Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I like hanging around with the scruffy ones, I just do. When I was drinking I was always drawn to folks living life at the edge of the envelope, and the ones with, at best, a tenuous grip on the edge of the envelope were my favorites.

So there, I have a fondness for scruffy.

 A few of us scruffy types were sitting around last night talking about Mathew 5, particularly the last part where Jesus tells us to love our enemies ‘cause there’s no style points for loving those that love us. Turns out even sinners and pagans can do that. We were pretty much on board with the love your enemy thing although none of us thought it possible to do in our own lives short of divine intervention, which after all is what Jesus is all about.

But then we got to verse 48 and things got really difficult. Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 

Seriously? Do you really think that highly of us? That we could ever, even with divine intervention, come close to hitting that mark? defines perfect as “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.” Really? Us? Our collective response reminded me of a comical bit on ESPN in which they show sports bloopers called “C’mon Man”. 

C’mon Jesus, perfect seems like a really high bar to set. If you send a crowd like us on an impossible quest for perfection, why bother trying? It’s not that we lacked the desire to be obedient, we just couldn’t see how this command, “Be perfect”, was possible to achieve. 

Here’s what we decided to do. Rather than not try and fail completely, we decided to give it a shot and see if we couldn’t get closer than if we didn’t try at all. We’re not sure that’s what Jesus was looking for, but it’s the best we could come up with. So for now it’ll have to do.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Welcome To The Church Of The Ballot

I have written repeatedly over the past year that political idolatry, the shameless subcontracting of the faith to the Republican Party is harming the work of the church. So here we are post election with Christians excommunicating other Christians for their political beliefs, a power they do not possess, nor even deserve. 

 Here’s a thought. What if Christian values as embodied in scripture were never intended for unbelievers, but were instead guidelines to living for anyone calling themselves Christ followers.  After all, Paul’s letters were always addressed to errant churches, not unbelievers. Our responsibility to unbelievers was not to enforce our values on them but to carry the message of salvation to them, and once they had embraced Christ they would then embrace Christian values.

The church today has gotten that process completely backwards. We’ve abandoned witness for legislation. Failing to change an unbelievers heart,  we no longer “shake the dust off our feet” and move on to the next prospect. No, we stay and beat them over the head with legislation, a process Jesus did not endorse. And the results of this patently unscriptural behavior have been disastrous. The church is in decline, and as our political efforts have met stiff resistance we’ve assumed the role of victims, and victims never recover. 

As long as we’re victims we can blame others for our troubles, we never have to look at ourselves and take responsibility for our situation. We can cry persecution while living in the freest country in history for religious expression, we can blame electoral losses on other Christians who do not agree with our politics, we can blame Hollywood, democrats, dark skinned freeloaders, any number of boogeymen just so long as we don’t have to look at ourselves. 

So we become sowers of confusion and discord. We reflect hate to the very people Jesus commanded us to love, and the church declines into irrelevance.  Welcome to the Church Of The Ballot.