According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Removing Barriers Placed In Jesus' Name: "Why Jesus is the Standard Bearer"

 


Why Christ Doesn't Need Christianity
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-hipps/why-christ-doesnt-need-christianity_b_2258246.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

by Shane Hipps
December 13, 2012

The long slow decline of religion in America has produced much hand wringing among Christians. The grief and anxiety are inevitable, but not entirely necessary. After all, Jesus didn't come into this world to start a new religion. His stated purpose was actually to announce the presence of the "kingdom of God" (Luke 4:43). A reality, which he said, was located within us (Luke 17:21). Oddly enough, the very religion that bears his name has often built the biggest barriers to him and the life he promised.
 
One thing that might ease our anxiety is to remember that Christ and Christianity are not the same thing; If Christ is the wind, then Christianity is the sail. Some sails are better than others at catching the wind, some sailors are better at using the sail, but there is always and only one wind. A sail without the wind is a limp flag, wind without a sail is still the wind. The relationship is only one way.
 
Just because Christianity claims Jesus as its own does not mean that Christ automatically claims Christianity as his own.
 
In one sense, Christ is the pre-existent creative power of the universe with no birthday or death date, Christianity on the other hand is an institution built with the intention of harnessing that power. If the institution goes away, the power remains. Put simply, Christ is much, much bigger than any religion.
 
The book of John tells the story of a woman at a well. Here Jesus introduces her to the possibility of eternal life. This woman was a member of a religion starkly at odds with his own. She was a Samaritan, he was a Jew; the gap between these two is comparable to the gap between Muslims and Christians today. Yet, throughout their conversation, he never once made religious conversion a requirement for her to access eternal life. To paraphrase, Jesus essentially says to her, "I don't much care where or how you worship, but if you can recognize me, streams of living water will flow from within you."
 
In the story above, Jesus focuses her attention on a deeper interior reality, rather than external ones. The religion of the woman is immaterial. However, we notice a minimum requirement to recognize Jesus in order to get the goods he offers. It might be tempting to conclude that as long as we recognize and name Jesus that is what matters.
 
The problem is sometimes even recognition isn't a requirement for Christ to work in our lives. In John Chapter 9 Jesus spat on the ground, made mud pies and smeared them on a blind man's face. Soon the man could see. The method of the miracle is so bizarre that we often miss the most important point. The man didn't ask to be healed. He was minding his own business when some guy rubs dirt and spit on his eyes and them tells him to go wash it off. He didn't even know the name of his assailant. Here Jesus performs a miracle without anyone asking or recognizing who he was. Jesus served as an anonymous donor, able to give gifts without getting the credit. If we, who are merely human, are able to give anonymous gifts, how much more is Jesus?
 
The truth is that Christ is able to do his work with or without Christianity or recognition. This doesn't mean he's against Christianity, only that he doesn't require it. Just because my religion bears his name doesn't give me the ability to wield or withhold the saving or healing power of Christ as I see fit. Such misconception is a dangerous, even arrogant illusion. If we buy into this assumption, we become like the sail who believes it controls the wind.
 
Jesus may not need religion, but it seems he is glad [to] let us help if we simply join his agenda, rather than insisting he join ours. The question is, do we know his agenda?
 
 
Shane HippsShane Hipps is the former teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. He is the author most recently of 'Selling Water by the River: A Book About the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way' (Jericho 2012). To learn more visit www.shanehipps.com
 
 
 


In the Aftermath: Thoughts and Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy & the People of Newtown

Weekly Meanderings: For Newtown