Preface #1 (Sept 05)
This post could get real confusing, real fast. Mostly because this preface is actually the first of two prefaces. The second preface was the original preface when this first found its way into print about 3 years ago. Hopefully the bold faced subtitles will keep things in order. If not, just ignore this whole event.
Preface #2 (Oct 02)
I am convinced of two things.
One, I will fail miserably. I will say what I don't want to say. I will do things that horrify me. I will act like the asshole that I am.
I will open my mouth when nothing needs to be said, and I will remain silent when words are absolutely necessary. I will try to follow the plans God has for me, but end up destroying his amazing designs with marvelous beauty and attention to the smallest of details.
I will ruin it all. And the harder I try not to, the harder I will fall.
Two, God will not fail me. No matter how ruinous and utterly non-sensical I make his plans, He will not give up.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will pick me up every time, bandage my wounds, dust me off, and point me in the right direction. All the while with a smile on his lips as leans in and whispers in my ear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
And it's all I can do not to break down and quit the game every time I fall. Because I don't deserve the second chance. Or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth one either.
Last year, I thought about what success meant as far as the Great Commission was concerned. Are we as the Body of Jesus Christ winning or losing? How do you even quantify such a question? I also thought a lot about what it meant to be an evangelical Christian. What are the "boundaries" of evangelicalism? One day, during class with Luke Fetters, I started scribbling on my handout. Let me warn you first -- I was angry. Angry at Christians for not taking evangelism seriously. Angry at myself for not taking Christ's commission seriously. And this is what I came up with:
The Actual Body Proper (May 02)
We have failed.
We are forming and molding young minds to be a step above lukewarm lights to a nation that has heard the Gospel once, twice, thrice and again. A Gospel of Jerry Falwell bigotry, Binny Hinn 17-bedroom prosperity theology, Pat Robertson cozy up to Communist China, James Dobson right wing political fury.
While we preach a "Christ-less" Gospel to our own native tribe, letting out lights shine on dimmed battery, half-assed evangelical in-fighting, other tribes are dying. Dying to hear of a king who would die rather than rule. A king who serves. A king who weeps for his people.
We have failed.
We no longer understand what the Gospel of Christ is or the power of the grace which undergirds His story. Our Intro to Religion classes barely scratch the surface of the width and depth and breadth of the grace of Jehovah Jireh.
Our professors have known and experienced what the power of Christ can do -- what the call of Christ entails. But they can't be too honest about it because he might alienate the young saints of their class. They can't help us understand our faith because our churches have failed to teach us the reality of very God we claim as Sovereign Lord.
To be sovereign means to have control. But we live like we despise God's mighty hand over our lives, if we even recognize his right to our lives at all. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. But we can't seem to give up the physical things that bring us comfort. Not that, Lord. No, not that.
Is he Lord? Do we recognize his right as our Creator to own us if he so wills? No. We chafe at the thought because we are independent to the very selfish my-welfare-is-the-only-fare part of our Western, junkfood, instantaneous gratification core.
We might as well tell Christ to fuck off, because we're already flipping Him the finger with the way we live our lives.
We have failed.
Go ye into all the world.
This isn't a specific calling to specific individuals. It is a command to the body of Christ. God is going to call you to an area on this earth of his where the Gospel must be preached. It might be to North America. It might be to China. It might be to Kenya. It might be to Katmandu. If you don't feel called to a certain geography, a certain culture, or a certain field of work, get down on your stiff-knecked knees and pray for soft eyes and a weeping heart.
I have failed.
My lackluster Christianity has impacted not as nearly many people as I have been given the opportunity to impact for the kingdom of Christ. And even if that is false modesty and pride disguised as humility, it is still a colossal failure.
I am called to be a raging light to a lost and dying world. I am called to shine like the stars. Failure cannot be an option with the kingdom of God on the line.
Christ is seen in the midst of the gathered community. How well do you think Christ can be seen today?
Postscript #1 (Oct 02)
And that's what I wrote. And I know that somewhere I actually believe it. But not enough. Not nearly enough.
Yet all the while, he wipes away my tears, bends down to scoop me up, and whispers into my ear, "Well done, though good and faithful servant."
And I just don't deserve it. But I have to respond. That's all my actions are -- a pathetic yet earnest response to the grace he's shown me and the faith he's instilled in my heart.
Postscript #2 (Sep 05)
That life seems so far away these days. Work and bills and politics and theology seem to envelop the passion I used to have for telling people about the radical philosophy of the man/God called Jesus. Will I get back there? Who knows. But I do know this. He still wipes my tears, and he still scoops me up, and he still whispers sweet somethings into my ear.
And I still don't deserve it.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Preface #1 (Sept 05)
Posted by jonny at 11:25 PM