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When Transcultural Becomes Normalized

November 24, 2016
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In the pages of the New Testament we see starting from Acts through the epistles that Paul wrote one simple thing – a church without an identifier. We read of churches in Athens, Antioch, Berea, Corinth, Crete, Ephesus, Galatia, Jerusalem, Rome, Thessalonica and others. Re-read that last sentence please. Those areas were ultra diverse and yet the Spirit of God never inspired the writer of a inspired letter to pin any particular word that would serve as a label to the church. No identifier to tack onto the local churches.

Why?

I submit to you this truth – God cares less about the eye-catching, innovative sounding, and immovable stance than we do.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross for a particular people that would come from every tribe, tongue, language, and nation. Now depending on who you are and the limitations of your verbal comfort, you’ll be okay with the words transcultural or multicultural or multi-ethnic. But I wonder would Jesus hear those terms proudly shouted from pulpits to separate us from other redeemed groups and shake his head in disbelief. Surely he didn’t die and rise so that we’d not be unified. And I really do think these labels tend to further division than they do unity. Let’s go back to first paragraph.

All of those areas had various sized churches meeting with various styled preachers and members and gifts and music and liturgy and tradition. Jesus died for them all and prayed for them all to be one. I happen to believe the same about these 21st century churches – unity through substitution. My hopes are that one day the term transcultural meant to signify what God sent Jesus to do would become normalized. It would actually point to the gospel and not the style of church. That the body would be thought of and not someone’s preference over another’s.

The gospel of God seen in and through Jesus Christ’s actions demands the church understand the height, width, and depth of the particular people he redeemed to be a treasured possession. Oh that this becomes normalized….


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Proverbial Profundity

November 24, 2016
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On this thanksgiving day, I have recollections of past moments with family and close friends. I have the present gathering to look forward to as we eat and enjoy each other’s company. And I have the ongoing Dakota pipeline issue running through my mind that never lets me be at complete ease. All three consume me and led me to this proverb.

“To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice” (21:3).

Thanksgiving tends to consist of our menu desires to usually make it past the chopping block. Television has been so kind as to not present scheduling conflicts that force us to choose between football games. The dessert platter is arrayed with so many options it’s hard to be picky. And usually there’s space for movies, games, small talk, and napping to be had. These are all the things we, humanity, desires. And like I said we usually get what we want.

But what about what the creator of humanity desires? Does his list ever get reviewed, passed out to all, discussed, and then done? Or does such a day exclude the created from obeying the creator?

On days like today, we can (and should) list out all the things we’re thankful for as it goes with the tradition. But I beg to insert something that America and Christians in America have never made a tradition – go do righteousness and go do justice more than you go do sacrifice.

Sacrifice isn’t easy. Please don’t hear me say that is. We always all the time want things to go our way on our timing. So to give a little or not push so hard for your way is a form of sacrifice. But the Lord desires righteousness and justice more than that. Can you fathom what that could mean? Quite possibly it could mean being aware audibly and being visibly and mentally available to hear of needs and go meet them. Those needs can require both the righteousness of God and the justice of the law.

Far too hard to pin down one exact thing we could do. That’s why this proverb is profound. It’s calling for servants of God to go serve in the areas of righteousness and justice for all. I hope this is something we can learn to be thankful for as we take every opportunity to go do it.


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One Issue Voting and Christianity

November 14, 2016
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At one time in my life, I was the one issue voter. I sat under preaching that advocated that approach to the political voting season. I listened to particular preachers that suggested the Christian thing to do was to vote on one issue and only one.

Growing up in the bible belt it’s considered the single most important thing to do. Vote one issue in favor of the Republican platform. Abortion, as I was told, is and will always be the single most influential issue to believers. But then the tide began to shift both in our culture and in my life.

The New Testament gospels tell a story of Jesus caring about all different types of people. And though there was no voting system or infrastructure in Jerusalem, Jesus gravitated towards political zealots and political hustlers, namely Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector. Not only did he spend time with them, he called them to be his early disciples who would later become his apostles. Marinate on that.

Jesus never landed on or pushed or preached just one issue. I’m sure the pushback would be that Jesus only talked about repentance, but that would be wrong. He talked about the kingdom of God and heaven, money, hell, righteousness, and the mission of God. This is critical because followers of Christ shouldn’t go around pushing just one issue.

So where are we left? I’m glad you asked. That question is best answered by this popular verse in the book of Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Here’s how Christians are commanded to live and act every day, every year, every 2 years, and every 4 years. Consider others more important than yourself! With your prayers, time, patience, love, giving, money, food, and votes.

Be encouraged fam.


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