The paralysis of politics has made the Church pathetic instead of PROPHETIC

Please do yourself a favor and listen to a repeat of this live stream. I couldn’t fast forward through it, so it was necessary to listen carefully all the way through as evangelical/conservative leaders talked about race, racism, and justice.

The very first comments from a conservative black pastor caught me. He asked someone who had been in a conservative Christian college in 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated. The younger pastor asked the older pastor, “What did your college do that day? Did they stop to pray?”

The answer was, “We did nothing. We just went on our day.”

We have been caught in political arguments as conservative Christians. The trouble is we don’t want to recognize it. Because the “right” black men weren’t killed innocently, we are paralyzed from doing anything because it may look like we’re… um… LIBERALS…

When I mentioned on a forum what I did in my church to observe #BlackLivesMatter Sunday, I was met with opposition. One was angry because it was done to “honor” some “thugs” who were “in the wrong.” He then went on to say he wasn’t racist and any Church of God in Christ pastor could come any other day to his pulpit. I seriously doubt that pastor will arrange that day on his own.

We seem to want the precisely RIGHT conditions for us as conservatives to stand up and say, “We have a problem.”

On the conservative side and on the liberal side, our politics have made us pathetic when King Jesus needs us in this hour (and every hour) to be prophetic. 

Assemblies of God pastors vehemently disagreed with our general superintendent when he asked to support our COGIC brothers and sisters because it looked like we were supporting “thugs.” That’s a political motivation and we need to call it out.

In Dr. King’s day conservative churches did little or nothing. Today, I want it to be better. At least on my part. I want my congregation THINKING about justice. I want to be more engaged in these issues because the Church really has something to say in this matter and, quite frankly, it will get Democrats and Republicans upset.

We need a way forward and hiding behind political stances and calling them “theological” won’t cut it anymore.

Quite frankly, there will be some who won’t listen very long to that live stream repeat because of the theology of most pastors present. (There are a lot of Reformed pastors in this group.)

We need to take some time and simply shut up and listen.

I need to listen to the hurt and pain of my African American brothers and sisters, especially when they are in the church. I need to shut up and listen for possible ways through this mess, even if I don’t particularly like the Reformed theology of some of that panel and the moderator’s goatee scares the living daylights out of me. (Someone PLEASE give Ed Stetzer a beard trim!)

There are plenty of opportunities to hammer the foolishness of liberal theology/politics. Today, it’s my own house. Cut the political maneuvering and PLEASE find a way to listen.

Oh, and go make friends with people that don’t look like you and think like you. Please.

Worm theology

I am working through the new devotional called “Live Dead Joy” by missionary Dick Brogden. “Live Dead” is a missions effort to put missions teams in the hardest, most unreached parts of the world. It is a radical call to missions and as such, Dick Brogden is a very driven man. I admire him greatly.

I enjoy the Live Dead devotional because it is NOT soft pedaling anything. It’s not your “warm thought for the day” kind of devotional. It is a call to live under the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

But today I have a bone to pick with his thought process.

Today’s devotional starts with this sentence:

“Revelation wreaks havoc on any theology that has a high view of people.”

A few lines later:

“There is no man-centered triumphalism in the last days — there is only disaster.”

Revelation does point out what happens when humanity puts themselves at the center. We witness this all over the world all the time.

But to say there is no place for a “high view of people” ignores… well.. the Bible. We too often have a “worm theology.” I draw this from the song “At the Cross” where the line says “Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?”

I grew up with that theology.

It’s not about being “man centered.” What is needed is a theology of God that is so great that we understand GOD has a high view of humanity. Without God, we’re foolish. Yes. But WITH God, what is constantly put in front of us biblically is the thought: ALL IS OURS.

Without God, we end up in disaster. Revelation portrays that. Yet, WITH God, we have the opportunity to understand what it is to walk in the image of Christ.

Here are a couple of reminders we need from Scripture:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:4-9)

We need to be reminded from time to time that GOD has a high view of us.

1. Don’t think you do it all on your own. That’s disastrous.

2. Don’t think you’re an unworthy worm. That’s disastrous as well.

3. In Christ, ALL IS OURS. That is victorious.

I don’t understand… and I WANT to understand

Ferguson, MO is blowing up again. No indictment for the white cop who shot and killed a young unarmed black man.

As someone white, I can look at the evidence as it comes out and “analyze” it.

But the problem is obviously deeper. I want to acknowledge that.

I don’t understand enough. And I want to understand.

This video from Matt Chandler gives me some starting thoughts. He looks at Acts 10 as a text to discuss racism. He readily admits it is hard work. We tend to make steps toward a conversation, but our natural tendency, for ANY race, is to drift back toward what is familiar to us. This is hard work.

I’ve not done well with this, and it may very well be I’m going to goof this up all over again.

Beyond the “facts” of the case. Beyond the rioting that has resulted. There is a problem. 

I am going to try and listen today. But I want more than that. I want to dialogue with significant people I have followed and respect. There will be moments of rage I need to hear.

Efrem Smith has a great piece to help me get started. I would love a dialogue with him.

Rod Thomas at Political Jesus will be cranking it up soon, and I need to hear his raging voice as well. (I say “raging voice” with respect.)

This is hard work.

I cannot be afraid of the work.

Please help me.

Gospel definitions

I am in the first pages of Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology. He opens early on with definitions of gospel because all theology must be rooted in gospel.

He uses N.T. Wright:

The gospel is the royal announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures, has been enthroned as the true Lord of the world. When the gospel is preached, God calls people to salvation, out of sheer grace, leading them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord.

Then his own definition:

The gospel is the announcement that God’s kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of Israel’s Scriptures. The gospel evokes faith, repentance, and discipleship; its accompanying effects include salvation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Defining gospel is necessary, and difficult!

The when and where of the Kingdom of God

An extension of the interview with Gary Black, Jr., over at BibleGateway included this blurb from his just released book:

What is important to understand here is that there is no “then” or “when” to the kingdom of God. This reign is a current, progressing, maturing reality, which means Jesus rules today. Jesus is the one who sits on the throne of the cosmos, and all authority, over all things, has been given to him (Matt. 25:3128:18). God is the God of all humanity (Jer. 32:27). God rules today through his Son, Jesus, the king, and he rules over everyone and everything—not just Christians or religious organizations. He is the King of Kings, the ruler of rulers (Rev. 1:5), and the dominion of his Spirit extends to every corner and crevice of the universe at this very moment—a fact even the demons appear to understand perfectly well (Mark 1:245:7James 2:19). The kingdom has come, and there is more to come. Thanks be to God.

It is my continual prayer that I live under the constant awareness that my King reigns NOW… and I need to hear his call. Now.

 

The true POWER of our discipleship in the Kingdom of God

Dallas Willard and NT Wright both ignite my soul for so much more in this life. They do it in a quiet way that doesn’t sound nearly intrusive as others I’ve heard… yet it rings true somehow.

Ortberg in his book Soul Keeping quotes Dallas as saying this:

Your eternal destiny is not cosmic retirement; it is to be part of a tremendously creative project, under unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast scale, with ever increasing cycles of fruitfulness and enjoyment — that is the prophetic vision which ‘eye has not seen and ear has not heard.’

I know. I had to read that several times. Now, every time I read it I begin to weep. Literally.

The Kingdom is powerful and I am so unaware.

N T Wright in Simply Jesus invited readers to reread the Book of Acts to understand “the fact that through Jesus’s followers God is establishing his kingdom and the rule of Jesus himself on earth as in heaven.”

So… why does it not look that way?

Because we don’t “get it.” 

Lord! Help us to finally GET IT!