Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Be Free of Culture, Don't Baptize it!

Mark’s hunger for spiritual things drove him to seek out a church in his Australian town. Ignorant of religious things, he dropped in on a congregation where the pastor read the Bible, made a few general comments then fleshed out his sermon around the latest philosophical findings. After the benediction, the young adults of the church gathered in the basement for sandwiches and discussion, so Mark went along. There he found a few musicians playing the same stuff he had been hearing in the bars, although with religious words. The fellow who spoke came across as a hybrid between a hard-drinking womanizer and John the Baptist. As Mark delved into the church a little more and chatted with the pastor, he learned that churches have a name for this. They call it “making religion a living thing of the people.” As Mark left that church, he found himself wondering if God’s people don’t know what they have to offer, if they do not see that the world can do entertainment so much better than the churches can, and if they do not believe their Gospel of Jesus Christ is enough. “Don’t they see that if they pattern themselves after the world, there’s nothing for them to be lifted to? Outsiders want to be free of their culture, not to see it baptized.” Mark Saber lived a half-century ago. His story was told by a preacher from Down Under in an old book I read as a beginning preacher. I’ve never forgotten the concerns Mark felt and the questions he raised. from Joe McKeever

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I've read several posts by well-meaning Christians lately saying things along the lines of "God will never be disappointed in you" or "Churches that tell you you're wrong are not of God". May I be blunt? That is insane! The entire of the gospel is there to tell us that in our sin we are in rebellion against God... if that isn't disappointing to him then he doesn't really love us after all. The truth is God loves us all, followers and non-followers alike... And nothing can stop that love... but the idea that somehow because of that he will never be dissatisfied with us or express disappointment in our choices is an error in logic. My children are my life... I love them with every fiber of my being... but ask me if they've ever done anything to disappoint me... Being disappointed is not a lack of love... its actually a sign of love. I wouldn't be disappointed in anybody I didn't care anything about. The second part, "Churches that tell you you're wrong are not of God", is born out of a misunderstanding of the love of God. I hate the methods of many of my fundamentalist brothers who want to start the conversation around sin and drive them to Jesus... while I would prefer to introduce them to Jesus and allow him to drive them toward holiness. But there is truth to their conversation that says love is telling the truth... and for a church to not confront sin is not loving. Jesus says that if we love him we will do his commands... any expression of love and devotion to Jesus devoid of an instinct towards holiness (yes, the 'don't sin' variety of holiness) is shallow and deceived. Phil 2:13 (NIV) for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.