This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Where Is the Urgency?

The problem with many mainstream Protestants today is that we don’t take this Christianity thing seriously enough.  Having wisely dispensed with the fear of hell-fire as the major motivator for faith, we replaced it with… well, nothing.  We have no urgency to our proclamation of the good news.  We convey the view that it really doesn’t matter to you or anyone else whether you follow Jesus or not.  Church is our little private hobby, and you are welcome to join us.  But it’s unlikely to make much of a difference in your life beyond having some nice new friends.

We see this lack of seriousness all over.  Like when we dole out the Sacraments with scant preparation, understanding, attention to detail, or investment of time.  Or when we treat church like one of many options for spending our leisure time, or a matter of personal convenience.  Nurturing our faith is at the bottom of our to-do list… and deservedly so, because we don’t feel we are getting enough out of it to make it a priority.  When we assume sermons are for entertainment and comfort, or when we assume church is mainly for the upholding of the past and not for transformation, we are making it irrelevant, not to society but to Jesus himself.  

When church is at best something to “think about” all week, but not put into practice, then it is mostly a waste of time.   

Consequently, we have devolved into the assembly of the nice whose main goal is affirm you in doing your thing, whatever that is.  That seems to be the only urgency we can muster.  God forbid we should ever tell anyone, especially ourselves, “no.”  Which means we don’t open ourselves to any of the really important things to say “yes” to.     

I suggest there is a greater urgency that we are conveniently ignoring because it would cost us too much.  Following Jesus actually means something; it has definite consequences and effects on ourselves and others.  It changes your life, and because it changes lives it changes the world.  Following Jesus has specific behavioral content; it is to live rather differently from the mainstream.  Not just for the sake of being different.  But because people’s lives and the life of the whole planet are at stake.

So here’s the urgency: if we don’t follow Jesus and his Way, characterized by simplicity, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, non-violence, humility, justice, healing, love, and joy, then our planet, our world, our communities, our families, our relationships, and even our health will continue to degrade and disintegrate.

The alternative to Jesus’ Way is injustice, environmental degradation, an economy that worships and inspires greed, and a politics based on boasting, hubris, bluster, and ignorance.  It is extraction and acquisition.  It is waste and hoarding, while many go without.  It is terrible inequality.  
The alternative to Jesus’ Truth is lies.  It is spin, “fake news,” propaganda, and language totally conditioned by whomever paid for it.  It is fear mongering and hate-speech.  It is words detached from facts… but more importantly from compassion.     

The alternative to Jesus’ Life is death.  It is poverty, misery, disease, addiction, hunger, and powerlessness.  It is war, revolution, genocide, terrorism, and crime.  It is racism and white supremacy; it is mass incarceration, bigotry and oppression.

We don’t follow Jesus in order to “avoid hell and get to heaven.”  We follow Jesus to manifest heaven here and now and keep from turning the world into hell.

It is in truth the most important and urgent thing that people, no matter what their religion, culture, language, race, or status, follow Jesus.  The life of the world world depends on it.

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