Thursday, April 20, 2006
The "Real" World
I had the opportunity to be in dialogue with two of my fellow youth pastors in town yesterday. Admittedly, it was a tough spot for my one of my friends to be in. Two of us pretty much agreed with one another and would take turns defending our perspective while the other friend had to defend his perspective by himself. For that I applaud him. The conversation was all over the place, but here were some of the topics:
Our Christian Response to the World
I have been in prayer for this conversation since it ended. Not that God would somehow change my friends mind so that I could then say I won the argument, but because I fear there are many of us who call ourselves Christian's who don't truly believe the story. "Well, what do you mean by that Adam?" you might ask. Good question I will tell you. We as Christians like to make statements in church that we don't truly believe will work in the "real" world. "Turn the other cheek" and "love your neighbor" is fine to say while sitting in a pew but putting it into action in "real" life situations is another story. Would this mentality apply to our foreign policy? As Christians, we must say an emphatic YES.
My friend made the statement, "We are going to have to fight them somewhere. Would you rather it be here at home or over there? We should take the war to them." Of course this was followed by a hard, "no one WANTS to go to war, but that's just a part of life. It's bound to happen." Why? Perhaps I am to optimistic in my thinking that the Gospel story has the power to change lives and in doing so change the world. The above statements were not saying, "Treat others as you would want to be treated." They were saying, "Get them before they get us." That's NOT love.
The Kingdom is at hand. I've heard that somewhere. Jesus told us that if we so choose we can begin to live in the Kingdom of God today. Our duty is to help usher that kingdom in. (I don't mean by starting or perpetuating conflicts in the Middle East to "fulfill prophecy" thus making it possible for Jesus' return.) It is to teach one another what true love is. Not just a spousal relationship kind of love, but love of neighbor.
Radical love is love of peace not aggression. It is a love of sheaving the sword and healing the ear. It is a love of three nails driven in our hands and feet and a spear pierced in our sides. That is radical love.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Do you believe the story? When Christ says that there is a better way to live life, a more abundant life that awaits us, do you believe it?
This is why I'm never going to claim that I'm obedient to Christ's commands to turn the other cheek, etc. Because I don't live this way and any claim to the contary is a lie.
There must be a connection between our rhetoric and our actions. Our theology isn't what we say -- it's what we do.