America’s public square is in dire straits. The public square is the public discussion of all things cultural, political, religious, and societal. The people who participate in this discussion in America are citizens from every walk of life, background, gender, race, economic status, and from a vast variety of theological and political thought. This square becomes broken when conversation deteriorates into group think, quarrelling, and emotional attacks against thinkers with which we disagree.Read more
“Train a child in the way that he should go, and he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Often, we think this means that if we raised a child to know Jesus, he will return to his roots if he goes wayward. But notice, the proverb specifically says the child will not depart from his training. It is much easier to place the burden upon the child for his waywardness, but what if what is truly at issue is the training. If a child is trained right, he shall go right, but if he is trained wrong, he shall go wrong.
This is not to say that there is not redemption for a child poorly trained or for the mother or father failing to train well. God certainly forgives and redeems us from our errant ways. But do we want to miss all the time it takes for us to get back on the right road by not being on that road from the beginning? Read more
The problem with the me and Jesus Gospel is that it is all about me – it is about Jesus – but my Jesus. It’s about my personal experience with Jesus. It is about my going to heaven when I die. It’s about you – only in that it is about your personal relationship with Jesus and you going to heaven when you die. It’s about me living in a way that honor’s Jesus, but it isn’t about me living in a way that loves my neighbor for my neighbor’s sake.
We say it’s all about Jesus. And while that is true — it’s not true usually in the way we mean it. There is an entire narrative of Scripture that is leading up to a whole new world. A new Kingdom full of new creations in Christ. Read more
The Western world has run amok, but I am not going to react to it. We have all heard of the violent acts in Florida, Dallas, France, Baton Rouge, Germany, and now Florida again.
The best thing I can do in response is to stay the course that God has called me to travel. I will continue teaching people to honor those in authority and to respect all people regardless of race, class, gender, or religion. I will not become reactive, distracted, or intolerable in response to current events.
Before the families have been notified, social media surges with political opinions and demands. We can denounce such violence all we want, but it will not stop it.
Frankly, I am more concerned with the responses and lives of Christians in this nation than I am the damage wrought by terrorism. Read more
In the world of American politics, it can be as dangerous to go too far right as it can be to go too far to the left. When any system becomes corrupt and ineffective in its current state, it becomes in danger of being mistaken for a bad system.
We do this in all areas of life. We have bad church experiences so we separate from the organization as a whole. We have bad marriage experiences, so we distance ourselves from the institution of marriage. So naturally when we have bad experiences with government, we begin to wonder if government is the problem.
While there are times that a system itself is the problem, it is more often the case that the people in the system are the problem. But here we often make the mistake in thinking that different people will correct the problem. We practice this thinking when we leave the people who hurt us in one church to find a new church where people will behave more like proper Christians. We do this when we leave one marriage to find a better spouse who will make a better marriage. We do this when we think that replacing those in government with new people will result in a better government. We do this when we think that removing government altogether would be an even better solution.
The problem is not that the system is broken. The problem is that the culture is broken. Read more
Jesus prayed that we will be one as He and His Father are one. This is the often quoted Scripture for our cry for unity in the Body of Christ. However, oneness is often lost in the concept of sameness. If the Godhead is our example, we do not need to sacrifice distinct identity to obtain unity.
I’ve heard it argued that Catholicism provided unity that has since been lost in post Reformation Christianity. The idea that there was once one Church and not many churches with competing identities is a reality worth returning to for many believers. Delving into history, I find we have lost sight of the tragic costs of maintaining one Church. Heretics, who were defined as any person or group of people diverting from the established doctrine of the Church, were burned at the stake or run through with a sword or imprisoned. In eleven centuries of Christendom this was not always the reality, Read more
It is easy to miss our own failures when our eyes are on the failures of others. When we have been wronged, we dwell on every aspect of the injustice. We turn it over in our minds enough to know every nuance of the wrong done to us. We consider how easily we see how they should have behaved. The matter is settled in our minds. We are the intentional victims of the actions of another.
Now we nurse our wounds. Maybe we do so in seclusion, gallantly protecting the wrong doer. Or maybe we enlist the sympathy of our friends to our plight. Misery loves company.
Time passes. Maybe a little, maybe a lot depending on how long our heart takes to soften. Then we forgive the person. We begin to realize they are trapped in their own wounds. Maybe they did not do it intentionally. Maybe they did not realize the extent of their behavior.
This process goes on, but the whole time it is other focused. We are still the victim. We may even give a cursory acknowledgment of our faults in the past, but today we are the victim. Today they are the perpetrator. We are the one suffering the injury, the insult, the injustice. Read more
I Corinthians 5: 9-12
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
This passage provides two great points for discussion. The first is that there is a distinction between those who are joined to the church and those who are of this world. In order to “expel” there must be a physical group from which this “wicked person” is no longer granted admittance. This expelling includes that he is no longer to be associated with as a member of this community or welcomed to sup at the table with this community. The person is not expelled by believers from being a believer, but expelled from the church, a local community of joined believers. Read more
The exodus of Christians from church has become epidemic. There have always been Christians who, for whatever reason, never joined church, but this is something different. This exodus is comprised of long time faithful church members who are now giving up on church. I’ve read the Relevant Magazine articles and the ex-church bloggers who recount all the reasons that church, or “organized religion”, detracts from their relationship with Jesus. These writers post their 95 theses of the failures of the church on the virtual wall and walk away.
I’ve heard a litany of reasons. The list is usually different with a few similarities emerging as writers on the subject have provided the language that justifies the trend. The language is catching on. I read a blogger today describe “the organized Christian Church.” He didn’t describe any church I’ve ever been a part of. He also threw in a complaint about mega-churches for good measure. The blogger had real dissatisfaction with what his church experience offered. I’ve heard many frustrated people both in and out of the church give their reasons why church is no longer for them.
I can give a Scriptural argument for remaining joined to the church via a local body of believers, but it won’t help. I’ve even heard people say these arguments are just how pastors keep people trapped in church.
There are two things I can offer to the subject. Read more