This is My Crowd

This is My Crowd
Picture by: Photography by Vicky Campos

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Misapplication of Military Metaphors

First, I would like to confess I love alliteration and, as you will soon discover, repetition.  Oh... and just a touch of rhyming, when possible.
That, however, is not the topic of my post. 
I wanted to share a verse which rings through my head more often than I'd like, yet less often than I need.
Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?]  And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).  This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment.   And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.  These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 AMP)
However, when I hear it, this is what it sounds like:
Love God.  Love people.
Love God.  Love people.
Love God.  Love people.
Maybe you're the good son and God doesn't have to repeat Himself with you, but I am not.  I am the stubborn kid who has to be told time and again. 
Love God. Love people.
What God never tells me is:
Love God.  Conquer People.
Love God.  Dominate People.
Love God.  Battle People.
Love God.  Triumph over People.
Nope He says:
Love God.  Love People. 
There are some things, as Christians, where a militaristic tone is appropriate, but those things cannot be found bound in flesh and sustained by blood.  Epheshians 6:12 says "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  Ephesians even goes on to instruct us to prepare for battle against such things.  According to verse 12, those preparations are not made to battle people.
Love God.  Love People.
If Ephesians 6 is a great picture of the method by which we should battle the unseen forces in this earth working against us, then I submit to you John 13 as a picture of how a life spent loving people should look.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. (John 13:3-5 AMP)
He was stripped down, totally vulnerable, hands in the mud, uncomfortable, humble (possibly perceived as humiliated) and about as UN-self-serving as one can be.  There was nothing that Jesus could have possibly gained from this (or the cross), except filthy hands and hearts that, hopefully, better understood His. 
What you don't see (anywhere in the Gospels) is Jesus gearing up in armor and going to battle with people, because that would be ridiculous.  Battling people is ridiculous. 
Yet, we do it all the time.
Love God.  Love People.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:15 AMP)
We cannot argue people to Jesus. 
We cannot force people to Jesus.
We cannot intimidate people to Jesus.
We cannot guilt people to Jesus.
We cannot strong-arm people to Jesus.
We can only love people to Jesus.  Because that's what He did, and it wasn't through empty words or a silent heart, but rather a life of service.
Love God.  Love People.
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 NLT)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Worst Evangelistic Argument EVER (PG-13 for language)

It's a crisp autumn afternoon.  Two friends, bundled up in scarves, jackets, and hipster hats, are sitting on the patio of your local neighborhood Starbucks, sipping lattes.  They are deep in discussion.


I know what you are saying, man, but I'm just not buying your whole Jesus thing.  I pay enough taxes to the federal government, I don't need your "church" diggin' into my pocket too.
What does money have to do with it?  I didn't even mention...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've been around enough of you "christians" to know that you want me to change how I look, change how I act and then shake me down for everything in my bank account. 
I know you don't suck, too much, but you're the exception.
If you'd let me finish, I was going to say that Jesus doesn't want your money, man.  I know this sounds corny, but it's true, He wants your heart.  It's weird to say this out loud, but He's real.  He changed my life.  Even you can see that.
Yeah, you seem like you've gotten your shit... sorry, didn't mean to offend your revirginated ears, I mean stuff, together since you started your whole church gig.  I don't know, man, the whole thing just seems wrong to me.  I believe in a god, or something, I just don't know what that means for me.
(Blake's voice carries off a bit and he pauses.)
But, you do your thing, man!  Just keep doin' your thang.  Glad it works for you. 
It can work for you too.  Why is it such a stretch for you, if you say you believe in a god?  Why not believe in a God that loves you, a God that died for you.  If for no other reason than: what if you're wrong?  I mean, if I'm wrong, then I lose nothing, but if you're wrong?  Dude, I hate to say it, but you're going to hell.  If I were you, I'd check it out, just in case.
(end scene)
Do you see what just happened there?  Two friends pouring their hearts out to one another and Todd pulls the "What if you're wrong?" evangelistic argument.  I mean, If I thought there was a chance that I might be wrong and that God might be a figure of my imagination, then sure, that would be a valid point. 
I just don't think that when Peter wrote that we should "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)," he intended that we get people to try Jesus "just in case." 
I don't know.  Maybe he did and I'm just missing it.  
For me, though, Jesus is real.  He's good to me and I'm not going to go around pretending that He might not be real, that there's a chance He really didn't die on the cross for my sins, just to get people to say a prayer.  Paul made it pretty clear that saying the words only carry a portion of the full weight of salvation, you gotta believe the words too. 
We have got to stop scaring people into saying they believe in Jesus.  The greatest testimony of Jesus is YOU and it's ME; scare tactics just prove that maybe we're not being the testimony we're supposed to be. 
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
(Romans 10:8-10 ESV)

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Much Does God Weigh?

Hey guys!  I'm honored to be over at Sammy Adebiyi's page today.  Go check me out over there!!

Here's a quick excerpt:

"Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, I think we all have seen, or at least heard of, the show Hoarders.

It’s an intense show about people, many of whom you would never suspect, literally being held captive in homes filled to capacity with stuff.

They live in anxiety, fear, shame, and embarrassment, isolated from friends and loved ones."