Thursday, August 18, 2005

Shaking dirt and finding money

Help! How are we to respond to people we encounter that want nothing to do with Christ? Do we "shake the dust from our feet and leave"(Matt. 10:14)? Or do we keep searching and searching until the lost coin is found(Luke 15)? Do we write the person off as being "bad soil"(Matt 13), or do we look search for the lost sheep (Luke 15)?

Perhaps my problems lies in trying to identify too much with Jesus in the parable...I'm not the one searching for coins, he is...I'm the coin. I'm not the one sowing the ground with seed, he is...I'm the soil.

Nevertheless, I'm still stuck. When do we push and when do we pull away? How do we know when the time comes to shake the dust from our feet? Do I pursue the teenager who wants nothing to do with Christ and lessen my time with the hungry, committed students? Or do I pour into the students who are coming and "release" the students who could care less?

Any thoughts?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pretend you haven't heard this one...

Three years ago I was called in as an emergency substitute teacher for fifth grade Sunday School.

I had the ten-year-olds act out the story of Joseph. They were into it. We went through all of the highlights of his complicated life. They eagerly acted out their parts as Joseph was thrown into the pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and thrown into prison, and eventually ended up as second-in-command in Egypt.

They were jittery with anticipation when I spoke of Joseph's brothers coming to ask for food. They were positively bouncing when I told how Joseph cleared the room of guards just prior to his revealing his true identity.

"And do you know what Joseph did to his brothers after they found out who he truly was?"

"KILLED THEM!" Came the gleeful, joyful shout. The girls were jumping up and down, fists were thrusted into the air; the boys had wide smiles pasted across their face.

I was shocked. Kill them? Joseph killing his brothers? No! Where did these murderous desires come from? That's not how the story goes. What type of sick stories do they think we have in this Bible? Don't these 10-year-olds know the basic stories of Genesis?

My shock quickly turned to jealousy. While I knew more about the bible than these kids, they had the priviledge of being surprised by grace. I know these stories a little too well. I know things like how when the "Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time," it was not in order to smote him.

I'm jealous of their "fresh eyes." I cannot read with new eyes. I know the ending. I know what happens.

After some contemplation, I am realizing that perhaps there is freshness in the text for me. My first theology class in seminary consisted of reading James Cone's God of the Oppressed. The following summer I read the gospel of Luke. I'd read this gospel numerous times but had never before noticed the social justice elements that were now glaringly obvious. Same story. Same eyes. New lenses.

There is something to be said about revelation--a living revelation, that is. This is not simply a story I learn, but a person with whom I enteract. Jesus Christ cannot be contained in black and white text.

Even as I type, I can feel the triteness creeping up in this statement, but I appreciate the Holy Spirit. The ever-present counselor--the one who is sent from the Father to tell truth about the Son.

It's okay that I already know the ending. There are still so many angles to see.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Baby Got Book

This is worth posting for the three of you that have not had the pleasure of viewing this link.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Spitting on the Bride

The wedding started off quite typically: organ music, cute but distracting flower girl, etc. etc.

But the timbre of the evening completely changed when the bride stepped out into the aisle. Immediately I could hear the murmurs. The bride looked different. I guess the months leading to the wedding were stressful, because she had put on a bit of weight and her normally clear face was spotted with acne. And while she was wearing a wedding dress, it looked like it was straight from the 80's--you know the kind I mean. She had a veil on, but unfortunately it didn't hide her scraggly hair. She looked nervous. She was walking very slowly and shakily.

I took my eyes off her for a minute and looked at the people sitting around me--some had pained expressions on their faces. A few kids were giggling. There were some who looked absolutely disgusted, as if they could not believe this woman was allowing herself to be seen in public. It was an uncomfortable, embarrassing atmosphere.

The worst part, however, was just as she was nearing the front of the sanctuary, a man in the third row leaned over the pew rail and spit on the bride. You'd think the congregation would have been outraged by this act--and some were. But there were others who applauded--actually applauded.

************************

Okay, okay. So this is isn't a true story. But I've been thinking..if Christ is the bridegroom, and the Church is truly the bride, than why are we so quick to criticize the church? How do we purify the church without "spitting on the bride"?

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Democrats Dobson must love

Last week, a group of Democratic senators introduced a bill that would force Internet porn sites to pay a 25% tax to go towards a trust fund to protect children on-line. (12- to 17-year-olds are the top consumers of Internet porn.) Full article.

By the way, did you know that October 9th is National Porn Sunday? (Endorsed by Willow Creek and Mars Hill).

While we're on the topic, my dad-in-law just posted an article on overcoming internet porn.