Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finding Community

Is community becoming more important again? The internet provides many opportunities to reconnect with community. In our personal lives we need community. The Church is properly defined as a community of those who believe in the resurrected Lord Jesus.

Community is essential to who we are as human beings. We were created to be in community. Yes, even us introverts. One of the best ways to find community is to plug into a community group. Churches have these smaller pods that are often called small, life, or cell groups. The purpose of these groups is to form a deeper reality of community.

There are different levels of community. There is the larger gathering, which is a form of community, but not intimately connected. This could be a concert, movie theater, convention, or church service. Then there are clubs or committees. These are smaller groups that are centered around some central purpose. The purpose is the focus. These groups are more interactive, and can include boards and committees, community groups, play groups, and even book clubs, etc. These are more personal than the larger format, but not necessarily interpersonal.

Deeper relationships are found at the small group and personal friendship level. These are the groups where personal matters are more freely discussed. These are the people who know you and know what's going on in your life. These are the people who aren't afraid to call or stand by you in difficult times.

Sometimes we find ourselves frustrated by our community groups. When trouble hits, no one is there. No one even knows, or perhaps they know something but don't call to find out more. We feel that our support has failed us. Most often what has happened is that we've mistaken our context. We are expecting life participation at the interpersonal level when we've only committed to the more superficial forms of gathering.

We cannot blame those around us, or the groups we belong to, for failure to respond at a level we've never obtained with them. If we desire true community, then we must seek out true community and place ourselves within the context of true community. We cannot protect our utter independence and be surprised when we find ourselves alone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Politic

"Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary."

Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take Action on Abortion

We've been through this before. We considered Native Americans as savages, and annihilated them, taking their land to make a more "civilized" world. Blacks were considered 2/3 human, so we packed them on boats and sailed them across the ocean to the "land of freedom". There we enslaved those that survived the journey. We considered Jews to be less than dogs, and slaughtered them by the millions.

Today, in the name of civil rights (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.), we are calling another people group "not human" and snatching the life straight from the womb. How is this any different from the atrocities of times past, that we all scoff at now? This may be a "civil rights" issue for women, but it is also a "human rights" issue for the voiceless.

i held a little girl in my arms. She was 1lb, 1oz. She was not "viable". She could not live outside the womb without the help of an incubator and an oxygen tube. i held her in my arms and looked deep into her eyes. There was life there. There was a spirit. There was what looked like a well of deep wisdom and understanding. Her name is Adeline. i long to see her face again, and i believe i will. She is a living being.

i am excited that President-elect Obama has fulfilled the dream that Martin Luther King spoke of. i have never been prouder of this country. Now i only hope that he will give that same chance to millions of others that are now being called "less than human".

Inconvenience is not a good enough reason to deny someone else the right of life. My own personal prosperity is not a good enough reason to deny someone else the chance to experience living and the opportunities that come with it.

i am torn by the difficult choice that many have had to make concerning the termination of a pregnancy. i have no hate or anger toward them. i am sad for my failure and the failure of the church to help them choose another option. If we desire to see women bring their babies to full term, we must also be willing to help them get there. We need to provide the means to care for the child, from birth through life.

They say that Evangelicals are those who believe life begins at conception and ends at birth. This is where we have failed. We need to fight for a child's right to live both to birth and through childhood. Passing laws is not enough.

i am truly grateful to have President Obama as our leader. i will try to help him be a great leader. Will you try too?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Take Up Your Sword and Follow Me

Jesus turned toward the disciples and said, "Take up your cross and follow me".

And they did.

Constantine said, "In this sign, Conquer".

And since they could not carry both the cross and the sword, they set down the cross and marched forward.

In hoc signo vinces

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Cross & The Sword

Jesus told the disciples there would come a time when people would kill them, thinking they were doing God a favor (John 16:2). This is the story of the early Church.

i wonder if Jesus ever imagined that one day Christians would be killing people, thinking they were doing God a favor.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Can Contain It No Longer!

(Jesus & the Canaanite Woman)

Is it inappropriate that i want to hug every black person i see? i am so happy. As one CNN spokesperson put it, "No matter what party you were voting for, only the most ungracious of people wouldn't recognize the wonderful significance of this moment for America."

There is something that God cares about very deeply, and that's healing, restoration, and reconciliation. The "Land of the Free" has a dark history when it comes to practicing freedom. Millions of Native & African Americans know this all too well. This election was a balm of healing for many of our country's overwhelming sins.

It does not mean that racism, elitism, or inequality have ceased to exist, but it does mean something radically significant...that we are on our way. True healing has begun. It was not legislated, but chosen freely, and this makes all the difference.

Only the most ungracious of people would fail to take joy, or see the significance of this moment. We stand as witnesses to one of the greatest events in American history.

It is only too sad that those who have failed to find any joy in this moment are by and far white Evangelical Christians (i celebrated election night alone). Many are seized with fear about what might happen, rebelling against the command of the one in whom they declared their faith. The One who tells them, "Do not fear" and "Do not worry for tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own".

We may not agree with all of Obama's moral stances, or any politician's, but we ought to be able to agree that something of great significance has happened in this race torn country. We ought to be able to recite with joy the saying of Paul, "In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free".

Christians, continue to pray for your country's leaders, just as you did when Bush was president. Continue to be active, holding President-elect Obama to his promises of valuing life, seeking peace, caring for our God entrusted creation, and seeking justice for the poor and oppressed. If you only see yourself as a Republican, then you'll have no influence and find yourself just waiting around for the next four years to role by. But if you see yourself as a Christian, you will take action and begin shaping this new administration's direction.

For the Christian, there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free, Republican or Democrat. There are only those for whom Christ died. Love all and influence all for the sake of Christ.

(Just a note: i am sitting in a coffee shop and overhearing a conversation between two Christians who are talking about how China owns us and will likely be the two hundred million man army that conquers in the final battle, and how the Arabs own us too, and that Obama is not pro-Israel, and how these are signs that it is obviously nearing the end. ...The End of what though? That's the real question. Isn't it interesting how American Christians judge biblical prophecy based on what happens to American prosperity?)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

There is a Balm in Gilead

"There is a Balm in Gilead".

This sums up my thoughts tonight. It is a reference from the Hebrew Scriptures to spiritual healing. It is also an old African-American spiritual:

Chorus (in bold):

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.


If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Misunderstanding our Christian "Freedom"

Eight-year-old shoots self with Uzi, dies

Why is it that evangelical Christians by far are against gun control? First, we serve a Lord who opposes the use of violence and hostile retaliation. Second, we are by-and-far pro-life. So if you determine that the first argument fails because we believe in using guns recreationally rather than for violence (protection?) then we still need to deal with the second argument. This is a pro-life issue.

"Since 1970, more Americans have been killed by privately owned firearms than the combined number of deaths in all the wars in U.S. history." (Campolo, Red Letter Christians, 101. Also see Time Magazine)

This doesn't mean we have to outlaw privately owned guns altogether. Yet in many states gun laws are virtually non-existent. There are no regulations on who may own these weapons or what type of weapons can be purchased. Half the weapons sold at gun shows are sold without any background checks and without any waiting periods.

As Campolo notes, many quote the second amendment (the right to bear arms) without knowing its context. Here is what it says:

"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

This law was made in a time when the country depended upon minute men and local volunteer militia's for its defense. Now we have the most powerful military in the world, the national guard, state police, local police, and even security guards. There is no good reason for such free regulation to occur knowing that Homicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 24, and most homicides involve guns (ibid).

So is fighting for the right to bear arms and limited regulation on gun control a Christian virtue? If not, why such strong support by the Christian right?

Christians believe that there is "freedom" in Christ. Christ has come to set us "free". It is apparent that we sometimes confuse Christian freedom with American "freedoms". We often fight to defend "freedom" because we think "freedom" in and of itself is some kind of Christian virtue. Yet the freedom and liberty we find in Christ is not synonymous with the liberty and freedom held as an American ideal. It can be confusing because the terms are the same.

Can you spot the differences?