Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thoughts about Christian Cable

So recently I have been watching Christian Cable. Not because it is ministering to me, but for the same reason people watch the TV shows that repeatedly show car wrecks. I find myself amazed and shocked at the things that I hear, and often end up laughing at the actions and antics.

I believe Christian Cable has done more harm to the Christian faith than it has done good. The personalities that have been placed on the air have become just that-personalities. The TV shows have become just that-TV shows. They have forgotten who Christians are and thus they have corrupted themselves.

Acts 3 & 4 tells the story of Peter and John healing a crippled man as they enter into the temple on day. When you read the text, after they heal the man they keep on walking. They seem to treat the healing of a man who was crippled from birth, in a very casual manner. It is almost as if healings are a natural part of life.

Notice in the beginning of the text, Peter says very little. He asks for the man’s attention and then heals him and continues to go into the temple. The only reason that people know why a man who wasn’t able to walk is not jumping is because he won’t leave the apostles’ side.

It is only after the people in the crowd begin to ask how this happened that Peter begins to proclaim the Gospel. Peter did not stand up and start shouting into the crowd he had a new message, that if they people didn’t listen they were going to die. He only began to preach to the people after they asked him to explain what was going on.

Peter does not come back with hellfire and brimstone. He does not lead off telling the people they need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. All he does is explain the story. He even asks the people why they’re amazed before he explains how this man is healed.

So Peter and John set precedence for the way we interact with those who are not followers of Jesus. This model comes directly from Jesus. In Luke 10, when Jesus is sending out his disciples to spread the Kingdom message, he tells them to go to a village and heal the sick then proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is near.” Sign then proclamation.

What are the signs today? This is up for debate today in many Christian circles. Some Christians do not believe in miracles while some do. If we find ourselves in this debate we’re missing the point of ‘signs.’ Christians believe that the work of Jesus is God putting the world back together. Signs are the evidence of this.

One of the biggest themes that I feel is over looked by most pastors in the beginning of Acts is community. It is repeated over and over that they were living together, and the great things that happen come out of this community. I think you could say that community itself is a sign; a sign that things are being put back together.

What would it look like if Christians stopped leading with our words and led with our actions? What if we began to believe that God, through Jesus, is putting the world back together? What if words like all creation is groaning with the pains of childbirth waiting for Christians to be the community we are called to be.

Sadly, this is not what I see when I watch Christian Cable.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Thoughts from on the Carpet

I have been working way too many hours over the past month or so, and I have not been able to sit down and type out a blog. This does not mean that I have not been thinking. I clean carpets for money, and while you're cleaning carpets you have tons of time to think (because spraying soapy water and then sucking it up isn't all that hard). Here are a few of the things I have been thinking about.

Nonviolence: I have been debating with myself over the past couple of years whether or not violence is a proper way of responding. I have always struggled with this question because it has never seemed to me that Jesus would respond by fighting back. He said to turn the other cheek.

I have also struggled with the opposite. I didn’t believe that pacifism is the answer either. How could I live with myself if I idly sat and watched another person attack my family or my community? Pacifism as a response does not seem to be the thing Jesus would do.

The problem with my thinking, and the reason that both options do not work for me, is I struggle to see power without force. Often when I would want to be a pacifist my one question was, ‘What if I am being attacked?’-I couldn’t get over this problem. I have been ingrained in my thinking to assume that power must include force.

This is the exact issue that Jesus exposed in his death. Humans tend to want to see weakness when talking about death. We struggle to see giving up life as a sign of strength. We see strength in standing at all costs in preservation; not dying. I believe that Jesus is completely throwing the “strength comes from force” motif right out the window.

Understanding power without force was my key to saying that a nonviolent approach is the best.

Community in the Church: I hate going to church alone. If you have ever had to do this, you know what I mean. It is miserable to sit by yourself and worship. It is not natural. (If I am going alone, often I’ll stay home and just go to the young adult services.) So I have tried to attend church with a couple from the seminary that is a part of the same congregation.

While I was waiting for them to meet me there, I noticed an announcement for the church’s “Connection Point,” the place where you go if you want to get connected in the church. Being a typical mega-church, the leaders understand that the 8,000 members struggle with being connected (and there are many people who just show up on Sunday morning). So they have created the Connection Point to help solve the problem-because nobody likes to go to church alone.

When I saw this announcement, it dawned on me. The church should not have community building as a program of the church, because the church is community. It would be like a band thinking playing music is just something they do when they get together. Just like playing music is central to a band, community is central to a church. We don’t do community, we are community!!!

Seeing ourselves as anything else is to not be ourselves. We do not just meet once a week, we are to live life with each other. We are not to just sing songs together and listen to a preacher, but we are supposed to be intimately connected to one another!! This is what it means to be a church. So many churches do not understand this, and this is why so many people have been turned off to the church.

Marriage: This summer I have been thinking about marriage more than anything else. This is probably because in November I am getting married. I have been engaged since Christmas and the longer I am engaged the more excited I am for the day when it is over.

I was talking with a friend about being engaged, and he made the point that being engaged is hard and I agree (especially long distance engagements). Engagement is a time of building up towards the marriage; it is a temporary state of preparing. Thus, it is a time where you are almost married, you are ready for marriage but you are waiting, and waiting can be hard.

I have been thinking about how everything in my life is now for somebody else; I am no longer alone. When I work, I am working for her. When I play, I am playing with her. When I travel, will be traveling with her. Where I call home, is not just my home but also her home. My life is to be shared with a partner. My life is now our life.

I am excited to have somebody who challenges me, who makes me want to be a better person. I was reading Donald Miller’s book “To Own a Dragon” and he made the point that if it wasn’t for girls, guys would probably never amount to much. This is not because women are nagging or needling all the time, but because we want to make her happy. I want Stephanie to be the happiest most secure person in the world, and it is because of her that I push myself to go harder and longer than I would otherwise.

I have been thinking about how marriage is a beautiful metaphor for God. The oneness that a wedded couple should be pursuing is the same oneness that we find in the Trinity. There is perfect love between the persons, perfect intentions between them, and perfect respect for each other. They are one.

I also like how Paul talks about marriage when he uses marriage to talk about Jesus and the church. The wife follows the husband as the husband gives his life for her. This is the same way that we should follow Jesus, understanding that He gave His life for us. It is all a beautiful relationship.

I have been thinking about the roles that man and woman play within the relationship. I believe that men are the strength in the relationship and women are the support. When these roles are found, the relationship works beautifully and naturally. When these roles are not found there is discontentment. This is not to say that either role is more important or either person can be taken for granted-women need men and men need women. Stephanie needs me to be strong for her, just as much as I need her support. Both need to be present for the marriage to be healthy.

Just over 10 weeks until these thoughts become a reality in my life!

I move into our apartment on August 23, and then classes start the first week of September. I will be living there, alone, until after the wedding. So in the next couple of weeks I will be getting the apartment fixed up and ready to live in.

Thanks for reading what I have been thinking about.