Culture Wars

I grew up in a great political era. Honestly.

My family was very aware of the news and it was discussed at the dinner table. I was a political geek, knowing the names of the Supreme Court justices, the leaders of the Congress, and many key cabinet leaders in the sitting president’s cabinet.

I knew key world leaders. Key events interested me.

It was also the time of the Moral Majority and the big issue was abortion. Political action was part of life growing up for me.

Political action is still an interest, but it isn’t life.

Do I still believe in right actions? Yes.

Do I still believe there are actions that bring blessing and actions that bring curses… or consequences? Absolutely.

I fundamentally believe there is a way that is God’s best in our lives that will bring us incredible freedom, blessing, and some definition of abundance that doesn’t always include multiple houses, cars, and planes.

I also believe fundamentally that outside the work of the Spirit the fundamental understanding of just how that blessing works can be “hit” from time to time, but living in it, with the understanding of eternal blessing, is nigh impossible.

Over the years I’ve come to an understanding that working from the outside in is a fruitless effort. We act from the inside out.

I don’t say, “You can’t legislate morality,” because I deeply believe morality is legislated all the time. Someone’s deep belief in how the world, or at least a culture, should work gets pushed ahead into legislative and legal action. We legislate someone’s morality all the time.

But that is not the issue for me. The issue is the Kingdom of God. The issue is the beauty of Jesus and the pursuit I have in treasuring Jesus. It is the pursuit of my life and I want to draw others into pursuing his beauty as well.

So, for me, culture wars are just crazy now. They will still go on and I can easily say it’s not just conservatives that wage that war. It is liberals, and now it is their turn in winning. But, that is life.

The parable that has helped me understand I need to hold these issues in this world more loosely is the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

When Jesus explains this parable later in Matthew 13, he essentially says the Father will work this all out.

I still vote, even though I hold my nose to do so more and more. I still have deep held opinions on every action we take as Americans and still voice those opinions. But disagreement over abortion, gay marriage, food stamps, healthcare, etc., is not going to send opponents to hell… or heaven.

It is the heart and life that follows Christ, treasures the Kingdom, and obeys that will find itself harvested and saved. THAT is what I most cherish.

In the meantime, at least according to this parable, we are growing in this mess together. You may think I’m a weed. I may think you’re a weed. You may think I’m just weird… and I you.

But I want to treasure Jesus and I desire for others to simply treasure Jesus. He will sort this out in the end and we will all be wonderfully (and sometimes painfully) surprised.

Post “Chikin” Wars Thoughts

Okay, it won’t be “post” because this thing won’t go away for awhile.

But these are my thoughts.

As believers, we have gone from “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us” to shouting so loudly at each other we can no longer hear the Holy Spirit, let alone each other.

Not only are we not listening to each other, but by NOT listening to each other we are definitely not listening to our Head: Christ.

I can say, “That goes for ‘both sides,'” but I really need to say it goes for me.

In the famous line of G K Chesterton when a newspaper asked what in the world is wrong with humanity, he responded as I wish to respond right now.

“I am.”

1 Peter and Waging War

This isn’t a post about “just war theory” or pacificism. It is about a far more important war.

Peter describes it as the war that is waged against our very lives as believers (1 Peter 2:11, CEB).

We are good at waging real war. We are good at waging virtual war. This week we’re REALLY good at waging cultural war.

But here is this sober call from Peter. This is a place where I really like the Common English Bible. In this verse believers are described as “immigrants and strangers” in this world.

Immigrants. All of us who are believers.

And… there is war. The war to be waged is not physical in the sense of military. It is not virtual. It is not even cultural. It is spiritual. It is against a world that will simply be at odds with the allegiance of the Kingdom. Those allegiances will get tested.

So.. how do we “wage” this war?

v. 12 (CEB): by living honorably. Live such a good life in front of unbelievers that if they defame you, it is only for doing what is good. 

v. 13 — We wage war by honoring human institutions. In Paul’s day it was to the emperor. The call was to submit to an oppressive government. Even in that day, even in that government, there was a place for what government did as a function of society.

v. 15 — We wage war by quiet submission.

v. 17 — We wage war by honoring everyone. We wage war by loving the family of believers. We wage war by fearing God.

Funny way to wage a war.

This passage has quieted my spirit this week. While we’re in an uproar over the symbolism of a chicken sandwich… along comes this passage that reminds us we have a different war to wage. In all honesty, I do not like this passage. It calls me to examine something beyond what is visible. It is a call to carefully examine what wages war within me. I’d rather stand in line for a chicken sandwich.

Christianity is not for the weak of heart. It is not for those who want pat answers in their lives. Following Christ has its consequences. It has its battles. We follow Christ, we are engaged by an enemy who wants to take us down. It’s serious stuff. Waging that war is far more vital… far more important…

Living honorably among people in our culture takes true power in the Holy Spirit. This culture won’t always like it. But we are called to stay faithful. This is war.

Are We “Off” Our Game?

I was in a discussion today with a fellow pastor about the passionate issues of our day. As we discussed gay marriage, the economy, and other hot topics, something began to occur to us.

At first he said, “The Church is off focus. It’s off it’s target.”

Then, I thought, “Wait. It’s more. So is the government.”

BOTH are “off their game.”

The Church isn’t being salt and light… and we need to learn how again.

The government is in the short term narcissistic game of thinking only of short term goals and forgetting how to truly govern people.

I don’t see the government getting back on their game. This I know… THE CHURCH better get back in focus! We are drifting badly and truly need to seek a new baptism of power… and understanding what the KINGDOM is all about.