Sunday, October 26, 2008

Being a Missionary

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Manifesto for Post-Modern Followers of Jesus

The evangelical tide is turning. My generation of Christians wants a more fulfilling experience of faith than what is being provided for us in the evangelical churches of today. Our generation lives in and embraces a global society - we need a global Church. The divisions in the Church today not only do not appeal to us, but they also turn us away. Denominations are not important to us. We crave a unified body of believers living in community.

We are an open-minded generation, and we are strong and smart generation. We enjoy dialogue, believing that it makes our own beliefs stronger. Yet we are also able to admit when we are wrong and embrace a differing point of view, if it makes sense to us. We are more able than our elders in the faith to see the merits of the other side.

We are a generation that seeks engagement with the world and a faith that will make the world a better place. That is why we flock to churches and missions that are helping those in need. Our generation has changed such that it is more often than not the non-Christians who are helping the poverty-stricken in the world. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have made helping those less fortunate "cool," and our generation, which for whatever reason seems to be more empathetic than others, embraces their ideologies and jumps at the chance to serve.

We are a generation that is disillusioned with the Church as we have known it. The churches we have attended in the past just don't seem to "get" us. We need Truth, and we seek Truth, but pastors and mentors who hail from a modern mindset can't give us the whole Truth that God wants to give to a post-modern generation.

We believe in Jesus, and in His power to unify those of us who have been divided for so long. We believe that Catholics and Protestants are brothers and sisters in Christ. We believe that systematic theology doesn't necessarily give us Truth. We believe in the right to life, but we also believe in making poverty history.

We believe that Love, true Love, is where true power lies, and that Love even wins out over death in the end. We believe that Love is the reason why Jesus came down to us, and Love is what we are meant to show the world.

Love does not manifest in a vote. Love does not spew its ideologies and theologies to try to convince others to agree with it. Love is a verb. It is an action.

So how does one love? By following the example of Christ. By serving. By empathizing. By forgiving. By giving. By taking every individual as a unique creation in the image of God, and by meeting whatever needs that individual has. Loving imperfect people (ie, all people) isn't easy. Which is perhaps why Christians have opted for trying to convince others to vote a certain way than for truly loving them, because thinking that we're right is a lot easier than loving people the way Jesus did.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Politics

As the Religious Right stands firmly in support of John McCain, a new movement of young evangelicals rises to support Barack Obama. The movement stems from the change in ideologies that young evangelical Christians are embracing; namely, that Jesus came not just to take Christians to heaven at the end of a struggle to get through this horrible, evil world, but to change that world for the better along the way. Brian McLaren calls this being "blessed to be a blessing." It is the hope of the followers of Christ in my generation that we can make a difference for Christ in this world that doesn't mean simply going to heaven when you die (and taking along as many converts as you can convince along the way), but about bringing heaven to earth in the meantime; being a citizen of God's kingdom in the here and now.

Obama seems to embody the post-modernist's Christianity: that Jesus came as a social reformer, to bring justice and life into the world in the here and now. McCain, however, has the corner on being pro-life in the case of abortions. As such, sincere followers of Jesus on both sides of the line are insisting that their way is the only "Christian" way to vote. Sincere followers of Jesus on both sides of the line are insisting that their brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with them are not only "wrong," but also that they're "not true believers."

Sincerely believing that one political candidate or another will be better for this country is one thing, but you can have well-reasoned arguments for or against either candidate that resonate with the teachings of Jesus. In the grand scheme of things, though, we must all vote our consciences, and although we may all have the same Lord, we do not all have the same thought processes.

However we vote (and if we vote at all), we are citizens of another kingdom. The USA is only a temporary home for us, that we must strive personally to make better. That doesn't mean that voting for either political candidate will solve this nation's problems. "We must be the change we wish to see in the world," said Ghandi, and that's more than just casting a vote. That's living in the depths of peoples' hurt and suffering. That's coming alongside the teenage mother who can't afford to have a child, inviting her into your home and providing the means she needs to have that baby, instead of just telling her that abortion is unequivocally wrong and she shouldn't have one. That's travelling to a poverty-ravished country to provide aid to those who can't afford help. That's a million other creative ideas that we could bring to a world that needs hope - the same hope that we have in Jesus, not in any political candidate's ability to "change" things.