Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Wonderfully Refreshing & Encouraging Read

The following are the concluding words of Sara Miles' book Jesus Freak. These words serve as a helpful synopsis of the book and a gracious reminder for me to make my faith practical and not simply theoretical. Enjoy:
A few months after Laura's funeral, I went to the camping goods store to buy some sunscreen and after about fifteen minutes I left with one of those headaches I only get in the presence of too much consumer choice. On the first floor alone there were hundreds of different kinds of backpacks made of super-space-age bulletproof fabric with special zippers and pouches and solar water purifiers and GPS devices and headlights. I remembered how, when I was a kid, going camping meant we took a blanket to sleep in, and my dad maybe packed some marshmallows.

There seems to be an idea in the contemporary church that following Jesus requires a similar kind of outfitting and preparation. Apparently, Christians can't feed people without a permit from the state, a certificate from the church insurance fund, and a resolution at a denominational convention. You can't teach without audiovisual aids and rooms full of approved Christian gear. You can't touch sick people without 125 hours of supervised clinical instruction and latex gloves. You can't proclaim repentance unless you've been to seminary--and even then it's a bit dicey. And God forbid you should claim authority to act in Jesus' name without a feasibility study, a mission statement, a capital outlay of $10,000, and at least six months of committee meetings.

But ordinary people still hope, suspect, and believe they can be Jesus.

The formulas of religion may be so over familiar that many believers have a hard time acting as if this most surprising narrative is true. They may doubt themselves, and not understand why Jesus trusts us to do his work. They may be sick to death of the institution, tired of propping up a dysfunctional church, and trying to coast by without caring too much. They may, like me, be anxious because there's no way to be Jesus on your own private terms: you have to jump in and do it alongside your Boyfriend's (Jesus) other lovers.

But Jesus is real, and so, praise God, are we. Every single thing the resurrected Jesus does on earth he does through our bodies. You're fed, you're healed, you're forgiven, you're pronounced clean. You're loved, and you're raised from the dead.

Go and do likewise.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Boring Certainty vs. The Adventurous Unknown

To risk is frightening. To wonder and dream is freaky. To go out on a limb takes total commitment. And most of us aren't willing to go that far. Following Jesus asks everything of us, while religion often merely pacifies us into routine. Following Jesus might get us killed, while religion might even help us get elected into office. Oh that we would all be willing to take the grand risk that comes with following Christ, daring to move past the routine of religious duty into the radical freedom that Jesus offers us and others as we willingly (or even unwillingly) take up our cross and follow.

"...As Jesus teaches, it's easy to be threatened by the reality of the complicated, messy, syncretic, God-bearing truth that becomes incarnate among us and makes things new. We'd rather have a dead religion than a living God."
- Sara Miles, Jesus Freak

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Few More Days & I'm Done

After quickly glancing at my latest blog post, I am realizing that this will now be 2 straight posts where I am informing you as to my insane amount of writing I have to do before an impending deadline. By Tuesday I need to have another 5500 words written for my class on the book of Romans. Once this one major research paper and 3 small reflection papers are written I will officially be finished with my second year of seminary.

Mandy and I are leaving for our cabin in Glacier National Park next Wednesday, where we will be hanging out with both of our families for a week of needed vacation. I can't wait to relax all week, do some hiking and rafting, lay in the hammock, and sit by the campfire. Sounds like heaven. But for now...back to writing.