Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Church signs and an upcoming zipper-mouth moment

Church Signs

In the previous post I mentioned this church sign I saw while driving through Western Arkansas a few days ago:

"God does not lower his standards to accomodate man's sins"

There are at least two possible ways to interpret this, I guess. Instead of jumping to conclusions about what the church really meant with their sign, I'll explore both interpretations:

1) Maybe they meant that God's standard is perfection, and we all fall short. Therefore, we all need grace. Since this was a Baptist church, perhaps they were trying to spark thoughts of Jesus as the vehicle for us to be seen as perfect by God.

2) Maybe they meant that God is looking at "sinners" disapprovingly, knowing that they are surely lost because they aren't living up to His divine standards. To this possible message, I have some questions:

-- Didn't God create us as fallible? So didn't he know that everyone will constantly fall short of a perfect standard? Why then would he look so disapprovingly upon people for being exactly as imperfect as He made them?

-- Does Jesus project the image that God sits proudly on His perfect standards, with no accomodation? Or did Jesus draw near to everyone, especially those looked on as the least likely to live up to standards of righteousness (foreigners, unbelievers, prostitutes, etc...)? What might this behavior of Jesus teach us about how God sees us?

-- If I assume that even Jesus or even godly grace has its limits, and we still have to be pure... can anyone show me a single person who has lived up to this standard? I sure can't find anybody in the bible who pulled it off.

I find it very sad that some people think God is so ashamed of them. I find it frustrating that some people think God is ashamed of everybody else except their group of the "in" club.

Zipper-Mouth Moment

This weekend members of our church are hosting a July 4th party, and they've set aside an hour for a "political discussion", where they will share their concerns about the direction of our nation, and some tips for how we can get involved in the political process.

I will most definitely have to keep my mouth shut, and keep from making too many assumptions about what they will say.

For now, here are a few nuggets bouncing around in my brain:

-- For a church that prides itself on being based solely on the New Testament text and the 1st Century church, I find it odd that the church is so politically passionate. This type of activism is almost completely absent from Jesus' teachings, his example, and the behavior of the early church.

-- I continue hearing from Christians how concerned they are that America will become "socialist". I find this odd as well, since theoretically socialism is probably more Christian than capitalism is. Welfare, social programs, redistribution of wealth... sounds like the 1st Century church. My guess is that Protestants today see the gospel as the epitome of individualization and free will -- in other words, we each take control of our own salvation and eternal destiny. This spiritual mentality of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps fits in very well with the fiscal mentality of free markets.

It makes me wonder... would Jesus fight a trend to socialism?


Roland said...

"God does not lower his standards to accommodate man's sins"

I took this to mean that God's not going to let the best in, just because they are the top x percent, for instance.

God sets a standard for all of us, and we have to meet it or not pass go.

I think he's hoping that we all collect the $200, by the way,

Speaking of $200, I think I have something monopoly, Christian, and socialism related, but I'm too hungry to think. Hasta!

Don said...

I knew both of us have studied quite a bit about the 1st century ecclesia. Most Christians today really have no picture of what it meant to be a follower of "The Way", and would be shocked to learn the particulars. Good post!

Redlefty said...

Thanks, Roland -- I hadn't thought of it that way yet.

Bob said...

I understand what you are saying, Michael, and have had some of the same thoughts myself. Some of these folks need only to read the Book of Acts to see a good example of socialism.

However, there are also a lot of Biblical examples of how people need to work in order to eat, pull their weight, etc. and I think that's where a lot of people are coming from when they say, with trepidation, that we are moving toward socialism. What they mean, I believe, is that they are concerned we are moving rapidly toward a sense of responsiblity (vs. personal responsibility).

Bob said...

Oh my gosh, I need to proofread! What I meant was they fear we are moving toward a sense of ENTITLEMENT (vs. personal responsibility).

Wish I could be a fly on the wall during that discussion . . . and watching you try to keep your mouth shut! :-)