Thursday, July 31, 2008

tangible kingdom. week two.

thoughts. opinions. ah-hah's. things you know already or agree with...

Chapter 4. U-Haul
What both excites you and scares you about the potential of a new spiritual road trip?
If Jesus were to trim down your Christian experience to his essentials, what would he remove? what would be left?

Chapter 5. Moving Violations
As you think about the church engaging the world with more than just tweaks, what expectations do you need to change, delete, or embrace?

Chapter 6. Posture
How are you willing to advocate for people while they live lives that are in opposition to the way of Christ?
If you you no longer use words to communicate the gospel, what would you do?

not to be biased about some great stuff but i believe "Posture" has the potential for some extra discussion. Let me hear your views.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The chapter on Posture had the greatest effect on me. It is something that has always been on my mind, even back when I was going to school and working at Cracker Barrel. It always amazed me that when I would tell the people I was working with that I went to Ozark Christian College and was going to be a minister, they could hardly believe it. Was it because I came across not Christian? Was that a bad thing, did I come across as unloving, uncaring, rude, crude, stuck up? Did I come across as someone you wouldn't expect to enter the church. Or did I just not come across as a judgemental, holyer than thou Christian.

I have also often wondered if being a Christian in this life gives me anything better than everyone else. I know I have the hope of an everlasting life, but most of the time I feel discouraged in this life and if I may say it. Ready for it to be over so that I can go to heaven. Is this the life Jesus came to bring? I remember Paul saying to live is Christ and death is gain. I know how he feels.

If I could not tell people that I was a follower of Christ with words. Would they be able to tell from the way I live my life? From the hope that I have? Am I truly alive?

As I said this has been on my mind a lot. I have even preached sermons on it. My biggest problem is that I know that my posture is bad. But how do I go about fixing it? How do I become light and salt, again?

-Scott

Ben said...

Hey Everyone,

I wanted to start by answering the questions Josh put up...

chapter 4 U-HAUL
I'll answer the first two questions at once. I have been a newer "spiritual journey" and i'm not sure how much more Jesus could "trim down" from me.

What I've been wrestling the most with his responsible living in terms of going back for grad school. This fall I start an MDIV in Biblical studies at Cincinnati Christian University. Since my last name isn't TRUMP, i need to take a lot of student loans out- A LOT.

I've been wrestling with...maybe I shouldn't go back to school....but I really want to teach some day. Maybe I should just plant a church with you guys!!!

Scott...thanks for sharing what's been on your mind. It was encouraging to me. So, I shared what was on mine....

Chapter 5 MOVING VIOLATIONS
The church needs to man up and love the one it's pursuing - it's community. I think for to long we've tried to "pull people in." Not working.

If you can avoid a church building-great! If not that's cool. When you do events try and partner with the community. Maybe have a vbs at the local YMCA. Who knows.... etc.

Chapter 6 Posture

OH BOY.... I worry a lot about what American has done with the Gospel. We've westernized it and domesticated it to look just like us....

When I was in Brooklyn I really began to think about what the author was writing about. Many churches spend money one waistless efforts....

FOR INSTANCE

1) While in NY I found out that a very very very large xn church in KY around Lexington.... actually PAID to have a billboard up stating something about GOD SAYS MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN AND A MAN AND A WOMAN... (it was during a voting period)

Do we stop to realize what that billboard communicates to our gay friends? What if a gay man or woman drove by that sign and said, I'm never giving church a try?

Does Jesus need our billboards to promote HIS political agenda?

2) My UNCLE
I'll never forget this. I had some family move me out of Knoxville, TN a few months ago. It was the same weekend Billy Graham and his boys rolled into town along with all the billboards that could make you cringe. My uncle, who is seeking... stops and looks at me and says.... With all this money why don't they give it away or feed somebody with it.

I think he's on to something.

Would I advocate for someone who never follows Jesus' teachings?

If by advocate you mean "defend" them.... it depends. As long as you like your steak med rare and a tall glass of Guiness, I'll eat with anybody and I have. People aren't stupid. i think they want to see if your "normal." Do you struggle with the 9-5. Do you struggle with paying the bills, does your sig other get on your nerves at times, etc. If i'm going to share with someone what I care the most about....I want to have their complete trust.

The amount of time we invest in people shows in how long they are willing to think about/wrestle with following Jesus.

i think.

cheers!

_ben

Amanda said...

Chapter 4: U-Haul

I think what excites me most about a spiritual road trip is the idea that I won't be in the same place that I am now. What scares me is that I'm not holding the map. I don't know where I'm going, I don't know the details. I can't see the bigger picture... Yet. That's the time when you have to trust something outside of yourself so wholely and completely that it drives you mad. You'd think I'd be used to this by now.
As far as trimmings go... oh goodness, I don't even know. I'll get back to you when God is done trimming me. But I was struck by this chapter wondering what 'stuff' is or could be. Stuff... the 'Christian experience'? Programs? Buildings? Emotional baggage (bad boxes) about church/God? Theological ideas? Sure, seems to be what the author is talking about.
But I kind of want simplicity beyond that. What a dream... to get rid of everything I own, having only the clothes on my back, a bible in my hand, and a friend by my side to live out the grand adventure of living life like Jesus and his disciples did. The simplicity of owning nothing.
The simplicity of loving people and showing them Jesus.
The simplicity of knowing the mission and not complicating it with... stuff.
Do I have faith enough for that kind of simplicity? Is Youth Ministry playing it safe?

Chapter 5: Moving Violations

I think for the church to engage the world it would have to take more than just a tweak. I think one of the things that is really hurting the church the most (in my eyes) is that the church is divided against itself.

Jesus says clearly in Matthew 12:25 "Every Kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."

And over and over again we are called to unity, to be of one mind and one spirit, to pursue peace, to put aside petty differences and stop arguing with one another.

Jesus prays for this! And you may notice this in Jesus' prayer in John 17:23: May they be brought to complete unity *to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.*

There's something about unity in the body of Christ, something about loving each other enough not to be divided against one other, that speaks to people.

Division lacks love, unity is a result of love.

Chapter 6: Posture

Okay, so I opened up my Bible today and the first page I opened to was in Colossians 4. My eyes fell immediately on these verses:

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Col.4:5,6)

I just thought 'wow, that's fitting for the chapter I just read'.

I loved this chapter because it resonated so well with what I believe.

I want to talk about homosexuality because that's something Ben brought up, and I've been thinking about posture in regards to this topic today.
How are we representing Christ in our actions and attitudes toward the LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) community?
Although I disagree with the lifestyles of the LGBT community, I think we get so caught up with their sin that we forget that they are real people that Jesus loves madly and passionately, and he wants their hearts just as much as he wants mine or yours. It just seems like people make this such a big issue. I personally don't even feel the need to tell the LGBT community that their lifestyle goes against God because they hear it all the time. You get people who preach it publicly with billboards, you get those who take their stand doing things like boycotting places that support the gay agenda, then you get people like Fred and Shirley Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church who picket funerals and pride parades holding signs that say "God hates fags". Why in the world would they possibly need me to tell them their lifestyle is wrong? They're not stupid, they know Christians believe marraige is between a man and a woman. My job as a Christian is to take them by the hand, let them know that God does not hate them, and show them what a relationship with God looks like, and then let God be God. Let Him convict them, let Him change their hearts.

That being said, some of the other things that resonated with me in this chapter are:

Pg. 43 "What makes the gospel good news isn't the concept, but the real-life person that has been changed by it."

(Wow, isn't that the truth! A real life person changed by the gospel, that makes the concept... tangible)

"...if people aren't asking about [our] lives, then we haven't postured our faith well enough or long enough."

(hmmm... when was the last time someone asked me about my life? )

Pg 44 "But to advocate for someone means you are with them in their need, and you must speak and act on their behalf because they can't speak or act on their own. It is caring in a way that tougches another soul, person to person, rather than trying to fix a person from a position of percieved authority." (AMEN!!!)

Pg 45, 46 "Our job is to be like Jesus in the world: to help communicate God's love and acceptance and to win people's hearts through close contact and covering"

Pg. 46 "[Jesus] doesn't need us to stick up for him; he needs us to represent him, to be like him, to look like him and to talk like him, to be with people that he would be with, and to take the side of the 'ignorant' knstead of those in the 'know'".

"If you want an authentic heart for people outside the church...you've got to be with them."

(also, if you're not out there with people outside the church, how can they ask you about your life?)

My heart comes alive to think about the people I meet when I take walks and the possibility to show them God and see them redeemed from the empty way of life! My heart comes alive with the thought of being an advocate for them... to stand in the margins and help people find their way to the kingdom. Oh God my heart cries for that!

Careful... this book is stirring me up. ;-)

Ben said...

amanda

thanks for the quotes from the book! It helped me think about "vouching for people who do not follow Jesus."

I was thinking about something today. After reading amanda's thought about not needing to call out the gay community....

Is it me or do you find "the churched" just as messed up? Do Christian's call out people, like the gay community, because they are to afraid/embarrased to admit their own?

If so, how do we have a community/service that encourages repentance and exhorts sacrificial love?

cheers!

_Ben

Sara the Swan said...

what really stuck with me was the story of Jesus and how he brought himself to the level of the woman he advocated for. that is not just about coming to others "level" to show them love, but to the "leave the church and minister instead of making them come to us" mentality. i want to key in on what ben said about having the persons trust. i think that trust and love go hand in hand. relationships are healthy when there is trust in there, and it's all about relationships. how are they(the non-christians) going to trust us, if we refuse to touch them outside of our sanctuary door? boy do i know that it's scary. meeting people i don't know, and loving them is one of the hardest things that Christ has told me to do. many see christians as being judgemental, and hypocritical (which we've all been but i mean more so) so we fear leaving the church grounds, otherwise they may see us as more so for leaving our "holy ground" post. however, i believe it is the lack of action that give them the judgemental stereotype. that and the people holding the "God hates fags" signs.

so to love them we must leave
to leave we will come to "their level"
to be at their level they will trust us.
when trust happens, love happens.

and as i said before, it scares me to death.

in reference to the whole homosexuality thing. i have many gay friends, and it broke my heart once when i invited one to a church event, and he promptly said "they don't like my kind there" and walked away before i knew what to say back. i pray that for christians they will take love seriously, and love everyone, in every bar, even the gay bars.

and as ben said, they want to see if you're normal. in the church we do not go to them, but out of the church i've heard so much "umm, you're a christian, should you be here?" but as ben said we need to man up and accept that peoples reactions are not always going to be an immediate "oh you're a normal christian..well in that case.." let us not be scared of their assumptions, and love them anyway, show them who we are, but more importantly, who HE is.

mollyann said...

U-Haul
I absolutely love the story of Gideon (Judges 6&7) and I was so glad to see it mentioned in this chapter.
I wonder a lot of things about this story.
I wonder if God trimmed off Gideon’s army because it really would make the journey easier (as it says at the top of page 25) or if He did it to remind everyone who is really in charge here.
I wonder if Gideon would have defeated the Midianites if he didn’t listen to God and kept the full army.
I wonder about the 22,000 men at the beginning who were simply asked to leave if they were scared.
I wonder what was going through Gideon’s head as he walked down to the water, not knowing how many men God would leave him with. Talk about stress…
I wonder if the 300 men understood in order to win the battle they had to lose something first.

Moving Violations
“The longer I go, the less I know.”(p.32)
I loved this story about the “expert who had to become a learner again”.
It made me think of the Crowder song that says: “And the harder I try the more clearly can I see the depth of my fall and the weight of it all.”
Sometimes we try so hard to find answers. We want answers to fixing the world, creating the perfect church, the best way to lead people, etc. and we get so uncomfortable when God won’t just give us the answer. Buuut not many people relate to having the right answer…most people identify better with those who are willing to learn right alongside them.

Posture
I loved the line “…truth bends down, adjusts his posture, and kneels near her.” I forget that Jesus IS truth and he IS love…and that we can use those words interchangeably.

While I was in Kenya I went to a school for a day to hang out. I was holding kids and letting them play with my hair and rub my arm and the thought of “these kids might have a disease that kills people” was not an option. I was outside playing soccer with some kids (they were in like 6th grade…barefoot… and they kicked my butt) but for that moment I forgot that a lot of them had been affected by AIDS. I know I was really white, out of shape, and didn’t speak their language but in that moment I didn’t feel a whole lot different than them. And I think when we begin to posture ourselves with other people we forget the differences (even big differences like languages or sexuality)and we begin to realize we truly are the same as them…a mess (as Ben put it)…but a mess that can show how much we need Jesus too.

Amanda said...

Cool, we can get some discussion going.

Ben,

My thoughts about your first two questions, I concur and possibly.

"If so, how do we have a community/service that encourages repentance and exhorts sacrificial love?"

First, I just want to say that I hope that a person preaching or teaching would never feel that they have to water down truth or apologize for talking about sin(I think you mentioned that in last weeks discussion?) for the sake of not offending someone. Truth is very powerful and sometimes it offends. This is one of those places where you let God convict the heart.

But I think if we (as the body of Christ, and as smaller bodies within the body) are going to be a purposeful community that encourages repentance and exhorts sacrificial love, then we need to be about building authentic relationships with people and caring about them. I think when people are in authentic relationships and love one another deeply from the heart, our focus changes. It's not about turning a sinner from error of his ways. Now it's a person saying 'because I care about you, I want you to succeed in your walk with God, this is what I see...' and the other person saying 'because I know you care about me, and because I care about you, what you have to say is important to me'.
In relationships you build credability with people that gives you room to confront a person if needed, otherwise anything you say to a person, especially about sin, will fall on deaf ears.
I think if you haven't taken time to build that relationship and establish that credibility then you're not in a place to be confronting that person. (keep in mind though that I'm not talking about sins like molesting little children, I think there are some sins that require immediate confrontation).

Does that make sense at all? Am I being clear?