Just came across one of the most thought-provoking blog posts I’ve read in a while, and wanted to pass it along. It’s at the blog De-Conversion, and it’s titled “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book.” The discussion is amazing in the comments – you’ll find my comment somewhere around #180-190.
As a Christian, reading through this is both somewhat sad and somewhat exhilarating. It’s sad because, as you read through it, you start to realize how guilty you can be as a believer at asking people to just blindly take on your way of thinking, without fully considering where they’re at in their life right now. It’s exhilarating because it makes you think, and there are lots of great thinkers posting awesome thoughts in the comments.
Here’s an excellent post by Abraham at the Desiring God blog.
My favorite quote (referring to when Jesus still took time to pray for his followers even though he was being hunted down to be crucified):
“It would be like if your pastor was willing to stay up front after a service and pray for you, knowing there was someone in the building waiting around to shoot him.”
A couple years ago, I read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and it quickly become my favorite book of all. If you aren’t familiar with the story, it basically focuses on a young “demon in training” who’s learning from his demon uncle how to be a good hell-raiser and get to humans. The thought-provoking perspective is simply refreshing and convicting.
One of the sections talks about how the demons must make it a priority for humans to think their time is their own. In other words, once you plan something, then it should not be interrupted. Convince us all that we must stay on schedule with our tasks and not allow any interruptions. The demons knew that doing so would help us miss out on many of God’s blessings and lessons.
Think about it – how often are the great things in life planned? Or better yet, how often do you plan for something great to happen, and it just doesn’t pan out? Finally, how selfish is it to think our time being completely under our control?
The problem with us when we think this way is that we often look at Jesus as interrupting our lives. In fact, that might sum up American Christianity pretty well.
I almost missed this whole thing, but God got me in on it at the last minute.
A friend of my wife’s and mine asked us to play in the worship band as part of the Dallas Tent Revival 2007. More for a reason to play my guitar than for spiritual reasons, I accepted. This was on Friday. Since then, I’ve realized that this event could be one of the biggest things to hit Dallas, and possibly the nation, in a long time.
Here’s a quick summary: a local man, Kyle Martin, felt the call to put together an event that lasted 40 days and brought together all the churches of Dallas for a traditional tent revival in the downtown area. He felt that call 6 years ago. Long story very short, he’s managed to organize 40 different local pastors from churches of all sizes and 7 worship teams to facilitate this event, starting Monday night, April 9. The way people have come together in a short period of time has been nothing short of miraculous, and I’m pretty excited about what can happen.
I’ll let the website speak for itself. Read this article from the Dallas Morning News, too. Also, if any of you are local, pick a night to come out. My wife and I will be playing with the Dallas Bible Church band, which will play on Sunday nights during the revival, starting April 15. If you’re not local, pray – and check out the “Inside the Tent” link on the website. It features a great daily devotional.
Knowing that many of my readers are preachers, ministers, or at least interested in it, thought you might wanna know about this great series started at The Unashamed Workman. Should be pretty intriguing.
I’ve been reading through 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus the past few days (aka the Pastoral Epistles), and found some similarities in Paul’s instructions to his up-and-coming church leaders:
- Bondservants should honor their masters (1 Tim. 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10): My understanding in this instance is that “bondservant” could refer to a range of people, from true slaves to the equivalents of endentured servants. This strikes me as interesting because Paul, throughout the New Testament, doesn’t call believers found in these situations to revolt, demand justice, demand fair treatment or to quit their job. He advises these young pastors to teach their church how to remain faithful and thankful in any circumstance they’ve been given.
- Avoid silly arguments (Titus 3:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:23-26): Paul was pretty strong on staying away from the petty disputes that become so common in churches. Back then, I’m a lot of it had to do with discussions over following the traditional Jewish law. The intriguing part is that Paul doesn’t call Titus and Timothy to speak up so that their side of the argument can be heard – he calls them to avoid it. Don’t get mixed up in it. Cuz it never accomplishes much.
Obviously, American culture doesn’t have slaves and bondservants, but I think the principles still apply to us all as employees. And we might not struggle with incorporating Jewish traditions, but there are plenty of silly disputes going on in the modern church. Here are just a couple of examples that cross my mind that bring these passages to light:
- Apologetics in general: OK, don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for defending the faith, and having the intellectual ability to show its strength. But people don’t change their lives and become believers once they’ve received a logical explanation of everything that’s happened in the Bible. They become believers when God touches their heart. Some people seem to completely base their entire relationship with God in their ability to prove He’s right. Sometimes I wonder if God is just thinking, “Thanks for the support, but everyone’s gonna know I’m the real thing soon enough. In the meantime, let’s you and I spend a little more time together.”
- Dancing, Drinking and Singing: The modern church struggles with legalism just as much as the first century church dealt with Jewish customs. Should you drink, or not drink? What kind of music is worship, and what kind isn’t? Is the Living Translation of the Bible OK, or do I have to stick with the King James? The list is 1,000 miles long. When you stop and think about a lot of this stuff, it will make you laugh. And I’m sure it makes God sad. “I didn’t save you so you’d wonder whether it’s OK to have a glass of wine. I saved you so you can live an abundant life, and forget all this small stuff.”
- Deal with it. Speaking of the abundant life, Jesus’ promise to us to give us that should never be confused for an easy life. And while most of us automatically relate abundance to money and material gain, the most abundant thing we can have in our lives is more Jesus. And because realizing He is abundantly present is usually most obvious in the midst of less-than-perfect situations, we can’t expect to be plucked out of the harshness of this life. Just like Paul expected bondservants to honor their masters, so God expects us to be His shining light in the situation and circle of influence in which He has placed us.
Here’s a great verse from 2 Corinthians that spoke to me last night: 2 Corinthians 6:11-13.
The line that hits me the hardest is “Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.”
That single line has the power to fill you full of hope and make you feel like a waste of potential all at the same time.