Saturday, April 07, 2012
Friday, April 06, 2012
The Ultimate Consumer Culture
I think you are getting the idea. Today you might have trouble finding a Bible that is just a Bible with no Christian celebrity endorsement or agenda attached as a companion to Scripture. The Bible is a great work of art, but we have reduced it to a vehicle to advertise our brand or promote our specific political bent.He goes on to give three reasons:
Look, I have no problem with businesses making a profit, if the goods or services they sell are legitimately needed by consumers. For instance, blue jeans are a necessity, especially in Oklahoma where they can pass as formal wear in most situations. But does anyone really need $200+ jeans? The answer is no, they don’t.
And I am all for books and music and other forms of art that draw a person’s heart upward to Christ. But is there ever a need for Scripture candy? The answer again is a resounding No.
So, just why are Christians so gullible? Why are we such easy targets for those simply out to make money? In short, why will we buy any item that has a Bible verse or religious-sounding phrase on it? I can think of at least three reasons.
- Safety. We are seemingly obsessed with protecting ourselves and others (especially others) from sin in any art form.
- Religiosity. This actually goes right along with safety. There is great safety in religion. Religion is form and procedure and policy.
- Guilt. Oh sure, you used to like listening to Christina Aguilera, but now you are a Christian, so you listen to BarlowGirl, not because you like their sound or their lyrics, but you would feel guilty listening to and enjoying Christina Aguilera now that you have been saved.
I want to expand/consolidate these ideas into a single important point.
We live in nature, but God is supernature - beyond. We are looking ways to make Him "real" to us. There are two problems with that. For one, God has made Himself real to us, it's called the incarnation. That's uncomfortable because where it leads is the whole death and resurrection thing - a death and resurrection that we have to participate in in some fashion.
Which is the real problem - The incarnation was meant to transform us into beings that could experience supernature in some fashion - not reduce it to nature. In the end, Christ was establishment the way for the Holy Spirit. Christ' work was intended to transform us into vessels capable of holding the Spirit.
Our problem is we seem to get Spirit stupid (miracles and healings!) or ignore Him altogether. We need to transcend with Him. Like it or not, Christianity is mystical and material. Selling Christian junk is a direct result of ignoring the mystical part of that.
Good Friday Art
Related Tags: Good Friday Art
Thursday, April 05, 2012
OK - a trivial pop cultural reference to a very serious topic from Mark Roberts:
In popular culture today, and often in Christian culture, repentance is a matter of feeling sorry. “Repent of your sins” (not that many people speak this way anymore) means, “Be sorry for what you have done.” Such sorrow seems often to be remorse over having been found out more than genuine sadness over having done wrong.Christ did not come to make use feel better, He came to make us actually better. Why is it we just want to feel better?
Biblical repentance usually includes feeling sorry for our behavior. But repentance is not a matter of feelings, but of choices and actions. In Scripture, “to repent” means “to turn around and go the other direction.” It’s a change of purpose, intention, and values. It means living in a whole different way, turning from sin, turning to God, and walking in his paths.
Mostly I think it is because to get actually better we have to face how rotten we really are. We are afraid of our own ugliness. But here is where it gets interesting. We can hide our own ugliness from ourselves, but God has already seen it, and knows it intimately - and died to make it better.
If Christ died knowing full well the extent of my sin, how can I fear it? And yet, I do.
God help me to move past the desire to merely feel better and to become actually better!
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Who Else Is There?
Acts 4:13-14I pray for commonality in church leadership, I really do, for to have the uncommon in leadership is to tell those in the pew they will never quite measure up.
It was a great reminder to me…God uses normal people!
Don’t feel you have what it takes…
Feel as though you don’t “measure up”…
Consider yourself a “common man” (or woman)…
You are a perfect candidate for God to use in a mighty way!
But I also pray for maturity in leadership. Too often, myself included, I have hard the immature use this call for commonality to justify taking on things they simply are not ready for.
Mistakes are unavoidable, but mistakes hurt the church. Big mistakes hurt the church a lot, and nothing can turn a small mistake into a big one faster than an immature reaction to the discovery of that mistake.
In our youth oriented culture we seem to have neglected the distinction between commonality and maturity.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
I'm Not Angry
But none of that is to deny that there is a problem. Angry Calvinists are not like unicorns, dreamed up in some fantasy. They really do exist. And the stereotype exists for a reason. I remember (with shame) answering a question during college from a girl who was crying about the doctrine of election and what it might mean for a relative and my response was to ask everyone in the room turn to Romans 9. Right text, but it was the wrong time.All those scriptural citations are, to my mind, illustrative, but the point is a good one. People don't always need "truth," sometimes they just need other people.
This raises an important qualifier. The “angry” adjective might apply to some folks, but it can also obscure the problem. In the example above, I wasn’t angry with that girl. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk. But I failed to recognize what is “fitting” or necessary (cf. Eph. 4:29) in the moment. This is the sort of thing that tends to be “caught” rather than “taught” and can be difficult to explain. But there’s a way to be uncompromising with truth and to be winsome, humble, meek, wise, sensitive, gracious. There’s a way of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) such that our doctrines are “adorned” (Titus 2:10) and our words are “seasoned” with salt and grace (Col. 4:6).
To get a lesson in all this - watch the sitcom "Bag Bang Theory." It actually hates religion, deeply, but the main protagonist of the show is a theoretical physicist virtually completely disconnected from his own personhood and humanity by his intellect. It is supposed to be funny, but sometimes it is painful to watch. The uber-nerd hits too close to home at times.
When we lead with theology and truth, we are being God's uber-nerds. Christ's death is not a theory - it's a reality and a painful one at that. Christ's resurrection is the mos joyous event in human history.
Sometimes we need to stop analyzing and just experience.
Monday, April 02, 2012
Yes, They Do
The idea of "going it alone" is embedded in the American consciousness. The cowboy/ frontier/entrepreneur spirit is-- for better of for worse-- in our DNA. But history demonstrates (especially my denomination, which has roots in the issue of cooperating for missions) that we can make a bigger impact together than we can apart. If for no other reason, pretty much all churches will eventually "associate" with other churches for the purpose of pooling resources to reach the nations. Eventually their vision will outgrow their resources. That's why God gave us the Church.That's a fascinating perspective as I watch my denomination devolve from a actual denomination to a group that cannot even agree on how to pool resources.
There is so much that could be said about this. I find in my old age that I am moving in my views of the what the church should be more towards centralization - but I don't want to get int o that right now.
Two points I do want to make. One, we cannot look at this as individuals. Christ did not come to save ME. He came to save the world - I'm just part of that. As we splinter and splinter and splinter again, the focus is more and more and more on ME. There is something inherently wrong with that.
Secondly, and this is almost cliche at this point, relationship is a reflection of Trinity. We cannot work out our salvation or any other aspect of our faith alone.