Will Campbell has led an unlikely life. He’s a white southerner who has fought for the civil rights of his African American sisters and brothers. He’s also a Christian minister who has reached out in service to the KKK. His life is unlikely indeed. The Christian life is.
Right after the Haitian earthquake, a very well known Christian personality made some comments about the earthquake that I considered ill-timed. Of course, media outlets were quick to respond to his comments with their own judgments. I think it’s fair to say that the media reactions gave more time to his comments than they would have otherwise.
During that time I posted a satirical letter. I don’t know anything about the letter’s author but found it to be clever and interesting. The letter was supposedly composed by the Devil and addressed to the man who made the ill-timed comments. In it the devil suggests they should renegotiate their contract. I found it funny but also harsh. Continue reading
Waiting upon the first far drums of Christ the Conqueror,
Planted like sentinels upon the world’s frontier.
- Thomas Merton
The quote above came from our teaching time this week as we discussed and explored different ideas regarding the Kingdom of God. The poem above, by the monk and writer Thomas Merton, gives one image on how to to think of the Kingdom being a here and now reality as well as something that is yet to come to its complete fruition.
Do you have some favorite images that describe the Kingdom of God and its already but not yet component?
Actually, here is a small quote that I forgot to share tonight when working through Luke 6:37-42. It is attributed to Philo, a Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria, made famous for his work in philosophy and mathematics. He lived roughly the same time of Jesus. Early 1st Century.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
During our time with Alan Hirsch he spent a significant amount of time talking about the dangers of consumerism and the evil of Santa. In fact, he tore into a Santa Claus like a pitbull. I like Santa but have to admit that Hirsch’s caricature of the plump old guy giving presents to children like a drug dealer doling out crack rang uncomfortably true. I’m not ready to get rid of him but I have been forced by this Hirsch inspired discomfort to confront what I think is a real trap for me. Thoughtless consumption and consumerism and they way in which they inhibit our staying close to Jesus.
Hirsch restated this fact from The Forgotten Ways: ” … one cannot consume their way to discipleship.”
This weekend our community discussed this very subject by focusing on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24-27:
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?
I am struck by the way Jesus connects the drive to have and to consume with anxiety. There is evidently an undercurrent of anxiety among the people in Jesus’ audience. From Jesus’ perspective the people are suffering from a continual and unrelenting concern for possessions. These are both possessions that would protect them from the elements as well as from the dangers of society. In addition, as Jesus discusses clothes, one may detect a hint of Jesus commenting on their concern for status. All of it is driven by a deep anxiousness. It is an anxiety that has only changed by degrees from the 1st Century to the 21st.
The fact that much of the stuff Jesus’ listeners are driven to possess are for the good, like food and clothing, only serves to help them give in to what has become an idol. It is an idol because it demands, and receives, the first allegiance of Jesus hearers (this is no less true for his hearers today). Continue reading
…but still don’t know what to think. As a matter of fact, stories like this kind of fry my brain and make me wonder what God is up to.
Give this little post a read and let me know what you think, or don’t think about it. Have any of you heard of this kind of thing?
This past weekend we discussed God’s forgiveness and the possibility that our refusal to forgive might interrupt our reception of God’s forgiveness. The Sermon on the Mount, and the verses immediately following, may seem threatening. In spite of this, however, I don’t see Mt. 6:14-15 as an example of God’s capriciousness. God doesn’t take his forgiveness away from us when we are slow to forgive as much as we remove ourselves from the source of forgiveness, God himself.
Miroslav Volf, a Croatian theologian and someone who has had much to forgive in his own life, outlines his explanation of this concern below:
There are no people who are too wicked for God to forgive them and for Christ to die for them. And there are no people whom God, for some inscrutable reason, decided not to forgive. Even the so called sin agains the Holy Spirit, which Jesus said would not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32), is not an exception. For that is the sin of closing oneself off to the One through whom God forgives all people and all sins. God’s grace more than matches any conceivable sin. “Where sin increased,” wrote the Apostle tersely but profoundly, “grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20).