Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Straw Man

I have re-written this post several times now, and this is what I will leave:

Modern Christian movements seem to be steeped in the notion that Christians, in general, are not doing what Jesus would opt to do. The general problem I foresee with this notion lies within the assumption we know what Jesus would opt to do. Time after time it is demonstrated that even those immediately in Jesus' vicinity had no idea what he would do. Even his own disciples. And so he would take an opportunity here and there to expound upon the topic of the Kingdom of Heaven.

When we talk about living more like Jesus or living more like the early church, I see a tendency to avoid discussion about fasting and being tempted in the desert, healing the sick, spreading the good news in public forum, caring for orphans and widows, not having a place to lay our heads, raising the dead, praying until we bleed, barging into houses of worship and flipping over merchandise tables, having everything in common, etc.

Well, some of the time there is talk of having everything in common - which is mostly good. However, even after coupling that with growing organic food, making your own clothing, reducing your carbon footprint, DIY ethic, and any other lifestyle choices which can be dreamt up and just as easily lived by non-Christians, you still come up a hair short of resembling Jesus or the early church. So you are a hippie. So what? I'm much more interested in being Christian.

Perhaps we get in the pattern of thinking that if X, Y, and Z were as such, then A, B, and C would be different or better. What I am getting at is the notion that if we pursue certain lifestyles, we will naturally grow closer to God. I really think this is bad logic, as we are plainly told what to seek first, upon which all other things will be added. Said seeking can be accomplished in the present. No modifications to circumstance necessary.

I have been speaking with a friend about diets and workout regimes, and how there is so much conflicting information. Something works for one group of people, but not for another. Something that seems inherently unhealthy may yield surprising results, and some healthy-sounding plans may have disastrous effects.

This seems analogous to the modern church. Each new movement has a plan to fast-track you to spiritual success, and this time they're totally way more Christian (and "with the times") than the other guys! But as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it won't work for everyone. And with the same surety, a new plan will arrive and people will flock to it.

I propose to you there is something guaranteed to work for everyone, without exception. I assure you it isn't a "movement". It's kind of old-hat, really. It's no secret, but I will admit that, despite being readily available within the contents of a world-wide best-seller, it gets ignored from time to time - even by me. Oh yeah, and it isn't always easy.

P.S. - With 2008 being an election year and all, it seems appropriate to ask, "For whom would Jesus vote?" I would note there is a foregone conclusion that Jesus would vote at all. While much of Christianity is busy asking the former, I challenge you to think on the latter. I challenge you to consider what kind of government Jesus might endorse and why. I challenge you to consider the kind of person Jesus might look for as a leader.

P.P.S. - When the vote season comes around, I challenge those of you who subscribe to Moral Government Theory to exhibit your trust in God's ability to place his candidate in power by simply not voting. For those of you who do not subscribe to MGT, I challenge you to post (or e-mail me) as many scriptural refutations to the theory as you can come up with as a fun exercise in God's politics.

P.P.P.S. - Get my attention by reading Jacques Ellul's "The Politics of God and the Politics of Man" & "Anarchy and Christianity" and e-mailing me your impressions. Extra credit if you can read them in French. I sure can't.

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