Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Rainy Day Rambling - Christianity, Culture, & Conservatives Edition

"So we come to a decision, draw a line in the sand.We stand on different sides and I reach out for your hand." The Habit-LissieAnother line has been drawn in the sand. Another marker of how loving you are versus how “Christian” you are. It reminds me of the time Jesus drew in the sand. I wonder what he would say if he were walking the earth in this generation. I wonder if he would be drawing lines and taking up arms? I doubt it. He was not much for drawing lines for the masses.  He certainly drew lines for the religious elite though, didn’t he?  He was quick to remind us about our greed, our hypocrisy, our lying lips and uncaring actions.  

Does sin, should sin, matter to a Christian? Yes.  It should. It should be the glaring reason that we come, crawling to Jesus, with the weight of all our failings on our backs, begging for Him to forgive, redeem and restore us through the free gift of Salvation. It should also matter, because it never leaves us, and while all we have done or will do has been paid for, by His great Work on the cross, we can not deny that the scars of sin, still linger in our lives. We fail, daily.  So does everyone else. Does knowing my debt is paid create in me a spirit of pride or humility? For many it seems like being redeemed has bestowed such hubris that they rally about everyone else’s shortcomings, with little regard to their own.

I don’t have the answers. I don’t. As we look at the hot button topics of our day, most revolve around GLBT rights and marriage. (I wrote about my stance here, and it is still the same.) I know that because I haven’t made a public cry for the sanctity of marriage (along with being vocal about some unpopular racism discussions) many of my conservative friends have assumed I’ve gone to the liberal side of the gamut. Most of them won’t admit it, but I know they are likely disappointed in me.  However, I can’t say I’ve ever been one to side with either of the political leanings of the church. Frankly, when asked in my church foyer several years ago to sign a petition about a pro-life amendment I almost lost it.  Not because I am a fan of abortion, but because how bold to assume things about me, and not even know my story. Who might they have approached who had come to find healing from the loss of abortion from the only one who can bring it, Jesus, and be met with a political rally?  But, I guess that’s another post for another day.

Church and politics have become so intertwined it is almost impossible to see who loves Jesus more than they love the USA. How did we get here? When did we start believing that the way to change the world for the better is through legislation, lobbying, and getting the right candidate in the right position instead of doing the hard work of following Jesus into real life, messy situations, and staying off our high horses? When did we decide it was better to be offensive to the world, just so no one would mistake us as being human?

In many ways I recognize the generational gap. It seems that many who are so vehement about “defending” their cause in the name of Jesus (By the way where did he ask us to do that?) are older than I.  Those of my peers that feel that same need have been raised conservatively and follow the training of their youth. In no way do I want to minimize the wisdom of those who have MUCH more experience than I do in this life. I will admit, I may indeed be the frog that will boil in the proverbial pot. Time will tell.

 I wonder though, if it is just a culture shift that is difficult to navigate.  The previous generation of Christians, lived through wars, sexual revolutions, civil uprisings, but generally, the moral law of the country remained the same. It remained, relatively, Judeo-Christian. However, in the last few decades there has been a significant veer away from that moral code, to a more humanistic approach to law. I don’t think many will disagree that we are in a Post-Christian era. From my perspective this is the difference – the generations that grew up in the years of Christian influence, are really struggling with how to live in a world that doesn’t agree. For those of us, like myself that are pretty used to that it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It just is the world we live in. Does that make me naïve? Probably, but I’ve said it before, I’d rather be naïve than fearful, angry, or cynical.  

Living in this world is where God has placed us.  It will likely be a season of refining within the church. Instead of a social club or networking opportunity, it might actually start to cost you something to be a disciple of Jesus. It might mean that instead of sitting on our rumps and expecting the world to come to us for some savin’, that we will actually have to go and BE the church outside of the four walls of the building. That instead of poaching bodies from other churches to sit in our pews, that we will actually have to live lives that give glory to God, that show His redeeming work, that compel us to fight for what is actually important, to stand up for the widow and the orphan, to love justice and do mercy. We might actually have to love God and love our (gay, transgender, homeless, black, white, illegal, confederate flag waving, marijuana smoking, Muslim, or Christian) neighbor. Do we have to agree with our neighbors? No.  Sheesh! How boring would life be if I agreed with everyone about every thing? How would I grow in humility, grace, and compassion? Can I rejoice with them about the good things in their life? Yes. Can I mourn with them? Yes. Can I recognize that we all have our demons?  That we all screw up? That maybe everything I believe isn’t the 100% rightest thing ever? My faith looks different than it did at 19 years old, and I am so glad. If I would have stayed convinced of all I believed back then, I never would have understood the Father love of God, or the way grace washes over a person like new life, or how friendship is God’s presence on earth in my life. 

Do I still hold to the foundations of Christianity, you betcha. Do I read my Bible as a compass for truth? Yep.  Is it the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of their need for a savior? Yessiree. Am I living my life in the power of the Gospel? I hope so. For now that is enough. For now, I’m just gonna try to be kind and if that disappoints people, I’m hoping they’ll show me a little grace, too.

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