Saturday, March 12, 2005

Winter has returned

I'm going to guess that we are just skipping spring and heading right into our two months of summer, then back to winter again. Yesterday Sarah and I figured, conservatively, that we have 6 months of winter in Michigan (November-April) but that doesn't figure that October can get ugly and it's not foreign to get snow in May. Anyway, I was just trying to be an encourager for all those outside of Michigan, and I guess ranting being someone that calls Michigan home.

Moving on to better things, the week was good and educational. I have been reading the book, 'the lost message of Jesus,'(link in the library to your left) and it has taught me so much about the scriptures and the original context in which they were written. It's the kind of read I have been looking for and it has opened up a whole new thinking and approach to reading the Bible for me. It makes a world of difference to "listen" to the scriptures through the ears of those it was first written and spoken to. Steve Chalke & Alan Mann (authors) walk through a number of the scriptures and unpack them within the context of laws, culture, and society in that time. I literally have laughed, wept, and sat in silence as I have read what is really said and what we've, at times, done to the scriptures. More than anything it helps explain what made Jesus' words and stories so revolutionary and why it tossed everyone into a frenzy and why people were so enthralled with His message. I think Dallas Willard said it best, "I've spent my life trying to get people to come and hear me, but when I look at Jesus his problem was getting away from people!" In chapter 5 I was left silent and challenged to the core of my being, by a conversation Steve Chalke had with a friend of his: A friend once asked me, "If Jesus was half the revolutionary you claim, how come he is now represented by one of the most conservative, staus-quo institutions on the planet?" I reminded him of the history of the Church and the radical ways it has helped to shape society on a global scale over the last two millenia. Though the popular perception may be that it has been a force for bad, more often than not, it has been a huge power for good. "Even today," I explained, "in many parts of the world the Church is dynamic, bold, engaged and prophetic." My friend pondered my defence for a moment, sighed thoughtfully and then wryly replied, with a smile that acknowledged the truth of my statement, "Well, there must be two kinds of Christianity, and somehow we've got stuck with the tame version." That is the introduction to the chapter, and the rest of it is so full of challenging thoughts and insight. I leave with a statement that is piercing to the subculture that is all to prevelent in Christian circles today. American theologian Walter Wink puts it, "Holiness [not sin] becomes contagious in Jesus' ministry." With that Steve writes, "Jesus demonstrates that, far from being something brittle that needs to be protected, true holiness is God's robust cleansing and including agent. Instead of Jesus' holiness driving him into isolation, it compels him to get out on the streets and into the homes of the ordinary people considered by the religious elite to be outcasts and "sinners". And it is this action that transforms their lives." Here's to a new understanding and a growing passion for what it means to be a follower of Christ being redeemed in our world!

Wallace D.

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