jesus, politics, justice, mission & life

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Reflections on “Everything Must Change”

I just finished the book Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope by Brian McClaren.  I’m really not much of a reader and I often have short attention spans with literature.

emcThe book messed with me in a lot of ways.  A lot of really good ways though.  McClaren doesn’t offer a “solution” to major social problems (global poverty, hunger, war) like I suspected he would.  Rather, he does something more powerful and reveals how the Gospel works to rid the world of these problems.  In order for change to occur, there has to be a paradigm shift.  We can’t go on thinking that Jesus’ good news is only for the individual.  It’s so much bigger than us.  Sure, it starts in our hearts and Jesus came to save souls, but he also came to save the world.  Our job is to partner with God in saving the world.  God has plans of restoration for issues like poverty or hunger; they are all part of his good news or part of his message of salvation.  The Bishop of Grinsby said this:

“[McClaren] argues that the core message of the gospel actually addresses the economic, political, environmental and social problems of our age, but for it to speak into our age, the church has to move away from talking about the externals of faith and concentrate on what Jesus was actually trying to say.”spaceball

homeless

Courtesy of newsgroper.com

God hates injustice.  He cares about global warming, fair trade and education.  Injustice doesn’t exist in the Kingdom of God.  In the community I’m in, we are asking God to bring His Kingdom down to Earth to heal and restore the person.  And that’s perfect, but there is more.  he Kingdom of God should also be brought to wipe away injustice.

This happens through faith.  McClaren points out that believing, radically believing, changes things.  Jesus says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.  We have to believe that Jesus wasn’t as concerned about the geographical location of mountains as much as hearts being transformed, hunger and poverty being wiped off the face of the Earth and global justice being served.

Courtesy of Fair Trade Social Action Group

Courtesy of Fair Trade Social Action Group

I don’t even know exactly how to respond right now except to believe that God is craving justice for all things.  I’ve got to get past the thought that the gospel is only for humans.  All this seems so obvious.  But I’ve forgotten.  I’ve forgotten what we, as the Christian church are supposed to be.  Our job is not only to raise up other believers, but be advocates of peace, hope, justice and love to all the world.  I realize this whole thing is scattered.  I can’t put 300 pages into one blog.  It’s impossible for me to fully express my heart on this and this is not the medium in which to do so.  But I think you should read it.  Whoever you are, you should read it.  It’ll mess you up.  It got me.  It excited me.

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His Face is His Presence

The more time I spend with God, the more I realize that all he wants is us.  Sometimes I have to put the bible down, turn the worship music off and stop striving.

This intimacy stuff has been difficult for me to enter in to the past two weeks.  Being still has been hard.

I have been fulfilling my desires for closeness with finite things – objects, relationships, running.  But when I do this, I will always walk away unsatisfied because God has infinite desires in me.  I wasn’t meant to pursue finite things; they were never meant to fill me.

With that said, I want a Psalm 27 heart.

It’s always about the Face of God.  It’s natural of humans to seek out the face of somebody.  In a crowd of people, we always look for a face to recognize someone by.  It’s no different with God.  In fact, God’s Face is His Presence.  I want to seek the Face of God.  I want to look for His Face and cling to it.

In his goodness, He wants to give us His Presence.  He delights in us even when we don’t delight in Him.  I only think about God delighting (dancing, singing or giggling) over me when I am delighting or drunk in His Presence.  Not so.  God delights in us when we are too weak to do the same.

Blake Studdard talks a lot about intimacy.  You should check it out.  It will bless you.  Also, the sermon Coming Face to Face by Tim Keel has really fed me the past couple days.

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Framing Stories I

God is trying to re-frame the way I understand him.  I am realizing that for as much as I may read the Bible, I don’t really know the Bible.  I don’t really know the lasting impact of what Jesus did.  Not even in a spiritual sense, but what Jesus did in a cultural, political and economic standpoint.

I intend to write a series of these “Framing Stories” posts.  I think this could be a continual season.

Jesus came to establish a new kingdom.  He came proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  For years, Romans were loyal to the kingdom of Caesar.  Their motto was “peace by victory.”  But according to Jesus, that phrase doesn’t work in the Kingdom of God.  Brian McClaren says Jesus’ motto would have been something like “victory through grace and love.”  “Peace by victory” implies a Kingdom motivated by war, capitalism, government, etc.  Unfortunately, too many people think that when Jesus comes back that he will come back with some sort of fight or war-like attitude.  In fact, Revelation 19:15 talks about Jesus with a sword.  But we overlook that the sword comes from his mouth (metaphor).   Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that when Jesus comes again, he will be more violent and wrathful.  I’ve always had this image that Jesus would come down from Heaven start throwing lightening bolts at the Enemy until he is burnt to a crisp.  But God is consistent and doesn’t change.  He didn’t stand for violence (i.e. turn the other cheek, love your enemy) when he came 2,000 years ago, why would he in his return?  Something other grace and love would be a return to Pilate.

I am guilty of subscribing to the methods of Caesar.  I have supported wars for “holy” reasons.  I have justified poor decisions with religious rationale.  I fall into the belief that government has the potential to fix the problems of the world.  I get too busy or have things that are too important rather than living in my identity as an ambassador of grace and love.

Upon thinking about it, I believe we fall into believing that violence and domination are the reasonable answers when we lack the faith that Jesus required.  When events or situations surpass our understanding, we turn to the methods we are most comfortable with (violence, apathy, argument).  It’s only when I am living in the Presence of the Holy Spirit do I see the truth.  Then, I can see that real change, this Kingdom of God, only comes through the way Jesus lived.  He changed paradigms.  In almost everything he did, he goes back to correct the former missteps the Israelites previously made.

My thoughts aren’t complete.  They never will be.  I’ll never fully understand.  If I did, my mind may explode.  I just know that the things God is up to are beyond my comprehension.  He wants to re-frame the way we understand things.  Jesus didn’t come solely to offer salvation; he also came to to offer a better way to live.

What lies am I believing about what the Kingdom of God is like?  What patterns of this world do I fall into that Jesus came to overturn?

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