Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To Know, and To Be Known

Is Christianity more like golf, where you've got one guy trying to get the ball in the hole? Or is it something like basketball, where you've got a group trying to achieve something? Is Christianity really a team sport?

I've heard it said that many Protestants often represent the "individualism" aspect of Christianity. In other words, decades of evangelical churches have perhaps pushed a "me-and-God" mindset where it's all about your straight-line, vertical relationship to the Lord. This is often best illustrated by the communion time, where hundreds of church-goers will each bow their individual heads, each will go into "the zone" and each will think about his or her relationship to God. The only "communion" is between you and God.

Our lives have evolved this direction. We drive ourselves (who really carpools anymore?) to our jobs in our individual cubicles, so we can move our families to the suburbs, where we can have our own space. Space for our families, space for our stuff, space so we don't feel like we are living in a hut with five other families.

The global population has expanded tremendously in the past century, yet middle class America wants more and more space of their own. The average home size has more than DOUBLED since the 1950s. It was 2,330 square feet in 2004, yet even just thirty years ago it was 1,400 square feet. A few decades back, it was normal for a family to just have one bathroom, and for multiple children to share bedrooms. Now? I just finally moved into a home where my 8-year old and my 7-year old no longer have to share a bedroom, and it felt like a sigh of relief -- finally, breathing room!

Of course, back in Jesus' day, very few had that kind of privacy. Most homes and huts were tiny. Whole families shared a room. Domiciles were stacked against each other. Walls were shared. I read once that after a wedding ceremony, what we'd call the "best man" would wait just outside the "bedroom," waiting for the bride and groom to consummate the marriage, so he could announce it to the rest of the party and they could celebrate. Wouldn't THAT make you nervous?! Talk about performance anxiety.

When Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine around the table with his disciples, it was a group activity. They were sharing a meal. They were sharing their lives together. They knew each other intimately, because they lived more intimate lives. They shared both a campfire, and a love for the Lord.

Today, I have trouble even finding a reason to go talk to my neighbors. I don't need a cup of sugar or a saucepan from them. They sure don't need anything from me. A polite waive while we're mowing the grass is pretty much the extent of our "relationship."

A lot has changed in the last 2000 years. But that doesn't mean we aren't still "built for intimate relationships." Try to go a bit old-school in your friendships. Get nosy with some of your friends and acquaintances. Find out about their lives, and ask some probing and loving questions. See how you can help. Get cramped and intimate with some of your friends and family.

Loving each other means building each other up when the time is right, and holding each other accountable for our actions when it's needed. But you've got to make the effort and spend that time around the campfire, around that table in the upper room, if you are going to "have all things in common." Our living spaces may have changed, but what God wants from us as followers of Jesus has not.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So...what exactly IS a "gospel"?

When I was 20, I became intensely interested in Jesus. I began to read the bible, and immediately I ran into Jesus saying "Repent and believe the gospel! The kingdom of God is at hand."  Just then it struck me...if the "gospel" did not exist before Jesus, then why was there even a word "gospel"? And how could any of the people standing by understand what Jesus meant by "gospel"? Obviously it is important...but is it some sort of secret code word?
So this is the question of the day: What is a "gospel", and most important, what is "The Gospel"? Okay, unChurch-heads! Have at it!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Only in America!

Happy USA Independence Day, all ye beloved! Watch this !!