

Much of the current cliquey talk in my generation of believers has revoloved around the words “conversation,” “kingdom,” “social justice,” etc. What has happened is the kingdom of God has been reduced to social gospel or watered down to a nebulous talk of something that exists out there. Eternal life is to know the Father and the one who he sent. I fear that with the skepticism in the air with groups such as the Emergent church we are missing the basics of Christian faith. The motto rings: “Question everything.” We should question, but we don’t need to (nor should we) re-formulate the historic foundation the Church has been built on – namely, on the Word of God.

Since there is nothing new under the sun, our task as Christians is to tell the old,old story in new songs and language. Oh, that we would not be archaic and esoteric in our verbiage!

Now the song…
—————————
(vs. 1)
who’s your brother, who’s your sister
you just walked passed him
i think you missed her
as we’re all migrating to the place where our father lives
’cause we married in to a family of immigrants
—————————

We are pilgrims on a journey home. We have not arrived until the new heavens and new earth arrive here. We press on against the Pit of Despair and the Giant and Sloth and Gluttony, battling the old man that we have crucified with the Christ. I am speaking of Christians, of course.

Too many times lovely language sacrifices true words. If Webb means here that we are passing by the poor man on the street or the man in prison without seeking to give a cup of cold water to him in the name of Jesus, then he is right. However, if he universalizing Jesus’ phrase to say that every person on the street should be seen as a Christian, then he is wrong. Those who are not in Christ are enemies of God and we should be at the plow tilling the soil and sowing the seeds of truth and grace so that a harvest of righteousness will sprout up for the glory of the King of that harvest.

This is why when I meet people I do not call them “brother” or “sister” until I hear their allegiance to Jesus. I will call them “friend” or “buddy” or “pal” or man” or…but not “brother.” This is because they are not my brother until they come under the Lordship of Jesus. I used to be lax in my usage of these terms, but I want to be accurate with what I say and not be the cause of confusion to people who think that Jesus being alright with them is okay with me.

—————–
(chorus)
my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it’s to a king & a kingdom
—————–

AMEN. Have we abandoned the resolve of our forebears? Christians were burned like candles in Nero’s courtyard because they would not pledge allegiance to him. Our president is no Messiahe. He will not usher in roghteousness no matter how bad he or we want it.

The United States is not the Garden of Eden. It is east of Eden, brothers and sisters. We, like Jacob, must wrestle to enter into it.

The second line is a little more racey. I believe that democracy is more Christian than say forced communism. However, I cannot say that democracy is Christian. I do live in between two cities and must succumb to the structures of the one where my feet are planted – thus, conceding democracy. But in the new heavens and new earth, there will be a Monarchy recognized and obeyed and served. Heaven is not a Buddhistic utopia where all are equal. Christ will have all things under his feet in submission and joy.

Due to the structures God has blessed us with, and due to indwelling sin, and pagan worship we must let the majority balance the rest. However, my ideal would be to have Christians share all things in common. Would this be a mix of democracy and communism? What do you think? For the record, I do not believe that a totally free capitalistic society is the answer – for the same reasons above.

——————
(vs. 2)
there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him
(chorus)
——————

Whoa. Great lines though if he used the superlative I could not agree with the second. The danger of being pithy is not being true. While there are people out there who equate Christian with Republican, this would be a broad generalization for those who vote Republican because they are Christians. Many who do so are voting due to one issue alone – abortion. I might be swayed to a different position if they worked for justice for the unborn. Enough said.

——————-
(bridge)
but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think
——————-

Look in the mirror, this is where you need to start. Look to your family, this is where you need to be faithful in shepherding and raising up a tribe of Christ-treasurers. It is true that enemies unify us. Could this be due to our desire to have a scapegoat for our own problems? It keeps us from looking to ourselves and our culture to be changed. What’s more, evangelical culture at large has made enemies out of a lot of ur neighbors. Bumper stickers that slap people in the face; Slogans that alienate others; pastors who have not preached the WHOLE counsel of God; t-shirts and candy bars and testa-mints and fun/stupid trinkets that set us apart as…holy blazing idiots.

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Does Poverty in the USA Eliminate Action Elsewhere?

One more thing to add:

Someone may protest that we dare not go somewhere to stop a tyrannical ruler when thousands of people are starving here in the USA. I’m not so sure I buy this logic. Should we only take part in universal campaigns against wrong when the house is in order? When would that be? We better lock up our ports and hold off on international travel, then, so that we can focus our attention to our problems here.

Thoughts? Rebuttals? Rebukes?

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Polygamy & Terrorism

William Tucker provokes some thoughts on the link between polygamy and violence in a culture. Though I do not agree with his presupposition of evolutionary systems, I think he might be on to something.

EXCERPT:
Species and societies that practice polygamy end up with a bachelor herd, a gaggle of unmated males who are very unhappy with their lot. Competition among males becomes much more violent because the stakes are so highits all or nothing. The peaceful monogamous contract is gone.
 
When 18th- and 19th-century Europeans realized polygamy was common in the backward portions of the world, they had an easy explanation. Polygamy was a more primitive form of marriage. Advanced societies had evolved out of it. Then they discovered the hunter-gatherers and a different explanation offered itself. Polygamous societies had remained backward precisely because they were polygamous. Polygamy creates a huge inequality where all the wealthhowever little there may be of itand all the women are concentrated among the more successful men. (Think Saudi Arabia.) Societies bog down. Social advancement becomes very difficult.
 
Monogamy is not natural. Its a human construct. But I also happen to think it is the greatest social achievement in the history of mankind. Peaceful advanced societies never would have emerged without it.
 
So now the entertainment industry is going to start asking, What would America look like without it? Lots of luck.

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