Thursday, August 26, 2010

When there's real reason for shame (part 2)

Gay people aren't the only ones who feel shame, of course. But being Gay, in and of itself, isn't a real reason for shame.  

Being a crappy Christian is.

I talked in part 1 about one big way to be a crappy Christian: not making decisions like Jesus did. That means believing we're following Christ, when it's actually the devil's values, the devil's temptations, and the devil's way of doing things that are most evident in our religious and secular lives.

And to one extent or another, we're all guilty of this. It's one of those things that come from being part of a fallen race, one completely and utterly loved by God all the way down to the smallest, most insignificant individual - but one that just can't stop being just a little more impressed with what we can do than what God can do.

Think I'm exaggerating? Well, consider this one example.

Matthew tells us that after Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness, he went out and started choosing His first disciples. All of the Gospel writers tell us that He choose leaders for His church from among the working poor (like Peter, the fisherman), social outcasts (like Matthew, the tax collector), and the alienated (like Simon, the zealot / revolutionary) of that time.

But that's not what we do, is it? Nope. When we choose who will lead our churches, or run our denominations, or speak in our assemblies, we choose people who:
  • were able (financially and culturally) to attend college, 
  • have degrees in psychology, theology, music, church administration, and the like, 
  • are trained, professional, and entertaining speakers,
  • have a natural impulse to take charge and lead/push others, 
  • enjoy official titles, garb, positions, and manners, and
  • are mainstream enough in their politics and such to have been accepted for ordination by an official religious group.
Indeed, our way of recognizing and accepting church leaders has absolutely nothing to do with the way that Jesus or the early church recognized and accepted church leaders. In fact, our way of choosing church leaders looks exactly like the world's (and therefore the devil's) way of choosing business and political leaders.

But that's ok, we tell ourselves, because the world is different now. We do it better now. We're more advanced / enlightened / intelligent than they were 2,000 years ago. We want to make sure we get it right.

Sorry - but that's a real big crock. Jesus chose people who fit God's plan. In Jesus' name we choose people who fit our plan, and then call it God's plan.

Not the same!

There was a reason for Jesus' plan. And as long as we are more impressed with our way of doing things than with God's way of doing things, then we will continue to get the half-baked, only-nice-on-the-surface results of our plan.

Even worse, people outside the church -- people desperately loved by God and needing to see His real work in who we are and what we do -- will continue to see us for the religious bozos that we truly are: saying we're one thing, while being completely something else; claiming to represent God while trashing His image.

And that is a real reason for shame.

So, how do we avoid this way of being a crappy Christian?

Well, for starters, we start taking Jesus and His way of doing things seriously. Not the fake "seriously" of mainstream churches (whether conservative, liberal, straight, Gay, pentecostal, evangelical, charismatic, fundamentalist, non-denominational, or something else), that are really just a Jesus-coated version of the devil's world. Because Jesus truly did mean it when He chose "down", instead of "up", on the human scale. He once said, for example:
"I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight."  [Matthew 11:25-26]
If we are taking Jesus seriously, that means taking passages like this seriously, and not just finding ways to discount or distort what He said. 

We also need to find out why Jesus choose "down", even though it makes more sense to us human beings to choose "up". We need to understand God's purpose in all this. Paul helps us out a bit with that:
"..the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" [1 Corinthians 1:25-31]
So, why does Jesus choose "down"? Because we human beings get too proud of ourselves and our way of doing things (even the first disciples made this mistake, until Jesus reminded them God's way is not the human way.)

And when we get too pleased with ourselves, we start taking the shortcuts the devil is always happy to help us with, as when we start imagining that we're "better" than the early Christians, far more knowledgeable about God's way of doing things than the people who learned firsthand from Jesus for three years -- and remaining this "humbly" arrogant even though those "backward" early Christians turned more and more people into Christians, while we continue to turn thousands upon thousands of people away from Christ.

The first step away from being a crappy Christian is to stop being proud of the gold we think we or our church is producing, while we can barely breathe in the stink of our own garbage (much less sell it to others).

It's to start taking Jesus as seriously as we claim to. 

The early Christians -- the ones that really loved God -- learned that.

We can too.

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