Spit It Out

Spit

Today’s readings:
Psalms 46 or 97, 149; Isaiah 66:1-2, 22-23; Revelation 3:14-22; John 9:1-12, 35-38


Is mainstream Christianity too wishy-washy? Media hype about the “Culture War” between the faithful and the secular wouldn’t lead us to believe so. Conservative religious voices speaking out against abortion and same sex marriage are frequent, loud and shrill.

But in a time and nation where Christianity is by far the dominant religion and Christian businesses from dating services to investment firms flourish, are Christians really suffering from any threats or dangers we don’t fabricate ourselves? The only “persecution” we face in the USA is that people are free to speak against us if they so choose. Someone refuting our beliefs or calling us out for behavior they disagree with is in no way equivalent to oppression. Yet somehow we manage to convince ourselves we are victims, perhaps because on some level we know truly living one’s faith does invite persecution, but we don’t have the stomachs for the real thing.

The progressive church is not off the hook. Yes it frowns upon and occasionally speaks out against the more egregious activities of its conservative counterpart, but rarely since the civil rights movement of the 1960s does it insert itself in any meaningful way. Instead, content simply to disclaim the follies of its less sophisticated cousin, it leaves the secular culture to do the heavy lifting on progressive issues. Paralyzed by political correctness, it operates from a generic humanism wherein faith is at best charming, at worst pitiable.

Neither camp, though opinionated, is bold. Mostly they preach to their respective choirs. They are the lukewarm brew spit out by Christ. Passionate Christians cling to neither of these labels (nor a moderate one) because they are too busy feeding the poor, praying for their enemies, spreading the Gospel, and visiting the sick and imprisoned to worry about any politics that don’t hinder those efforts. Dedicating oneself to these works is still considered radical in all quarters because it is an implicit indictment of anyone not doing them. Christianity is the opposite of a cultural affiliation or confirmation (even its own): it is a light and fire that burns such distractions away.

Comfort: If your faith is somewhat lackluster, you’re not alone.

Challenge: Jesus wants you to do something about it.

Prayer: God, fill me with the faith and desire to do your will.

Discussion: Do you feel like you’re answering your Christian call?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Holy Indifference

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 81; 150,Job 38:1, 18-41, Revelation 18:1-8, Matthew 5:21-26


 “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference… The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
– Elie Wiesel

When disaster strikes, some preachers can’t wait to blame the tragedy on their favorite – or would that be least favorite? – group of sinners. Never mind that disaster falls on the righteous and unrighteous alike, and any given hurricane or shooting may completely miss God’s alleged target; they can always blame America’s general decline into sin. Once they’ve drummed up sufficient guilt and fear in their listeners, they graciously offer an opportunity to relieve said guilt and fear in the form of donations to their own righteous organization.

Except … according to Psalm 81 and other scriptures, God’s worst reaction might not be punishment, but indifference. Our own life experiences tell us God is not some petty bureaucrat handing out punishments for every moral misdemeanor. Neither is God a tin-pot dictator forcibly bending us to his will. He invites us to love and obey Him, and acceptance of that invitation is not without obligation, but if we decline, the consequences – at least in this life – seem to be God’s withdrawal from our lives. The psalmist warned Israel they were suffering because they were bowing to foreign gods so the Lord had left them to the counsel of their own stubborn hearts. In Romans 1, Paul tells us about people who traded God for idols, and how “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves.” When a people stopped listening to God, he let them go. The bed they made was their own to lie in.

The good news is that no matter how badly we’ve screwed up our own lives by rejecting God, He will always accept an invitation back into that life. Whatever false idols we’ve been worshiping, God waits with the open arms of a father welcoming home a runaway child. Whether we’ve abandoned that home for an hour or a lifetime, God will be there.

For further reading on today’s reading from Matthew, see Pass the Peace.

Comfort: No matter how badly you’ve screwed up, someone who’s done worse has turned their life around.

Challenge: Be diligent about discerning between your own voice and God’s.

Prayer: God of mercy, forgive me for the times I choose my own counsel over yours. Thank you for leading me home to you again. Amen.

Discussion: What consequences have you suffered as a result of relying on your own counsel instead of God’s?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!