Faith & Doubt – core beliefs

Category : Jesus, R3, faith, living a life of faith, taking action

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For many people Easter represents the one or two times we attend church in a year.  It’s where some people approach church tentatively, not sure what they think, but seeking God.  Others go because of a formality, usually a family obligation.  (Don’t worry.  I attended many church functions out of obligation before I became a Christian. )

Churches spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to connect with these Christmas and Easter visitors.  They try to understand why they don’t attend.  Or how we, as the church, could reach out to them.

Those are all well and good questions.  But that’s not what I’m interested in today.  What I want to focus on is how we, as the church, behave.  How do our actions, our lives, play out to these Easter attenders?  Can they tell we live out lives of faith?  Or are we viewed as what’s been called the “unChristian“?

In the book Faith & Doubt, John Ortberg identifies three levels of belief – Public, Private, Core.  Depending on the topic, your views may fall into any of these three categories.  It’s the difference in categories that determine your actions.

1. Public – These are beliefs that you want people to think you hold, even when you don’t.  “Oh sure I loved your ‘macaroni surprise’” is an example of a public belief.

2.  Private - Beliefs that you think are sincere, but turn out not to be.  Peter was convinced he would follow Jesus to death.  But when it came down to it, he denied even knowing Jesus.

3.  Core - These are beliefs that are shown through our daily actions.  When we say we care about the homeless, that’s all well and good.  People with core beliefs do something about it.

Think about any belief you have.

They fall into one of these categories.  We tell our kids “that was a wonderful recital”, but we know it wasn’t (public belief).  We say it because the truth isn’t the loving action, building into them is.  Public beliefs can be good.  They help us maintain relationships when the brutal, cold, “truth” couldn’t.  Yet we can get caught in a dangerous trap of always wanting to fit in.  We can get caught in the world of  “making other people happy.”  (How many of us have complained that politicians don’t follow through with their promises?   Those politicians often get caught in the public belief)

When I look at Christianity in the general, anecdotal sense, I fear that too many people only hold Christianity as a public belief.  It is only something to do for a few hours on Sunday.  It isn’t life changing.  It isn’t radical, it isn’t revolutionary, and it certainly isn’t different.

When we take that flat, boring, public belief and interact with non-believers, how should we expect them to respond?

Easter is about God stepping into history and taking a hit that you and I deserve.  Jesus was characterized by living in the core beliefs he espoused.  When Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” he wasn’t just giving a talking point.  He was telling the disciples what God was about.  Who God was at his core.

I want to move my beliefs from the public to the core.  I don’t want my life filled with things I say I believe, when I really don’t.  I started out this post saying that I used to go to church out of obligation.  But you know what?  There are times I still go to church out of obligation.  Simply because it’s Saturday.  That’s okay sometimes.  It’s okay to want to be watching football some days.  But pretending you want to be at church when you don’t – that leads you down the road of hypocrisy.

I want people to look at me and see no difference between how I live my life, and what I write on R3.  I want people to see me living out a life of faith.  How about you?  What do you want?

the real story of easter

Category : Jesus, humor, just for fun

 

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.  And sometimes it takes a terminator to save Jesus.

Happy Easter everyone!

why I’m not excited about easter

Category : different, faith, hope, living a life of faith

  

Just this morning I realized Sunday was Easter.  Oh sure on some level I knew Easter was coming up.   And I even knew it was Sunday.  But I didn’t really know.   Know in the sense that I actually was going to change my Sunday routine.

This isn’t because Easter is important.  It is.  Ask any Christian and he or she will tell you that the reason we celebrate Easter is because Jesus rose from the dead, thus defeating sin, death, Satan, and the need to eat your vegetables.

Okay, maybe Jesus had nothing to do with that last one.

For many Easter and Christmas are the two biggest days of the year.  They represent the re-birth and birth of Jesus.   They are exciting times if you are a Christian.  Yet I’m not excited.  But it’s not because I don’t believe in God.  It’s actually the exact opposite.

Because God is such an important part of my life, I tend to celebrate his birth and death on a daily basis.  For me Christmas and Easter come 365 days a year.  Fortunately the candy doesn’t or I’d have some issues.

One of the advantages to living out a life of faith is that you aren’t restricted by the calendar when you want to celebrate Jesus.  You can do that whenever.   You can reflect on the cost of his death.  You can be excited that God would humble himself and send us his son.  It doesn’t matter what day, because every day is a celebration.

And that’s why I’m not excited about easter.

passion of the Christ – facebook style

Category : faith, humor, living a life of faith, taking action

  

Sometimes it feels like people who believe in God are out of touch with the rest of the world.  You hear this from both inside and outside of the church.  Philip Yancey in What’s so Amazing about Grace wondered if we focus so much on legalism that we’ve missed out on the call of grace.  Gabe Lyons and George Barna used the book unChristian to show just how far we’ve come from the Biblical concepts of love and forgiveness.  And they are Christ-followers!  Even the secular media is in on the act.  Newsweek just this week ran a cover story about “The end of a Christian America” (cue melodramatic music).

But they all have a point.  It’s hard to look at some (not all) churches and certain (again, not everyone) Christians  and see anything fresh and vibrant.  What we are handed is old traditions that very few people can explain them.  Let alone why we still do them.  It seems that the only reason we cling to some traditions is because that’s what we have always done.  Is it any wonder that so many people find it hard to imagine God is alive, let alone good.

In many ways the church simply feels out of touch with society.

Then along comes some creative people and they produce something like this: passion of the Christ – facebook style. The imagination of this just astounds me.  Not only is it good theology, but it’s hilarious, and touching.   Plus Jesus is riding a dinosaur.  Which, I believe, is entirely, historically, accurate.

facebook-jesus

This is what church should be. Vibrant.  Engaging.  Truthful.  And yes, entertaining.

Nowhere does it say in the Bible that the church can’t be relevant.  That Christians can’t take the culture around them and use it to talk about Jesus.  That somehow we must stick with 1500’s English.

Living out a life of faith is more than clinging to traditions.  It’s about going where ever you need to because God has sent you there.  It’s about trusting in God, not in “what we’ve done for the last 30 years.”  This isn’t to say tradition is a bad thing in and of itself.  If your mission is to keep the same services you have been for 30 years, and it’s working, and honoring God, and people are growing…great.  Keep at it.

But for a lot of people that doesn’t work.  For a lot of people they don’t connect with traditions, because those traditions aren’t relevant to them.  Jesus spoke to people in ways that they understood.  Maybe that means we should too.  So I encourage you to take this link and send it to your friends.  E-mail this page to people who don’t know Jesus.  Let them see Jesus in a new way – a facebook way!

(ht: Noel Heikkinen)