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4/13/2004

 

Life and a little update

I've been incredibly busy as of late--with easter's demands last week, I've had no time to blog. And this week isn't looking much better. I will be taking a blogging hiatus this week, to take care of work and prepare for this coming weekend gathering at the Bridge, in which I'll be speaking. But I miss the discipline this has become in my life, and promise I'll return soon.

Plus--April first was my blog-day. A whole year. And I didn't even get to post the obligatory announcement. Next week i plan to wrap up the massive overhaul I've been doing on the blog over the last couple of weeks, so you'll see some changes soon.

4/01/2004

 

Inward:Formation

Yesterday, I was driving home form work, when I accidentally dialed my car radio into a local Christian broadcast. Some preacher with a heavy accent was categorically ripping apart dominant world religions, using the basis of scripture as logic upon which to negate the value of all else. It was like a bad movie. It was terribly annoying and predictable--but I could not shut this guy off. It wasn't like I disagreed with everything he said, but I sure wanted to.

Something he said in his rant grabbed me. He said, "And these people are going to hell--why? Because they have the wrong information..." He continued to ramble, but my eyes were already glazed over. His statement not only captured what I believe the general populus of the Christian community believes, but also he also exposed various tangent implications of that philosophy. In one statement, he unknowingly affirmed why I believe this emerging transition in church perspective is so important.

First of all, I stubbed my toe on the word information. I think what he was really communicating may have been another word. Information is a word that is so missued in the English language. I think what he was communicating instead, was the danger of having the wrong facts--the wrong knowledge. Information, inward-formation, is seldom the concern of those whose emphasis relies on the facts.

When I started thinking about this man's perspective, it blew up all around me. I began to realize how pervasive a philosophy it really is. When we are bound to the altar of perfecting objective truth subjectively, we can find ourselves in a scary place. Let's skip the question as to whether or not we can ever truly perceive inerrantly--what happens when we believe that people need to understand the facts, and that it is facts that save them?

I think we become janitors. Nothing against the janitorial profession, but i think that when we, as followers of Christ and reflections of God's beauty here on earth, forfeit our roles as creators and focus solely on the perservation of facts, we become a people whose highest priority is maintenance. Maintenance of a truth we've never owned or fully understood, I might add. We create a culture that sees us as no more deep than the pages our facts are written on. Rather than focus on true inward-formation, we focus ourselves on communicating our franchised truth perfectly, and on demanding that our audience can recite its precepts. We become the answer givers. Hope becomes an answer, a catechism, and not the fabric of our journey. We become a culture of confession, in which salvation is granted to those who can recite the proper words. We become a people obsessed with teaching words--evangelism we call it--and we send our delegates across the earth, condemning those that cannot recite the words we've trademarked. And we perpetuate that maintenance mindset by granting people our answers, so that they, in turn, can levy them over those that do not know them, and vehemently protect the accuracy of that truth.

I am not offering that we abandon the ability to describe the way of life that we find so valuable. But I think that as local communities of faith, and as larger institutions, we've got to reform the way in which we communicate. True confession of the need for Christ--true recognition of his identity--is not an action. I think it is a reaction; i think it is fruit of something much deeper. The life of Christ offers much more than language could ever encapsulate or miscontrue. And it is those that have experienced the grace of that depth in God--often through the unconditional acceptance and love of community--that bear that fruit.

If we are to offer anything at all to the world around us, I think it should be the depiction of true regeneration, true rebirth, rather than the proofread text of our belief system. Not that I will ever use the phrase "born again" in any public setting, but being reborn is not something that occurrs when people recite prayers or theology. We now live in a world of data-overload. The internet, TV, literature--there is more data out there than we can possibly process in a lifetime. And perfecting our data to add to the blinding crossfire will likely be a waste of time, assuming we even could. What we as a culture lack, is people whose lives are based in the reality of grace, whose actions shower people around them with love and mercy, and whose shadows tell the story of their beliefs better than any words ever could.

Regeneration is an inward spark that, if allowed, will consume one's life. Let us not be a people that get wrapped up in alleviating the desperation of people searching for hope by offering trite, salvific catechisms. If we desire to share the story of God, let us do so by inviting people in to our homes and communities; by sharing life and love through creative goodness and unconditional acceptance. It seems to me that a life reflecting Christ is more about being good, and less about being right.
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Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
My beloved, Let us love one another. For love is of God,
and EVERYONE that loves is born of God, and knows God.
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