It has been an incredibly long time since I have written here. And I have missed it. Perhaps it has been from lack of time. Perhaps from lack of something to say. But I don't think either of those are completely true. What is more true is I have turned my attention to other things and neglected this particular avenue for sharing my thoughts on church, Christians, the present and the future.
And I'm afraid.
Over twenty years ago when I was regularly teaching the Bible to people whose interest ranged from mildly curious to somewhat engaged, it was typical for me to sound the alarm about the Biblical illiteracy of Christians in the west, the lethargy of the church and the dangers of being comfortable. At the time I couldn't envision living in a country where the church was not only marginalized but vilified to the point where Christians...I...would be reluctant to share a well reasoned opinion based on a firm grasp and understanding of scripture.
So I find myself in an untenable position.
These days I'm working for a Christian ministry that plants churches, cares for children and fights poverty in India and Nepal. We pursue and propel justice and reconciliation by building global community. All laudable and wonderful pursuits that are worthy of the support of many...Christian or not. What we do brings help, hope, healing, peace, joy and strength to people for whom all those things were in short supply before coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.
As the ambassador for our ministry it's my privilege to raise awareness and, most importantly, financial support for the work we do. And I have strong opinions about Christian faith, the work of the church, and community that are rooted firmly in my understanding of Scripture which I've studied, taught, absorbed, sung about, wrestled with, sought comfort from and been challenged by since my earliest childhood.
And I'm double-minded. And I find myself empathizing with and simultaneously loathing the church in America that is likewise double-minded.
There is truth in Scripture. Undeniable, immutable, distinct, clear truth. And teasing that truth out over the course of a lifetime is one of the greatest challenges one can undertake. Thinkers far more adept than I have come to the end of their lives still befuddled by our mysterious God who hides and reveals himself in the pages of scripture.
So what do I mean, then, that I am double-minded? It means that I want to be winsome, engaging and friendly with the culture in which I live. In part to gather as much support for the ministry I champion and in part because I don't relish being contentious. In short, I want people to like me (or at least not hate me). At the same time I want/need to speak my mind on things I see that are perilous and I fear many, in and out of the church, do not see or are not thinking about as clearly as they ought, if indeed they are thinking about them at all.
So goes the church. Wanting to engage the culture I see many churches at the local congregation level all the way up to the denominational headquarters being likewise double-minded. It is laudable to want to bring the love of Jesus Christ and the message of acceptance to as broad an audience as possible. It is difficult to stand on truth as best you understand it and still communicate a passionate, caring, sacrificial love to those to whom you are speaking truth. And all the while confessing that you don't really have it all figured out so you're open to engaging in dialogue that is respectful, mature and reasoned, though at times contentious. But it is an affront to God as his followers to sit mute in the midst of a culture that desperately needs what he has...or worse actively endorse sinful behavior...for fear of alienating or offending sinners. We as followers of Jesus are not called to either silence or capitulation.
So I will write. As a follower of Jesus who's still figuring this all out but with very strongly held beliefs I will write. On topics that may make you uncomfortable and opinions that may stir strong emotions. Because I cannot be double-minded any longer. And my prophetic urges will not allow me to sit silent. Like Jeremiah, what I have to say is like a burning in my bones and the pain of not speaking is intolerable. I will share my thoughts here and invite you, dear reader, to come join the conversation.