Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tension

Hello all my blog people. Thanks for several who have commented on Harley's passing, its still sad but we're all doing real well. Miss ya Harley, miss ya everyday.

In high school I had this teacher, Mr. Springer. One of the things I remember him saying to us is: "People who read are smarter than those who don't." This stuck with me. I'm trying to turn myself into a reader. I recently finished Velvet Elvis. My sister had read it about a year and a half ago, and said it was really good. I'm not trying to brag or showboat that i'm actually reading, which isn't really something to brag about anyway, it's just that my thoughts have been centering around this book the last two days.

The author Rob Bell makes some great observations about the Christian faith, and about the way he envisions it. One of the things I really liked was his assertion that as Christian leaders we MUST be "smoking what we're selling".

Bell's message focuses (sp?) on following Christ in continually evolving ways, which most often are rediscoveries/reclaiming of practices that have long been in existance. It was really good. I almost cried like, twice just because his words were so neat, just really good.

Now, to the point of my blog. With Christianity often comes controversy as imperfect, broken people do their best to carry out Jesus commandments of loving God and neighbor. We could make a long list, but Christians "fight" with non-Christians about all sorts of stuff: prayer in school, abortion, homosexuality, to dip the communion bread, baptism, rock music, ecological issues, all sorts of things.

But even more brutal is the fight between Christians and Christians about all sorts of things. I've been to General Conference. I was in the room when it happened. I've been to Annual Conference, I was in the room when it happened there too. I've heard people in my congregation talk about churches down the street, I talk about churches down the street. The Unity of the church is in pretty bad shape. There is a tension.

I'm not saying i've figured things out, but it seems to me that much of the tension can be roped into a dispute between what is ideal, and what is real. The idealists are too mushy for the realists, and the realists are too legalistic for the idealists.

Example: Jesus commanded us to love one another.

Ok, so what the heck does that REALLY mean!!!! Once we get our minds wrapped around that the best we can, how do we do it?

The idealist could site Jesus ministry to the oppressed and marginalized. So are we to sell everything, literally? Should I not be typing on a computer because I could sell this hunk of metal and donate my money to Kingdom House downtown? But the realist doesn't want some comfy saying like: it's all about love. They want concrete actions and criteria to demonstrate love.

Because what about when Jesus praised the woman who poured her perfume all over his feet, when the disciples scolded her because she could have sold it? Maybe we're not supposed to sell everything. Maybe we should love those as Jesus loved, whom he would say: "leave your life of sin". So clearly some things are right and some things are wrong! How do we love those who are wrong, but don't think they're wrong? What if i'm wrong?

Christianity exists in this tension. As I get older I feel it more, but am becoming less bewildered and more in awe I guess. The idealist can call the realist legalistic with their literal interpretations and emperical evidence and reliance on tradition. The realist can call the idealist a flacid dreamer, with no method of actualizing their ministry other than cushy phrases and individual experiences.

Maybe we ARE unified in trying to carry out Christs mission, just in different ways? But we're ALL unified in the tension.

3 comments:

Andy B. said...

There is a quote engraved on the Nelson Art Gallery, I think. It says: people need the real in order to survive, people need the ideal in order to live. (Or something like that, I could be dead wrong.) But even if I am, it is a good thought, no?

Anonymous said...

Velvet Elvis is an amazing book. He definitely has a way with words. If you haven't read anything by John Eldredge, I strongly recommend his work also. He wrote Captivating (for women) and Wild at Heart (for men). I haven't yet read Wild at Heart, but I've heard it's worth it to read both of them.

Kara said...

the other one was from me, i just messed it up haha. i'll give you a call at some point to talk about devotions. thanks!