Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Own your faith because your forefathers deserve your best:

I'm amazed at the efforts we as Christians put forth to not offend.  Our faith is offensive; Jesus offend the defensive Pharisaical machine of His day.  Jesus says His followers with be on the ropes from friend, family and foe because of His message.  

That doesn't mean we try to be purposely offensive, immature, or obnoxious, it's simply true that the radical changes our faith calls for offends people.  If the Bible hasn't ruffled your feathers, maybe you need to re-read it.  If Jesus' message hasn't challenged you, maybe you aren't ready to challenge others to find their faith, yet.  

Our sinful hearts are prideful and stuck in a rut until God liberates us, and no one who thinks they are free appreciates being told they are a foolish slave to sin.  Therefore, our message is offensive, but not in a punitive way.  Think of it like an intervention with an addict; how many addicts start out immediately thanking the group?  No, there's the denial then defensiveness, and then the attacks they aim at the group and their refusal to accept personal responsibly.  Sharing the Gospel can sometimes have that same affect...

Oh, and for "religious people" or "intellectual superpowers" I Cor 1:23 clarifies most people are flat-out offended by our message, "but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles..."  We either risk angering people or appear looking foolish, unless we are merely snake-oil salesmen...

More to the dangerous point I really want to make, in our efforts to not offend we sometimes try to not offend the memory of those who went before us in the faith.  It's not that I'm opposed to the proper respect due to those whose shoulders we stand on; I'm against misplaced respect that nurtures nostalgia over personal growth.  "We've never done it that way before" or a host of synonymous phrases become nothing more than the sandpaper we smooth our collective coffin with.   

A personal faith that truly honors our heritage will be a vibrant faith that goes deeper, gains more individual ownership, and reaches out with more influence on unbelievers than ever before.  If we want to authentically honor our heritage and respect our heroes in the faith, we won't memorialize the past to the extent that is handicaps our creativity or mobility to learn and grow.  Or, as Solomon put it in Eccl 7:10, "Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”  For it is not from wisdom that you ask this."

Paul wrote in I Cor 11:1-2, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you."  Paul advocated a tradition that reproduced imitators of Christ, not a cookie-cutter program that simply defended it's own self-perpetuation.  May we learn to follow Christ through those who went before us, with a consistent fresh vitality not with stale cliches that only make sense to those within our country club.  

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