Monthly Archives: November 2010
“To speak of man’s search for God is like speaking of the mouse’s search for the cat.” – C.S. Lewis
I take great comfort in knowing that I am not involved in the work of ministry alone. It is not about the programs, facility and resources we have to do ministry. It is all about what God is doing. God is seeking all humankind and desperately wants a relationship with all. It’s the relationship we were all created for. My role isn’t necessarily to convince people to search for God, but to help them realize that God is seeking them out of a deep, unconditional love.
Why do we see people within the church who are just as unhappy as those who don’t attend church? Why do people jump from church to church searching for that perfect religious experience that will solve all their problems? Why do teenagers leave the faith they grew up with when they go off to college?
I think that part of the reason is that we have sugar coated the human experience by running from the true nature of ourselves. None of us want to admit we are powerless and sinful at our core. We want to believe that we are really good people and do all we can to hide the sick part of our souls. Even at church we wear the best clothes to show that we have it together. Christianity has become the following message:
1. Tell God you are sorry for the bad things you’ve done
2. Commit to trying harder to do the right things
3. Work hard at being a Christian (go to church, read your Bible, pray, tithe)
4. God will reward your hard work with a good marriage, good kids and a comfortable life
We have sold people a “Comfortable Christianity.” Problem is that it is not the Christianity of the Bible. We are not truly addressing the human condition. I love this clip from the Matrix. In the clip Neo knows in his gut that there is something wrong with the world and desperately wants Morpheus to explain it to him.
Thousands of alcoholics meet daily and start their process of becoming sober with this statement, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable” (Step One in Alcoholics Anonymous). This should be step one in following Christ. We have to admit that we are powerless to address the human condition. We can no longer manage ourselves, our marriages, our relationships, our future and our kids. We desperately need God.
Here are the messages of Uncomfortable Christianity which I think are closer to Scripture than Comfortable “Christianity:”
1. Admit we are powerless to address the human condition
2. Decide to turn over our will and lives over to God
3. Join the unfolding story of God bringing about his kingdom on this earth
4. Joining God is tough and uncomfortable, yet we were created for this story
Hillary and I are late to the “Mad Men” bandwagon and are now part of the way through season one. For those of you who have not seen “Mad Men” on AMC, it tells the story of Don Draper, an ad man from the 1960’s. Don Draper is a very complex and tragic character who is constantly wrestling with his inner demons. For whatever reason, in the first season he is not honest with his wife and lives a dual life.
How many married men and women are living in tormented silence because they are scared to open up to their spouse? How many feel that they cannot be honest with their struggles for fear that it will end the relationship? It is hard to share the deepest parts of our souls with our spouses but the benefits are enormous. It is only when we truly know each other and our struggles that we can fully love unconditionally.
Hillary and I have been very honest with each other about our struggles since early on in our marriage. Honesty and dealing with the truth has definitely been hard but the unconditional love that we experience after we share our struggles is amazing. The first step toward honesty is the toughest part.
Much has been written about this current generation of young adults that have been changed as a result of the internet age and 9/11. How are these changes affecting those in the faith community? I am currently reading Gabe Lyons’ new book “The Next Christians.” His thesis is that this new generation of Christ followers is different from some of those in our parent’s generation. He outlines the following six characteristics of this generation:
Provoked, not offended
Creators, not critics
Called, not employed
Grounded, not distracted
In community, not alone
Countercultural, not “relevant”
I would highly recommend this to those in the church who are trying to figure out what motivates my generation. For those of you who are in my generation who sometimes don’t feel comfortable in the established church, this book will explain some of the cultural reasons.
As we look toward the holidays, Hillary and I really hope that our girls will have a grateful, giving spirit instead of focusing on what they want for Christmas. But how do we take active steps to see this happen?
Hillary found a great idea in the newest MOPS magazine (look for the activity labeled “blessings tree”). MOPS calls it a “blessings tree” but we called it a Thanksgiving Tree. You can see a picture of our Thanksgiving Tree above. Each girl takes a leaf and writes on the leaf what they are thankful for. Then we hang the leaf on the tree as a visible reminder of what they are thankful for.
We explained to our girls that this month we are focusing on being thankful. We asked them what being thankful means and explained that the opposite of being thankful can be whining (which our girls tend to do quite a bit). We also showed them a video of kids in the U.S. that don’t have enough to eat so they could see what other kids live without. The weekend before Thanksgiving we will be joining other families in our church for our annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive. Our hope is that as we deliver the basket to the family’s home that our girls will realize that there are kids who live in poverty and we can do something to help them out. We also hope that this experience will help them focus on giving instead of getting stuff this Christmas.
Here is a great video from the Lausanne Conference in Cape Town. You can download and watch it here.
It is relatively easy to stand up and passionately rant against those who you disagree with. Everyone loves a fight. Why do you think Fox News has more viewers than the calm and subdued PBS news programs? It is much harder to listen to the other side, find common ground and work together for a solution. It all starts with admitting that our answers might not be right and the person on the other side might have wisdom, insight and experiences that we don’t have. A true leader can build a coalition of people who would normally fight but who are motivated by the leader’s vision for tomorrow. I believe that this is needed in our current political climate but also in our churches today. In two years I will vote for the party that convinces me that they can work together across the aisle and gives me a realistic, exciting vision for the world my kids will grow up in.