Read a blog by Brody Harper this week and watched a video noted by Steve Fee. Both thoughts (and questions) are worth reading. I was truly convicted of how malcontent I can be. This discussion could go several different ways. Here’s my branch:
When my comfort level gets challenged, it’s as though my sight has left me. I frantically reach out for something familiar or at least something that will end my shaking world. I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. Our responses are based or at least affected by our current mindsets, previous experiences, and spiritual foundation. Wow, doesn’t that sound like some kind of psychological mumbo jumbo?
I mentioned this in my comment on Fee’s blog regarding the video.
“Wow. Moving. It actually brought tears to my eyes. God is so much bigger and better than I think we realize….in ways we couldn’t even imagine…until the impact of His love breaks open bright. We are so small.”
We cannot limit the power of God. Even misguided and incomplete teaching God can use to help the heart of His beloved. We cannot deny God’s ability and willingness to bless us in our lives. Indeed, bribing the tender and stubborn could be perceived as ungodly and manipulative. I wouldn’t make habit of this, but instead make an example. In desperate circumstances, desperate measures must be taken. Sometimes this means emphasizing the thing that will peak interest or put a foot in the door. Like I said, I wouldn’t make a habit of this. And certainly do not think it wise to build an empire on it.
In America, our religion seems to be determined by our stomachs. Generally, that is. The “feels good, feeds you” message sells. I am concerned about the empire we are building here. I recall in Tiff’s Bible study class a while back it was mentioned that the relationship with God is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. “It’s a relationship, not a religion” is a phrase I have heard often in Christian circles. Well, regarding religion, its definition is “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices, the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.” I won’t go deep into this, but want to make the point that while we DO indeed have the honor of an intimate relationship with our Creator, forming habits based on it and living in faithful recognition of that relationship could certainly be considered religious. There is no offense here unless it is done expecting recompense. That is, our salvation is not dependent upon works, but is freely given by the grace of our God. Therefore, relationship AND religion. I understand the church’s desire to separate Christianity even further from these other religions….desperate circumstances require desperate measures. However, what are we losing in the process?
We, the church, need to be made aware that some of these efforts are “dumbing down love” (Imogen Heap). This brings me to my first point. When our comfort level is challenged, we frantically reach out for something familiar or that will at least end the shaking world. What I believe every creature seeks is assurance that there is purpose to life as well as something or someone that can be trusted when nothing else can. I truly think this is a unifying factor no matter what religion, society, creed, or status. It drives us to our Creator or our vices or our idols.
We have a responsibility. We need to accept it. We need to embrace it. The entire world is crying out for hope. What shall we do with this? Should we fill the need and/or fill the void? Should we point to temporary fixation and/or eternal truth? Again what is the purpose of the church? And how do we as individuals care for each other?
Okay, your turn to make a branch or keep mine going….