Posts Tagged ‘religion’

You’re Not Helping.

May 9, 2008

Anyone who regularly takes a subway has to endure certain irritations.  These include (but are definitely not limited to) beggars, loud iPods, teenagers and religious fanatics.

This morning, there was a particularly loud older lady on the train attempting to save EVERYONE from a fiery hell.  I was reading, so I didn’t have my iPod in and I heard every word she was saying.  I did not disagree with what she was saying in principal.  Jesus died, he rose from the grave, through him we have salvation, God loves us, etc.  The core facts she was spouting were true.  This was almost a relief compared to some of the other more vile things I’ve heard on the street.  I was informed a few weeks ago that God is black and hates all white people, for instance.

The problem is that you’re just not going to reach anyone by putting them in uncomfortable situations, even if your theology is sensible.  Furthermore, you’re not going to reach a New Yorker during their morning commute.  We want to be left ALONE because we probably haven’t had our coffee yet.  Bad timing aside, I believe that screaming about God’s love to total strangers just doesn’t give a good impression to people on the fence about accepting Christ.  

It’s all about balance.  Not saying anything to anyone about Christ is wrong.  The bible calls us to tell others about Christ’s love.   But there’s the other extreme which is running around forcing your religion down other people’s throats and slapping them with gospel tracts.  All you’re doing at that point is making Christians look bad and turning people away from God entirely.  You’ve hurt your own cause.  If you’re going to tell someone about Christ’s love, then you should be presenting it in a Christlike manner.

Happy Friday everyone!

J

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My Two Dads (not the 80’s sitcom)

March 3, 2008
When I was a young’n, I remember most of the old men in church didn’t pray to God but to Father Weejus instead. You’ve heard them… “Father Weejus love you and Father Weejus praise you and give you all the glory. Father Weejus ask that you…”
 
Yes, I know. Very old and very lame joke. But it provided a good segue to something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. God has many names and many functions in the lives of his believers. His most common name seems to be God the Father. In my own study and life experiences lately I have found myself focusing on this title in a very literal sense. I have been experiencing a God that has been more like a parent than a heavenly all-knowing being and I’m okay with this. It makes Him more accessible. To me anyway. I consider my relationship with my parents and family one of God’s greatest blessings in my life and I do not in any way take it for granted. Because I know it’s a horrible challenge for someone who has a negative relationship with their earthly father to develop a trust and acceptance of a heavenly one. This is something that particularly scares the bejeezus out of me when I consider I’ll probably be a dad someday. “Oh good,” I think to myself, “Here’s a person completely dependant on me for everything AND I have the opportunity to scar them for life religiously too. Okay, no pressure or anything.”
 
When considering God the Father, I think it’s best if we try to eliminate our biological parents from the equation entirely because a key element to believing as a Christian believes is to accept that God is perfect. Another element is to accept that we are not and cannot be because of our human nature. So it doesn’t make sense to compare your earthly parents to God because we know they are not perfect.  It’s just not fair to them. But I believe God really is a perfect father and his love for us is the standard in which we should model our love for others and our behavior as parents (when the time comes). So if you believe the bible to be more than words, and God’s love more than simple affection but an example to follow then you can derive quite a bit about the nature of a good parent.

 

The Other Side of the Tracts

October 11, 2007
There’s a growing trend among Christian churches these days to have regular smaller meetings of church members outside of the church.  I’ve heard them called community groups, small groups, family groups and growth groups.  This is an opportunity for church members to learn from one another as they study and to inspire friendships to be formed by church members, thus drawing “the church” closer together as one body. Kind of sad that this can’t be actually done AT church, but what are you gonna do?Of the previously mentioned list, I have joined a “Growth Group”.  Our first meeting was last week and at this meeting amidst the awkward small talk that I love so much, we were given a Covenant to sign stating 1) our dedication to the readings and 2) that we would commit to regular attendance.  I have no problem with this.  I do however have a problem with the other three addendums to the covenant which said we would3) Serve 5 Sundays at church as part of the welcoming group, beverage service and other spots
4) Go evangelize and hand out tracts and church information on the street
5) Invite friends to church.

It’s funny – all the info I was handed at church trying to inspire me to join a growth group promised I would meet fellow Christians, engage in bible study and grow closer to God.  I get to our first meeting and also find out I will be free labor for the church.  I have a serious issue with the fact they waited until I was at the end of the first meeting and then asked me to sign MY NAME to something that I can only see as a guilt trip.  Tell me how I’m not supposed to feel like an awful person if I choose not to sign this document in the presence of a church leader.  I was promised a meaningful experience learning about God – instead I’m asked to also be a PR rep for a church I’m not even a member of.

And then there’s the gospel tracts.  Oh how I despise gospel tracts. I think tracts only add to an already devastated image of Christians as bible beaters.  I believe in relational Christianity first and foremost.  That means spreading the word of God through actually living life and investing in others.  Actions speaking louder than words.  Let me explain it this way: Jesus did not walk up to total strangers and ask them, “Have you found me?”  He met them, helped them or got to know them on a personal level (gaining their trust) and THEN revealed himself as the Son of God.  Once he did that, the people saw him and believed and then CAME TO HIM for what he had to offer.  I will readily share my faith with anyone who has questions and wants it, but who am I to tell a person they should believe something else?  Who am I to approach a total stranger uninvited and tell them they should believe like me?  I’m not Jesus and I believe He is the only person who has ever had that kind of authority.  

And further more, on top of the tracts I’m handing out information about the church itself.  Now I’m spreading the word of God AND the church I am not a member of.

I couldn’t make it to our second meeting last night because I had to work.  I have a previous engagement that will keep me from going next week.  I don’t know if I’ll go to the third because I will have already missed so much and I’m still a little iffy about their motives.  I would not be near as concerned or upset if they had told me up front about all the little extras required.

I’d love a little feedback guys.  Am I being petty or selfish?  Does my argument have any merit?  Does anyone agree with me?  

Much Love,
J

 

 

Wandering Aimlessly… Or am I?

February 9, 2007
Proverbs 20:24
A man’s steps are directed by the Lord.  How then can anyone understand his own way?  

This verse has been a blessing and a curse in my life for years.  Sometimes it comforts me, sometimes it confuses and frustrates me, but I always come back to it.  In a world of instant gratification, this is not the kind of answer we are trained to accept.  When you’re looking for guidance and turn to God the last thing you want to hear is, “I’d tell you, but you wouldn’t understand.”  Sometimes that’s how this verse makes me feel.  Other times it reminds me to relax and just let things be.  There’s a much more qualified person in control who has my best interests in mind whether I realize it at this moment or not.  I guess that’s part of the big mystery of faith isn’t it?  Saying that I have no clue what I should do with my life but I’m going to hand over control to someone who may not even tell me where they’re taking me, but I trust them enough to follow them anyway.  Scary stuff. 

Love y’all!
J

Smell the Color Nine

~Chris Rice

I would take “no” for an answer
Just to know I heard You speak
And I’m wonderin’ why I’ve never
Seen the signs they claim they see
Are the special revelations
Meant for everybody but me?
Maybe I don’t truly know You
Or maybe I just simply believe

‘Cause I can sniff, I can see
And I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren’t getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin’
So I know I’m doin’ fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Now I’ve never ‘felt the presence’
But I know You’re always near
And I’ve never ‘heard the calling’
But somehow You’ve led me right here
So I’m not looking for burning bushes
Or some divine graffiti to appear
I’m just beggin’ You for some wisdom
And I believe You’re puttin’ some here

‘Cause I can sniff, I can seek,
I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren’t getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin’
So I know I’m doin’ fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Smell the color nine?
But nine’s not a color
And even if it were you can’t smell a color
That’s my point exactly…

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