Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Spiritual Life

We are living with the successful achievement of two modern myths here at the bottom of the great recession. These are the questions that people are trying to answer today. 1.) How can I make my life better for me, myself, my family, and my country so this doesn't happen again? 2.) How can I do that in such a way as not to offend you?

We know that’s preposterous. Humans are not islands so the world can’t be all about me or my people.

Humans cannot live a discernment-free life. We are told that we are either rich and poor, black, latino, and white, democrats/republicans, north/south, red/blue state. But in reality, based on the people that I know across the country, we don't fit in nice little boxes on a census form. We are a thousand different iterations of a thousand different views.

Playing the non-offensive game leads to greater judgmentalism. The only thing that people who are trying not to offend each other do is dogmatically agree on how offensive everyone else is. These are the questions that got us into this problem, and we certainly can't use them to get us out of our society's issues.

Some Christians have been pleased to accommodate these myths over the last 20 years. By retreating to the safe confines of Bible studies, bestselling self-help book clubs, and seminars, we have unwittingly withdrawn from the culture hoping for a better world to come. On the other hand, some choose to just take all their energy taught from faith, form a nice community non-profit keeping their churchianity to a safe hour on Sunday morning. Both of these forms of Christianity are important but cannot be ends in and of themselves.

Pentecost changes all that. The spirit of God is already at work in the world through one visible sign-- the believers in community together. Wherever two or three of you are gathered, you are showing the world a new way. By demonstrating what Jesus preached, and how churches like those described in 1 John lived, we are showing the world a better way.

We join in the victory over the myth of pride with self-sacrifice, generosity, and mentoring people in the love of Christ. We participate in the conquest by giving witness to what God is doing. We report like a herald on the field of battle showing and telling to each other that God continues to overturn society's values with a new all-conquering love through Christ's people. While society competes over the best condo at the top of the tower of Babel, we gently rescue children, orphans, and widows announcing the world, "the kingdom of God is here."

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