“The early church didn’t have a Graham, a Finney, or a Moody. It didn’t have Promise Keepers, a Great Awakening, or user-friendly churches. Furthermore, it had no concise spiritual laws to share, no explosive method for talking to the unconverted. What it had seems quite paltry: it had unspectacular people with a hodgepodge of methods, so hodgepodge that they can hardly be called methods, and rarely a gathering of more than a handful of people. The paltry seems to have been enough, however, to make an emperor or two stop and take notice…nameless Christians [who brought] the name of Jesus Christ to the attention of pagans—not a phenomenon that filled stadiums; just enough to begin converting the whole known world.” —Mark Galli
Paltry indeed, but like the mosquito in the room, impossible to ignore. And like this paltry who simply lived Christ so long before us, we live, too. They stood, and we now stand; they led; now we lead. To the world, they had no names, but we remember them,—and we can’t think of them without thinking of Him. And that’s the whole idea. We’re the next mosquito in the room.
The world will definitely notice.
“You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ [But] In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” —C.S. Lewis
We all want a better world—in fact we really need a new one. Someday. Until then, the world isn’t the problem, rather it’s the people shaping it, who crave a perfect world while rejecting any perfect, benevolent, loving standard. That’s where Jesus’ followers come in. We aren’t Him, but God is making us to be as much like Him as anyone can in this messy world. He’s often hated—and that means we will be, too—He said so. But in a world of “men without chests” we bring a beating heart of purpose, love and salvation to an increasingly turbulent generation. Until He comes, we are what the world needs—because we bring Him, all of Him, plus nothing.
The world is starving itself. Bring the fruit.
It used to be that Hippies and Beatniks (remember them?) were America’s counter-culture…
“As Christians [in America], our challenge is to go back as close as we can to the Gospel and truly be the church. Increasingly, we’re likely to be a counter-culture. As that happens, we will be the last great defenders of reason, truth and human dignity, with the task of defending [the Faith] not just theoretically…but practically, as the early church did… Our privilege will be to repeat that story in our time.” —Os Guinness (World Magazine interview, June 29, 2013)
Our passports say “Kingdom of Heaven”.
Our culture is Jesus.
We are light in the darkness at noon.
Far out, man.
(I rarely editorialize, so be forewarned. Another, more encouraging post is on its way soon…)
“What is truth?”, Pontius Pilate once quipped at the words of Jesus, just before he sentenced Him to death. If you ask the same question to UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the reply would be something like, “The truth is whatever we decide, excuse the facts.”
Though somewhat softened in its wording, UNESCO’s World Heritage 21-member committee voted today to ratify a document declaring that the factual, historical, cultural, scientifically verified center and capital of ancient Israel, Judaism and Christianity never existed as such—never mind the vast and irrefutable scientific, historical, literary and cultural evidence to the contrary. In fact, if the wording of the declaration hadn’t been altered due to Israel’s last-minute diplomatic maneuvers, even the Western Wall—the holiest site in all Judaism—would have been declared a Moslem site that had been occupied by Israeli “aggressors”. Even so, the walled city of Jerusalem and the historical Temple Mount was claimed by UNESCO for Palestine and Jordan through the manipulation of a committee of nations who are no more concerned about Education, Science and Culture than a cat. “What is truth?” was the question posed right before the brutal execution of a rather significant Jew in Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago. Irony of ironies. Israeli diplomat Carmel Shama-Hachone, in his own assessment of the matter, said the whole thing belongs “in the garbage bin of history.”
On a personal note, I must express my gratitude to you, UNESCO, and your parent organization, the United Nations, for openly clarifying the quality and integrity of your Educational, Scientific and Cultural understanding of truth and facts. Now—what was it you saying about global warming…?
The world is in trouble, but fret not—the church isn’t. The pressure is on, but it’s been on before. The world even tried to kill Jesus, and look what happened…
“Nothing can extinguish it. To the end of time it shall be there and shall always manifest itself, and men must never lose heart because of that. All [mankind’s ideas and struggles to create his own utopia] are absolutely worthless—the society in which utopianism is the great pursuit is the one who is about to commit suicide. The great guarantee that human life is always worth creating, always worth bringing into this world, always worth living is that there is built into it an indestructible awareness that life belongs to eternity and not to time. [This] shines with an incredible brightness in the one place in the world where you would not, under any circumstances, expect to find it surviving. The Catacombs.” —Malcolm Muggeridge, Firing Line #433, with W.F. Buckley, Jr., Sept. 6, 1980, PBS
Jesus’ followers can be driven underground, but what are catacombs if not bomb-shelters, illuminated not by oil or electricity, but by the songs of the saints.
Shine wherever you are.
Since you’re reading this, it means you’re on the internet, which means you’re up-to-date on the latest headlines. Our senses are assaulted as fear and uncertainty rage from post to tweet. We roar but we’re quite helpless to control the bedlam. But wait…
“Things are not as they seem. Evil, though widespread, is not winning. Faithfulness, though costly, is not futile. Affliction, though continuing, will end. The Lion’s roar will soon be heard. Until then, reign with the Lamb. Live to love, not control.” —Larry Crabb
When you see Jesus worry, then worry. Meanwhile, love like Him.
Go make someone’s day.
Following Jesus? Wounds are assured. So is glory.
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot or side or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star;
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned Me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned;
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yes, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole.
Can he have followed far
Who has no wound? No scar?
To be wounded for life and hope and salvation reminds us why we live and breathe at all. To hurt for the sake of the God Who Loves leaves marks worth boasting about.
I complain too much.