Sorry, this is a few days late in posting. I have just begun my third week (out of seven) of biblical research seminar 2 at Dallas Christian College. It is my final course; I’ll be done at the end of next month, and will have my BS in May. In other news, my friend Phil from LeMars may be joining me at the Willow Creek Student Ministries conference next month in Chicago. to say that we are going to have a great time is an understatement.
As modern evangelicals, we often hear that we are to be in the world, but not of it. Ask any modernist what this means, and most likely they will define in the world as some form of “i don’t drink, smoke, or chew, or go with those who do.” Some modernists seek a reclusive model, where we hate the world, so we retreat from it. We don’t go to movies because of an “r” rating. We don’t like guitar music and pounding syncopated beat, so we determine that real Christians don’t use them in worship. As a result, the arts have suffered. for the first 1500 years of post-Christ modern culture, the church was at the forefront of the arts. The European cathedrals, sculpture, music, paintings, drama; Christians and the church were the top of the line. Now, when Christians actually perform their art well, like U2, Switchfoot, POD, even Amy Grant (who I am NOT a large fan of personally), we lament their “crossing over”. We question their faith. we question their theology, we wonder how they can share a stage with a sinner like Ozzy Osborne (as POD did).
Personally, I like CCM (contemporary christian music). But I also like music. I like David Crowder Band for the art they create. It does not sound like mainstream CCM. I like Chris Tomlin. I like Derek Webb, who I could do an entire entry on. I also like U2 and Switchfoot. I can appreciate Michael W Smith (yes Phil, I bought “worship”-how’s that aaron pelsu band cd treating you?) This music has a niche, it has a purpose. However, much of modern CCM challenges who I am, what I believe. As much as we in the restoration movement hold up things like baptism, I’m sure we would have HUGE theological differences with a majority of CCM artists. Personally, I have been challenged more by the lyrical content of Derek Webb-a Calvinist and strong Reformed background, and David Bazan- Assemblies of God background, and he plays in bars, then by the vast majority of “Jesus cheerleaders” of most CCM- they know that merely coming to Christ is not the cure all. My parents are still divorced, regardless of my relationship with Christ. I still argue with my wife, bad things still happen, regardless of my place within the kingdom of God. There are indeed days where I need to hear “I could sing of your love forever”. There are also days when I need to be reminded of my sinful condition, i need to remember that even the good I do is seen by God as filthy rags. My own righteousness means nothing.
Back to theological differences for a moment. When we see pictures of Michelangelo’s “David”, is our first thought “gee, we have differing theology, so I cannot appreciate his art”? When we buy a car, do we insist that the salesman be a christian? “Our” kind of christian? We somehow have decided because someone is not telling our truth, it is not truth. Well, that’s bogus, truth is truth, and Jesus said He alone was Truth. That means when someone speaks it, it is valid. Honesty equals truth, not in a all roads go to heaven way, but in a valid way.
Blink 182-Stay Together for the Kids
“So here’s your holiday
Hope you enjoy it this time
You gave it all away
It was mine
So when you’re dead and gone
Will you remember this night, twenty years now lost.
It’s not right
Their anger hurts my ears
Been running strong for seven years
Rather than fix the problems, they never solve them
It makes no sense at all
I see them every day
We get along so why can’t they?
If this is what he wants and this is what
Then why is there so much pain?”
As non-believers, they paint an accurate portrayal of divorce. I feel the truth evidenced here.
Take Green Day’s “American Idiot”-Truth-are we not as a nation controlled by the media? Look at the information overload. I read a book last night about the Pearl Harbor attack, it says, in part, that much if the American population was oblivious to the damage done for MONTHS. I remember watching 9-11 on TV. I heard it happen on the radio. You can go onto the internet and download the beheading of Daniel Pearl. A few months ago, I downloaded combat video from Fallujah. It looked like a movie.
“Don’t wanna be an American idiot.
One Nation controlled by the media.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?”
“Don’t wanna be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It’s calling out to idiot America.”
Let’s return to the topic…in John 17, Jesus is praying to God. I’ll have the verses below…
15-My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16-They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17-Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18-As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19-For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
While we are to be set apart from the world (that’s what holy means, set apart) we are to be in it. Not reveling in the things of the world, we know that from a number of writings by Paul, but in the world nonetheless. To redeem it. To sanctify it. Here are some questions that need to be answered:
If drinking and smoking violates the temple of the Lord, why is it ok to over indulge on food? Doesn’t soda rot our teeth?
If we are not to be in the world, why do our houses look no different from those of non-christians?
Why do we drive the same cars, have the same debt load, divorce just as often, as non-christians?
Why are we focused on our rights as Americans?
What government do we place our trust in?
Are the stars and stripes more important than the cross of Christ?
—One Sunday at our old church, we had a singing group do the service for us. At one point, they sang “proud to be an American”. I have no problem with that song. The problem came during the “and I proudly stand up” part, when everyone jumped up, hands on hearts, singing loudly, etc. The issue is that those were the same people who stand, week after week, arms crossed, mumbling or not singing at all worship songs to God. The ones who complained about worship style. I see, Old glory is worth standing for, worth singing about, but a praise song to God, because it is sung with a guitar and drums, is not worthy…all because of personal preference. We are not, nor have we ever been, the new promised land. We are not in the favor of God, any more than Estonia is.
Who decided that finances=blessings?
—Paul writes that suffering for the cross is a blessing. Go ahead…say it, we’ve reserved that particular blessing for the church in Sudan, or Iran haven’t we? Because our blessings come in the form of $1 bills. Jesus died for my $2000/month mortgage-interest only by the way, so I can have a bigger house! And I say those things as a person guilty. Stained by sin. We moved into a house that was un-necessarily too big. That cost too much. and our church suffered. Of course we can’t give sacrificially, our bills are too high! We’d all love to give more, but when the bonus comes, we buy the tv we’ve always wanted, or the boots, or the cooler that keeps my food cold for 48-hours, or my iPod. We do not have the right to decide which cross we will bear. Deciding which toilet paper to buy, out of the 25 choices we have, is hardly a cross, and the inability to say a prayer at a high school graduation-while an inconvenience and an annoyance, hardly puts us on the road to the concentration camp that North Korea has become.
Why do we focus on having the same “things” as non-believers?
Who has dubbed some things “of the world”, and other things ok?
Where does our hope lie?
Where does our hope lie?
Here’s an idea, let’s reduce the gospel to this…
“could someone please tell me story
of sinners ransomed from the fall”
Pedro the Lion-“Secret of the Easy Yoke”
Isn’t that hope all there is anyway? Doesn’t the story boil down to that?