When did you last dance?
I mean lose yourself ridiculously in utter awe of God to point where there was no other appropriate response but to dance.
Evangelicalism, you have made your people defend a book, but not the marginalized in front of them. You have blinded them with your judgements. You have made them so hungry for power, that they want nothing to do with the powerless. You have turned them into the oppressors. You have made it all about the next life, while ignoring this one. Your people pray, sing, maintain their holiness, but what they don’t see is that this is turning them into white-washed tombs. They don’t realize that righteousness is justice. Holiness is defending the powerless and taking care of the least of these. You have made it all about themselves.
You still have some honest, good people within your religion, but you must release them from your bondage. You must give them the freedom to be messy, to question, to love, to do justice, to give mercy, to be kind and gentle. You must step aside and let them see Jesus, and to be Jesus.
Evangelicalism, you have traumatized us enough. Maybe you are the one who is traumatized. It is time to examine your fruit. It is time to heal, so that you may bring healing.
Exerts from the a blog post entitled “Evangelicalism, you have traumatized me” from Robert Lofgren
behind a tranquil monastery is a boundary of forestry hiding a barbed-wire monstrosity
a church safe cursed by a razor-wire crown of thorns
we must protect our truth, sanctified and clean
like we set the standard for what clean is
hide your light under a bushel
unless it’s sanitized and superficial
Supermarket-church snap-frozen-reheated greetings, cookie-cutter-christians rehearsed prayers and scripted meetings
Yahweh’s speechless we’ve hijacked his voice and branded it like sneakers,spread the brand globally sweatshop-manufactured-ministry, unethical in our political standing on others to maintain our status quo
checkered shirts, buzz words, clap for yourself ignore the helpless, it’s you who commands and god who follows, enslaved by his own words pages of grace turned into spiritual laws and promises
a world void of colour and complexity, 40-days of formulaic-faith-paint-by-numbers-christianity
we’ve robbed the God of creation his creativity, denied his mystery, trapped him in a black and white box of simplicity
is it any wonder he doesn’t flow through me…
when kingdom looks so different from this brand of culturanity
Spent the day walking around San Francisco, from the Wharfs to Mission District up to the twin peaks to catch the sunset.
In my travels I noticed that a lot of the doorway entrances have a caged door as well…
and then I noticed some churches do too…
and then I noticed not just doorways but little enclaves & places of shelter were caged off…
and then I found this man in an alleyway…
and right across the road was this church…
it had a large sheltered area that would be perfect for alley-man to sleep & shelter in.
It may even make a difference in whether he lives or dies tonight.
I want to ask a question, so I find an entrance. On the way I see the churches slogan on a big sign,
Relationship. Not Religion.
I ask, “why do I see so many areas caged off?”. The answer it seems is because homeless people would take up residence there. “Is this why you guys have a caged area too?”, He looks awkward, a lady pipes up, “You have to remember we have to keep it clean for Sunday”.
I ask her if she knows a homeless guy died from the cold the other night, that he is the 5th in the last 2 weeks. She tells me if they let a few homeless stay (in the courtyard) soon there would be lots & they have families that come on Sunday.
He tells me they’re busy & I have to go now, I thank them for their time, I’m just trying to make sense of it all…
Wouldn’t God be appalled if our courtyards were dirty.
Heaven forbid we became known as a church where the least & disadvantaged seek shelter, or where faith was raw & real for our families, rather than disinfected-white-washed-sanitised-sunday-school-lives.
Lets do some simple math. There are easily a 120+ people there, that would mean committing 1 day every 2 months where you & another person cleaned up & served the homeless that gathered in your courtyard…
who knows, maybe then the words of your slogan would come to life…
maybe then it would stop being religion,
and start being relationship.
We have to tell our young people clearly that Jesus is not an app that we load onto our smartphones. He is the core operating system. If he is the core operating system, that influences everything in our lives
– Justin Duckworth
If there is one word that summarizes my journey of late it’s Trust, so the following post from Peter Enns “Why I don’t believe in God anymore” is very timely for me. Believe in God? – sure. Trust? – that’s a little harder at times… sometimes a lot harder.
I don’t believe in God anymore. I used to, though.
This is a choice I’ve made. “Belief” in God connotes–at least as I see it–a set of ideas about God that may, if time allows, eventually make their way to other parts of my being.
The older I get, making sure all my “beliefs” of God are lined up as they should be loses more and more of its luster. I see the Bible focusing a lot more on something far more demanding: trust.
Try it. Which is harder to say? I believe in God or I trust God?
I see a huge difference between “I believe in a God who cares for me” and “I trust God at this particular moment.” The first is a bit safer, an article of faith. The latter is unnerving, risky–because I have let go.
You’ve all heard of the “trust fall.” There’s a reason they don’t call it a “belief fall.” Belief can reside in our heads. Trust is doing it, risking it. Trust is humility, putting ourselves in the hand of another. Trust requires something of us that belief doesn’t.
When God promises Abraham that he will have more offspring than the stars in the sky, translations of the next verse conventionally say that Abraham “believed” God. (Genesis 15:6)
“Believe” isn’t the right word there. “Trust” is. The Hebrew word is the same one we get “amen” from. “Amen” is not a social cue that grace is finished and it’s time to eat. It is the final word in the prayer: we’re done talking now, Lord, and we now move to trust.
God promised an old man a lot of kids. Abraham trusted God to come through. That is way harder than believing. Believing has wiggle room. Trusting doesn’t.
The same thing holds for the gospel. “Believing” in God–or even having “faith” in him–doesn’t cut it. At least the way these words are used today.
Beliefs can be collated into a “belief system”–an intellectual construction of what sorts of things are right to think and not think about God. Followers of Jesus, however, are called to do something much harder.
Jesus tells a famous story about why those who follow him need not worry about anything. Don’t fret about how much you have, what you wear, or what you will eat. Don’t worry. Trust. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Jesus illustrates the point in what at first blush seems rather off topic–at best marginally helpful. He tells us to consider the grass of the field and the birds of the sky. Look at them, Jesus says. They’re doing just fine and they don’t worry for a second.
Of course they don’t worry, Jesus, because they are–if I’m not mistaken–grass and birds. Grass doesn’t have a brain and birds are skittish little things that fly into windows. These things aren’t really relevant, Jesus, because, you see, by definition, Jesus, these things are incapable of worry.
And when you put it that way, you can see the profound point–and challenge–of what Jesus is saying: worry should be as impossible for us as it is for grass and birds. His followers–if they get it–should be as incapable of worry as insentient grass and bird-brained birds.
“Believing in God” doesn’t get you to that place Jesus is describing here. Belief leaves room for worry. Trust explodes it.
What a way to live.
The older I get, the less interested I am in believing and the more I am in trusting. That takes a lot of practice. In my experience, God seems more than willing to provide plenty of opportunities.
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
i fell for you hard, dove straight off the balcony, chalk outline on the ground of where my heart used to be…
i need to write, don’t know where i’m going with this, normally i have an idea or i’ve put some thought into it, don’t know if i’ll even edit or publish it…
i’m just going to write.
they say it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, my mind sees the truth in that… my heart would tell you to go **** yourself – yeah, it’s a little raw right now.
falling for someone leaves you feeling like you’ve woken from a daze, feeling alive for the first time instead of drifting through lifes haze. if love is living i haven’t been living lately, even though I’d claim love motivates me.
when i opened up my heart & gave someone unrestricted access it made me realise how cautious & guarded i am, keeping people at arm’s length or allowing them to only see certain parts of me…what i choose, what i think you can handle, maintaining the status quo because it works for me…
and when you’re with someone where you feel completely free to be who you are it makes you realise how trapped you are with others, unconsciously buried under the weight of expectation, culture, diplomacy, heritage, family, friends, the burden of leadership or influence…who you think i should be.
amongst the many things i’ve taken from lifes recent ups & downs, one is that despite the risk of pain i need to let more people in, that unless you’re free any sense of freedom is just illusion…
that love isn’t arms length but an embrace… that i cant really love without letting people in.
so seeing as my heart is semi-splattered on the pavement we might as well leave it there… welcome to my heart laid bare.
there’s two things i’m passionate about…
christians being christian,
and the least (the poor, marginalized, oppressed, brokenhearted).
following Jesus should be simple, Love God, Love people…
i aspire to love furiously, be recklessly generous, to challenge the bullshit (let’s call it what it is)…
disillusioned, disheartened, sometimes it gets the best of me, i fail time & time again, sometimes i fuck up monumentally. that confident calm collected me you see, it’s smoke & mirrors, nothing to do with me. sure i know who i am, i know who i am in God… but i’m still flawed, still battle-scarred… still battling.
I struggle to find my place, i can’t buy into to the materialistic American dream or the kiwi one of chasing & trading experience. i view life as being bigger than me, that what i have is to bless others, so the God thing fits… except i don’t really fit in a church, in which if i’m honest its dreams and aspirations don’t differ much from everyone else’s… except eternity…
and while we’re on that lets deal with it. Heaven & Hell, that’s a choice?!…
about as much freedom of choice as me pointing a gun at your head, “love me or i’ll pull the trigger”. is it really love if its coerced or it’s because of what i can do for you. when church songs are sung “we love you(God) for who you are”, the words make liars out of most of us because it’s about what we can get or avoid…
but that’s the repackaged gospel we’ve been sold, robbed of the depth of our faith the pulpit often used as a rallying cry against current events, but if we’re honest its less about smacking & gay marriage and more about maintaining the status quo… state & religion. the cry of protest you hear is more a death rattle, the last gasps as church & state are separated, winding back the clock to pre-Constantine… which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just taken 2000yrs to get there, this kingdom thing was never meant to be established through politics & power plays…
but how we live.
as much as we claim the rights to Love, if i hear another fear driven altar call – “if you walk out of here & get hit by a bus where will you go?” – i think i’ll throw myself under it.
maybe we should spend less time arguing biblical inerrancy & more on solving poverty, less time defending an entire literal reading & more on taking this literally, “love thy neighbor”.
Love God, Love people.
i’m not perfect, never claimed to be, I don’t live up to the ideals i aspire to, nor am i the solution… christianity doesn’t have all the answers cause i’ve still got questions, it wont solve your problems because i have a bunch of them. christianity isn’t the rock stage-bright lights-popstar preacher, tugging at your heartstrings with one hand while the others in your pocket. and christianity isn’t that heterosexual male decrying the abomination of same-sex marriage to shore up his own fears & insecurities… because it’s no longer “pc” to rally against blacks & women.
God isn’t a genie in a bottle, there are no 3 wishes… even if we pray like its so. Jesus isn’t Tony Robbins – come to self-help-christ & live a life of wealth & success, and christianity ain’t a crutch for me… well at least 97% of the time.
This faith thing isn’t blind or dumb, if anything in its simplicity it complicates things… or at least i complicate things as it challenges me.
following Jesus isn’t easy, it’s not just a sunday thing no matter how much i want it to be, constantly wanting to fit it into my compartmentalised life yet it demands all of me.
And this “Love” thing isn’t what we’ve sold it out to be, dumbed & numbed down to “nice”. nice-jesus asks of us to be nice, friendly hellos & plastic smiles, teaching moral obligations instead of following, enslaving instead of setting free. Jesus’ love was revolutionary, look deeper into the culture & settings of all too familiar stories & see how scandalous his interactions with others were. look at our culture, settings & how we do “love” – we’re scandalous for the wrong reasons.
i guess it’s just as well nothings beyond redemption, the church, the world…
we could all do with a little more it.
so here’s to pain & growth, living & learning, the mountain highs & valley lows, the journey, to living free, letting people in, to following & stumbling on the way, to challenging the status quo, to dreaming, to hope…
and to trying to be a little bit less of a hypocrite each day.
Love God. Love people.
Whether we acknowledge it or write it off as nit-picky semantics, Church Service = Church is something that’s crept into our culture, just look at our language…
are you going to church? I’ll meet you at church. Lunch will be after church. Where do you go to church?
Even the signs outside our buildings proclaim the same, “Lets do church together”, “Come to church this Sunday…”, “All are welcome to join us for church”.
Church is somewhere we go to, something we’re in, some place we’re at, something we do…
but what if church is something we are?