Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Church and the WASP (Walled, Anglo, Separated and Protected)

“Vanilla,” is the one word descriptor we chose for the town of Fort Collins, Colorado.  During our one week stay we saw maybe four people that couldn't be described as White-Anglo.  The U.S. Census affirms this observation, indicating that 89% of the population is white.  Interestingly Portland, Oregon is roughly identical whereas Redlands, California is 73% white.  The violent crime percentage in Fort Collins is 2.69%, compared to 5.17% for Portland and 4.24% in my neighborhood.  I've been discussing these statistics with the average Christian.  To my dismay most are eager to go live in a safe, protected place like Colorado

In his book Radical, David Platt says, “We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus.  We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate.  And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor.” He goes on saying, “…we don’t want to believe it.  We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives.  So we rationalize these passages away…..A nice middle-class, American Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism…A Jesus who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether.”  The church would largely have a Jesus that would want us to flee to the safety of a city with a very low crime rate rather than moving into a place where you will have impact.  We are to be salt and light; not hidden and hiding. 

These conversations with those safety-seeking Christians leave me disheartened.  Though it motivates me to continue to be a catalyst for change.  It’s a change that should be obvious and easy to see with an open Bible.  William Carey, the father of missions said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”  But if we live a protected, safe life there is no need for God to do great things.  Dying and daring for God allow us the richness of joy and depth of delight when He proves Himself---over and over.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Hunger Stays

“Through the blessing, through the bleeding, the hunger stays.”---Charlie Peacock

“All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.”---Ecclesiastes

Who is more content; the man who has millions of dollars or the man with twelve children?  The man with twelve children is more content---he wants no more.

On the surface we are all after the same thing.  We want more because we believe it will satisfy us.  The wise man knows that this striving for more is just chasing shadows.  I write this on the eve of moving into a bigger house with a bigger kitchen and a nicer view.  The house will add rich texture and elbow-room to my already comfortable life.  Underneath it all though I know it’s only shelter from the wind.

There is this constant tug-of-war between contentment and wanting more; really more balancing act than battle though.  Wanting more isn’t necessarily bad or evil it’s the heart behind the hunger that decides if motive is pure or self-seeking.  Yet I know that throughout I always have this deeper hunger for something that satisfies soul and delights my heart at a far greater depth than this world ever touches.

C.S. Lewis says that art, music and literature led him to realize a “…common quality to the three experiences; it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.  I call it Joy….I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.”  It is in the seeking of God that the joy is found; the fulfillment that caused Lewis to pen Surprised By Joy many years after discovering his own hunger for it.

The seeker looks to an answer for the stirring he feels when he hears great music or reads a classic novel.  The Christian looks to Him in whom we are satisfied and realizes that this side of Heaven---the hunger stays.