Living up to Your Name?

•January 22, 2008 • 11 Comments

When we are born we are given a name. Some of our parents thought long and hard to give us a name. Some of them didn’t think about it and just blurted it out when we were born. Some were named by a nurse or doctor or some other person that was around at the birth. My name is Curtis. It mean Courteous one. The verse that is supposed to go with my name is Micah 6:8a which says, “O man he has shown you what is good.”

I have a name. It means something. Do I actually live up to what my name means? More often than not I probably don’t live up to being a courteous man who shows others how to act in a good way. My question to you today is what does your name mean and do you live up to it?

Radical Jesus 3: Radical Today

•January 21, 2008 • 2 Comments

So in the last post we looked at the real message that Jesus was preaching to his time. He was not preaching a cleaned up message that made his contemporaries comfortable. He preached a message that was radical to his time. He challenged people and called them on their crap. He did not pull his punches but laid people out when they needed it. At the same time he presented love to all.

Why is it now that we like to hear messages from our preachers that make us feel good and comfortable? Why is it that we often shy away from any type of challenge in our life? The message that Jesus preached was a challenge to the way of thinking at the time. He called people to action, in a way that they had not thought of before.

Rob Bell says in Velvet Elvis:

“The intent then of a rabbi having a yoke wasn’t just to interpret the words correctly; it was to live them out. In the Jewish context, action was always the goal. It still is. (Bell 47)”

What action is God calling you to today? Are you ignoring those in your midst that need help because they are outside of your comfort zone? Do you walk by the needy on the street and ignore the need presented right in your face? What radical message do you preach today? If Jesus came was on the earth today would he be preaching a message that liberated you or condemned the practices that you are a part of? I think for myself He all to often would be preaching against the life that I live.

Radical Jesus 2: The Real Look of Jesus

•January 17, 2008 • 4 Comments

Last time I delt with the view of Jesus that I have seen typical of North American churches and Christians. Today we will deal with who Jesus really was, I will try to do it justice.

We will start at the same place that I started in the last post. What did Jesus look like? Typically we, in North America, have viewed Jesus as a tall white guy. While this is easier on our sensibility, making Jesus more familiar, it is not what He looked like. Jesus was not born in Europe, or North America. In fact if he was born in North America at that time he would have been a what we have come to call a Native American. Jesus was born in the Middle East. He would have had dark skin and probably black hair. Yes the Bible says nothing about this look of his but if he was born to parents that looked like the culture at the time does it not follow that he would have looked like the culture into which he was born?

With the sanitizing of the look of Jesus that we have done we have often sanitized His message as well. Coming from a different culture we don’t see, or don’t want to see, the way that Jesus’ message would have been received at the time. Jesus was a completely radical voice, with a radical message for His time.

For starters Jesus was a Jew. The Jews at the time felt that the Messiah came for the salvation of the Jews alone. They felt it would have been more of a military salvation, from their oppression under the Romans and not ‘just’ a spiritual renewal. Jesus did not bring revolution to the Jews but salvation. His message was not only for the Jews but for all the nations. In Colossians 3:11 Paul says: “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” To Christ there is no difference between races or genders or social status. Again, to the Jew there was Jew and everyone else. The Samaritans are a perfect example of this segregation, and of Jesus breaking it down.

Most of us have heard of the story of the woman at the well (John 4:3-30). Biblically it says that they had to pass through Samaria to get where they were going. Historically most people crossed the sea into Perea to avoid Samaria. There was nothing compelling them to pass that way except Jesus’ radical message. While traveling Jesus met with a woman (no status), who was a Samaritan (mixed blood) and was known for her poor moral character (5 husbands and now living with a different man). On top of Jesus meeting this woman that was so reviled for a Jew this is one of the only two times that he reveals himself directly as the Messiah. The other instance is during his trial with Pilate. So Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah to a woman that most Jews would never have seen because they would have avoided her entire country.

So we have seen that our sanitization of Jesus may have also led us to overlook the radical message that He preached to His time. Next we will look at suggestions on how to live radically in our current culture in light of the radical life of Jesus.

Radical Jesus 1: North American Sanitization

•January 15, 2008 • 3 Comments

Today, and for the next few days, I would like to discuss the topic of:

  1. How do we as North Americans view Jesus?
  2. Who was Jesus really?
  3. How do we respond to who Jesus really was?

When you are asked to think of what Jesus looked like what image comes to your head? For me, and I assume most caucasian North Americans, it is a picture of a tall white man in a white robe with a blueclean jesus sash and flowing long hard and a beard. He is walking with children being nice and loving them. He is depicted teaching people, healing people, and everyone around him is similarly dressed in clean nice clothing. He is depicted as clean and loving and friendly. The famous picture of the last supper shows Jesus clean eating with the disciples, who are all clean.

How does this sanitized view of Jesus affect how we do Christianity? I think that this sanitized view of Jesus leads us to a sanitized Christianity. I feel that many churches today have this idea of sanitization permeate throughout their lives. I think of a past post regarding this sanitization. I was asked why I sat with a kid that showed up to church in a leather jacket and had tattoos. My church didn’t want to see the dirty they wanted to see the clean. If you came to church clean then welcome otherwise, go get cleaned up first.

Links:

The Love of Church

•January 13, 2008 • 4 Comments

As you know if you have been reading my blog for a while I have struggled with church attendance. In fact, I have struggled with it alot. There have been many years when I really hated going. I only went because my wife wanted to, and I wanted to make her happy. Now however I love attending church. Here is why.

Connection: In the short time we have attended our church we already feel connected to others in it. On Sunday mornings people come up to us to talk. One of the members of the church found out we snowboarded at a local mountain and called us to see if we wanted a ride one morning. The people in this church reach out to others and make them feel like family. We live far away from our family, but at Christmas we had no less that 3 invites for Christmas meals. We feel like people would miss us if we didn’t come to church.

Solid Teaching: Our pastor does not pull his punches. He calls it like it is. He encourages you to do the same. He has said from the front of the church that if we think our church is holding back the ministry God called us to then we should find a church that will support us. He also calls out the congregation on our poor behaviour. There is no below the belt at church and that is refreshing.

People work to live a real life: When you talk to others at the church you find out how they really are. They don’t just say that they are fine. At church it is possible to see people praying for others before the service over coffee. We don’t work to make sure that all perceive us as fine. People at the church air thier laundry and ask for help and prayer.

Living Life in the Community: This stems from the point above. The natural outworking of a life of honesty with those around you is living like a family. In a family you know about others because you live in close proximity. With the faith that people show in each other while sharing thier problems they live in proximity to each other. This causes a community. Walking into the church the first day you could feel love in the building. Between the kids playing during the sermon and the hugs going around, even between the men, love permeates the place.

Hacked.

•January 11, 2008 • 5 Comments

Just a quick one to get some people to pray. My paypal account was accessed unauthorized and charged with lots of stuff. I am in the process of a dispute with paypal. Just pray that they are able to resolve the problem quickly. I am a student and have less than $0 in my bank account now.

Can You Tell I am a Christian?

•January 10, 2008 • 4 Comments

What is it that makes one a Christian? I know there is an obvious answer, salvation. To be a Christian one must accept that the only way to heaven is through Christ and accept Him as their personal saviour. Choice makes you a Christian, the choice to follow God and make Him the master of your life. Can anyone tell that you are a Christian though? Can anyone tell that you are a child of Christ, apart from the world? Can anyone tell that you read your bible? Can anyone see the good news in your life?

  • John 13:35:By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.heart
  • Romans 15:7:Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

In John Jesus tells us that people will know that we are His disciples by the love that we have for each other. Romans tells us to receive each other as Christ to the glory of God. Christ sacrificed His life so that we could be received into the glory of God.

So my question to you is this… When a person comes to your church for the first time do they see this acted out? Do they see that you are Christians by the love and respect that you have for each other? Can they feel the love in the building? If they attended a business meeting would they leave knowing about the squabbles over colour in your auditorium or how much you planned to give to missions? For those of us that are married, does your spouse see that you are living with Christ by the love and respect that you treat them with? I know that all too often I fall short of the kind of love that I should be giving to my wife.