A Reflective Christian

All for God’s Kingdom

Words and divisiveness in politics

I tire of the hypocrisy of many politically involved people. We hear repeatedly, more than any other time perhaps, about how the Democrats and the Republicans should come together. It has become sort of a rally cry of the public. But it rings hollow.

When I see the words of “warmonger,” “godless,” and other terms thrown around to one politician or political or the other, the actions speak louder than words. We want unity, but only when it is for the benefit of our agenda (which we arrogantly think is superior, as if we are wise and smart enough to truly know). And then when we disagree with certain policies, we encourage and use vengeance type tactics. This occurs both in Congress and in the public. Our nation, not just our Congress, is full of a bunch of political hypocrites.

We see our Congress come down to a 9% approval rating, and we complain about it. But you know why it has come to that? Because we elect politicians for what they can provide “me,” the individual. Because we elect politicans for agreeing with our policies, as if we have even a tenth of the knowledge to be able to know what is best in the long run, or even the short run, for the country. So politicians would change their policies and “flip-flop,” because that is the only way we will elect them.

We claim they should be principled, that they should not go up there specifically to get elected but to present a message and not change for others (in other words, they should be “principled”). That rings hollow also. We blast anyone whose policies we don’t agree with. And then we elect people for, once again, the policies that would best benefit us ourselve more often than not. Its hypocrisy to expect politicians to be pure and selfless in their campaigns when we ourselves don’t practice such a restraint in our voting. What we have up there is a mirror image of the public. We should blame ourselves, not Congress.

Instead of electing people based upon policies, we should be looking at the person. Do they have character? Are they wise? Do they actually have knowledge (and not just experience, which by itself means little) about being a leader of country? Are they patient? Are they willing to cooperate with others? But we won’t elect upon those principles (and based upon those principles, neither of the two major presidential candidates would be acceptable).

All this goes to show that even democracy will fail. All forms of human government have failed, and so too will democracy. Maybe not in our lifetime, but I would expect it to be soon, for one simple reason. People are motived by their own interest and will be mean when we don’t get it that way. And the history of the rise and fall of civilizations has come from one interest that wouldn’t succumb for other people’s interests.

And the unfortunate reality is that many Christians in this country are playing right along. We have not put our faith into practice in politics. We have succumbed to the criticism of many people that religious principles shouldn’t play a role in politics. The only thing is, we don’t let it affect our politics and we go further and we don’t let it affect the way we operate within politics.

Congratulations America. We have the fruit of our labors. We have become arrogant because of our being blessed, and now it is going to come back to bite us, unless a little pride and humility comes back. But sadly that is sorely lacking, even within the group of people who claim to go by the name of Jesus.

Now, how do the Christians who at least try to practice grace and humility go about trying to change this?

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Religion and public life

Christians are criticized for not living according to their principles and beliefs, and thus they are hypocrites. And Christians are criticized for practicing their beliefs in many arenas of our life when religion is viewed as merely being a private matter.

Darned if we do, darned if we don’t. But that can’t stop us. The question is: “Which way do we go?” Do we let our faith affect how we interact and view the world, or do we make it only about ourselves in private?

July 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

A fundamentalist evangelism

– Courtesy of Chris Tilling

The disturbing reality is that this type of behavior is the logical conclusion of the bulk of conservative and fundamentalist thinking. If we so boldly claim that we know for sure the Bible is inerrant (and so much so that all who don’t believe it are fools), it logically follows we could act in such as a brash and arrogant. And if we reduce our faith down to a cerebral acceptance of facts, then such an attitude is consistent with such thinking. Our moral sensibilities might realize the foolishness of this guy, but so long as we embrace as fundamentalist world view, this is what it logically leads to. In which case our moral sensibilities of being kind are not based upon anything corresponding to reality, no real reason to it other than merely as a tool to get another person to be Christian, a “win them over with kindness attitude.”

Either much of the church’s outlook is wrong, or our moral sensibilities are purely utilitarian, only being seen as a tool itself for another “soul.” Logic and ethics conflict in such a scenario, which is playing out in America.

BTW This is not an endorsement or recommendation to go the way of what is commonly known as the liberal church, but rather a third route, a different way that transcends the false dichotomy in America of conservative vs. liberal.

July 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another book I am reading – 7/29/08

The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright

The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright

July 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Christian redemption

To build upon the blog post I linked to in my previous post, one of the things I have been emphasizing in my first few posts is the misunderstanding of the Gospel message. We have made it sort of a self-help (or God-help) therapeutic session in order for us to feel as we want to, to overcome fear, anxiety, and pain.

Granted, God comforts the depressed and comes to aid of those in need. But one of the things that lacs inour understanding of the Gospel, and makes it shallow, is that God is not here to save individuals, but to redeem the whole world. The Gospel doesn’t exist for ME, but the Gospel exists for us as people corporately and the world in which people live. So it isn’t about people’s salvation individually, but it is about the bringing to balance a whole world, people and all, of which I am a part of. A balance that can be described as the kingdom of God in its completion in the new heaven and new earth, in which there is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The benefit we receive now for our faith is to be merely a foretaste of the direction in which God will bring His creation.

And we as Christ followers, the body of Christ, the physical presence of Jesus in this world are not only to take part in receiving this benefit, but to take part in distributing this grace to the world. As we have received, we are to give. The grace, the mercy, the wisdom God gives us, we are to distribute throughout our communities.

But if we cease to serve and be a part of this God-enabled and God-guided redemption, it is as if we are accepting at best table scraps. If we become Christians for the benefit of the present, and cease to be apart of the community of believers who both give and take, who both bless and are blessed then we are not going to receive the full blessing (even if our Christian experience is genuine). Why should we in the end, if we are so self-absorbed and so short-sighted to be merely satisfied with a temporal blessing, expect to receive the true and great blessing God is trying to give; a world in which their is neither pain, nor death, nor mourning, nor crying, nor conflict, nor lack or want? And why should we expect to receive more when we weren’t willing to give in the same manner that God had given us?

God’s blessings in the present are only a means to a greater end. We shouldn’t be satisfied with table scraps. And God’s blessings aren’t just for me but the whole world, so I must myself have the same purpose in my life.

July 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good post that begins to get at the root of our problem

http://blakethornell.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/the-gospel-of-escape/

July 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Individualism of our Christian Culture

A little while ago, someone said something directed to me that said “God comes first, then your family, then church” in order to try to get me to visit with my family more. And while I can appreciate the fact that perhaps I could visit with my family more, that statement irked me. It represents much of what is in wrong in our culture.

Notice the division between God and church. We treat them as two separate things. It is as if our faith is an individual thing, and church is something else that might be nice but isn’t really that important. And taken to its logical conclusion, we hear people say that they believe in God and feel like church isn’t critical to our faith.

But I would say church is a part of our service to God, even more so for a minister but it remains true for the lay person. Our faith isn’t about ourselves. The second most important commandment isn’t to love ourselves. It is to love our neighbors in the way we love ourselves. And that is part of what takes place in the church. We share each other’s burdens and joys, we take and we give as needed.

And furthermore, the community of faith is the body of believers in whom Christ lives. So when we fellowship with fellow Christians, we in fact fellowship with our God. Saying a relationship with God is an individual things forgets that God lives in us, and forgets it is through them we may be blessed, as God blessed them. And to them we are to be blessing, as God blessed us. But yet, many of us determine our church affiliation and attendance based upon what it brings to us, how it makes us feel, instead of considering how we are to be involved in the church, what our calling and job is.

This all goes back again to a faith that is about our own needs, instead of being involved in a community, both giving and taking, blessing and being blessed, loving and being loved. It isn’t about a “personal relationship” with the Lord that excludes other people. Rather our relationship with the Lord is primarily experienced within the context of the body of believers in whom Christ lives. And our private prayers, worship, and fellowship with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ gives further energy to the community fellowship to those whom need it.

July 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My current reading as 7/25/08

Social Intelligence

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Celebration of Disciple

Celebration of Disciple by Richard Foster

Reviews to come when I complete them

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

How do we think of Jesus?

In our culture today, we have focused upon many different images and titles for Jesus, many of which are Biblical. Ideas such as Savior, Husband (an especially popular image in dating books for women), Friend, and so on. But there seems to be a lack of proper emphasis of titles and images. The title of Lord, the second most used title of Jesus (right after Christ, which means Messiah, a distinctly Jewish term) is made mention of sparingly and the most mention is from legalists and fundamentalists. This shows the culture of religion today, in which the titles we wish to focus upon are that which speak of the benefits of our religion instead of the duty of our faith.

No wonder much of the church is just as narcisstic and selfish as society is. And its most freuent use is as a weapon to beat people upon the head with, so no wonder people are alienated from a thoroughly Biblical outlook.

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A reflection on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper

In preparation of a sermon this Sunday in which two of my churches will share communion, I am reflecting upon the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.

In it, we do it to take in remembrannce of Christ, in a sense as a memorial. It is a recognition of Christ’s death. And in it, the kingdom of God was inaugurated. And we take part in the death of Christ spiritually is becoming the new man.

We also look to it in regards to the present also, as we reflect upon our life. As we are molded in the death of Christ, we also see in the bread and wine a time to mold our present life to the life of Christ. In it we are changed, and through it we are strengthened to build the kingdom of God which Jesus inauguarated.

Finally, it is a look into the future. At the supper, Jesus said he would not drink of the vine again until they were in God’s kingdom. So in it we look forward in the future to what Christ started, we are working on as co-workers with God and Christ, and Christ is completing. And we mold ourselves into the image of Jesus in his resurrection from the dead, since drinking wine implies a bodily presence.

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment