Depression happens when you acknowledge the difference between your ideal and real life. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Christians-as-people
(Note: This was a rant-turned-ramble-turned-kindafreeverseything I wrote at 4 in the morning. Just to warn you.)
This is a very inconvenient fact, and we Christians have been doing our level best to work around this for years. In America, we’ve built up a whole defense system around the idea, feeling quite under attack by it.
Does He speak? Is the question. And Christian Americans try not to answer.
We hem and haw in a pattern that sounds like this:
Does He speak? After a fashion.
He speaks, yes, but not in the way that you’re thinking.
What am I thinking? You know, speaking aloud. Actually saying words, in fact. Continue reading
I struggled a bit with the title of this post, and I’m still not sure it’s exactly what I meant to say. I mean, I don’t really ever think that depression itself is a good thing. Speaking from experience here, it’s miserable. It’s free-falling in an endless black hole. But I do think that good things can come out of it, and that’s what I wanted to ramble on a little today. Continue reading
There’s been a lot of publicity lately for vocal opponents of God in general and Christianity in particular. With the popularity of Angels and Demons and other fictional books/movies also comes a curiosity about non-fiction anti-God or religion books, such as The God Delusion or God is Not Good. That’s normal, but for some people it’s a scary concept. Why? (excuse me as I ramble a bit about this)
The thing I find interesting (as does the media, as I keep seeing these stories everywhere) is that so many of the anti-God crowd used to call themselves Christians. Some of them seem to feel that this gives them more credibility, as they’ve now “seen through the lies” and they’re now better, happier people, free from the chains of organized religion. But almost all of them left Christianity because of a person or group of people within the Christian community who failed in some way. Continue reading
I was just reading the passage in Matthew where Jesus tries yet again to explain to his disciples just what life following Him is really all about. They don’t get it, which is easy to look at and laugh nowadays. (I’ve been keeping a mental tally of the number of times Jesus predicted His death and resurrection — and yet the disciples were surprised when it happened! Talk about deluding yourself out of the truth!)
But on the other hand, I don’t think we really get it most of time, either.
I’m in chapter 20, and I’m talking about Servant Leadership. I capitalized that because the term is really overused in protestant Christian circles, to the point where we forget what it really means.
So in this story, James, John and their mom have this plan. They want to be reigning with Christ in His kingdom. Now really, this isn’t as audacious a request as it seems at first glance, because just a few chapters ago Jesus already told them that they’d be judging the twelve tribes of Israel — with the other disciples. What’s got the others so upset about this request is that J&J have asked to be put over the other disciples, on top of ruling everybody else!
Is it me, or does this sound really familiar?
Of course Jesus defuses the situation and says something totally crazy — a) that in order to lead, you have to serve and b) that even Jesus has to give Himself up to the point of giving up His life. (chalk another one up on the board, please)
If I were a disciple, I bet I’d be focusing a lot more on that last part. They probably didn’t learn this lesson, at least not right away.
This blog is only nominally anonymous, so there’s a good chance that some of you know I have had experiences with several Christian organizations, both church and para-church. And I can tell you first hand that we have still not learned this lesson. I know for sure that I haven’t.
Get any group of people together, Christians or not, and there will be politics. People will talk behind each other’s backs. Middle management will be in and out of favor with the Big Bosses, and the peons will be used, leaned on or even totally ignored. If you’ve never worked for a Christian company you may not believe that a group of Christians, who are there to serve God, could be capable of this. But trust me, it happens.
Christians just use different wording.
When you want to gossip, you say “can I ask you to pray about this?” When you’re presenting your favorite idea you say “God can do the impossible” if anyone tells you it must fail. And when you want to rise in the ranks, you call yourself a “Servant Leader” and talk about how God is really at the top of the company.
That’s not to be down on Christian companies, or to say that all of the above is always bad. But Christians are still people. And very few have learned what Matthew 20 means.
What is a Servant Leader? It’s someone who doesn’t demand that their projects and ideas always come first. It’s someone who knows everyone — not because of what they can do for them, but because they want to know them. It’s someone who loves God so much that they can’t help but love people, just because God loves people. It’s someone who thinks what your heart looks like is more important than what label suit you wear. It’s someone who cares more about the project than who’s in charge of it. It’s someone who gives up their rights. It’s someone who doesn’t name drop. It’s someone who steps in whenever and wherever they can help.
There’s a lot to it. But mostly, I think it’s someone who wouldn’t think to capitalize Servant Leader and make it a title. They’re just too busy being one.
I was reading an unrelated commentary by David Stern the other day and I came across this thought-provoking aside: “pride, and the reverse-sin of embarrassment”.
Is embarrassment a sin?
I’ve not yet seen it specifically mentioned in a biblical sin-list — “Thou shalt not be embarrassed” for example, or “Those evil-doers who are embarrassed”. A quick check of the NIV doesn’t pull up any results for “embarrass” at all.
But then again, if I switch to The Message, I see Luke 9:26 – (Jesus speaking) “If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by.” (also see Mark 8:38)
Ok, so the pie in the sky bit is a little strange, but I’m interested to see what other versions do with this verse. NIV and NASB both say “ashamed of me” (and no, no mention of pie). Aha! A search for “ashamed” brings up all kinds of verses, most notably 2 Timothy 1:7-9 :
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. [Paul is speaking] But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”
(btw, awesome passage talking about the gift of God given to Timothy and what he should do with it now – go read it, it’s great!)
I think I had a wrong image in my head of sin. After all, you put pride on the list (something I know I constantly struggle with) and I start thinking of the 7 deadlys and, obviously, Brad Pitt. Hard to remember sometimes what sin actually is – not just bad things you do, but good things you don’t do, and perhaps even more importantly, your heart’s attitude when you them.
I’ve certainly been too embarrassed of being called a Christian to “testify about our Lord” before, especially in situations where my faith was being mocked. And I’ve been ashamed to be called a Christian because of other Christians too, although I think that’s not all my fault sometimes. (but that’s another discussion)
When my heart isn’t identifying as a follower of Jesus, then there’s something wrong with my heart. Even if I’m afraid, or if I know that the result would be persecution, it doesn’t give me an excuse to lay low and pretend I’m not who I am. That’s denying Him just as much as if I had said it aloud. And therefore, sin.
So is embarrassment sin? In and of itself, I don’t see any biblical backup for that. But when it comes to God, Jesus and other true followers of Jesus – we can’t be ashamed to be identified. Our hearts belong to Him, and as such should always be willing to declare it.