Community, Transformation, and Transcendence, v.0.2

November 13, 2008 at 10:21 pm (change, Introspection, Musings, Social Networking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Not only can it be a difficult balancing act to find one’s place between two hard places,  but sometimes the more difficult process is to ascribe to holistic intergrity.  I define itegrity as being one in personal values and public words and actions.  It is relatively easy to have beliefs that are true to oneself, but it get’s much more difficult translating those into actions that are in alignment to those beliefs.

I remember the first time I drank beer.  I was 15 years old and on a scouting campout.  Several, including our troop leader, had brought beer on the trip.  I had tasted beer in the past and had not liked it.  As the evening progressed, I continued turning down the offers of a beer.  There was a cute girl who I had my eye on; she asked me: “Aren’t you going to have a beer?”

“No.  I don’t really like the taste.”

This was the truth.  It was a moral issue.  It wasn’t that I was afraid of getting into trouble.  I just didn’t want one.

A couple of hours later this same girl came over and asked me why I was drinking a beer now.  “I thought you weren’t going to have one?” She asked.

I was stunned.  I was caught flat footed.  I didn’t know what to say.  She didn’t know that for every awful sip I took, I poured about a quarter of the can onto the ground.  She didn’t give me slack for bowing to peer pressure either.  That was the last time she and I had a significant “conversation.”  I’ll never forget her look of disgust at my lack of integrity.

I wouldn’t ascribe to be a follower of Jesus if I didn’t believe in what he taught and the work He came to accomplish on this planet.  To me, it isn’t enough to “play” church.  I need to be a fully developed follower.  I believe that one of the greatest causes of atheism today is the total lack of integrity within the Church.

The reason I bring up this topic is two-fold.  I’ve found that if I even mention that I’m a Christian, many people will write me off as a religious zealot.  The conversation stops.  It isn’t safe for me to ascribe, publically, to my Kingdom values.  On the otherhand, if I talk about my friendships outside of the church club, I am often labeled a heretic, immoral, and unsafe.  “Why would I want to hang with the unchurched, unless I was partaking of their immoraliity?” Or so the argument goes.

The reality is, I am a very devoted follower of Jesus, I am loyal to the church, but I refuse to abandon my conversation with the rest of the World.  Jesus didn’t call us to erect walls and build a fortress against the elements of the world.  To the contrary, He called us to be “salt” and “light” in the world.  Specifically He said, “Be in the world, but not of it.”

Maybe that’s why so many so-called Christians have difficulty being a part of the world?  Maybe they can’t be in the world without being of the world?  Maybe they fear their own weakness towards the slipper slope of indiscretion?  Maybe they don’t know how to maintain personal integrity?

On the other hand, I believe the unchurched are afraid of the churched because of the blatant proselytizing.  And the real problem with these so-called efforts at evangelism is the self-centered approach.  Much of the evangelism doesn’t seem focused on improving the lives of others through a more powerful relationship with Jesus.  Instead, it appears to come from a need to grow the church, affirm our beliefs, or to control others.

If the church would take a more selfless approach to revealing the character of God, I believe we would be less threatening to the unchurched.  What if we, as churched people, just offered unconditional love – much like Jesus did?  No strings attached.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  There are deep connotations to this.

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