Our massive cultural failure

Today, equality is not actually regarded as a matter of human dignity and value. That is very hard to defend. Rather, it is regarded as a doorway to freedom. Freedom itself is not regarded in terms of the inherent dignity and value of human beings, but rather as opportunity. Opportunity is not regarded as opportunity to do what is good and right, but to get what you want. We talk a lot about them, but the basic values of our society are not equality and freedom — they are pleasure and “happiness.” And these are interpreted in sensualistic terms. Our society is a society of feeling… Feeling is our master. That’s why we have so many issues about abuse of one kind or another: abuse comes out of frustration over feeling. That is why we are such an addictive society. Also, watch your commercials for automobiles and so forth, and see how many of them are predicated upon feeling. Feeling furs our society. It also runs our massively failing education system. It is the only acknowledge ultimate value. That explains why we do so badly in areas of learning that require sustained discipline — which doesn’t “feel good.” — Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind 

Continue reading “Our massive cultural failure”

Faith in the Public Square

A friend on Facebook who is on the faculty at Biola University had an article in their university’s magazine on the election.

An excerpt:

If the two-party system remains intact after this election, and evangelicals become more disenfranchised in terms of not really fitting into one or the other party, does that mean evangelicals will simply have to accept being a more muted political force going forward?

I think the church as a whole, not just here in the United States, but across the globe, is at a place where we have to make a decision about what our role in this world is. To American evangelicals, I would say this: I think our role is to stand in prophetic resistance to whatever system we’re faced with. I think every time we try to turn the church into a power broker, the destruction and change comes to the church and not to that which we are trying to influence. So I think our role is to stand in prophetic resistance. It’s not a standing against, because Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus didn’t say to topple the Roman government. Jesus didn’t say to start a revolution. In fact, he said, “Give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s,” and he submitted himself to those authorities, even when it was unjust, to his own detriment, and he suffered an execution that was in and of itself incredibly political.

I think Christians have had such a privileged place in American culture that we’ve lost sight of the fact that this is not our place. America is not the New Jerusalem, but we do have a role to play. And our role may put us outside of power but in a position where the greater message that we have is heard. Christians should vote. They should participate in the process. They should run for office and seek places of influence. But if the goal is power, it will dampen the greater message every single time.

The rest of the article is HERE.

These are times to be thoughtful. Not fearful.

Is Jesus cleaning house?

Matthew 21:12-22

There are a couple of things I know in our current political and cultural climate:

  1. We can’t predict anything. I’m done with that. I have a sense of what the Spirit was speaking to me this morning in prayer as I read this passage, but that’s it. I have no “thus saith the Lord.” All the “thus saith the Lord” proclamations to this point concerning the election are just not much in the way of accuracy. We’re guessing. And there is a reason.
  2. We’re doing too many things based on fear. As Americans. As Christians in America We’re reacting out of fear. For believers, that is not only not good… it’s not necessary. 

Several years ago I was listening to a church leader who had been pastoring a significant Pentecostal church in the days of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart and their downfalls. He was seeing some wonderful things happen in his church and was growing somewhat influential in the Charismatic Movement so some media outlets asked him his opinion about the downfall of two very prominent TV preachers. He refused comment.

He said, “Jesus was going through his garden pruning with a chainsaw, and I felt like I was some little twig holding on for dear life! What did I have to say against someone else?”

It wasn’t that he didn’t have an opinion, or that he felt Bakker or Swaggart were somehow being maligned. He just didn’t feel the need to pile on. He knew what was happening. Jesus was cleaning house.

Again, I have no “thus saith the Lord” on this, but the question ringing in my mind this morning with this text is this: “What if Jesus is cleaning house?”

Jesus in the Temple that day isn’t going after Rome. He’s going after Israel. He’s going after their lame attempts to hold onto power while they allowed oppression of the marginalized all around them. The Jewish leadership was pressing down on people and using the Temple for strong-arming the margins when it should have been a house of prayer. Their priorities were all messed up.

He then demonstrates it further in the cursing of the fig tree. There was the tree looking all good, but no fruit. It was symbolic of Israel. “You all LOOK fine with the Temple looking better than ever… but you have NOTHING to give out in life!”

What if Jesus is cleaning house? No matter what happens this election cycle, what if he is trying to say to American Christianity: “Quit grasping at political power!”

What if we quit trying to justify “backing” one candidate or another, which is only thinly veiled as our attempt to remain in a place where we have some political influence? What if Jesus is cleaning house by whittling away religious freedoms we’ve enjoyed… NOT to “destroy America” but to wake up the Church?

What if the Church got back to prayer… NOT for “America to wake up” but for the American Church to wake up? What if we got back to the basics of prayer… just simply seeking God without any agenda as to how we feel our “rights” are being stripped away, but just being in his presence and looking to glorify his great name again? 

What if the Church got back to paying attention to what Jesus demonstrated in his life? When Jesus overturned the tables and called people back to prayer, the margins flocked to him. They came to him in the Temple area, where the Jewish leaders had been trying to control who came in and who stayed outside. What if the Church in America turned its attention back to the margins… away from Washington? 

What if we began to see the marginalized again… to reach out to the poor, the oppressed, the beat down… What if we didn’t give standard political answers (from the right OR the left) and shut our mouths and just worked?

What if Jesus is cleaning house? Not Washington… his house. His church. His people.

What if we would listen?

What … if…