Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

In Canada, Martin Luther King Day is all but ignored. Oh, it is mentioned on talk radio and on the news; but it is rarely forefront in our collective consciousness because it is, after all, a U.S. holiday. With it falling on a Sunday this year, yesterday I barely noticed it, being wrapped up in my duties surrounding two morning services at Kortright Church.

I am grateful then for this article by Jarrod McKenna on Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians blog. It is my hope that I will be deeply considering his message for some time to come.

Red Letter Christians » What Would MLK Do? Christians and Climate Change.

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. – Sam Pascoe

One religious student asked, “Isn’t Christianity is also supposed to be a body, the body of Christ?  When a body becomes an enterprise, isn’t that prostitution?”

Discuss.

Shane Claiborne takes an intriguing slant on Romans 12 and the subject of creativity, innovation and the renewing of our minds in Christ. It is well worth the read.  My favorite quote:

“For too long the Church has promised the world life after death, while a dying world has been asking, “But is there life before death?” I am convinced the Kingdom of God is not just about going up when we die, but about bringing God’s dream down to earth.”

Check it out at Tony Campolo’s ‘Red Letter Christians’…

Red Letter Christians » A Desperate Need for Imagination.

Shalom…

The following link is to a very interesting article (By the same name as this post) on the growth of the Christian church in China published in the English version of Aljazeera (yes, that Aljazeera).

There are two things in this article that really stand out for me.

First of all, there are the lines being drawn between the gov’t sponsored churches and the house churches. Aparently the Chinese gov’t is pulling the same stunt Rome did centuries ago, embracing Christianity as a means to maintain control of the population. Home churches are resisting.

The second thing that strikes me is the belief among Chinese Christians that the current economic woes in the West are a direct result of the decline in church involvement.

Follow the link to read the article for yourself and pray for our brothers and sisters in China.  Could Chinese missionaries soon be the best bet for North America?

Christianity: China’s best bet? – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Shalom..

Back in January I suggested that ‘Some of God’s Children should be Seen and Not Heard‘ in response to some outrageous suggestions made by Pat Robertson. Well unfortunately, I find the old Petra song running through my head once again. Here’s the part I keep thinking about…

Too many black sheep in the family
Too many stones from a house of glass
They’ve heard the story, they’ve heard the lines
But talk is too cheap to change their minds
They want to see some vital signs

Convictions – in the way we live
Convictions – not a narrative
Actions speak a little louder than words

Unfortunately in the case of Florida minister Terry Jones, he intends to back up his words with actions and frankly, his plans aren’t going to do much good, either for the memory of 9/11, for the state of international relations, or for the church of Jesus Christ.

If I remember correctly (I haven’t been to a Petra concert in nearly two decades) when Bob Hartman wrote the above lyrics the “vital signs” he was referring to are of the ilk refered to in Matthew 5:16. I seem to remember the band mentioning this passage when they sang the song.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Somehow, I can’t quite picture burning the Quran as being in the list of ‘good deeds’ Jesus had in mind. Jesus made it clear that he wanted to raise the bar on what it means to live by faith. He was very specific on how his followers would be recognized. What exactly did Jesus say would be the symbol of those who followed him? Does this sound familiar?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

Now I’m sure that the members of the Dove World Outreach Centre — now there’s irony for you! As my friend Ebby put it on my Facebook page, “Dove, World and Outreach in the church’s name might, to a naive person such as myself, actually imply an intention to reach out with their message to the world with a dove-like attitude of peace. Silly me.”  Well put Ebby! – But I digress.

As I was saying, I’m sure that the members of the Dove World Outreach Centre would respond by declaring that the radical Muslims they are sending a message to are not the ‘one another’ Jesus is talking about. They will tell you, and with some small measure of validity, that these people are the enemies of the church and should be treated as such.  The problem is I remember Jesus also being very specific on how to treat the enemies of the church…

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:27-36

I am always astounded at how quickly Christians totally ignore this command and get all Old-Testament-on-your-ass whenever someone says two words that don’t line up with their personal dogma. And I’m not just talking Islam here, nor am I just calling out the book burners. I’m talking about what seems to be the default response far too many ‘believers’ take when these alleged “attacks” on the church take place.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a mosque at Ground Zero (which isn’t by the way), a movie based on a book by an atheist, or the mathematical musings of a world-renowned physicist, Christians have this really bad habit of  responding not with love and good deeds, but hate, death threats, and right-wing repartee.[1]

Why do we have such a hard time realizing that Jesus calls us to respond differently from the world around us? Of course radical Muslims are going to call a jihad against those they perceive as disrespecting Mohammed; but where does it say that Christ is calling us to respond in kind? What part of ‘love your enemies and do good’ can we not comprehend? When Paul said that doing good to our enemy would “heap coals of fire on his head” (Rom. 12:20) I don’t think he meant the coals left over from burning the Koran.

Jesus calls his disciples to rise above the knee-jerk reactions of the Pharisees and their ilk. Any child can lash out blindly when life doesn’t go their way. But we have been called to put aside our childish responses and in true spiritual maturity set a higher example. There is a better way, shown to us by the one who forgave even those who whipped, beat and ultimately murdered Him.

If you want a truly effective way of dealing with the so-called “threat of Islam”, then may I suggest you can the rhetoric and show the love of Christ to your Muslim neighbour.

Till next time – Shalom.

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Notes:

[1]  If you followed the “right-wing repartee” link let me say I agree with Mike re: the lame responses to Hawking. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” doesn’t really settle anything. On the Articulate Apologetics Assessment List it’s really little more than a theological raspberry. But that’s just me digressing again.

I came across this video this morning and found myself wondering how different Christians would regard this clinical description of their faith? I posted it here and linked to it from my different social networks because I’d like to have as much discussion in one place as I can. Hope you understand.

So… assuming you have watched the video I now ask you, “How does this clinical description of Christianity sit with you? Is it accurate? Meaningful? Useful? Feel free to discuss in the comments.