Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Conversation Among "Christians" in USA


There was a get together at a nice home in suburban America. It was some people that called themselves “Christian”. A serious conversation started about life. They talked about people that where there and people that weren’t. They couldn’t find anyone that was truly content with their life. There was always one complaint or another about their lives. No one could say they were truly happy or were living the truly Christian life as described in the bible. All confessed they were living more worldly lives. Their concerns were more for themselves and their families then for their neighbors or God’s perfect will.

There was a consensus and all blamed themselves for living a compromised faith which is when they got down to it, an ungodly life. “Then why do we live like this?” exclaimed a youth. “Why do we continue to do what we know to be wrong? Don’t we have the power to change the way we live? We readily admit that we are consumed in the luxuries of this life and are self-indulgent. We preoccupy our time with television, movies, music, internet, fashions and the things we call the toys of life like boats, cars, electronic devices. With things like vacation spots, fast food or dining out, collecting book upon book. We are preoccupied with our wealth, real estate or retirement funds. With the praise and recognition we get from one another. And above all we pride ourselves on how much we are not like certain other people. To obtain these things we have to surrender all that gives a person true joy. We live our suburban lives or the American dream and become soft, ruin our health and despite our chasing after every form of amusement that comes our way or we here about, we still are bored. We chant God bless America but all the while we regret our life is not how we know it should be. 

“So why do we live like this? Why do we ruin our lives and all the good that God gives us? I don’t want to live like this anymore! I will drop out of college. My learning to live like you will do nothing but bring me a plagued life. The same life we are all complaining about and not content with now. I will give up all the material things and go and live with the poor and despised people of this world. I will come along side them and work with them. I will learn to work hard with my hands and whatever education I do have, if it can help the poor, I will share it with them. I won’t do it through institutions or books but in direct contact, living life with them in a brotherly way.

“YES! I have made up my mind,” he stated, turning an eye towards his father, who was standing there.
“Your new found passion is a worthy one,” said his father, “but you really haven’t thought things through. It seems easy enough to you because you really haven’t lived life yet. There are a lot of things that seem wonderful, but actually doing those wonderful things is very complicated and hard. It’s difficult enough to walk down a well-worn path but it is even more difficult to start a new path. New paths are started by people who are very mature and completely accomplished in all that a person can be accomplished in. In your imagination making a new path seems easy but that’s only because you lack understanding of what life is all about. The outcome for you will be but thoughtlessness and youthful pride. It is the mature people around you that will help moderate your hastiness and lead you by our example. Your whole life lies before you. You still need to grow and develop. Complete your college education, become thoroughly acquainted with things, establish yourself, have solid rules to govern yourself by, after all of that and you feel that you still need to start a new life, a new path, you will then have the strength to do it. 

“You are right,” said a middle-aged married man, turning to the youth’s father. “It is true that the boy, doesn’t have the experience of life, may stumble and fall when looking for the new paths of life. His decisions will not be on a solid foundation. On the other hand we all agree that our life is opposite in nature to our conscience. This does not give us happiness. We cannot overlook the rightness of wishing to be freed from it.

“The boy might mistake his idealism for a reasonable deduction, but me, I am not young anymore, for myself, as I was listening to the conversations that were going on this evening, the very same thoughts came to me. It is quite clear to me that the life I now live, if I continue doing the same thing, will not give me peace of mind or happiness. My own experience and reasoning shows this to me. So what am I waiting for? We are constantly struggling morning and night for our families, but it turns out that we and our families are still living that compromised life. One compromise leads to another compromise and we are trapped in our sins. We work for our families, but our families are truly no better off, because we are avoiding doing the right thing with them, truly leading them in the ways of the teachings of Christ. I always think that it would be better if I completely changed my whole way of living and did exactly what the young man wants to do. Completely stop being consumed with my wife and children and turn my attention to my soul. It was for good reason that Paul says, “the married man is concerned about the affairs of this world-how we can please his wife-but the man that is unmarried cares about how he may please the Lord.”

But before he could finish what he was saying his wife and all the women there began to attack him.
“He should’ve thought about things like that before,” said an older woman. “You have made your bed you must now lay in it. If they could be as you say, everyone would wish they could go off and save their soul when it seems difficult to them to support and take care of their family. What you are saying is a lie and cowardly. No! A person should be able to live a godly life with their family. There’s no doubt about it, it would be easier to save your own soul, all by yourself. But if you pursue that path it would go against the teachings of Christ. God told us to love others; but doing it the way you suggest would be offensive to others. No! A married man has definite responsibilities and he cannot wriggle out of them. It’s completely different when your family has already established themselves. But no one has a right to force his family.”

But the man she was speaking to did not agree. “I’m not interested in abandoning my family,” he said. “All I was saying is that my family should not be brought up in the ways of the world, in this materialistic way that has consumed us. They should not be brought up to live for their own pleasure. Always seeking to gratify their leisure’s. The very things that we’ve been talking about. They should be brought up from the very beginning to get used to living with the lack of the usual comforts or necessaries of life. They should learn a good work ethic, to serve others, and above all to live a brotherly life with all people. It is for that we have to give up are chasing after wealth and distinctions.” 

“Why do you want to upset others because you don’t live a godly life,” said his wife with an irritation in her voice. “You lived to gratify your own pleasures when you were young, now why do you want to torture your children and your family? Let them grow up without all this commotion, and then later let them do what they want without you pushing them!”

Her husband said nothing, but an older man, who was listening to this conversation spoke up for him.
“We have to admit,” he said, “that a married man, that has gotten his family used to a certain comfort level, cannot all of a sudden tear them away from it. It is true that the education of your children is better to be finished than to break it up. Because then the children, when they grow up will be able to choose and consider the path that is best for themselves. It is hard for a family man and even may be impossible to change his way of life without sinning. On the other hand though for us older people it is what God commands. Now for myself: I’m living without any responsibilities, and to be completely honest it seems like I’m just living to satisfy my hunger. I eat, drink, sleep, and I’m getting disgusted with myself. I think it’s time for me to give up this life we been talking about, to give away my wealth and property, and at least before I die to live the few years left I have as God wants, an uncompromising Christian life.”

But the others in the room did not agree with the older man. His niece and grandchildren were there, and all the children he helped out financially and gave presents to on holidays. His son was there to. They protested.
“No,” said the son, “you put in the work for your life, and it’s time that you relax and enjoy yourself. You shouldn’t trouble yourself about things like this. You’re ready over 60. You have developed certain ways of living that must not change. You would only make things more difficult for yourself and it would be all in vain.”
“Yes this is true,” said the niece. “He would be poor. You have become accustomed to certain things you’re used to and you’d become confused, then begin to grumble and sin more and more. God is a merciful God and will forgive all sinners-especially kind old uncles like you!”

“Yes, why should you?” said another man of the same age as him. “You and I have a few more days to live on this earth, so why should we start a new path?”

“What an odd thing!” exclaimed a visitor who had been silent this whole time. “What a very odd thing! You all say that it would be a wonderful thing to live as God wants us to live, an uncompromising Christian life. You say you’re all living a compromised Christian life now and you suffer in your body and your soul, but as soon as you begin to talk about practicing the way you know you should live, all of a sudden the children must not be upset. They can’t be brought up in the ways of Christ now but must continue in the American way of life. A married man must not disturb his wife and children and must continue to pursue the American way of life. Then for the older person there is no need to begin anything: they’re too set in their ways and they only have a few days left to live on this earth. So it’s plain to see that no one may live in uncompromising godly life: the only thing we can do is talk about.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Parable of the Emerging

How can you tell the difference between someone who loves you and someone who pretends to love you?

Suppose there were some people on a large raft heading down a wide river. The water is calm, the flow is easy and the weather is nice. It is a large square wooden raft made of planks. And on this raft there are people sitting on couches. There's a large TV and satellite dish. Some are painting, others and plugged into their cell phones. There are a couple wash tubs filled with ice cold beer. There's a table with pizza on it. They are engaging in conversation about God and what he is like. They’re watching TV and playing video games and texting and talking on their cell phones. Every once in a while another raft comes alongside theirs. Not as nice as theirs, even a little beat up. The person or people on the other raft have no food or drink. So the people on the larger raft give them some pizza and some beer, some planks, nails and hammer, even an oar and send them on their way. They feel good about themselves. Sometimes a raft like this comes by and they do nothing. So they continue on their journey down the river having their conversations. But they do not realize that not too distant down the river is a 200 foot waterfall.
On the left bank of the river there are people speaking to them. These voices are telling them that all is well. That they're asking the right questions. That they can re-imagine anything they want. They are adding to the conversation of life. That God has blessed them on this journey of life. And if they continue to do what they are doing God will write a wonderful story for them.
On the right bank of the river there are people speaking to them. These voices are telling them that not all is well. That if they don't steer their raft to the right side of the river bank before it's too late they will plunge to their death. That God's blessing is to rescue them from their present journey of life. And if they continue to do what they are doing they will miss the wonderful story that God wants to write for them.
But the people on the left bank of the river are telling the people on the larger raft to ignore the waterfall. That it isn't real. That death does not await you at the bottom of the waterfall. The people on the raft shouted back to the people on the right bank, “That’s your truth not ours.”
But the people on the right bank of the river are telling them that death does await them unless they change their course immediately.
So here's the question. Which people are showing true love? The people on the right bank or the people on the left bank? Who's telling the truth and who's telling the lies? Who's truly loving the people on the raft and who is pretending to love the people on the raft?

We All Have Unclean Hands

Jesus said to them,  “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the ...