But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practicesand have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:8-10
Another week and lots of new opportunities to see social media lit up with examples of Christians behaving badly, saying hateful things…about other Christians. You know what’s sad? This blog post can stay up for years and that opening sentence will still be perfectly timely and relevant. Oh, how we make embarrassing choices over and over again. And social media seems perfectly designed to help us shine the brightest of lights on those embarrassing choices. Is it just me, or has social media become the newest highway for our road rage? The temptation to make embarrassing choices is just too great for many of us.
Embarrassing Fashion Choices
I’ve lost track of how many reality TV shows there are about fashion makeovers. Well, that’s not true. I’m certain I never did have any handle on that count. But you know the formula for them: some unsuspecting soul is suddenly put into what amounts to a fashion intervention by well-meaning friends or family. The fashion “experts” come in and go through the person’s closet and ridicule them for all the horrible fashions represented there. A miraculous transformation ensues, and that person is a new person as a result. May it never happen to you or to me.
But the truth is, we all have worn things in the past which we would be thoroughly embarrassed to wear today (e.g., take a look at the wedding pictures of anyone married in the 70s or 80s). …
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life… Psalm 27:1-4
Honestly, it does not matter to me whether or not the current administration intended to bring about what I see as a positive thing happening on the issue of immigration. To me, what they intended is far less important than the fact: suddenly, a much larger percentage of Christians and churches have been mobilized to the borders with the most important message of hope any immigrant will ever hear. I say “suddenly”, because it is shameful how blind many of us have been to those issues at least throughout the course of my 58 years…probably more than that. So, seeing such large groups now mobilized toward a more compassionate response to the huge struggles of the immigrant is, in my mind, quite the silver lining to an otherwise startlingly dark cloud.
One of the important people in my own life is an immigrant. Tanzila (Tania) Kaiumova is very much like a third daughter to me and my wife. Tania currently lives with us. A few years ago, she and her single mom walked away from their home and most of their belongings in war-torn eastern Ukraine, not knowing if they would ever be able to return. They have still not returned. …
In The Gathering, we are going through the gospel of John. It has been a wonderful study for us! I still feel convicted when I really study Christ’s “missional” ways and his passion for people…ALL people. It is just not possible to really come to an understanding of the Biblical Jesus without feeling moved toward people in need.
But even as we read convicting passages from God’s Word, many in my church will be thinking to themselves, “Our church needs to be about feeding hungry people and helping the homeless in our community…our church needs to continue clothing them and providing other help for them…this is something our church needs to do.” And those are good thoughts, but they are indicative of the institutional mindset which is keeping many of us from ever reaching our true Christian potential as individuals.
You see, there is more to the missional mindset than just becoming a missional institution. The missional lifestyle is a lifestyle for each of us as individual Christians, whether or not our particular church is ever seen by its community as being missional. The attitude at my own church provides a great example. Not that long ago, my church was literally blazing trails in the area of social ministries. We owned and operated a restaurant run almost entirely by volunteers, the profits from which went to feed people in our near-by soup kitchen. We provided leadership in some of our community’s homeless shelters and clothes closets. We had a strong presence in several of our city’s project housing complexes. We provided Christmas meals to between 400 and 500 impoverished families each year. In this area of social ministries, our institution was a well-run machine.
So, over the last 30 years, each of us as church …