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?

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Faith with Flair!

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 92; 149, Ezekiel 3:4-17, Hebrews 5:7-14, Luke 9:37-50


In the cult-hit movie Office Space, Joanna works as a server in a restaurant named Chotchkie’s (think mid-90s T.G.I.Friday’s) where they are encouraged to adorn their uniforms with “fun” badges and buttons called “flair.” The minimum requirement is thirteen pieces, which Joanna wears. Comedic tension arises when the manager wants but can’t demand more than the minimum effort, and Joanna has no interest beyond meeting it.

Since the movie is a farce about corporate life, we’re meant to sympathize with Joanna; who hasn’t had a job that seemed unnecessarily stupid to us? On the other hand, in Colossians Paul advises: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Even when our job stinks, our attitude is a reflection of our heart. When we can’t find passion for our work, we can create it.

The same is true of our faith lives. Is following Christ something we approach with gusto, or are we skating by on the bare minimum? If Christianity was chosen for us by accident of birth or other default setting, it may feel like a job we never sought. We show up on Sundays (or just holidays), give enough to note it in our tax returns, and say grace when we think someone might notice. Or maybe we are very involved at church, but the work feels burdensome and monotonous.

Jesus asked his followers for passion: “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” While he promises anyone who “gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple” will not lose their reward, doesn’t comforting a thirsty child feel like the minimum amount of Christian flair we can muster?

Since “by grace [we] have been saved through faith,” let’s lead lives that reflect eternal gratitude and amplify that good news for all to see and hear. When we deliver a meal to the hungry, the side of love and fellowship should be freely given.

Comfort: Work that seems menial can still matter.

Challenge: For one week, try to react to boredom by asking what needs to change inside, not outside.

Prayer: Gracious God, I will seek you in all my efforts. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever found out something you thought was unimportant or even boring made a difference you didn’t expect?

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!