Sunday, January 31, 2010

Disovering


If you want to study Yourself--look into the hearts of other people. If you want to study other people--look into your own heart.

-Friedrick von Schiller

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You will do Greater Works than These


We are baffled by the idea that we could perform greater things than Jesus did. Some, promoting the idea that we should be operating with miraculous power today, point to the above statement from Jesus’ own lips to verify it. When we think of the “greater works” we get caught up with the “miracles” Jesus performed. The focus is often on his power and not the outcome of his “work”.

Jesus fed the 5,000. That was an incredible miracle. We have it within our ability to feed the whole world.


Jesus healed the sick, the lame, the blind. We too can do much to cure a myriad of diseases and disabilities anywhere around the globe…if we so choose.

I believe Jesus wasn’t talking about the miraculous nature of how his “works” (miracles) were employed, but on their overall effect. They supplied the need of the other. He made people whole again.


He was one person, with (self-) limited mobility, locked within a specific region of the world. If we look not at the magnificence of the miracle itself, being wowed by the power, but at the outcome of the “work” Christ performed, I believe we’ll understand why we haven’t encountered someone with the ability to do the supernatural to the extent Christ has, and yet we still have the capability to do “greater works than these”.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Way of the Cross

Here is a link to this weeks message which explores Christianity's call to Love One's Enemy with a special emphasis on the example of Martin Luther King Jr. The emphasis is on a call to take another's suffering upon oneself in the hope of redeeming the other, especially when the other is an enemy. Responding in love catches an oppressor off guard and opens up the potential for awaking their conscience and bringing transformation.

i think this message may be timely in light of the recent exposure of New Testament Bible passage references found on military weaponry.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Means to an End (2)

Be sure that the means you employ are as pure as the end you seek.
Martin Luther King Jr. "Strength to Love"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A New End

There's always been lot of talk and interpretation about the end times and how to interpret biblical books like Daniel and Revelation. The Left Behind series, from what i've heard, offers an interpretation that has been fairly standard since the time of Darby and the Scofield reference Bible. i certainly don't claim to know much about the end times and i'm fairly convinced that the prophecies of Revelation were complete by AD 70.

Many Christians believe that the end will be accompanied by a one world order which will be religiously motivated and volatile toward genuine Christianity; that there will be a one system currency, and that people will have to have the number 666 printed on their forhead or hand, which may be a computer chip. This has unfortunately led some to oppose peace treaties between nations and to inadvertently accept war as more comforting than peace. Anything that looks like we might actually be trying to work together is considered suspect.

i tend to think that if there really are still prophecies to be fulfilled, we'll likely miss them altogether because we'll be looking for the wrong things. It's easy to look at things within a very limited preconceived scope, which is why the Jewish people missed the Messiah. What if the one world currency isn't a coin or paper money, but a Visa card? What if the one world religion isn't Catholicism, or Islam, or anything we generally think of as religion, but something more like "Capitalism". Isn't this an ideology we've attempted to advance in all places at all costs?

Again, this really isn't a prediction of any sort. i lean toward the idea that prophecies in the book of Revelation described events that occurred in the 1st century. Babylon was a common code for "Rome". i simply think some of the modern interpretations are too narrow and may actually be causing more harm than good. We are so worried about what we think is to come that we may actually be missing the fact that we have been and are now living in it and perhaps even a part of it.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Patriotism = Militarism

Serving your country by enlisting in the military is no doubt a commendable act of citizenship. Doesn't patriotism take many other forms as well?

It seems the most consistently used test to determine if someone is patriotic is to measure their support of those serving in the military. If we are accused of being unpatriotic, it is usually not due to our political differences, whether we are Democrat or Republican, or even our support or lack of support of the current president. It falls squarely on our support of military action, and more precisely those who serve in the military. In the late 60’s & 70’s, being against the war in Vietnam qualified a person as being “unpatriotic”. Today, the winds are shifting…slightly. You can oppose the war and still be considered patriotic, so long as you support the troops. It is a great lesson we learned from Vietnam, that while we might demonize the war, we must never demonize the troops who serve in those wars. I agree.

Back to the main point. Patriotism is defined by one’s support of the military, and especially military personnel. Military is one area where Democrats and Republicans can often find common ground. If they differ, they usually differ on the most effective methods or means of using the military and not so much concerning final outcomes.

This constricted definition of patriotism leaves the majority of our society's most positively influential people out of the picture. It seems to me that patriotism ought to be defined along the lines of those who are seeking to make the society we live in a better society for all who live in it (not just a safer society). Under this definition, Martin Luther King would have been considered one of the greatest patriots this country has ever known, along with those who call for nuclear disarmament, women’s rights, and equal rights. Yet those who denounce the evils of a society, and seek to bring about positive change within that society, are often demonized by being characterized as “unpatriotic”? (though many years later, after they’ve been murdered, their good intention might be recognized)

How is it that we are patriotic for seeking to bring change outside of our borders, but too often considered “unpatriotic” when we seek to bring positive change within our borders? Shouldn’t patriotism be first and foremost a measure of how we are positively transforming the communities we live in?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Peace Targeted


i had a little bit of hope...


Until escalations in Afghanistan proved we would use the same old method to deal with the same old problem

Sunday, January 03, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi & Self Portraits


St. Francis’ thoughts on how one ought to view themselves and their enemies seems right. We ought to consider our enemies better than ourselves, and no matter what position we may currently serve in, we ought not admire it any more than we would the job of washing others feet. We are ever only who God sees us as being.

This final thought put me in conflict. I’ve been taught that God sees me as righteous in Christ. I wonder how he could be so blind. I see myself as a sinner saved by grace. I don’t really want him to see me as any more than that. I need to know that he can deal with the truth. I am happy to think that he sees all he can bring about in me. I also need to know that he can see me for who I am today, because the present me is the true me, at least for the moment.


We spend too much time already, trying to evade the truth.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Non-Violent Attitudes

i came across this letter in a book i am reading. The letter was written by David Nyvall and is directed toward the writers of a Christian Newspaper. The Newspaper was confronting the publishers of another, which it saw as a competitor. This is not a recent letter, it was written in 1893.

i quote this here only as a reminder to myself of the spirit of love which needs to flow out of every challenge. Our desire must always be the good of the other. We must always seek to build up and not tear down. While we can desire to tear down dangerous views and contrary teachings (contrary to the Way of Christ), we must always do so in a manner which seeks to build up those whose teachings we oppose. We are never to oppose the person themselves, only what is contrary to Christ. The Scriptures tell us "We wrestle not against flesh and blood".

i think this is good advice to anyone who seeks to win another over for any reason they deem to be good. Confronting in anger only serves to motivate the other to erect walls of hostility and adversity, which of course will not serve your point.

"I hope that you will have good fortune in the future. May you be given, not only a sharp pen, but above everything else more and more of a burning and loving heart. Write with red ink oftener than with black. Encourage more than criticize. It is through the good that we do that we recommend ourselves, not through the evil that others do. The faults of others never become our merits. Others' sins never become our virtues. It is sin to criticize when it does not happen in a spirit of pure and guileless love--a love which aims to help."

-This is a great challenge for me as i seek to find new ways to encourage the church to embrace Jesus' call to non-violent, self-suffering, transformational action. It is easy to be sarcastic, especially when you see the others position as obviously flawed. But if our desire is to win Christians over to the way of Christ, then it must be done in love and with every good intention to serve the spiritual benefit of those we challenge. The desire must be to transform, not to "win".

i also recognize that part of the challenge in this is that by simply asserting that what you believe is the more accurate interpretation, will itself be interpreted as pretentious and insulting. i believe this is why it is all the more necessary to challenge people in an obvious spirit of love.

May God help me to make this a New Year's resolution and give me the grace to actually practice it consistently!

And yes, i do believe that non-violence, coupled with the desire to win our enemies over to the way of love and charity, is a definite New Testament teaching. i do not feel i can hold it as merely a personal perspective, though it is that as well. i do feel an obligation to challenge the Church toward these ends.

i also believe that we can worship alongside those whose view is different, without making this a volatile or divisive issue. If we are to win others over, it must be done first and foremost through our compelling example, not merely words or arguments, which often rattle around in the head without reaching the heart.