Blessing Those With Whom We Disagree

I butchered that title somehow, so I can’t wait to have the English major jump in and correct me. šŸ˜‰

The series I have been preaching on Daniel has been incredibly challenging. The continuing thought through this whole study has been how to live inĀ blessingĀ toward those who are “enemies.”

Walter Brueggemann preached a message on Daniel a few years ago and mentioned the attitude of Daniel in aiding Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 4 the king had a dream that meant he would fall into insanity for a period of time. Rather than rejoice over the plight of his enemy, DanielĀ mournedĀ over the interpretation and begged Nebuchadnezzar to take a way out. Daniel had a deep care for the man who brought down his nation.

The way we hear people throw around sarcasm and rhetoric today, you would think we’re all out for the demise of anyone who disagrees with us. I can understand that in the world, especially in the world of politics. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

But when it comes to the church, we’re just as nasty at times. We disagree horribly with each other, then there are certainly streams of Christian ideologies that seem to wish for the death of the “wicked”, etc.

This journey through Daniel challenges me. Am I looking toĀ blessĀ those with whom I disagree? Do I honestly pray forĀ God’s best in their lives?

There can be disagreements all day long with whoever is president. But the level of nastiness seems a bit shameful. When George Bush was president I would listen to “liberal” Christians wish vile things on the man. I listen to “conservative” Christians do the same thing to Barack Obama. When we don’t like someone, we really don’t like someone!

We need a Daniel generation that will understand WHO they are in Christ, be unafraid to take those stands, but also liveĀ in blessingĀ to those around them… even those with whom they may disagree.


The Liturgy of Abundance

I ran across this article by Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Old Testament scholars.

I love this quote:

The profane is the opposite of the sacramental. “Profane” means flat, empty, one-dimensional, exhausted. The market ideology wants us to believe that the world is profane–life consists of buying and selling, weighing, measuring and trading, and then finally sinking down into death and nothingness. But Jesus presents and entirely different kind of economy, one infused with the mystery of abundance and a cruciform kind of generosity. Five thousand are fed and 12 baskets of food are left over–one for every tribe of Israel. Jesus transforms the economy by blessing it and breaking it beyond self-interest. From broken Friday bread comes Sunday abundance. In this and in the following account of a miraculous feeding in Mark, people do not grasp, hoard, resent, or act selfishly; they watch as the juices of heaven multiply the bread of earth.


Does the Kingdom Truly Transform?

I am continuing to digest Walter Brueggemann’s interview (found here). His work in the Old Testament draws out the explosiveness of the prophets (which he prefers to call poets). The imagery of the Old Testament is explosive. It is meant to invade our senses and disrupt our lives.

Brueggemann’s contention is the Church over the centuries has closed in the glory of the message with its creeds and doctrines. While creeds and doctrines can be helpful, most of the time they close off the powerful imagery. Creeds and doctrines help us define. Our problem over the years is we allow those definitions just to sit. (The early church fathers warned against this. They desired to define what they believed, but readily admitted it was a shallow attempt and the words they used shouldn’t be set as the limit of the definition of the Holy.)

If we allow our lives to be defined by our creeds and doctrines alone, so we know what we are (and what we aren’t), we may lose the explosive power of the Kingdom. Now, for some, that may be okay. Most of us don’t like explosions anyway. We like nice, neat, clean lives.

But is that transformation?

I have also been meditating on 2 Cor. 3:17 – 7:1 as I’ve listened to Brueggmann. I read this text and I see a man (Paul) who had his life totally disrupted. His whole structure came crashing down. He was ruined. Yet, it transformed him. And that transformation was so powerful, he wanted the entire world to know this power and wanted the whole world reconciled to God.

That holy disruption messed him up so much, he would easily say, “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor. 7:1, NIV)

We need the prophetic power of the Kingdom of God to explode our very staid lives. (They might be very stuck lives.) In other words, we need God to mess us up. Without HIS Kingdom, power and glory, are we really transformed?


Walter Brueggemann and the Disruption God Brings

This interview with Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann is well worth your time. In this interview he is asked to unpack some words used in the Old Testament, or some concepts used.

In particular, around minute 25, he gets after how we, as preachers or believers, leave a lot of things unsaid because we are so bound up by our god of consumerism. Liberals or conservatives, these words are worth hearing.