No one likes us . . . now what?

I talked yesterday about something that really eats at me. Christians are increasingly seen as UnChristian.

There are at least two discussions to be had here.  One is does it really matter.  The other is what do we do about it?  I’m trying to be positive this year so I’m starting with the second one.

The first thing that comes to mind to me is something I’ve talked about before.  We need to stop fighting–stop fighting the “sinners,” stop fighting the culture war.  Here’s the deal: the culture war is over and we lost.  Culture doesn’t happen in a win or lose fight, it happens through communication, community, influence, and change.

At some point Christians stopped influencing culture and decided to fight it.  We failed.  It was a stupid fight to get into in the first place.

So stop fighting.

That doesn’t mean give up.  It means find a way to be a part of culture, to influence it.

For me that means being friends will people from all walks.  And that means friendship for friendships sake, not as an “in” to invite them to church.  Of course we want them to come to Christ, but I’ve seen too many people stop being friends with someone because they decided “they will never change their sinful ways.”  That isn’t our decision,  and people see through our fake friend veneer when we do this.

Christ called us to love all others through everything.  It’s time to get over ourselves.

(And by the way, it does work.  In all surveys the vast majority of people came to Christ through a relationship, usually a long term one.  Some of the favorite “hit and run” methods, tracts and media, combined account for about 1/2 a percent of conversions.)

Do you think we can handle real community?

Civility

I love the response from Rick Warren to the current deluge from the mediaheader about his speaking at the inaugauration of President-elect Barack Obama.   (Watch Rick here) In case you’ve been living under  a rock, it seems pretty much everyone is angry about it.

The thing I love the most about Rick and that I love about what he has to say here is the emphasis on civility.  It’s another way of showing Christ’s love.

We are are guilty of hiding behind our words, our blogs, the talkbacks in the newspaper, etc.

It’s beyond “agreeing to disagree.”  It’s about showing respect for others and not defining who they are by what they do or say.  It’s about remembering they people are defined by the image they bear-the image of God.

Watch the video and tell me what you think.

To Write Love On Her Arms

(If you aren’t familiar with them, take a few minutes and get acquainted.)

Tonight To Write Love On Her Arms was on the NBC Nightly News.  They deserve the attention.

Religulous

Here comes the controversy.

My second post on this blog was about a movie.  Not everyone agreed with me, which is fine.  Someone’s about to stir the pot some more.  Bill Maher has a movie releasing soon, Religulous, in which he documents what he sees as the foolishness and ultimately the danger inherit in religion.

I can see the storm brewing.

Honestly, I haven’t seen too much backlash yet, but I think the movie has flown under the radar of many thus far since it’s a documentary and not a blockbuster release.  But let’s take a moment before anything else and agree to approach this with some grace?  Can we avoid petitions trying to stop the movie, and email campaigns sent to the movie studios?  Could be possibly boycott . . . nobody?

Lashing out in anger and protesting the movie will just make the movie’s point in many ways for it, and will change zero minds of those who may agree with it’s precepts.

Do I agree with the conclusions this movie makes?*No, I do not.   Do I think the approach is unfair?  Probably.*  Is Bill Maher justified in his conclusions?  Um, more on that later.

For adults, I would approach this movie with a personal challenge if anything.  How strong are you in your faith?  Can it take a beating?  Can it coexist with questions?

More thoughts on this topic to come.

*No, I have not seen this movie yet.  Yes, I will see it at some point in the future.

MySpace Blog “Best Of” 2: Grace

I believe the church is the hope of the world. I think the only thing that can change people, fix relationships, and build true community is the church. That means I need to do everything I can to do what Jesus taught to help people. There’s something I think you should think about-in the Bible, Jesus didn’t spend all this time railing against the government. He never passed judgment on those who were considered the worst society had to offer. He saved his harshest criticism for those who probably lived the best and who were the “holiest” around him. When he saw what the world had to offer, such as homosexuals, prostitutes, backstabbers, etc, he didn’t turn away. He leaned in. He loved and he forgave over and over. And people ran to him. This is unlike many Christians today, who most people would trust last with their deepest darkest secrets. This is a quote I pulled up:

Eugene Peterson probably answers this question better than anyone else:

Imagine yourself moving into a house with a huge picture window overlooking a lake with a grand view of mountains beyond. Snow capped mountains, beautiful mountains. You have a ringside seat, before all of this beauty, the cloud formations, the wild storms, the entire spectrum of sun-illuminated colors, and the rocks and the trees and the wildflowers and the water. At first you’re just captivated by this view. You sit and you stand and you look and admire; you catch your breath. Several times a day you interrupt your work and stand before this window to take in the majesty and the beauty. And then one day you notice some bird droppings on the glass, and you get a bucket of water and a towel and you clean it. A couple of days later, a rainstorm leaves the window streaked and the bucket comes out again. One day some visitors with a tribe of small dirty-fingered children come, and the moment they leave you notice there are smudge marks all over the window. They’re hardly out of the door before you have the bucket out again. You’re so proud of that window, and it’s such a large window. But it’s incredible how many different ways foreign objects can attach themselves to that window, obscuring the vision, distracting from the vision. Keeping that window clean now becomes compulsive neurosis. You accumulate ladders and buckets and squeegees. You construct scaffolding outside and one inside; you have to get to all the difficult corners and heights. You end up having the cleanest window in North America, but it’s now been years since you’ve looked through it. You’ve become a Pharisee.

The Pharisees became obsessed with the Old Testament Law. But they missed the point of the Law. It wasn’t the means of earning a relationship with God or even earning God’s blessing. Rather, the Law was the tangible framework by which one saw God’s heart, understood God’s character, discerned God’s will, and then lived out one’s relationship with God.

Nothing has changed for us. The rules are still important, whether the Ten commandments or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But when we focus only on the rules, we miss the point of the rules. And ultimately, we miss God himself.

What if people forgave over and over, no matter what the offense? What if ruined families were healed? What if the first place the unwanted in society:  a prostitute, drug dealer, unwed mother, AIDS patient, suicidal teenager, homeless person, homosexual went to when they were hurting was to the church or to a Christian friend?  What if every time we saw one of those groups, we didn’t judge, comment to our friend, or hustle our children away, but we loved, gave, helped, and leaned in instead of away?

I think that’s how we should filter our world. Let’s not wait for the government to do something, or even care. Let’s not worry about our power as Christians. Throughout history, Christians have been the marginilized and the underground. Whenever they got power, the church became corrupt. So let’s spend less time worrying about Ten Commandments in buildings, or Under God, or Happy Holdays, and more time worrying about those people we know who God is painfully waiting to return to him.

South Asia Cyclone – Do Something

You’ve probably heard about this.

You don’t have to just talk about it.  Do Something.

Perspectives

I’ve had an interesting day. I’ve encountered multiple perspectives and examples of how we react to people around us.

  • One person I know has been hung out to dry by a friend.
  • Another is experiencing consequences of a relationship with no grace, yet still refuses to show grace.
  • Someone else continues to categorizes people based on their limited view.

Our world can seem so broken and damaged. It is so great to know that Christ came not to condemn or categorize us, but to lift us up. It’s so great to know that he came not to restrict us, but to set us free so we can set the world right.

The hard part is in seeing where I am the one holding back the kingdom instead of advancing it.