Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Way? No. . . His Way

Living here in the Mojave Desert, I find a lot of people escaping.  Escaping from what?  An ex-spouse, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, another relative, big city life in Los Angeles, you name it.  They end up here, where I live.  I see them all the time in my daily errands and such. 

Since people need to buy food and drink, whether of the supermarket variety or restaurant kind, you're bound to rub shoulders with them.  So I do.  One such person was in line for a sandwich and drink on a hot Summer day recently, kid in tow.  I, having my Bonhoeffer book in my hand - I am working to complete more chapters as time goes on, as you may know from my previous post - strike up a conversation.  Kinda like a pre-evangelism conversation, springing from my Bonhoeffer book's cover photo.  I forget what I mentioned to her now, but I do remember her response: "I'm not here for anything heavy.  I'm just here to eat!"

Well. . . not that I was being too forward or anything. . . at least I don't think so.  Just a different kind of person that you find here versus other parts of Southern California. . . like the kind that has major four year universities, for starters.  Anyways, probably yet another instance of narcissism restaurant style. 

Another woman, with their mother, was in a discount store in line for the cashier ready to have their purchases rung up.  She saw me come to the back of her, and asked me, "would you like to come in front of me?"  Hey. . . that's my line I say to people, especially people in a hurry.  I, with few items and in no particular hurry, decline the gracious offer.  Then I asked her if she might know a certain person whose first name starts with "J" and ends with "s."  She says yes.  I smile, and ask her, "so, where do you go to worship each week?"  Right in front of her mother, she replies, "We don't go anywhere.  Churches are too judgmental around here, you know."  I wince at that statement.  I counter with a statement of where I attend and am a member, Grace Chapel (listed as one of the links in "Links for the Journey" to the right of this page).  "We aren't one of those judgmental churches," I reply.  "In fact, we place a particular emphasis on Loving God and Loving People" (the church's motto).  I make the invite to come and check it out, and - Ack! - didn't have any business cards with me at the moment.  My bad.  I tell her anyway.  She smiles and says she will come.  One never knows, of course.   

There's a common thread here, of course.  Doing things my way.  Cafeteria style disengagement and faith a la carte.  Picking and choosing what you believe and how you live as though you were in total control and in charge.  Not heeding and respecting what the Word of God says on such matters.  Heck, probably not even knowing what the Bible says, period!

For those who don't know the lyrics to the song My Way, popularized by the late Frank Sinatra, I give you this link: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/f/frank+sinatra/my+way_20056378.html

Lots of bravado in those lyrics to be sure, laced with liberal doses of humanism. 

*  *  * 

God has an entirely different perspective on the issue of "how you do it."  It's radically different. From Philippians 2 (NASB):

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any [a] affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing [c]from [d] selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, 7 but [g] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [h]on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Being of the same mind. . . love, united in spirit, intent of one purpose.  That describes the North American and Western culture to a tee, right?  Nope.  That's one of our problems. . . this constant, unremitting rebellion seemingly for the sake of rebellion.  Why. . . no one seems to know.  I smell deception from the Prince of the Power of the Air. . . 'nuff said!

Much more could be said about the above passage, but I'm focusing here a bit.  Pardon me. . .

From Hebrews 10 (NASB):

, 22 let us draw near with a [h]sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Let us draw near. . . having our hearts. . . our bodies. . .

Let us hold fast. . . the confession of our hope. . . and let us consider. . . one another. . . not forsaking our own assembling together. . . but encouraging one another; as *you* see the day drawing near.

That's six uses of us, our and one another.  Only one form of the first person singular, you, in the entire passage.  That speaks volumes to me, my friend!

Not only is ministry a team sport, but so is Christian community and worship.  Worship is to be done corporately, together as Christ's body assembled, as the writer of Hebrews instructs above. 

Countercultural, to be sure.  Radical, even.  But that's what following Jesus and being on the Pilgrim Journey is all about.  Leaving the City of Destruction and traveling by God's grace to the Celestial City, where all this discordant nonsense will never abide and will be forgotten in the midst of celebrating at His banqueting table, where those this world thought nothing of, Jesus thought everything of. . . to the point of obediently dying for them on a Cross.


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