Friday, March 20, 2015

Being Satan? Is Today's Church Worthy of Jesus' Rebuke?

In Mark 8:31-33, we find the challenging story of Jesus outlining his agenda only to be challenged by Peter- a good and loyal follower of his Master. Jesus, though, calls out Peter as "Satan" for not sharing Jesus' perspective.

I wonder if the criticism being offered for what may appear to many conventional believers as activity that couldn't represent the heart of God is worthy of the same rebuke that Peter receives from Jesus. When people defend the institutional church instead of listening to what the Spirit is saying to the church, are they representing Satan- to use Jesus' label for a well intended disciple named Peter? When Christians take the position of hawks over doves, would they hear Jesus say that their minds are set not on the things of God, but the things of man? When believers judge the sexual activities of other humans thinking they represent God, are they perhaps simply not able to accept a message from the Master that is uncomfortable and therefore unacceptable? Maybe being "Satan" in Jesus' view is more about a closed minded and uninformed representation of what we have grown accustomed to in our religious practice of what we call Christianity than an overtly stated allegiance to the Anti-God. I'm guessing Peter was shocked at Jesus' rebuke and apparent horrific label, feeling that it wasn't deserved and even harsh. Yet, there it is for us to read and see if there is application in the story to contemporary practice by well intended disciples.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What? No Celebrities?

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (‭Acts‬ ‭9‬:‭31‬ ESV)

This verse is couched obscurely within the more talked about narratives that preceded and follow it. The spectacular account of Paul's conversion not only effectively thrusts him into celebrity status- not unlike the conversion of modern day celebrities (I.e., Deion Sanders, Steven Baldwin, etc.), but also offers us a conversion story that has never been repeated by our Lord- and it's safe to say there have been plenty of others throughout history who could've used the same kind of encounter (Hitler? Hussein? Osteen?).  After a time of being the poster child of faith, Paul is shipped into a decade of obscurity. This verse is followed by another Christian celebrity (Peter) having another landmark experience that pushed the believers out of the box they had already created for their newly embraced religion. So what is this verse possibly saying about the functioning and growth of the "church"?

It grew without any recorded celebrity or personality. The only "personality" present was the Spirit. They were "built up" in the way Paul would later affirm by each member of the body supplying to others what may be helpful in that moment.

Today's American model of Christendom is based and dependent on "personalities" if not celebrities. Even local church staffs play into this role on a smaller scale then do, say, Joel Osteen, John Piper, Mark Discoll, Rob Bell- just to name a cross section of possibilities. And the pew sitter supports this because we live in a celebrity culture.

God's culture is sans celebrity. The true "rock star" is and always will be Jesus and it is his Spirit that is in us as we collect in any venue. The model that this verse implies is seen as too risky in our time and yet it would seem that the risk is worth the result.