Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Majoring In The Minors
Amy Adair @ ThinkChristian:
OMG should be deeply offending. As Christians it should give us pause and even, if you’re like my son, the courage to stand up and say that it’s just plain wrong. But really, I think, it’s even bigger than just three letters. I think it’s finding the courage to stand up for your beliefs. Are you living out loud? Are you willing to stand up for your faith?Mark Roberts:
But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. - 1 Corinthians 8:9So, first question - is "OMG" OK for strong consciences but not for weak? Or is it just bad all the way around? Or, is worrying about it the real problem?
In yesterday's reflection, I explained Paul's unexpected use of "strong" and "weak" with respect to our consciences. People with "strong consciences" have freedom to participate without sinning in behavior that people with "weak consciences" cannot do without sin. In Corinth, the issue had to do with the eating of meat that had been dedicated to idols. Paul urged the strong to choose not to do that which would cause the weak to stumble (8:9).
I do believe, however, that it would be good for all of us to consider how our behavior affects others and to consider when we might choose not to do something for the sake of another. The deeper issue, of course, is our willingness to love sacrificially, just as Christ has loved us. In freely giving up that which is permitted to us for the sake of another, we are imitating the self-giving love of our Lord.
In the story Amy tells leading up tot he conclusion I quote, she tells of her child correcting someone over the use of "OMG." I did not find it admirable, I found it lacking grace - which I think is a bigger issue - a much bigger issue. IN fact, there are times when it is appropriate to exclaim God's name - the comment the child offered correction for was “Oh, my God you’re so cute.” Why would it not be appropriate to give God the glory for the appearance of the child?
I could go on like this for hours. The entire questions strikes me as a waste of the important reason God has given us. Why focus on the exclamation when we should be focused on the grace issue.
Mark;s post too has an anecdote - about the consumption of alcohol. As he analyzes it, he looks at what is graceful for the other people in the room. Not "What's the rule," but "How do I help the other?"
What, with precision, is taking the Lord's name in vain is a minor question - how to bless the other in the room is a major one.
So which ought we be spending our time on?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
To What Are You "Called"
According to Peterson, a job is “an assignment to do work that can be quantified and evaluated.” Most jobs come with job descriptions, so it “is pretty easy to decide whether a job has been completed or not…whether a job is done well or badly.” This, Peterson argues, is the primary way Americans think of the pastor (and, presumably, that pastors think of themselves). Ministry is “a job that I get paid for, a job that is assigned to me by a denomination, a job that I am expected to do to the satisfaction of my congregation.”Finally, he answers the dilemma in his last paragraph:
A vocation is not like a job in these respects. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, “to call.” Although the term today can refer to any career or occupation (according to Webster), the word (vocatio, I imagine) was coined to describe the priestly calling to service in the church. So vocation=calling. This is how Peterson is using the word, anyway. And the struggle for pastors today, he continues, is to “keep the immediacy and authority of God’s call in my ears when an entire culture, both secular and ecclesial, is giving me a job description.”
Jobs pay the bills; vocations may or may not.I just want to say that the deepest sense of calling I have seen, in my own life and in the lives of many others has been in people that were not "paying the bills" through ministry. The early church attempted to answer this dilemma by separating activities - "deacons" were ordained to take care of business and apostles or elders exercised ministerial vocations. Evangelical churches expect ministers to run the show. I; however, am a part of a tradition where we still have those set aside to run the show so the minister can be set free. Yet, the ministers keep coming home to the business. There is an inherent distrust of the "volunteer." Put another way, there is a lack of acknowledgment that the volunteer vocation is equally a calling.
I think the entire face of Christianity would change if we took seriously that everyone has a vocation in the church due equal respect and worth, and we leadership of the lowly "volunteer."
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
When to Engage Critically
Perhaps the single most important philosophical question to ask when watching a film is, “What is the nature of humanity according to this movie?”The first thought that ran through my mind as I read that was - LIGHTEN UP!
Not every film, in fact I would venture to say most films, require that level of critical analysis - they are just entertainment. And if we treat them as such they are unlikely to infest our mind with all sorts of evil ideas. For example - I found Cheech and Chong hilarious when I was a kid, but I also knew it was a joke - I was never tempted to try dope by their constant dope jokes - Tommy Chong's continuing efforts to legalize marijuana not withstanding. I did not have to subject it to deep critical analysis.
Not every movie has a sub-text - yes, they all reflect the viewpoints of their creators, but movies are such a collaborative effort, at least major films, that there is no single viewpoint inherent in them. "Hollywood" while liberal is not monolithically so. Most of the time they work pretty hard to remove "messaging" from films because it automatically limits the audience.
Is it any wonder some find us Christians off-putting - we suspect everything is trying to hurt us, or is evil. Just not the case.
I think Jesus intends us to be entertained and to enjoy ourselves. There is a time to be serious and a time not to be. Some movies require our critical engagement - most do not.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
It's Not What You Know...
Says Mark Roberts in a devotional on I Cor. 8:1:
Paul is not saying that all knowledge is bad or that we should try to have right knowledge. Rather, he is pointing to a problem with knowledge, or, perhaps more accurately, a problem with those who claim to have it. One who has knowledge can feel overly self-important. Knowledge can make one "puffed up," to translate the Greek of verse 1 more literally (gnosis phusioi). If I think I know something important, and especially if I think I know something that you don't know, then I might get a big head and start thinking that I am better than you.I know a lot of very smart people - they seem to think I am one of them, but I will leave it up to you to decide. One thing I have learned over the years is that the thing smart people know most, is what they do not know. See that;s the thing about "knowledge" - there is always more of it to be had, not to mention there is always someone that has more than you.
Knowledge, by itself, is inadequate. Something else is needed if we are going to have and use knowledge appropriately, and that something else is love. Whereas knowledge puffs up, "love builds up" (8:1, agape oikodomei). Knowledge can be a powerful tool in God's service, but it will only be wielded wisely if the one who knows is first and foremost one who loves.
Those facts say, in part, that we can never derive as much power from it as we think we can. "There is always a bigger fish" as the story goes.
But the thing is this - while there certainly are people that love better than me, the nature of love is that it does not seek to dominate - it seeks to serve.
SO ask yourself this the next time you read a book or learn something in Sunday School, "How can I use this to help someone else?" and "How can I do so in a fashion that does not draw attention to myself?"
Monday, October 18, 2010
Evangelism and Liturgy
In practice, almost nothing of what we believe as Catholics is affirmed by our culture. Even the meaning of the words “human” and “person” are subject to debate. And other tenets of the Catholic worldview are aggressively repudiated or ignored.Some of his answers are most intriguing:
The question becomes: What implications does all this have for our worship -- in which we profess to be in contact body and soul with spiritual realities, singing with the angels and saints in heaven, receiving the true Body and Blood of our once dead and now risen Lord on the altar?
Here’s another datum: We’re surrounded in our daily lives by monuments to our power over nature and necessity. The trophies of our autonomy and self-sufficiency are everywhere -- buildings, machines, medicines, inventions. Everything seems to point to our capacity to provide for our every need through our own know-how and technology.
Again the question becomes: What does this do to the central premise of our worship -- that we are creatures dependent upon our Creator, and that we owe thanksgiving to God for every good gift, beginning with the gift of life?
Barron puts the issue this way: “The project is not shaping the liturgy according to the suppositions of the age, but allowing the liturgy to question and shape the suppositions of any age. Is the modern man incapable of the liturgical act? Probably. But this is no ground for despair. Our goal is not to accommodate the liturgy to the world, but to let the liturgy be itself -- a transformative icon of the ordo of God.”Roman Catholic in expression and framework indeed, the underlying ideas are powerful and vitally important. The major thrust of the comments are that liturgy is intrinsic to binding us as a community of faith - the absence of liturgy is individualistic. The essence of the transformation Christ creates in us is the subjugation of self to one another - therefore liturgy is not only not optional, it is a necessary part of the gospel.
The next great task of the liturgical renewal is to build an authentic Eucharistic culture, to instill a new sacramental and liturgical sensibility that enables Catholics to face the idols and suppositions of our culture with the confidence of believers who draw life from the sacred mysteries, in which we have communion with the living God.
The first is this: We need to recover the intrinsic and inseparable connection between liturgy and evangelization.
Most evangelicals I know need to chew on that a while.