Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unity in Perspective

A while back some buddies of mine and I were discussing Guitar Praise, which is the Christian "alternative" to Rock Band. Personally, I hate the idea that we as Christians need alternatives, or even that Christianity would provide an alternative. As I stated my opinion, my buddy stated his, in which he was basically like, "what's the big deal, who cares, let it be!" Another buddy of mine then stated his opinion, his opinion argued more for the need of a game like Guitar Praise. The three of us found out that we have varying and different perspectives on the issue.

Yesterday, one of my buddies, who was part of the conversation we had a while back, sent out an email with a link to a gamer's review of Guitar Praise. I read the review, and then the comment section. In the comment section people voiced positive, negative, and apathetic opinions about the game, more so about the need of the game then about the game itself. I found it very interesting that there were basically the same types of feedback in an open forum of people who would never come in contact with one another that could be found among my buddies and I, who are tied together relationally. More so than our relational tie, we are all believers in, and followers of Jesus Christ.

We would expect to see varying opinions and perspectives in an open forum posted on the World Wide Web. We not only expect to see differing opinions, but we also welcome the clash of varied perspectives. We do not expect a unified voice in a place where people from anywhere and everywhere are given a voice. As much as we expect and welcome a variety of perspective in some places, we mostly do not expect and/or welcome differing opinions among believers or in church.

When I looked at the comments left on the forum, and compared them to the comments my buddies and I shared with each other I came to the question, "what is unity?" One of the most beautiful thoughts to me about Christ is that He unifies people. The first believers in Christ were marked by their unity, their oneness. Unity is a major desire of mine, and many others, for Christians today. As much as unity was a mark of early Christians, fragmentation is the mark of Christians today. Possibly fragmented because we have misunderstood that unity in Christ welcomes varied perspectives and opinions.

Forever I have romanticized unity as a magical place where people always see eye to eye, have all the same convictions and understanding, and no one ever argues. My romanticized notions have been challenged though. As I read the gamer review and the comments left, and as I thought about the differences expressed among strangers and those expressed among friends (friends who are "unified" in Christ) the reality of America set in. America is united by ideals laid out in a constitution. There is no singular color of skin, blood line/tribe, or religion that binds America together to be called the "United States of America". America is ethnically, socially, religiously, and in many other ways diverse! We are united by such ideals that we are alloted the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In much the same way, unity for Christians lies in our belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and in the mission He set us on to tell everyone the good news (gospel) that He is the way, truth, and life.

The romanticized idea that I had of unity was a dull gray scale, true unity is full color. As I am writing, I am looking out the window at an array of blues, greens, browns, oranges, yellows, and even different shades of white. All of the colors I am seeing are giving life to the view before my eyes. All of the colors have found themselves out side my window, in one picturesque scene. I can only imagine how bland this one frame before my eyes would be if everything were blue and faded into the backdrop of the sky, leaving only shadows to distinguish one tree from the other or the stone fence from the street. In all likelihood, I would not have a real depth perception if all of this scene was a blue that faded into the sky. The full colors of the view my eyes are seeing is like varied perspectives and different opinions that are found amongst Christians. They are not the picture but are what the picture consist of.

For years we as Christians have been separating ourselves. We have taken one big beautiful picture and divided it into small, dull, single color pictures. We have failed to see that the beauty of the unity Christ offers is the perspectives and opinions of the people He unites from all walks of life, every social status, and every ethnic or cultural backdrop that add color, depth, and dimension.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jesus Economics

For a man who had no place to live, no money to buy food, and no government agencies in place to provide such crucial items we must be in awe that He died on a cross for thwarting the government and not in the streets from starvation. Of course, such a surprise could only come if we missed His message.

In the struggles that the American economy is facing we can see how truly the cries of America the Christian are far from correct. This statement can be said with boldness and in truth because the story of the first group of Christ's followers, recorded in the book of The Acts, show a different kind of Christian, the kind of Christians that were not shocked by Christ not dying in the street.

Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

The first group of Christians seemed to take much more from Jesus than just showing up to church and voting for policy changes. They somehow tied taking care of each other in with their spirituality and their relationship to God?! Along with how to do church, Jesus taught them how to live in an economy where the majority of people were impoverished due to extreme taxation, which took half of an average persons income. Jesus showed them an economy that did not rely on what their government was or was not doing for them. These Jesus Economics were followed by the earliest groups of His followers and we find that none of them were without.




They had it all. My guess would be that they were not left without any extra-amenities either.

Jesus' Economy did not involve an MBA to function. Jesus Economics were very simple, take care of each other. It seems as though the earliest Christians saw that Jesus did not put a limit on how much they were to take care of each other so they did not put on any limits (Part of the story of the first church, then, is that they did not limit anything Jesus had said. Better yet, they seemed more to try Jesus' teachings to the max. They really believed in what He had to say).

I'm just thinking through some thoughts of how Christians should be responding to the situation with our economy. Part of me knows we never would have arrived at this place if Jesus' Economics were practiced. So that part of me is a little bit angry with our culture and mad at myself for our consumeristic ways. At the same time, another part of me is hopeful. Jesus' Economics can be put in practice today and lives will be affected in very positive ways.

Note: Jesus' Economy is not intended to save wall street, but to save people.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Gustav set the news media in hysterics yesterday. They flew their correspondents to various parts of the Gulf to keep a close watch on any "news" that could come about. Everyone's eyes were fixed on the levees in New Orleans for what seemed to be a hope of their destruction under the Hurricane's brutal force. Throughout the day the energy level of every reporter rose when something "big" was about to happen.

In one instance, Fox News had Geraldo Rivera screaming at the sighting of a person in the water. Geraldo got very excited about the scenario; however, his excitement was squelched when he realized that the man was equipped with a life jacket and a life-line. The man in the water was apparently doing his job when Geraldo became aware of him.

Toward the end of the day the vibe that the news anchors and reporters were giving off was one of failure. Watching them gave me the idea that somehow yesterday was a failure because Gustav did not leave in his wake destruction equal to that of Katrina, like, we made you a cake at least you could do is blow out the candles. All of this left me totally discouraged.

Now, I was not discouraged because Gustav did not live up to his potential as a hurricane, as it appeared the news media was. I was discouraged that the news media did not praise the fact that had Gustav been as bad as Katrina, most of the Gulf areas in Louisiana were evacuated successfully. I was discouraged that the levees, which have undergone major reconstruction since Katrina and held up to the fierce poundings of Gustav, were not a reason to rejoice, and applaud given to their engineers and the constructors. Basically, I was pretty upset that instead of making the fact that huge lessons were learned from Katrina news, everybody was sort of hoping for another storm of mass destruction.

The real "news" yesterday, was not the destruction that did not happen. The real news was that Katrina taught us a whole lot, and because of that we are not in the same turmoil we were three years ago. All of which is a very fitting analogy to how life works. We mess up and there is a lot of destruction. We learn our lesson, don't mess up, and there is a lot of nothing: no stress, no headache, no heartbreak, no loss.

As I think about it, God created us to have no stress, headache, heartbreak, loss. Only through our failures did we obtain those treasures in life. When Eve and Adam ate of the fruit, their bite gave us all much more than a belly full of sweetness. Their bite brought upon us a default of failure, which equates to a default of hurt and labor and tears and pain and on and on and on the list of woes goes.

We know that Gustav's arrival was less than interesting. After the correct preparations were made watching Fox news became painfully boring, but for all of the people who slept in peace and safety, for all of those who will have a home to arrive back to, for all of those who wont be ridiculed for poor engineering, for a country that is not twisted against itself the failure to be destructive because of the victory of learning lessons seems worth it all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What A Sad Display

Recently, I was visiting downtown Fort Worth, TX. My buddies and I were approached by a man throwing some propaganda in our face about salvation, which is very common to a weekend evening there. Before getting too much further into the story, I have to admit, I knew that there were going to be these salvation panhandlers out there. I knew about them from previous experiences and because of a dialogue I overheard in the elevator room just before stepping out of the parking garage onto the street.

The dialogue I overheard was between two men who each had their wife and children with them. Man A said to man B, "I love how those Bible thumpers always presume that whatever you are doing down here is the most wicked thing possible and automatically assume you need to be..." At which point both men in unison said, "Saved!" Man A continued, "I don't think having dinner with my family is a great transgression against God." (And Scene) Upon hearing this brief conversation, my heart sank. Due to the fact that I am a Christian these words hurt because the men and their families may very well need Jesus Christ, but due to such poor representations of Christ they may never be open to receive the Good News.

I have prefaced the rest of the story by telling you I knew what to expect because I should have been prepared to properly react.

As I said, a man, doing probably what he imagined was the best thing he could for the cause of Christ, verbally bombards my group, while at the same time waving some pieces of paper at us. We were all very uninterested, and had places to go, but wishing not to be rude gave our polite, "No's", and headed across the street. I responded to the man, "No thanks man, I'm a minister (why I didn't say 'Christian' here haunts me)." His reply to me was, "Come on man, you could spend a thousand years in Hell." This added about a thousand tons of venom to the already venomous thoughts I had concerning him and what he was doing, so I did a 180 and engulfed in a terribly bitter theological discussion with him.

There standing in the streetlight was this guy, who I never even cared enough about to get his name, who was breathing his theology. All the while, I was countering and jabbing. People were walking by awkwardly trying to avoid us, with a few staring at the spectacle. No one was benefiting from the interchange on the street, and I am most assured God was hanging HIS head low, ashamed at what HIS children were doing (might I add, "in HIS name").

I knew I should never have engaged in the convo. I knew I needed to move past the barrage of verbal devices this man was using to get me to talk to him, but I did not. That night I definitely had a form of Godliness (insomuch as I was talking about God), but I was completely denying the power of God. My memory of that evening is completely lamentable. A cringe rises as I see the snapshot of people passing by looking at the Christians fighting.

Nothing was changed that night. The unnamed and I agreed to disagree, which seems to be the punchline to the whole debacle.

I would like to paint a picture of what would be right to do, but I am convinced that a right picture in my mind, or even put to words does not mean anything if I can not live it out. Living it out is my prayer because I do have a hope that this will be a lesson and no longer a common reaction.

loving brittni

i love her so much