Thursday, March 27, 2008

Strange Christian stuff

A friend sent a link to a site which compiled photos of weird Christian merchandise. And it is weird stuff. This is what I wrote to him in reflection...

I looked at this and of course shook my head in dismay. Some of it may actually have been produced by enemies of the faith, I'm thinking. However, I've had a kind of new thought about Christian cultural oddities and a sort of paradigm shift about them.

I always felt ashamed of preachers with big hair and loud voices, along with strange Christian commodities, like the praying hands statue that glows in the dark, that sort of thing. When I was in Ghana I laughed to see how many of the businesses, owned by Christians, would use biblical terminology in their store names. One example was a barber shop called "King of Kings Haircuts", which caused no end of amusement to me.

Then today after looking at the link you sent I began to wonder if I have this right at all. Many of the things we feel to be culturally superior will one day be laughed at. Our grandchildren or great-grandchildren will probably be ashamed of how we dressed, talked, acted, and the things we took interest in. We will be seen as quaint (at the least) or more likely, hopelessly out of it, weird, ignorant, and provincial. They will think -- from their cultural vantage point -- we didn't have a clue. And this will then be true of them, that they feel (as we often do) that our cultural moment is somehow superior. And so the same will happen to them.

So if I see a preacher with funny hair or a loud voice and this offends my cultural senses, I wondering now, how weighty in the long run are my cultural sensibilities? If the guy in Ghana zealously operates his King of Kings barber shop for the glory of God, is it not superior, say, to a new, hip Starbucks run by someone in rebellion to God?

This is, of course, not to say we should aim at being culturally abrasive. What I'm thinking is that when unbelievers make fun of the cultural oddities of believers, I've tended to feel ashamed of my brethren. Now I'm seeing their mockery as having no real weight at all, other than to reveal their cultural snobbery.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Some stuff in the news

Standing by their men. Someone said recently that for once they'd like to see the politician standing without his wife, sporting a black eye! What public humiliation this brings upon the wives to stand there. Why doesn't the guy just 'fess up by himself?

This clip from ER demonstrates how postmodern spirituality does not answer the real questions when one faces death.

And this blog is embarrassingly accurate!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

re Judgment

The believer's judgment by his Lord is not the same as the divine wrath that will fall on unrepentant humankind in general. I Corinthians 3 tells us the believer, built upon the foundation of Christ will -- though personally secure -- be judged as to the quality of his work for Christ:

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

Which raises the question, how do we determine which works are in the first category (gold, silver, precious stones) and which are in the second (wood, hay, straw). Big difference between the two and no mention of any kind of "in between" works.

One clue follows in chapter 4: (1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

It appears that hidden motives & purposes are critical in determining the value of a work. If I do something good for the following reasons:
  • to be seen and thought well of by others
  • to earn spiritual brownie points
  • to feel good about myself
  • to lessen feelings of guilt or fear
  • to receive reciprocal favors back from others
...then it seems the works --though good in relation to others-- are not valuable in God's sight as flowing from a relationship of grace, of love, of gratitude toward him.

If I do something good for the following reasons:

  • out of thankfulness to God
  • in response to his goodness and grace
  • as a loving response to who he is
  • to be a blessing to his creation & those who bear his image
  • to bring attention to God by honoring him
...then it seems that those kind of works would be valuable.

These motives are polar opposites, hence no middle ground. Outwardly we cannot tell if someone is praying, or serving, or giving, or sacrificing, or any good thing because of right motives and purposes.

Hence we really need the judgment of Christ that those who have served him well might receive their commendation.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Caroline Elizabeth was born Feb. 28, and weighed in at 7# 15 oz. She's a very, very sweet young lady, I might add.