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12 September 2006 

Subversive Christianity

This week there is a camp of older couples called "Empty Nesters," the idea being that its a time for married people whose children have left home to fellowship and relive the days of their youth up here. It quite inspiring actually, to see so many of these people who have been exactly where I am and to see what the fruit of their lives and work with the gospel has brought to pass. But at the same time, the nature of the generation that is here is such that I can get quite exasperated. The 50+ something generation makes up half or more of the Christian population in the United States, and aside from handfuls here and there, they are growing increasingly unable to adapt to the post modern world. For example. The other day the Empty Nesters camp was praying for the IFES movements in Europe, and the MC said something like, "Europe, of course, is postmodern now, Christianity is nearly dead there." And I was slightly shocked. True, the church in America has a little more life left in it than Europe does, but even the church here is incredibly marginalized by post-modernism. And that statement just irked me, what do they think the culture in America is? America is as post-modern as Europe, and sadly, I think the only reason that the church here is not in the same place as the European church is the political agenda of the religious right.

But it just underlies the point that the patriarchs and matriarchs of the church today are still largely concerned with relating to a world that they view as modern. A world where reason and logic are prominent, and its not a question of which God, but is there a God, questions that the world as a whole has moved beyond. What is sadder to me, is that I am a victim of this thinking as much as anyone. Until the last couple years when I've actually engaged with people and talked with them about who God is and who they think Christ is I just assumed that you were either a Christian or you didn't believe in God, largely because I was raised in churches that believed and continue to believe that. The church needs to understand that we are not God's keepers anymore and that those seeking God will automatically seek us out. The church must reexamine its self image and see itself as God's people, in competition with the concepts of God that the rest of the world carries around with it. The church no longer has a monopoly on God, and has not for 50 years. The world today is not agnostic, its pluralistic, not "if there's a God, but why not this god?"

In many ways I find it fascinating, Christianity has so long ruled the West as the only religion that it has forgotten its roots as a marginalized religion growing in the midst of Judiasm, and countless pagan gods. I've been studying Deuteronmy recently and one thing that has stuck out to me is the degree to which so many of the rules God gave Israel in the desert were meant to set them apart from the cultures around them which worshipped any number of other gods. God's covenant with Israel that "I will be your God and you will be my people," was played out in the ways Israel was meant to be radically different than the cultures around them. We have the same commission from Jesus. We are his people and we are meant to be radically different, to worship in a way that is radically different from the ways the culture around us worships. Its no longer a question of worshippers vs. non-worshippers, we can't peddle God as once the church did. Relationships, living lives changed completely by Christ, walking in the mist of this world and staying close to Christ, those are the ways that Christians are called to bear witness. In the beginning it was such, and now 2000 years later, it has come full circle. Let us embrace the subversive position that we now find ourselves in. I compare it to the movie Fight Club. There is something wrong about the way the world works, you are not your job, you are not your clothes, you are not your things... and people know it, they know that material wealth is empty, they are just looking for an alternative.

I enjoy the idea of a Christian fight club... the idea that there is a more basic need to be met than what the world feeds us, but people need to be shown what that need is, which is why the church can't trade the Gospel of Grace for a gospel of tolerance, or prosperity, or social justice. Those things can all be good, but the Good News of the Gospel is only good if people realize that there is bad news to be saved from. Sin is a dirty world, hell is a dirty word, intolerance is a dirty word, but without them how will people understand what is being offered them. A blind man doesn't know that he must be pulled back from the cliff or pushed out of the way of an oncoming car. We need to view the culture and world around us in that way, that they are blind and are as likely to punch us as thank us for pushing them out of the way of the car, but just as you wouldn't worry what the blind man thought of what you were doing when you pushed him out of the way, we can't worry what people will think of us afterwards when we are trying to save them.

"A world where reason and logic are prominent". I disagree with that part of the statement you were making. Today's generation has thrown away its brain for a "relativistic" mindset which is devoid of reason and logic. As Christians we need to start examining and understanding the underlying views that are held in our culture (rarely does anyone say I'm a relativist- though of course it is not the only widely held belief)and *gasp* think for ourselves..God is the Lord of our mind- I think we fail here as Christians often times ( me big time b/c I've never gone through much of it). As Nick Pollard wrote, "We should deconstruct arguments to understand enough about a worldview to enable us to awaken within a non-Christian a heart response that says, ‘I am not sure that what I believe is right after all. I want to find out more about Jesus.’ " ... I know that was the whole pt. of your blog, but I felt that needed to be said. I miss you Josh!

quite agreed, reread that part of the entry again, that statement "a world where logic and reason are prominent" was referring to the mindset of the older generation that i was mentioning, how they see the world, in my opinion, misguidedly. i miss you too jules.

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