Saturday, March 17, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
People You Think Matter May Not See You Shine
“Andrew. Oh! You’re Simon Peter’s brother, aren’t you?”I love the idea of "shadow-servant." It puts me in mind of the cliche' "a light shines brightest in the dark."
Andrew must have gotten used to that. Even the New Testament introduces him as “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (John 1:40). Peter’s shadow is cast over Andrew from the beginning.
Andrew is mentioned by name 12 times in the New Testament. In ten of those he’s named along with Peter, and usually as Peter’s brother. Peter, on the other hand, has over 150 mentions, and actually contributed to the New Testament.
But Andrew had a great shadow-servant mentor in John the Baptist. Andrew had learned from John that “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). John had seen Jesus’ rise and his own decline in prominence and said with joy-filled faith, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Today, be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5), and be faithful with what you have been given (Matthew 25:21). Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, trusting that he will exalt you at the proper time and in the proper way (1 Peter 5:6).
Be like Andrew. This shadow-servant was faithful, obedient, responsive, trusted, willing, and courageous. Tradition says that he continued to preach the gospel and plant churches until he was martyred by crucifixion in the AD 60’s
Let us serve in the shadows God places us with that same joy-filled, overcoming faith.
The thought that occurred to me when I read through this was that we may not know Andrew as well as we know his brother, but the people Andrew touched know him better than Peter or John or James. And int he end, that is what matters.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Hacking and Faith - Kinda, Maybe
“THE kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” Jesus said of little children. But computer hackers might give the kids some competition, according to Antonio Spadaro, an Italian Jesuit priest. In an article published earlier this year in La Civiltà Cattolica, a fortnightly magazine backed by the Vatican, entitled “Hacker ethics and Christian vision”, he did not merely praise hackers, but held up their approach to life as in some ways divine. Mr Spadaro argued that hacking is a form of participation in God’s work of creation. (He uses the word hacking in its traditional, noble sense within computing circles, to refer to building or tinkering with code, rather than breaking into websites. Such nefarious activities are instead known as “malicious hacking” or “cracking”.)OK - there are a couple of important distinctions that need to be made - "open source" is one thing - "hacking," in the old school sense of breaking into a restricted computing space is another altogether. One is cool, one is not.
Mr Spadaro says he became interested in the subject when he noticed that hackers and students of hacker culture used “the language of theological value” when writing about creativity and coding, so he decided to examine the idea more deeply. The hacker ethic forged on America’s west coast in the 1970s and 1980s was playful, open to sharing, and ready to challenge models of proprietary control, competition and even private property. Hackers were the origin of the “open source” movement which creates and distributes software that is free in two senses: it costs nothing and its underlying code can be modified by anyone to fit their needs. “In a world devoted to the logic of profit,” wrote Mr Spadaro, hackers and Christians have “much to give each other” as they promote a more positive vision of work, sharing and creativity.
Secondly, I too often hear arguments like this expressed as a justification for socialism. Now, in overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit, socialism probably works very well. But absent that, and we are for sure absent that in this world, socialism makes for MORE mischief than capitalism.
I get the excitement here, but they used to say it about the hippie communes of the 60's.
Related Tags: Illuminated Churches
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Unfortunately there is probably more dispute circulating about the use of icons than of any of the other tools I have mentioned. When Tom and I were in Lebanon some years ago we were invited to lunch by an orthodox priest. What we did not realize until we arrived was that we were supposed to settle a long standing dispute between he and a friend as to whether or not the use of icons of Christ was acceptable.Let's stop down and think about how incredibly esoteric that argument is. Icons were born in an age when most could not read and were a means of telling story. I would venture to say that while ost now have the ability, few have the inclination, to engage in argument as subtle as that expressed concerning icons.
The friend thought they were satanic, graven images that were expressly denounced in the Old Testament. Our orthodox friend explained that early Christians felt that the Old Testament proscriptions against making images was overturned by their belief in the incarnation. They believed that because God took on flesh in the human form of Jesus it was permissible to create depictions of the human form of the Son of God. Although icons are images, they are not simply illustrations or decorations. They are symbols of the incarnation, a presence which offers to the eyes the spiritual message that the Word addresses to the ears.
Which means that practically, icons are what you make of them. They are object d'arte which some may leave at simply that and some may choose to "venerate." In other words, idolatry, which is what the prohibition against graven images is all about, is in the eyes of the idolater. We can or cannot make idols of just about anything.
Christ is supposed to "fix us" to the place where we have no idols - only Him. But sometimes we have to remove the idols from our presence to maintain our focus.
So what should you remove from your presence?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Christianity and Culture
The idea is that, as Christians, we’re called to redeem culture and renew it and reclaim it and “re” it somehow. And I think that’s a beautiful idea and that there are certainly individuals and groups that are doing that in some amazing ways. But the idea of “redeeming culture” can also be a fantastical excuse to justify your actions.You know all that "in, but not of" stuff? Culture is one of those places that we can be visibly "not of." I know almost nothing about that Philadelphia show and nothing whatsoever about Lil Wayne. I avoid them.
At some point, I have to stop saying, “I’m watching ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ so that I can redeem culture or be relevant to this generation,” and start saying, “I’m watching it because it’s funny.”
Let’s be honest: How’s my personal campaign to redeem culture by watching a television show in my living room going? Can you feel the groundswell that is emanating from my couch, just a movement that will forever redeem culture? Yeah, me neither.
And unless I’m yelling Bible verses toward the stage while I’m at a Lil’ Wayne concert, I’m not sure I’m redeeming that experience. Maybe when he gets back to the green room at the end of the show, Lil’ Wayne says to his crew, “Did you get the sense that there was a Christian in the crowd, redeeming the concert, cause I definitely picked up on that vibe.” Maybe that’s happening, but I have my doubts.
Best as I can tell, all rap music, and pretty much all current R&B, is about raw, extramarital sex - at least enough of it that I stopped trying to figure it out, so if you can name an exception, I don't care. Every time I see a spot for that TV show it's just stupid people being mean to stupider people - not and uplifting thing about it.
If we enjoy such things it is symbolic of our own sin. Moreover, people are always redeemable, and culture, as a collection of people, can be redeemed as the people are redeemed. But many elements of culture cannot be - they are symptoms of sin like the pox on a smallpox victim - you want them gone.
Anything else is an excuse to sin.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Well, Not Watergate Plumbers
. . . You have to define what a theologian is. His business is to make sure that the church has what I will call a pure water system—thinking of the word of God as the water of life. You could describe him, therefore, as a kind of ecclesiastical plumber, or sewage engineer. In the church, there’s always going to be muddy water, there’s always going to be mistaken ideas going around; theologians are the people whose business is to keep the flow clear and pure. In order to do that, they have to understand the faith as a whole, and that usually means that they have to do something like specialist work in the exposition of Bible truth—because the people who are stirring up the mud are also doing specialist work. . . . Any section of the church which doesn’t have theologians—as point people and whistle blowers and plumbers and water engineers—is, sooner or later, going to be bogged down in muddy water.How utterly disappointing! I was so hoping to find out why the church needed, you know, people that fix real physical pipes. Of course, there is the obvious - most churches have bathrooms and kitchens.
But more, it seems like the church breeds theologians and pastors and people that feed the poor - but the church does not seem to try very hard, if at all, to breed people that fix pipes, or build houses (at leas houses around the corner) - people that are accountants or lawyers - you know plain ordinary everyday people around the neighborhood.
Oh sure, we invite them in to collect there money to help all those theologians and pastors and feeders of the poor, but what do we do for them. Consider what our society would look like if all the lawyers were Christian, and all the plumbers, and all the used car salesmen.
Packer is right - the church needs plumbers, and carpenters, and lawyers - not the theological kind either.