Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Evidence in Support

My very good friend, Doc, recently posted this article on his Facebook page about the same time I was writing my observations about the detrimental effect on the church when it aligns itself with politics. This reinforces my concern that the church needs to disentangle itself from politics if there's any hope to reconnect with the younger generations. Perhaps this is one more manifestation of what I've been calling the "New Reformation" for the last ten years. Still not sure what shape it's taking but I can tell you it's happening. The Body of Christ is eternal...the current manifestation of the western church is not. It's high time to move on.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fruit That's Unstoppable

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:21-23

In a follow-up to my post yesterday despairing the fate of the church if it aligns itself with any particular political party, I want to reflect on fruit. Through the years I've been fond of saying that an apple tree never wakes up in the morning and decides to bear oranges. It bears apples because of what it is. It doesn't define the fruit, the fruit defines it. To the untrained eye an apple tree without apples is unrecognizable. Someone who claims to have sold you an apple tree is proven a liar if peaches appear on the branches.

In Galatians Paul gives a succinct and elegant description of the fruit that the Holy Spirit bears in the life of someone filled with said Spirit. To the untrained eye there is no other way to identify those possessed by the Holy Spirit but to see the fruit. Anyone who 'sells' themselves to be a Spirit filled follower of Christ whose branches subsequently sprout anger, hatred, division, selfishness, fear, and judgment is proven a liar. And I don't care if that person is a pastor, deacon, elder or bishop. If you are surrendered fully and possessed by the Holy Spirit you will bear the fruit of that Spirit. You can't not.

Notice, '...against such things (these fruits) there is no law.' Governments can outlaw worship, church services, Bibles, prayer in school and all the cherished symbols and external trappings of the church. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control function apart from law, politics, governments and the pettiness we humans so often allow to consume our lives.

Let the Spirit have his way with you...and bear fruit. That's unstoppable!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Sad Consequence

Last week I was all around Kentucky and Indiana meeting with folks about bringing Workcamps and 1 By Youth to their towns. It's always exciting to share the possibility of partnering to bring 400 or more teens and adults to repair 60 to 70 homes in a week with Workcamps. Or the chance to see over 1000 volunteers transform a single neighborhood in a single day through 1 By Youth. I get the privilege of talking with many interesting people. One conversation I had last week, though, made me sad.

One lady in Louisville shared with me that the people she works with are reluctant...even hostile...about inviting Christians from outside the neighborhood (read the suburbs) to come in for the day and help. Their resistance, in her opinion, is political. Many of the neediest neighborhoods are populated most heavily by those who identify themselves as Democrats. They see many Christians, especially suburban Christians, as Republicans. In our current political climate they see Republicans as angry, hostile enemies working hard to take away all that the current Democratic leadership has finally given them. It is a sad consequence of a deeply polarized nation.

What makes me truly sad is that over the last 30 years or more the Evangelical Christian Church has been so co-opted by Republican politicians...and willingly so with the work of the Moral Majority, Focus on the Family and other entities...that we may have done irreparable damage to our ability to effectively be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. Here is yet another reason why the church must operate completely above the political fray.

While Christians should, and must, participate in the political process by voting, advocating and holding elected office, the church must remain neutral. Christians gathered as bodies of believers align politically on one side or the other at their own peril. Whether it's Jim Wallis and Christians like him that run to the political left or James Dobson and the late Jerry Falwell who run to the political right all are doing a grave disservice to the name of Christ by lowering His Body into the mud of political gamesmanship.

When people in need refuse the help of loving Christians citing politics as the reason for their refusal that should be a major wake up call. We need to exercise our love, our values, our compassion and our concern through acts of service that have no root or reference to a political bent. We have not accomplished this and it seems it is bearing rotten fruit. My fear is it may be too late for us to reclaim higher ground.