Monday, August 30, 2010

Is it about reassurance?

The NFL kicks off soon. As a child, this was always a favorite time of the year...and I still love it. But this year a commercial caught my eye and got me to wondering about the church's perception in the public eye. Here, watch the commercial by clicking

While I think the commercial is funny to as a fan, as someone involved in serving the church, I believe it does offer some social commentary as to how the church is viewed by society. The commercial shows the priest meeting with the woman who discusses a problem and how she was dealing with it. Finally, when the woman is finished explaining, the priest offers a simple reassuring phrase that essentially communicates, "You're a good person." I wonder if that's all that is expected of the church these days?

Does the church exist merely to pat us on the back and congratulate us for being not as bad as some other people? Do we view our pastors and preachers as people to give us comfort and reassurance that we are good people? Have the church been diminished so much that it no longer calls people to be changed and pursue a life like Christ's, but instead is content with merely commending little virtues?

Don't get me wrong, I think that the church should encourage it's people, especially when there is something that is commendable. But the commercial portrays (and what I'm assuming much of society thinks) that the role of the pastor ends there- to offer that little "attaboy." If the church is to change its image from this quiet, listening and reassuring one to a transforming and dangerous to the status quo image, we must not get too involved in congratulating things done to be nice and begin encouraging actions inspired by obedience to the will of God.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I owe the inspiration and some of the content of this post to recent reading and discussions.

I would like to think that after years of working in the church and a year of seminary that I have a pretty good grasp on this whole Christianity thing... after all, it is sort of my life. But I recently had to check myself against the truth spoken to me by a good friend as I expressed some struggles and frustrations. The irritating thing is that I've talked about this before, I agree with it, but I seem to have forgotten it somewhere along the way.

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." " Hebrews 12:28-29

These words speak of God as a consuming fire- something uncontrollable. Have you ever witnessed a fire that is out of control? It's scary. How frightening to know that we're not capable of containing something. In this passage, the author states this exact thing in regard to a relationship with God. When we are in a relationship with God, we must realize that God is jealous (as Deuteronomy 4:24 says), and wants every part of our lives to be a reflection of God. Every part. When we stop insisting on containing our Christian urges, we allow this consuming fire to take control of every part of our being. We no longer make decisions thinking of ourselves, but rather do things with the will of God as our direction. Fires dramatically change the appearance of that which burns. I wonder how different I would be if I allowed myself to be consumed? And I wonder how it would be accepted...judging by the fates of Jesus and his closest friends and followers, I can see why it is so difficult to let this fire rage and consume ALL of us.

Monday, August 9, 2010

You may be good, but...

Early on, most of us learn that we're to strive to be the best at whatever we choose to do. Early in life, I thought that I would excel in some kind of sport...I practiced hitting game winning shots on my friend's driveway basketball goal... The point was, I was the best, the hero, and everyone would love me for that reason.

"Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent." Mark 3:4

During some recent down time, I have been catching up on television - I don't watch much during the school year and didn't have access to tv this summer. I watched a few episodes of Chasing Mummies. I'm a history nerd and I enjoy shows that explore ancient cultures, but there was something different about this show. It was more like a reality show than it was educational. The main character, Dr. Zahi Hawass seems to drive the drama of the show. As the man in charge and resident expert, it seems most of the rest of the crew and his coworkers concentrate on not setting off his quick temper. He is fast to scold interns for their mistakes and in the particular episode I watched, he even yelled at people for celebrating a discovery. I'm not sure how much is real and how much is for show- at times the interns seem to do some unbelievably absentminded things, and other times it seems Dr. Hawass is reaching to find something to yell about. It's obvious that he is both respected and feared, and he throws his weight around knowingly.
I like to do a job well and I'm not much of a fan of someone else messing things up for me. I'm also a pretty staunch rule-abider. However, when we begin to take ourselves, our jobs, or our rules too seriously, we create the possibility of valuing things more than people. Christ's message was simple on this subject- God's love is greater for people than for our rules. Dr. Hawass has some rules and ways of doing things that have made him successful. However, his way of doing things often results in interactions that are negative and further illustrate the inequality in the relationship. I don't mean to judge Dr. Hawass because I don't know what he is really like or what he believes...but seeing him in action makes me wonder how we (I) treat people when I am in task mode.