Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mark 13:31

This was just interesting. Jesus said:
"Sky and earth will wear out..."

So we can't save the planet?

This set off a whole trail of thinking about the dirt we walk on. In college I wrote a paper on the responsibility of Christ Followers to show respect for everything that God created. Respecting something that belongs to someone else is one of those basic lessons which should have been taught to everyone at an early age (that may be a whole new post though...). And, there you go. The key... belongs to someone else. The American culture focuses a great deal on the concept of "ownership". Your house, your car, your land. But in truth, the vineyard still belongs to the true owner and we are all simply the farm hands left to care for the property of the true owner. We buy and sell, which further reinforces the illusion of ownership. Yet ultimately do we really believe the words which come from our mouths... "it all belongs to God"? By "believe" I mean do our actions and attitudes really show that we believe nothing "belongs" to us? What does that look like? How do we as Christ Followers live that reality in an "ownership", "buy and sell" focused society?

Have you ever observed someone clinging to something they deemed of value as the true owner, understanding its lack of value in the grand scheme of things, looked on shaking his or her head sympathetically?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Love God? Love the Church!... but which Church?!

Recently a Facebook friend posted an article on his blog and I posted the following comment. Before approving it, he kindly suggested it might make a great post on my own blog (and I think he preferred I moderate the backlash on my own space than him having to do it on his) so here it is...

Wrong targetBeing on my own journey of rediscovery into what Jesus truly intended for the life of a Christ Follower to be like has resulted in some pretty definitive ideas in this area. One patriarch in a church where we were on staff used to always say “Nothing succeeds like success.” He was right. But the question has become "what if you are successful at the wrong thing?" I found a photo last year of a target with two arrows on the outer edge one splitting the middle of the other. It illustrated what was occurring in my journey. What if all those years we’d been aiming at and hitting the wrong thing? What if, like the 2004 Olympic shooting saga of Matt Emmons, we knew we had hit the bullseye of the target but discover we lost the race because we hit the bullseye of the wrong target?

Out of my college and seminary days, and 30 years of church staff and denominational work I would have answered these folks very similar to how you outline above. However, what if the “church” as we know it has drifted decades and degrees from the course Jesus put the early Christ followers upon?

What if all the stuff we hold so near and dear is truly not that important to God and Christ? What if, once again and so often in the cyclic life of the human race, God showed us the path and we set off on part of it yet adding and adjusting along the way until the destination 2000 years later is far from what Jesus intended? Then, what if like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we fight to protect a religious way of life which was never intended.

Many of my wonderings drove me to a trip through the New Testament attempting to discover exactly and only exactly what Jesus said (and noticing what he did not say) about “church”. I was shocked by many things with this “no filters” approach. One of the amazing things was the fact that just about everyone except the religious leaders thought very highly of Jesus and what he was teaching. People genuinely liked Jesus. But, just like some of the comments we are seeing today, these same lovers of Jesus loathed the religious system which was being promoted by the religious leaders.

What if we were dinging the bullseye every day but the bullseye we were aiming at was totally the wrong target. What if, instead of the sinners being so messed up and unable to recognize the value of the organization we have created (uh oh, those will be fighting words I bet), they actually see the organization without all the religious bindings and have no interest in something so much like the world they already live in and thus want no part of that? What if they see Jesus more clearly than those who are bound by today’s religious teachings and are only in need of someone to guide them into The Way of the Kingdom which Jesus taught about? What if we are adhering to generations of religious stuff heaped back upon the simple and straightforward message of the Kingdom Jesus taught? Spend some time evaluating how much of what you do every week in the name of religion you can actually find record of Jesus teaching about or him physically taking part in while he was walking among us. If what you do is as important to the Kingdom as we tend to make it, would not Jesus have spent his three years walking among us hammering it home to his closest followers? Yet we have no record of him teaching or participating directly in much of what we hold so near and dear. What if God has chosen to raise up a new generation of those who follow The Way of His Kingdom and what if they must live so outside the walls of what we have always known as “church” because they cannot live the Kingdom life taught by Jesus inside the walls that exist today?

Now that you are likely fuming… go back and re-read his whole article page from top to bottom and see how many times “church” is mentioned verses how many times “Jesus” is mentioned. I love the “church” more than ever before, just not the one we created.