Corraling Christians, Twitter style

Earlier today I ran across a tweet from Jon Brodkin (@JBrodkin) on Twitter that I thought was unusual, odd and somewhat counter to what Christianity teaches Christians:

are you Christian? Do you think Twitter has too many heathens? It’s time to start posting on Christian Chirp!
11:15 AM Nov 3rd from TweetDeck

Now I have no idea if Jon is a Christian, if he has something to do with the site or anything at all about him. I just want to make sure that I am clear about that in this post. Whatever I say here has nothing to do with him, his beliefs or anything at all related to him.

In looking at that site my first thought was “why would Christians want to further alienate and segregate themselves in a society in which few people see them in a positive light?”. Seriously, Christians have taken a bad rap for a lot of stuff over time and have given many people a lot of reasons for thinking the way they do about them. As a Christian I struggle sometimes with the call on me and the way that those that I look to for leadership represent that call. I wrote about that a few days ago and the struggle that I feel with how complacent Christians have become – in my opinion – and how far off the mark it seems that we have become in doing what we have been commanded to do.

In looking at I can’t help but see that all over again. I can understand why Christians would want an environment for themselves. I mean, after all, churches have been doing that for ages. But why would Christians choose to run from “heathens” when there is a huge potential for ministry in social media? Hanging around a social site filled with other Christians seems totally counter to “going out into all the world and preaching the gospel”. I mean, Christians should be going into the dark places and pulling down strongholds, reaching out to those in need regardless of whether there might be heathens there, stepping into those areas where those that need the gospel the most are lurking.

The more I see things like this crop up the more I think that Christians are losing their collective minds as it relates to the great commission. I can’t save a single soul if I am trapped in a room full of saved Christians. And while I appreciate the need for Christians to have a place to mingle amongst themselves for a time, I still think that church should be that time and the rest of the time we have should be spent ministering first to our families then to those immediately around us.

And I can’t see at all how we can do that when we are only mingling with and interacting with Christians.

Christianity: ur doin it wrong

Our family got back to church today for the first time in a long time. Part of me missed the community of the church. Another part of me was just plain pissed off.

What I believe about Christianity
I believe the bible. I believe it is the divinely inspired word of God. I believe the God of the Bible is my God, my heavenly Father, and that His son Jesus is the Christ, that He was sent to Earth to redeem us from sin and to allow us to fellowship with the Father in heaven after our death.

I believe that as Christians we have been given an enormous responsibility to love and serve our Lord, love and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ and to profess the gospel of our Lord Jesus to the entire world.

I believe there are rules that we have to live by and there are commands that we must obey. And I believe, at this moment, that most Christians are screwing this up.

The commandments
Pretty much everyone in any advanced nation has heard the ten commandments. Some people may have had to memorize them at one point. Some people may even know them off the top of their head.

Every Christian should know these commandments, or at the very least, know where to find them. These instructions form the basis for any Christian’s religious beliefs. But regardless of your religious background, there is a pretty good chance you have run across this list before:

  1. Have no other gods before God the Father.
  2. Do not make for yourself any idol in any form.
  3. Do not take the name of your Lord God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your mother and your father.
  6. Do not kill.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. Do not covet that which belongs to your neighbor.

For Christians what is required of us does not stop at these ten commandments. Jesus Himself gave us two more (Matt 22):

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

So in addition to what we were told by God the Father, we also have two more, very important, instructions given to us by our Savior Jesus. And while this post is not at all the post where I discuss love and the type of love God has called us to, it is important to understand that after loving God with everything you have, your next great instruction is to love your neighbor even as you love yourself.

The great commission
After Christ was resurrected He revealed himself to several people. At the end of the book of Mark, He again gave us a command that is often referred to as the Great Commission (Mark 16:15):

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Now the stage is set for how Christians are really supposed to live. First of all, we are to love our God with all we have. Then we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Then we are to go into all the world and tell everyone about the good new of the Lord Jesus. Yes, the entire world.

Christians, where you at?
One of the things that has bothered me the last few years within the Christian church is how complacent the church seems to be. I have not ever received a call from my pastor just to check on me. Now in his defense, our church is very large, so it is not necessarily practical for him to call everyone in his church. Still, there are a lot of staff members that could reach out to the congregation, yet it seems like they all wait for the member to contact them.

I have also noticed what seems like a complete lack of outreach in our church. It appears that no one wants to go out and reach out to “the lost”. Seriously, it looks like throughout the Christian church that the prevalent attitude is “if you are hurting, if you’re in need, come to the house of the Lord and be taken care of”. That is so not how Christ did things.

It also seems like we are very quick to help people in other areas, other countries, other situations while at the same time neglecting those people that are closest to us. This can be your immediate family, your extended family or even your next door neighbor. Regardless, why is it that some Christians are totally fine with traveling to Africa or India or South America to minister while passing by their neighbor’s house without ever asking how they are doing? Why does it seem like Christians just don’t care about anyone?

If we are supposed to be Christ-like it would make sense to me that there would be some localized motion in the church. Christ took the good news to the masses, but he didn’t pass by His own folks. He talked to everyone, not with judgment or anger or condemnation, but with conviction and love. He didn’t wait for people to come to Him – though they did come to Him – but rather went out and sought out those that He could love into the kingdom. And he didn’t pass people by.

I am hungry to see this type of ministry presented in the Christian church. And I am more than a little hesitant to step out to do this on my own, seeing as I am pretty sour at the church right now and I am afraid I would only minister anger and discontentment if I were to reach out to anyone right now.

Still, in this midst of what I see as total confusion surrounding the call on Christians, my prayer is that someday the true commission of Christ to His church will be fulfilled, that Christians will start to care about everyone, not just the sick children in Africa or the persecuted church in China or the polytheists in India. I pray that someday a Christian in my church, or even in my neighborhood, would listen to what was commanded him and actually step out, in love, and pursue his neighbor, ask me how I’m doing or if he can pray for me and actually love me, for who I am, how I am and where I am.

Christianity and the church

Since when has Christ been about getting people to church?
This morning at church my pastor showed a video he had put together as a pitch for his newest series that he is teaching. The series is about making church relevant and the pitch basically asked the question “What can we as Christians do to get those from the culture of the world… the unsaved, the student, the businessman, the Muslim (or other religion), the educated, etc … to church?”. As I sat and thought about that question for a minute the answer hit me like a ton of bibles. Stop trying to get people to church and start trying to take church to those people.

When did the focus of the gospel become about getting people to church? I understand the concept… get people to church where they can be fed, be led and be released into ministry. But even in that I am left wondering where the commandment was that Christ gave us to get people into a building.

If a church, as in a building, were so important don’t you think there would have been mention of the synagogue Christ attended in the bible? Or any temple for that matter? The Word does mention they attended, but the importance of the building seems to wane right there.

There is no mention of a specific synagogue or specific temple, and I think that this is because the church, as it is referred to in the bible is not about a building but about the community of believers that are inspired by the Word of God. When Paul wrote letters to the church at Ephesus, Corinth, Phillipi, etc, he wasn’t writing to the members of the First Assembly of God in Christ in that city, or the First Presbyterian Church in that city. No, he was writing to the body of Christ in that city, the community of believers that were gathered there. Somehow church has moved away from being the community of believers it used to be to now being a building where you can worship, pray, cry, hug and do all the things one does when they are “in church”.

I am not part of the Christian church because on Sundays and Wednesdays I go to Jubilee Christian Center. I attend that church, but I am a Christian, a member of the Christian community, the collective body that calls itself by the name of the Son of God. I don’t need a building to tell me that I am Christian. And neither do new believers.

In our zeal and zest to win souls for Christ I think us Christians are losing the breadth of the greatest commandments we were given by Christ: Love God, love your neighbors, love yourself, preach the gospel.

Why should we have to convince anyone of the love of God?
When is the last time someone had to convince you to go to the grocery store to get food so you and your family could eat? It seems stupid to even ask that question. We already know that if we need to get something to feed ourselves we go to where the supply is and get some.

Yet we as Christians are constantly trying to convince people that they need to stop living the way they are living and they need to go to church so they can be saved. Or we constantly try to get people to attend a church service with the hope or prayer that by attending that one service they will miraculously and immediately give their hearts to God and become a Christian. If we preach the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, why would there be a need for convincing? It is the good news.

If someone is hungry spiritually they will find food. If they are yearning for love, real love, they will seek it out and eventually they will find it. They don’t need to be convinced that they need love or that they are hungry. They just need to be shown where the source of the supply is.

Imagine if a Christian actually did what Christ commanded and loved someone, regardless of their skin color, political affiliation, sexual orientation, lifestyle, age or cultural heritage. What could happen if we showed someone the love of Christ? And if they see it, and get hungrier for the blessings of God, what are the chances that they will seek a source of replenishment? Do you think you would need to convince them to go to the store to get the resource they’d need to be fed?

Yet we push on people as though they are some number, some statistic that would look good on a sheet of paper as we stand before the gates of heaven and the Judgment of God. “Look Father, I saved this many souls. See?”. Why do I see God looking on that and responding with “And how many of them did you love without cause, as I have commanded you?”.

Where is all this coming from?
I am really not sure why I have such an issue right now with Christianity as usual. I am just getting more and more turned off by how much of the bible we expect everyone else to learn while we choose to live outside of that covering. We are children of the most high. He is not only our God, he is our Father and our King. We don’t need to convince anyone they are royalty. We only need to show them that they are loved by the King like we are loved.

But in order to do that we need to come to grips with the fact that that we are loved. And not for our works or souls won or church days attended or offerings given. We are loved because it pleases God to love His creation. He wants fellowship with us and wants us to bask in the love and mercy and grace and abundance and blessing that only He can give.

God’s love is so much bigger than any person can imagine, it is bigger than words and bigger than anything we could ever even dream. But no one who doesn’t know this will ever learn this if we, His chosen generation, continue to focus on putting a warm body in a chair while we completely forget to show them what love is, and specifically what God’s love is all about.

It is my hope and prayer and desire to learn what it means to be loved by God. I struggle with this as much as the next guy. I know I am loved, but I sometimes wonder if the wretched person I am can separate me from that love. A part of me still wonders if God can really love a person like me. Most of me knows, however, that He loves me more than anything else in the world. I am the apple of His eye and He would willingly die for me.

In fact, He proved that He would on Calvary. Now if I could only wrap my head around how to show others that the same love God has for me he has for all I would so be able to put some feet to this disdain I have with “winning souls” and get to the business of loving my neighbor.

I do not like your Christians

Mohandas Ghandi is quoted as saying:

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

westboro baptist church and gandhiThis statement makes a lot of sense to me given the nature of the Christian church today. We have blown it so bad as a religious group that many people have no idea who Christ is because his ambassadors are so tore up.

But the most ironic part of Ghandi’s quote about Christians is that he made it some time before 1948, when he died. That means that in the last sixty years we, as Christians, have really not changed much. Please understand that this is not meant to be a blanket statement covering all Christians. Every religion has its wierdos and freaks. Christianity surely does. But isn’t it somewhat beneficial for the religious group to at least try to make its image a bit more, well, in line with its ideals?

Something I have noticed lately, even from the pulpit at times, is that in an effort to be a strong Christian we have sort of lost site of the fact that Christianity is about taking the message of the cross to all the world. We are not supposed to be bringing a message of stupidity to those we feel are in need of our salvation the most. We are not supposed to try to save the saved. The message is simple and unchanged: Love.

Love is the primary commandment of Christ. When Christians become judgemental fools the only message that is taken to anyone is foolishness. We cannot embody the image of love if we are broadcasting that we cannot love. And I am not talking about toleration, but true love, the love that can look right past the outwards appearance of sin (to a Christian) and look right into the heart of the person.

I think when Christian begin to learn that there is a heart in everyone regardless of the actions of that person Christians will begin to understand how it is God loved humanity enough to send His Son to die for all of mankind.

Dealing with (ungodly) soul ties

A few weeks (maybe months) ago my wife asked me if I had been contacted as of late by a former female friend of mine (we’ll call her Gina). I told my wife that I had indeed received an email from her a few weeks prior to that. I also mentioned that I had responded to that email basically as a response to the “How have you been?” query.

At the time I was kind of put under the gun for this interaction. My wife asked me a few other questions that I honestly could not answer in a way that would have been satisfactory at that time. Some of the questions were:

  1. “Why would a married woman make contact with a married man just to see how he is doing?”
  2. “Why would a married man reply to a contact from a married woman?”
  3. “Do you think it is spiritually wise to maintain any type of relationship with someone with whom you have had a relationship?”

When I was asked these questions I could not come up with an answer that I thought was satisfactory for her so when she stated that she knew women and that women almost always have an ulterior motive for making contact with a married man, I could not argue.

At the same time as this conversation I had asked my wife if she ever attempted to contact my former boss, we’ll call him Tom, with whom she had had an emotional affair a few years ago. She said that she would not contact him because she knew what that would do to our relationship. She said she was also a little concerned with me not seeing this topic as she did.

As such, I made one last contact with Gina by way of email to tell her that I could not have any further contact with her because it was not appropriate for a married man to have contact with a married woman who was not his wife. Seeing as my wife had made her position very clear, it seemed like it was the logical thing to do.

Fast forward to last night. While sitting on the couch with my wife she asked me if I had heard from or made contact with Tom recently. I told her that I hadn’t as there has been no real reason to contact him. That was about the end of that.

Now to today. A short while ago my wife called me to tell me that she had sent Tom an email and that, to make communicating easier, that she just called him instead. She was able to catch up on a lot of stuff from the past months and was able to share with him a lot of stuff from her life over the past few months.

However I was a tad concerned about this little experience. I should probably attempt to clarify my position on this a little bit because if I don’t I will come across as a jealous, controlling freak and the truth is I am not.

I used to work for Tom. I actually worked for him from 1999 until 2006 when I left. Before that I worked with him from 1997 to 1999 (it was in 1999 that he became my manager).

During this time he showed a tremendous amount of generosity toward me and my family, even putting my wife to work a few times to help us earn a little extra income. It was during this time that my wife began a long flirtatious relationship with Tom that included phone calls and emails.

In 2002 things had gotten to a point where Sandi, my wife, would actually bypass visiting me at work (we all worked in the same department) so she could go see him. She would spend quite a bit of time emailing and calling him. It even got to the point, I found out recently, that they had even asked the question “What do you think would happen if we ever, you know?”.

So when my told me a few months ago that she would not ever contact him and that, if he ever contacted her, she would simply no reply, I thought it was a bold, strong stance to take. But I guess that has changed somewhere in the last few months.

Part of the conversation we had a few months ago dealt with soul ties. Specifically ungodly soul ties. The kind of soul ties that keep a person bound to a past experience and do not allow that person to move forward from that experience. According to my wife allowing relationships that derive from a past soul tie to propagate could ultimately allow for the destruction of current relationships because of the stuff that comes to the current from the former. That actually made sense to me.

When I asked her about that a few minutes she told me that “as long as you don’t have the same intentions as before then keeping the relationship is OK”. That would have been nice to know a few months ago when I told Gina that I could not talk to her anymore.

Of course, now that the whole issue of past soul ties is mute I am for sure going to ask Gina’s forgiveness for kicking her to the curb and see if she would ever be willing to call me a friend again. And as I think of it there is at least one other person that I would love to find out their current life status. That person is a former friend of mine by the name of Connie Castro.

Connie was a former (junior) high school crush of mine who also happened to be a very dear friend. The last I saw of her was way back in 1993. I had never really tried to make contact with her because I knew that it would make things really bad in my marriage because of how my wife felt about former relationships. But since that is now a non-issue I can see myself doing some Google searching for my long lost friend. I would be really interested to see how Connie is doing.

I am sure there are going to be other people that I could think of touching base with again. Danielle Hornberger from college, David Watkins from High School, Matthias Stephen from College, John Zung from college.

I just feel so liberated now. I feel set free to be able to rekindle past friendships with people that until today were considered too taboo to be friends with anymore.

And I hope Sandi has a great time reconnecting with Tom. Yes, they have a relationship that would make you think they were both single. But I guess that is the way things go with them. As for me, I am just happy to know that I am free to look up some of my long lost friends and I cannot wait to start that search.