In an attempt to be more reflective and transparent, I’m resurrecting this blog. Plus, it’s just a great way to share fun stuff that I stumble upon while surfing the web. To kick things off I thought it would be appropriate to give a quick update in regards to what’s been going on in my life. I’m not about to go all the way back to 2008 so I’ll just give y’all a recap of this summer. And just to preface: Read this particular post as a series of scratches on the proverbial surface that makes up my summer. These bullet points will serve as sneak peaks at my next few posts. In other words, the details are coming soon!
One of my Bible study groups has been going through Alan and Debra Hirsch’s book titled “Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship“. To summarize I’ll say this: WOW. What a great read this book has been. I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on anything and everything that has to do with the church (i.e. What is the church? What models of church are the most successful? How should we even define “success” within the church? Etc…) and a great deal of these reflections have been stimulated by Alan and Debra’s reflections. I’ll most definitely take another post to share more of my thoughts in detail concerning the church and everything related.
While I’m on the topic of church I’ll say this: thank God for community. This summer has been a breath of fresh air in this respect. To update briefly, I’m still attending Mountain View on Sunday mornings when I’m around. On top of that I’m attending house churches on Sunday nights and Thursday nights. I’m new to the whole house church thing but so far I’m loving it. Pardon the cliché but less really is more. The small group atmosphere that the house church fosters seems to breed honesty, openness, and transparency. Both of the house churches that I’ve been involved in this summer have been committed to living out 1 John 1:5-10.
On that note, I’m making 1 John 1:5-10 my theme verse for this upcoming school year. I leave in just under two weeks to head back up to Columbia Bible College for another year of studies. I’m going to be a Resident Leader again which essentially consists of building relationships with the 11 guys in dorms that God places under my care, facilitating spiritual growth to the best of my ability, and just keeping things under control in the dorms. I was an RL last year and I learned quite a bit and I look forward to taking another crack at it this year.
Politically, I’ve been on quite the journey this summer. When the 4th of July rolled around the American flags went up and patriotism was bubbling forth everywhere I looked. I confess that I felt a little uneasy about it all. Some of you know what my political journey has looked like over the course of most of my adult life (for those of you who don’t I will be taking you through it all in another post) but to summarize, due to where I’ve come from I am what you might call hypersensitive to hyper-patriotism. Anywho, my uneasiness led to yet another paradigm shift concerning my political views. To sum up where I’ve landed I’ll say this: Jesus is King. Of course, I’ll be teasing that out in another post.
Nothing has changed this summer concerning my man crush on N.T. Wright. I finished “The Resurrection of the Son of God” at the beginning of the summer which I can honestly say has changed my life. His work on the resurrection has changed the way I view the world. On top of that I am almost finished with his book entitled “What Saint Paul Really Said” which is essentially a summary of what many are calling “The New Perspective on Paul“. Without going too in depth I’ll say that despite the recent criticisms of Wright from those who belong to the Reformed circle, his work must be taken seriously due to his commitment to being faithful to the Scriptures. I love that Wright’s aim is not to view Scripture through the lens of Luther and Calvin (which is, in my opinion, the aim of Reformed theology) but instead, to “think Paul’s thoughts after him.” I’ll leave it at that for now.
Anywho, every one of these bullets are begging to be teased out but, like I said earlier, the deets are coming! Until then I’ll conclude by saying that this summer has been great in regards to learning what it means to be more in love with Jesus. It’s my prayer that every season of my life leads to growth in that respect.
In Shane Claiborne’s most recent post on God’s Politics he tells a story that I thought was especially relevant and thought stirring. He touches on the concept of Jubilee, a Biblical celebration discussed in Leviticus 25 in which there is a redistribution of land and cancellation of debts. It’s a celebration that is had for the marginalized of a given society; a chance for people to be freed from their financial bondage and remember that ultimately, YHWH is the owner of all earthy possessions. This video is a glimpse of what it may look like today:
With the upcoming election happening in less than a month I can’t help but post something on the topic. I have been reading Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics: Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. Earlier this year I read Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw’s Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. As a result, I’ve gained some new insights that I would like to share as well as some insights of my own:
God is not a Republican or a Democrat. Contrary to popular belief, this is indeed the Biblical truth. Although the Republicans, over the last few decades, have somehow claimed the exclusive right to Christian spirituality (albeit a muddled version of it), there are “religious” and “moral” issues on both sides of the spectrum.
The church is a counter-cultural voice in a world that puts everything into the two extremes of left and right. The politics of Jesus turned the world upside down. People must have been amazed to hear teachings like, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, “Turn the other cheek”, and “Do not resist an evil person.” And then there are Jesus’ economic policies of Jubilee which seem to be especially foreign in a country that promotes the rich and oppresses the poor. These politics do not fit into the traditional “liberal” or “conservative” ideologies. As members of the church we are to devote ourselves to the teachings of the Slaughtered Lamb, not the teachings of the Elephants or Donkeys.
This November we are voting for a President, not a Messiah. In a country that upholds the belief that ultimate change happens through D.C. alone, this truth can be easy to forget. We can choose to vote for either candidate, knowing that that particular candidate will not change the world in the way that Jesus came to do so. Taking this truth into account, we need not withdraw from voting simply because “neither one matches up to the politics of Jesus.” Although this is true, we should recognize that the reason we are voting is not to advance the Kingdom of God through the president. Only the church, under the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, can do this.
Protest is good. Advocating an alternative is better. Complaining about how the government goes about doing things doesn’t help anyone or solve any problems. If we disagree with the actions of the “Religious Right” over the last eight years then we are to take that protest to the voting booth. Let us be the change we want to see in the world.
As Christians, we do not vote in a way that merely promotes our own well being or even our own country’s. We must vote in a way that takes everyone into account, for we are all God’s children. The beautiful thing about the Good News of Christ is that it embodies itself in love. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus our love for people grows as well. We must care for people, especially the poor and marginalized. It is also important to remember that we are apart of the global church. The bride of Christ is something that transcends national boarders and our ultimate allegiance lies with the church…not America. We must not forget about our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Japan, or Mexico. These truths should significantly impact the way we vote.
God is not pro-war. The teachings of Jesus clearly indicate otherwise. The Sermon on the Mount makes it unbelievably clear: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The foreign policy of the Bush administration has been one of American imperialism, preemptive war, and unilateralism and has led to the death of almost 100,000 innocent Iraqi people. Any theology that supports such action is a bad one, to put it lightly.
God is not pro-rich. In fact, he’s quite the opposite. May we not forget that the Kingdom belongs to the least of these. Beside idolatry, poverty is the most talked about issue in Scripture. We have been commanded to care for the poor and we must take them into account when we vote.
God is not a selective moralist. Homosexuality and abortion are religious issues. But so are war, poverty, how we spend our money as a nation, torture, racism, etc. How did the two issues mentioned above end up being the only issues considered in a debate concerning morality?
May we go into this election prayerfully and thoughtfully, never releasing our gaze from the King of kings and our true Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ.