I’ve been reading a truly disturbing book by Brian McLaren entitled, Everything Must Change: When The World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide. McClaren wrote what I now feel so strongly, “…religion, even the religion we are committed to and in which we have found God and purpose and meaning and truth can become captive to a colossal distortion. It can become a benign and passive chaplaincy to a failing and dysfunctional culture, the religious public relations department for an inadequate and destructive ideology.” I believe that to be true. I also believe what he says a few pages later, “If the message [of the Gospel] isn’t good news for the poor a message of liberation for the oppressed, it isn’t the same message Jesus proclaimed.”
I believe in a way I’ve never known before that Jesus’ message on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is truly Good News. However, I’ve come to learn God’s Good News is often first experienced as bad news, because it detonates all my carefully fabricated strategies and lies to create my own “universe” in which I am in control and my interests come first, above all. I might be willing to consider my neighbor’s interests (i.e., yours) but only in the transactional sense that I get something out of it that fits into my self-centered world.
More and more I am seeing how my worldview must and needs to be shattered repeatedly so that God’s Spirit can give me a new heart and a new vision for the things Jesus stood for and died for. But it is more than me dying to my inadequate and destructive theology, I am part of an American Church that has sold our soul for a cultural faith that glorifies wealth and punishes the poor. You know me—I’m no ascetic. But I can no longer turn a blind eye to collision of the world’s biggest problems and the ways I’ve participated in subverting Jesus’ message for the sake of not rocking the boat and maintaining the Church as an institutional entity, not as a community seeking to live Jesus’ way today.
I’m going to start with the two fundamental questions God asks in the first chapters of Genesis. First, when God entered into the garden to be with the people he loved, he couldn’t find them, and calls out, “Where are you?” They’d chosen their own way, and were hiding. (Genesis 3:9) We all, in our own ways, “hide” from God. The second critical question came from God looking for Abel and asking Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain’s answer is also something endemic to humanity, “How should I know. Am I supposed to take care of my brother (sister)?” (Genesis 4:9) The rest of the Bible is God’s emphatic answer, “YES!” How we care for one another matters to Jesus.
Matthew 7:12: “Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.
I know that, and we’ve all heard sermons to that effect. What I need to realize is the struggle to care for one another is not only personal; it is against what the Bible calls “principalities and powers.” These are the operating systems of our culture.
For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. (Ephesians 6:12)
What would be helpful as preparation for Sunday’s message is to sit and read the entire Sermon on the Mount. We often read bits and pieces. I’m hoping to help us take a step back and see the larger context for the specifics Jesus addresses.
Hope to see you Sunday…This is what I found on my desk…
Congregational Town Hall Meeting and Lunch Sunday March 4th at noon. This Sunday’s Town Hall meeting is one of the most important meetings in recent years. It will influence the direction we’ll be going in the next few years. We’ve heard from some of you who are disappointed you cannot attend, and we understand. If you are available, please make every effort to participate. It’s important and your presence matters.
CHILDREN, PARENTS AND VOLUNTEERS—SAVE THESE DATES!!
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL—JUNE 25TH TO 29TH:
Incoming K-5: 9:00AM—1130AM OR 9:00AM– 2:00PM
SPLASH CANYON—A Week of VBS Packed with Thrills and Spills! Discover God’s Promise on Life’s Wild Ride!
***Registration Details Coming Soon!***