Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Pertinent Question

Are we missing the point? Raborn out at Ray's X-Change asks and answers a tough question that I myself have been arguing for a couple of months now here on my blog. His post reads off the hip yet hits the mark dead-on. Here is a brief snippet to whet your appetite:
While much of the thrust of the contemporary church is on understanding, mentally assenting to and defending the right doctrinal positions, the thrust of Jesus' ministry (both then and now) seems to be more focused on helping and healing hurting people.

[...]

At times, we have interpreted the phrase "and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" to mean "don't cuss, don't drink, don't chew and don't run with those who do". But, could it be that not allowing ourselves to be polluted by the world rather means refusing to play the worlds game of "loving those who love you", and instead choosing to give to those who can't give back and choosing to love those who would even be considered our enemies? Have we really bought into the pollution of the world while seemingly refusing to give into it?
Parts of his post read similarly to an article I have been pondering before I bailed on it and decided to go in a different direction, plus the contested post I published a few days ago on the Christian intellectual did not really garner the feedback I had anticipated, which Raborn's post strangely answers that question; the one implicit in my post from January 2. I quote myself from that same post:
We have invested so much time in determining what the Bible says we have accomplished this to the exclusion of how to respond to what it says. There are many out there who know what the Bible says. However, evangelicals are woefully inadequate at extrapolating what God expects out of us from that same text.
Can we get beyond this detriment as the Body of Christ, cease allowing Hollywood superstars to fill the obvious void left by the church, and as Raborn says, begin being Jesus to hurting people? Or are we missing the point?
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:14-17

13 comments:

Raborn Johnson said...

Great post Tony, and thanks for the nod!

It seems that within the Church we have bought into the spirit of intellectualism (driven by the world) which says that education is the key to success. Therefore, we invest loads of money into seminars, retreats, conferences, workshops(and whatever else we all like to call them) instead of actually putting our money where our mouth is...into people who need it.

As far as Christian education goes, my own life has been impacted on a much deeper level when I have reached out to others than during teachings and seminars. Maybe we should stop spending all of our capital on our own "Biblical education" and instead invest it into changing people's lives...maybe this is actually the REAL education that we are all truly seeking?.?.?

Heather said...

Very edifying post Tony! Thanks for your thoughts!

Blessings!

Tony said...

Raborn,

You're welcome! I am glad you are back from being AWOL from the blogosphere.

I sincerely believe Matthew 22:37; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," but they are all three inextricably wed to the hands! What good is it to know God's word, study God's word, believe God's word (which the demons do), if we don't practice/obey God's word?

I have also found that the same is true in my Christian experience about education...when I get my hands dirty, my "spirituality" seems much more significant than just attending/teaching a sterile Bible study.

Heather,

You're welcome, and thanks for commenting! I enjoy your blog, too.

Earl said...

Tony, I agree! As long as we don't abandon one over the other. Christ also had things to say about those who did not believe and didn't believe who he was. Faith without works is dead. Works without faith, which includes knowledge, is also dead.

Tony said...

Earl,

You are so right. I made this point over at Raborn's blog in the comment thread in his post...and we are all in total agreement.

Raborn also makes another pertinent point, and something I have been loathe to comment on, is the inordinate overemphasis placed on education; for instance the Bible study cruises.

You might be able to afford one of those, but not me!

;-)

Blessings!

Brandon said...

Bible study cruises....
There's a whole blog topic in and of itself!

I just had to chime in to say I agree...

John Eldredge said in his book, Waking the Dead, "We have been taught that knowledge is the key to success in life. But in the beginning we ate from the tree of knowledge, and it's been killing us ever since.". (That's a paraphrase, not a direct quote)

There is a subtle yet crucial difference between the worlds brand of intellectualism and our need to know the word of God. The world's brand of intellectualism with regard to the scriptures brings a sense of superiority to the learner. The wisdom of The Lord brings proper perspective, humility and a desire to serve others and disciple them to a greater intimacy and deeper walk with The Lord...

We do waste many kingdom resources that could be better utilized to expand the kingdom rather than our own intellect...

Be blessed...
Brandon

Earl said...

Bible study cruises! I know, there is something fishy about it -- even though some of my theologian heros do some of those things.

I wish I could afford such a thing, and be gluttonous on theological head knowledge and food. Sit with other theological eggheads during dinner. Could you imagine Jesus at one of these things? If I saw him appear, I think I'd slide under the table in embarassment.

Tony said...

Brandon,

Hey, thanks for stopping by! I am always glad to see new faces at my blog. I appreciate your comment and you are welcome here anytime. You are right with us in the thick of this discussion.

The John Eldredge quote is spot-on. We should never choose between orthodoxy and orthopraxy, but always strive for a coherent balance between the two.

Again, welcome! And thanks for the link to my blog out at The Ephod.

Earl,

You wouldn't be alone under that table, because I would be huddled up under there with you.

Gordon Cloud said...

Great post, Tony. The more I study the NT expectations of believers, the more I find that God's highest ideals for us involve our treatment of others.

Tony said...

Gordon,

My studies have led me in the same direction. Thanks for stopping by.

Geoff Baggett said...

Tony,
Greath thoughts. I consistently attempt to reinforce the biblical truth that we have been saved to "love and to serve" rather than to "sit and soak."

Yet, isn't the self-focused "soaking" of information the atmosphere that we have created in our churches during the last century? We have focused so much upon "equipping the saints," that most of them are now wondering, "What are we equipped for?"

I sometimes fear that, in Southern Baptist life, we have exacerbated the mindset with our highly effective Cooperative Program. Have we grown into the mindset that we "hire out" people to do our missions for us ... the "experts?" I really struggle with that.

It often seems that, instead of measuring our ministry and need-meeting effectiveness by the number of people touched, we would rather measure the percentage of CP dollars sent. I'm worried...

Tony said...

Geoff,

You're telling me "great thoughts"?

Wow!

I have never thought about that. The CP is one of those things that are just assumed in Baptist life and the legitimacy never questioned...aren't you a heretic or something for doing that, I mean, how dare you think outside of the SB box???

Seriously, I think you are correct. As Southern Baptists, we have cultivated a system where ministry is done by the so-called experts...farmed out...I mean, if you want to do missions in NA, go to NAMB, you need an evangelist, go to COSBE, and so the list goes...

I think you have enough fodder here for a new series of posts! I would love to hear additional thoughts on this.

Geoff Baggett said...

It's coming ... I'm saving up.
;^)

BTW ... I referenced your "challenge" to my manly post on my new one today. Hope you don't mind. :)