Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time for Light to Shine

In his interview with Presbyterian Outlook, Stanley Hauerwas makes a particularly sharp observation: "The church has lost its ability to be a disciplined community because we’re now, religiously, in a buyer’s market. Christianity has to bill itself as very good for your self-realization, and that’s killing us because we’re not very good for your self-realization. We’re good for your salvation, which is not the same thing."

It is time for us to stand up and dare to believe that Jesus Christ knew what he was doing when he called us to come and deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Christianity CANNOT bill itself as very good for your self-realization-- that's like saying something is very good for developing heart disease.

We do not peddle a better drug-- we represent the cure! And the cure is hard-- "Come and die to yourself, and understand that you cannot realize who you are, or who you were made to be, until you are surrendered to me," says Jesus Christ.

Dr. Hauerwas sees the negative-- I see the opportunity. If we will stop mouthing the cultural mush that passes for "spirituality" or even Christianity, we can stand and open the door for this nation of addicts-- to work, sex, drugs, alcohol, exercise, status, shopping, _____-- to find REAL life, REAL freedom, REAL peace.

We are not, religiously, in a buyer's market. We must live with the fact that not everyone, perhaps not anyone who we want to, will hear what we say, or do what Christ asks. If we stopped caring about the results and consequences, and just LIVED in the freedom Christ has given us, the Lord will lead those whom He is calling to the light.

Life is pain-- anyone who tells you something different is selling something (The Princess Bride). We have nothing to sell. We are bought, and that at a very high price. It is only Christ's freedom that leads us out of the imprisoning intoxication with self.

Maybe Tiger Woods needs a call from that kind of friend these days. He is legion; the field is ripe for harvest, but the laborers are few. Shine, and watch what Christ can do.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Questions for the Moderator

No, I didn't die... but life has gotten marvelously complicated in some wonderful ways. We are making some progress on bringing the congregations of Oak Cliff together, new staff folks are pushing OCPC's mission forward, and we are growing in number, in depth, and in mission. But I am no longer young-- I've taken my first unintended naps sitting up.

Anyway, Bruce Reyes-Chow on his Moderator's Blog asked for questions. Here are mine, some of them as old as my presence in the PC(USA)-- that's 30 years. Yikes.

Here are my 3:
1)Being Presbyterian in the PC(USA) seems to have been reduced to political rugby, with the ones who have the power making the rules. How do we change the game? How do we get back to the work that Jesus Christ called us to do?

While I would hate to generalize that everyone in power right now does not have God's greatest hopes of us at heart, I do agree that it seems as if we are still locked in a battle that will require a winner or loser regardless of the outcome of theological or ideological polity issues. The game must simply be played differently by those that wish do to so. The hard part is that until enough see and live a different way of being church, there will be a huge amount of tension and resistance. At that point I suppose it comes down to really knowing what we are fighting over and if it is worth it for anyone, because in the end, if we are taking away any power of the collective presence of the Body of Christ in the world, all of our energies for any of this is for naught.

2)How do we build bridges on issues that are NOT salvation issues, instead of raising our disagreements to become salvation issues?

Hmmmm . . . interesting question. Again, it will take people willing to step outside of traditional ideological camps and take some risks to be in community with people with home we disagree with those things that, at the end of the day, are NOT salvation issues. Again, intriguing question.

3)Why is it so hard for Presbyterians to talk about Jesus in the second person familiar?

I am not sure that is true in some parts of our church. The bigger issue is whether we do that individually or corporately. I think the most healthy congregations are ones that can unabashedly and faithfully do both.

I'm supposed to put his answers here when they come, so stay tuned. I will try to pick up a little bit more on the blog as other commitments wind down to a close. If anyone out there is still reading, thanks for checking in.