Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chameleon or holy recklessness?

What is the task of the church today?  Shall I answer: faith, hope, and love?
Well that sounds beautiful, but I would say that the task of the church today is courage.
Or maybe that isn't even challenging enough to be the whole truth. 
Our task today must become a holy recklessness.
For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature, but we lack a holy rage.  
The rage and the recklessness that comes from the knowledge of God and our creation.
The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets. 
And when the lie rages on the face of the earth.
We lack a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world.  
We need to rage against the ravaging of God's earth and the destruction of God's world.  
To rage when little children die of hunger when the tables of the rich are sagging with food.  
To rage at the senseless killing of so many, and the madness of militaries. 
To rage at the that calls the threat of death and the strategy of destruction, "peace".
And to rage against our own complacency.
To restlessly seek the recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it confirms with the norms of the kingdom of God.
And let us remember that the signs of the Christian church have always been the lion, the lamb, the dove, and the fish.
But never, never the chameleon.

This came from the end of an old podcast with Shane Claiborne and others I stumbled upon in from Seattle Pacific University called "The Groaning of Creation", dated 4/27/2006.  It was 45 minutes long, but the beginning and end really struck me.  I'll share the short story from the beginning later, but the above is the benediction/prayer shared by Shane at the end of the time slot, which he attributed to "a guy who was martyred shortly after he said this" -- so I don't know the identity of the original author.

Read it again -- what strikes you?

I love the phrase "holy recklessness".  How would I live with holy recklessness?  I imagine it would involve being more generous than might seem otherwise prudent...
...generous in sharing my time with others, being always ready to drop my personal priorities to help a friend?
...willing to give money away even when I'm not sure if I actually have enough to cover my own expenses? to loan out my most prized possessions to a stranger, even if I can't honestly expect that I'll ever see them again?

Basically, really laying down my life for others.  It's not too hard for me to process that in the short term, but I admit that I stall out on this when I start thinking about how our society treats our elderly.

Then again, wouldn't a holy recklessness require trusting that God is in control so much that I don't worry about it.  Instead, shouldn't I just be worrying about following where God is leading?
It's idealistic -- of course!  How else can we honestly be courageous like a lion, gentle as a lamb, peaceful as a dove, and like a fish swimming against the flow.

Just a few quick thoughts, as I try to remember not to be a chameleon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I am a murderer

I am a murderer. No, not according to the law of the land. I've never ended the physical life of another human being.

Yet, I am a certainly a murderer by the understanding of the law that Jesus lays out in Matthew 5:21-26 during the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says that if I am angry with another human being, insult them, or demean them, then I am liable to judgement and hell.

It might sound severe. I mean, we want punishments to fit the crime, right?

Then again, haven't I actually committed murder in some sense? I mean, I've chipped away at the dignity and humanity of another. I've ripped into the soft tissue of the feelings of others. I'm sure there have been many times when I've left a dagger in the heart of another when acting out of anger, frustration, immaturity, ignorance, or revenge. I've wished they weren't around. I've killed relationships.

Sure, there is a legal difference. It is neither reasonable nor practical to prosecute anger. Our legal system is about degrees of offense and shades of gray -- and that makes sense. (Otherwise, we'd probably all be criminals and there wouldn't be anyone qualified to run the system left!)

As far as God is concerned, I'm not sure there are degrees difference. I mean, Jesus says that when I say to another "you fool", I am liable to the fires of hell. To God, I am just as much of a murderer as any serial killer who has ever lived.

Fortunately, that is not the important part of the story! We know that Jesus died under the weight of our sins. It doesn't matter what size we'd like to assign to them to make ourselves feel more worthy, all of our sins sit equally upon our Lord, tortured and suffocating on the cross. Our sins died with Christ, and no longer hold power over us. Now, we live in Christ!

Sure, I still live a less than perfect life. I still commit this murder of the heart more often than I'd like to admit. Every day, I am as much a sinner as I was the day before. The good news is that every day I am also just as forgiven because my sins are completely washed away in the blood of Christ each day!

Through Christ, even I, a murderer, am given abundant life! Now, we have the freedom to take part in God's healing of the world -- we can help restore slaughtered relationships! This is good news indeed!