Monday, April 28, 2008

America- the un-Christian nation and the way of Jesus

If we look at the words of Jesus, and we don't gloss over them, Jesus he spoke of his way--the way to God--as a "narrow path." Few would find it. Also, it he said it was a path that a rich man couldn't get to without a miracle from God. With a rich man's wealth, he would be so satisfied and distracted with himself, and with his possessions he would not be able to, would want to, or would find the Kingdom of heaven.

Sound like an American predicament? A bit.

"We" think we are a Christian nation. Funny, to think. But we are not. If anything, we are post-Christian. But were we ever "Christian"? Debatable.

Americans who like to think they are Christians, often shop for Church and for "jesus" or a spiritual pick-me-up, like any other consumer good. Sadly, the material and the holistic human creature don't fair well with a consumer capitalistic approach.

The way of Jesus (Christianity) is not fire insurance, it is a way of life. It is also view of the world through the Reality of the one who designed life-- with the Designer in mind, at the center of life. HERE and NOW. Not later.

Many Americans think they are in fact Christians, (in a sense following Christ). This is because they would say they are not Muslims, or Buddhists, or something else. But do they love Jesus? Are they devoted? Is he their prevailing Reality apart from which they cannot be? Um nope. But, if not, they are not true disciples.

Jesus' way, according to his teachings, is about true love for him and the Father. It's about first love, sustained love. It's not about getting a fix. It's not about making the right connection, to scratch the right itch. The Jesus way can be very humbling and painful. Uphill, with a cross daily, no less. It's also the way of dignity, and love filling us from the inside out. People forget that without God as center, we can only borrow dignity from another spot, it cannot be inherent. The way of Jesus is one of immense purpose, freedom with responsibility, justice within a reconciled, restored, living, and growing community. And too, hope of new life beyond the tumult and ills of this present world.

Jesus is the light and glory of the Greater Story, the one beyond the images and words we can muster, to the truest Reality we only begin to fathom, and more joy than we can tolerate.

Here is the invitation to the very narrow path. It is not where you think, up-for grabs or "purchase" at church. It is not the easy way. It comes when we forget ourselves to be found in God, and Jesus. It is not part of our American heritage, authentically, but it we can be authentically recreated and known.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Can we know God?

Yes and no. For one thing we can't even know people that well. We can live with a spouse for years and find out new things about them. People are deep wells of information, experiences, natures, and characters... but through time and devotion, we can get to know them....

BUT- what about God. God is SO different, right? He is UNFATHOMABLE. He created everything, and is everywhere, all-knowing, all-powerful, says Julie Clawson (at the emergent women website, thanks Julie) and says the Bible, right? How can we REALLY REALLY possibly KNOW him, right? He is beyond language. Correct? Well, the short answer is "yes, kind of."

God made it possible for us to have an amazing book in our reach called the Bible which talks all about him. It can't capture him fully with words, but certain language can loosely give a good contour. We can't sketch a sunset with pencil, but we can get some shapes down. We can't use words to describe what tasting coffee is truly like, but with words, we can outline a bit what the aroma is like and how good a warm cup tastes and feels when it is drank. One can imagine well what it is REALLY like based on a word description. So too with God. The reality of him can be known, but not fully grasped. He is knowable, but not fully comprehendible. It is limited knowledge, but entirely useful.

Let us not dismiss some of our best ways to encounter God by calling them shoddy when we use and trust language for so much else. It is on the basis of language, words, and propositions, that we first encounter all our initial ideas before they are incorporated into our lives. They are a starting point, not the end all be all to knowing God.

Do you know God? How have you encountered him? Feel free to leave your comments.