Monday, April 12, 2010

Broken glasses

In the church community, often there is an out-moded way of thinking. Much like the Darwinist, it looks only on the surface and closes its mind to what is really going on. It results in a limited perspective. Broken glasses, if you will. To jump right in, in the bible, there are all sorts of prophesies that are not able to be questioned away. Many criticize Nostradamus for being too vague (ie. his predictions could've gone in a million different directions or meant a million different things). In contrast, the biblical prophesies were not only recorded by historians, they also came true. And they were very clear and precise. And yet the very religious people of the day who held these prophesies to be true were not able to accept them when the prophesies themselves came to pass. In those days, life was tough and hard. So these religious leaders were looking for a leader who fit into what their limited perspective. They were looking for a leader to come with a sword and change the world through violence and hard ways, because they were hard people. And very limited. They wore broken glasses.

What did they get? Jesus Christ. A leader who was gentle and meek and humble. The religious leaders did not fit any of these traits, and as a result, many of them could not accept him. They were looking for someone to confirm their self-righteousness, and instead this Jesus called them out on the floor about it. Jesus loved everybody. The lowest of the low. The weak, the blind, the hurting, the crippled, and the 'not good enough'. He didn't get along well with those pious religious leaders, though, that's for sure. He didn't fit into their 'boxes'. And they crucified Him. Jesus also apparently didn't like death so much. He came back. That probably didn't sit so well with the religious leaders either. And for those who didn't witness it, there were Jesus' disciples, who were willing to undergo the worst tortures and deaths imaginable rather than denounce His deity and what they witnessed with their own eyes. That's either devotion to the greatest lie (and who would under-go such torture for a lie? Who would be tortured and killed for a lie? Not me. Not you)... or one has to believe it was true.

But to return to the subject at hand, the religious people in Jesus' day had a limited perspective, and it affected the greater good. In much the same way, there is a perspective today that hinders many followers of Christ. Our perspective of what Jesus said when he spoke of the Kingdom of God. You see it all around. People in traffic, cutting off drivers and flipping 'half peace signs' at them, all while bearing their Jesus fish bumper stickers. People go to their churches with their big, gaudy feathered hats, all while looking down on the visitor who doesn't look like them. Broken glasses. Other church people are so obsessed with the 'doom' that government is going to wreak into their lives that they forget that they are a child of the God that made the universe. (I call these Fox news Christians. It's a cute nickname.) Others have an "us and them" attitude with non-believers, as if somehow (because of grace) we have become much greater than these other people. Jesus spoke strongly and adamantly against these kinds of attitudes in the Gospels.

When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, people often see it as some far off place. A destination. The bible points to an afterlife, but Jesus clearly was referencing the Kingdom of God as a heart state that begins here and now. Right where we are. We are called to restore our world. To make it a place of hope. To make it a place where God Himself would want to dwell in. The problem, then, is a limited perspective. We often think of the Kingdom of God as something presently not connected with us. Something that will be, but is not here presently. In looking at it in this limited perspective, we are very similar to the Pharisees and religious leaders who tried to fit things into their perspective instead of God's perspective. In doing so, we'll always fall short of the mark. And not seeing the Kingdom of God as a heart state rather than a place far off often leaves us feeling disconnected and 'stuck here' in a fallen world, in a sense. Broken glasses. Limited perspective. The Kingdom of God is eternal, and it is alive and in us from the moment we received Christ in our lives. Eternity and all that we know about it begins now.

During His ministry, someone asked Him, "'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'." (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV) So that becomes our point of focus as believers. Not if so-and-so does such and such. Not if so-and-so looks like us or talks like us or acts like us. We are to love God and love people. Period. What does that love look like? I would suggest looking it up in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13. It kinda lays it out right there. Imagine what the world would look like if Christians stopped being comfortable and actually started to love God without condition. They would probably begin to want what He wants. Imagine if people started to really love and care about people like God does. It would change our world!

After His resurrection, Jesus gave his followers what is called the Great Commission: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15 NIV) It's easy to spot those who aren't doing this. Recently, there is this big ordeal with Westboro Baptist Church, who is clearly going against the very things Jesus spoke about. It's easy to criticize them for picketting funerals and schools and spreading a message of hate. They are wearing broken glasses. But to raise a question as believers, those called to be the light in a dark world: are we doing any better? Are we really? Are we following the Greatest Commandment? Are we serving God to our full capacity, or are we more in love with our comfort and our pleasures in life? Are we spreading the Good News? Or are we too obsessed with Fox news? These are things we need to ask ourselves and check ourselves on daily. And I pray that the Church - the body of Christ - will begin to embrace this. It starts with you, and it starts with me. God bless!!

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