Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Love The Church...
From the end of Richard Sibbes' sixth sermon in Bowels Opened. The argument is simple - Jesus loves the church, so if we love him can we really claim to not love that which he loves?Can I be honest? I hate the "commandment approach" to telling me why I have to deal with the church. It just sounds like someone is trying to order me to deal with the bull*&^%. I'm not interested in dealing with it - I am interested in fixing it.
In this approach we have the beginnings of the argument that does keep me involved. This is still pretty commandment based, but at least it is a commandment that is not rooted in not wanting to deal with the ugliness.
By the way, the old "I love the church, just not the institution" argument is somewhat specious, though I use it many times myself - they cannot be effectively separated and be true to this idea.
The key to all this is to remember that Christ loved us in spite of our sin - just as He loves the church in spite of its sin. Consequently we are called to love the church enough to try and help it overcome its sin, just as we do with others we love.
There are times when the church acts like it has a personality disorder, refusing to see its sin and that's when it gets hard. But out of love we keep trying.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
[BLANK] Like Me
I think one of the problems with churches... one of the reasons so many churches are so in-grown is exactly this reason: the look to serve people only like themselves.One of the many problems I have with so carefully crafting worship styles is the exclusivity that a specific style brings with it. Music is nothing if not defined demographically, so music choice defines a target audience for a given service.
This has existed for centuries to some extent with the classic high and low church debate/discussion - and certainly there have been huge differences in the "black" and "white" churches. But that said, we are making matters worse, not better. Surely there is a place for a worship style that rises above such demographics? That, frankly, is what I always thought was part of the purpose of liturgy - it's not about me and what I like - it's about Christ and what He likes.
Programming church in this way is not just about overlooking people - its saying to at least some people "You are not welcome here."
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Hubris and Respect
- Work through his or her system – If he or she has an assistant, use that process
- Carry the burden – Assume responsibility for setting up appointment.
- Come prepared
- Get to the point
- Be punctual
- Honor the time
- Be appreciative
I read that and I got kind of angry. That is good advice when dealing with congresspersons and executives - but Edmondson writes about church leaders and I find that advice deeply ugly in that setting.
The system he describes is about doing things and running something. But the church is first and foremost about people. If it was about the institution, Christ would have set one up. Yes, the pastor of a big church is too busy to give "that personal touch" to everybody - heck, there are just too many everybodies in some churches nowadays. But that said, there is something essentially dehumanizing in saying - "I'm busy, I don't have time for you personally, get to business and get out."
Yes, I hear there is a responsibility on the leader to be gracious, but I'm here to tell you, there is nothing gracious about that list. Christ would stop sermons to deal with one individual.
If you are a pastor and you are so busy that you have to publish something like this to your flock - I'd check my schedule, my delegating abilities, and my call - cause that ain't pastoring.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Words That Should Not Be Forgotten
Over the years, seeing my sin has become (in light of Jesus’ work on the cross) one of the greatest of gifts. When I began to accept that I wasn’t nice—not just in theory but in actuality—lights started popping on, illuminating entire new regions within, regions filled with all kinds of goodies like “pride,” “anger,” “selfishness,” “idolatry,” or “envy.” I could now see and confess that I was, well, envious of Sally Jones’ perfect family, or angry that Henry Smith got kudos when I didn’t.The absence of pain is not health, Chanign how we express things so that people do not feel hurt by our words may be attractive, but it is not healing - only truth is healing.
Sometimes, now, when I listen to my friends, especially those who are 15 or 20 years younger, my hope is that God will graciously give them the gift of the “sin” words. In a broader culture that has reduced sin to at best a few albeit legitimate “isms” around race, sex, and age, and possibly “bad stewardship,” the ability to honestly name who we are can shrink. But oh how the lights come on, the landscape broadens and the colors deepen as we get the words and are freed up, in the presence of God and others, to tell the truth about ourselves.
We do need to remember the word "sin."
Monday, January 10, 2011
The Latest Idol
Frankly, that's true anytime the is a "movement" of some sort - the cause becomes more important than the reason for the cause. But it is particularly tricky when it comes to "creation care."
Let's look at global warming as an example. That issue requires a "global view." It is not an issue that can be addressed or understood on a local level - the level we readily experience - it requires looking at the entire planet. I mean lets face it we are talking rises in the global mean temperature of a few degrees - not the temperature outside - the average temperature of the entire planetary climatological system. We used to call such things a "God's eye view."
When we take such a view, and assume we can control that view - we are exercising near God-like powers. We are not God, which is why we tend to screw it up even when we are trying to fix it.
The bottom line is this - there is a deep humility required to do such things. That humility is born both of science - that is to say having a proper understanding of the limits of our data and our conclusions - and of faith - that is the humility that can only be born of sharing Christ's salvation from our awful sin.
I think it is fair to say that in general the American church lacks that level of humility - so before we go and pick up this cause, we need to work onthat basic lesson first.
You want to teach "creation care?" How about you teach about sin and humility. We figure that out and I think the rest of it will take care of itself.