Posts tagged ‘church’

September 21, 2015

Are we arrogant and judgmental? Do we subtly (or overtly) teach our children to suspect anyone ‘other’? Do we put mainly defensive spiritual tools in our kids’ hands, fostering an ‘against them’ rather than ‘for them’ posture? Do we emphasize behavior over character? Because good behavior won’t guarantee anything. If they don’t love Jesus and people, it matters zero if they remain virgins and don’t say the F-word. We must shepherd their hearts, not just their hemlines.

Jesus operates beyond the tidy boundaries of good behavior. Rather than simply enforce His rules, we should show our kids His kingdom. That’s where they’ll discover a Savior to fall in love with. Out where life is messy and relationships are complicated. Where the poor struggle and grace is a lifeline. If we want to raise disciples, we’d better take them to where Jesus is working, because they’ll discover His appeal more quickly in the field than in sanitized church classrooms or on behavior charts.

– Jen Hatmaker, For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards, 89-90.

A good word, not just for parents and other adults who care for young people, but also for all who want to be disciples ourselves.

Notice the “this and more” language – it’s not that morality doesn’t matter; it’s that it’s insufficient. “Being good” sucks as a motive, and is tantamount to viewing our behavior as a source of justifying righteousness. Y’all. If we rely on our righteousness for our identity or salvation, we are sunk, even if we’re “nice people.” Being good is also insufficient as a way of life. It’s not that we shouldn’t be good, but love is so much bigger than “behaving,” and it is a life of love we are called to as believers, not a life of moralism. I’m thinking of 1 Corinthians 13 and how useless all sorts of good things (even really flashy spiritual gifts) are if their possessor lacks love. These things are deeply connected. In John’s first letter, he writes a great deal about love,* paying special attention to the love of one’s neighbor. Then, at the end of his letter, he writes, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” So in case we were thinking, “Cool – love God and love people, and all that law stuff takes a back seat,” we are headed off at the pass. Love and obedience. Love by obedience.

Let’s stir up love in our hearts and pursue righteousness by chasing Jesus Christ, the Righteous, Whose Name is Love.

* He also writes a lot about sin and lawlessness. That 1 John 5 passage is hardly the first time the righteous living issue comes up in the letter.

May 28, 2014

It appears that God has deliberately left us in a quandary about many things. Why did He not summarize all the rules in one book, and all the basic doctrines in another? He could have eliminated the loopholes, prevented all the schisms over morality and false teaching that have plagued His Church for two thousand years. Think of the squabbling and perplexity we would have been spared. And think of the crop of dwarfs He would have reared!

Elisabeth Elliot in The Liberty of Obedience

July 25, 2013

HB2 Has Passed, but Our Work, Pro-Lifers, Is Just Beginning

Well, pro-life friends, we got our heart’s desire. We saw HB2 passed and then signed into law in Texas – a victory many of us have fought and prayed and spent ourselves relentlessly to win. I know some of you pro-choicers won’t believe me when I say this, but we are totally jazzed about the protections that bill affords patients seeking abortions. 

It would be easy for us to fall into the early-Christmas-afternoon-slumber now. I bet you know what I’m talking about, even if you aren’t a Christmas celebrant: we’ve all opened our gifts and oohed and ahed and said “thank you” about 40 times per gift, and we’ve all eaten, and now… we just kind of get bored and sleepy. If you walk around the house around 2 pm, you will find almost every adult passed out cold. (Who knew watching tiny hands and faces rip wrapping paper could be so exhausting!) Even the kiddos are often quietly playing or reading. It’s kind of a contented malaise. 

We cannot afford a contented malaise, y’all. There are women in all kinds of situations who need us, and now will be looking somewhere other than Planned Parenthood if they are over 20 weeks in their pregnancies. 

Now more than ever we need to step up our hospitality, humility, and kindness. Now more than ever we need to seek out women who are in very hard circumstances, who are, as The Source for Women CEO Cynthia Wenz says, “abortion-vulnerable.” 

It is not enough for us to have legislation that protects fetuses after 20 weeks. It is not enough for us to make sure women who do get abortions are given excellent care and halt any more Kermit Gosnells out there in Texas. We’ve got to be present to women in trouble. We’ve got to walk with a woman through a pregnancy and birth.  We’ve got to bring her meals when she comes home from the hospital. We’ve got to be her friends through thick and thin. We very well may have to be the village that it takes to raise a child. Being a single parent is hard work, whether you do it for 9 months before you place your baby with another family or for most of your life. We know this. Now that knowledge needs to put us to work.

So many of us pro-lifers are conservative, evangelical Christians that people – understandably! – get whiplash trying to figure us out. “So, they want people to stop getting abortions, but they get all high and mighty when a single woman turns up pregnant. How hypocritical! How absurd!” 

I would love to see the number of babies born to unwed mothers go down, but NOT at the expense of a single fetal life. I would much rather see that birthrate skyrocket. 

Y’all, we have to think beyond sexual sin so fast when we are dealing with people. Jesus does. Jesus sees hurting, broken, rebellious hearts. But since when does Jesus wait for us to get our wicked, sorrowful messes under control before He comes to us? How dare we demand that of other sinners before we will help them! In fact, one of God’s favorite tools on earth is His people. How can we be useful to Him if we are not near enough to help on the “front lines” – the messes?

I’m not saying that the commands about chastity are not a big deal. Believe me, it’s one of my favorite topics. (Thanks, Lauren Winner.) But I am saying that forgiveness and love and compassion don’t hold ANY sin over someone’s head. So when you say to an unwed mother, “I just don’t understand how you could slip up like that,” you are treating this woman, this daughter of Eve, with arrogance and contempt. You are throwing the Law at her. But you, friend, would die if the Lord threw the Law at you, just like she would. Extend the kind of grace to her that you so desperately need yourself.

Wake up, Church. Women in all kinds of unplanned pregnancies need us. We cannot be asleep on the job.