Things Boring Christians Say

I’ve been plowing through David Platt‘s book Radical this week.  Holy Cow.  Somewhere in chapter 6, entitled “American Wealth and a World of Poverty,” it struck me that I’m a pretty boring Christian.  And I’m beginning to think that what keeps me boring just might be sinful.

Those attitudes usually surface when I’m alone.  They’re the quiet under-the-breath asides that are meant for only one audience.  In reading through Platt’s thoughts, another possibility has surfaced: What if these asides aren’t merely inner monologue, but divine dialogueWhat if God is bringing things to light in my life that I want to keep hidden?  And what if those things (“blindspots” as Platt calls them) are the tools that God will use to sanctify me?  Sad thing is – for most of us, a God that wants us to be uncomfortable is probably a major paradigm shift.

Sad.  Boring.  And bored.

If you think about where to drawn the line between conservative, boring, and sinful, here’s some things that boring Christians (like me) often find themselves saying:

I can’t do everything, so I won’t do anything.

I’m just waiting for God to call me to ______ .

If I do ______, then I’ll lose ______ .

It’s just easier to stay where I am.

I’m not ready to ______ – but someday I hope that I will be. 

But I can’t relate to those people.

I’m not sure what will happen. (or its cousin) What if it doesn’t work out?

What’ll happen to my (insert stability idol here) if I ______ .

I think it was Anne Lamott (always a good source for slightly controversial quotes) who said, “Grace will take you as you are, but will refuse to leave you that way.”  And then there’s that nagging Brennan Manning reminder: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians – who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbeliveable.”

It’s likely you’re too boring.  What keeps you that way?  Does it really all just boil down to fear?  How has God made you aware of (and then hopefully worked with you to remove) your blindspots?  P.S.  If you haven’t bought this book yet, I think you should.  It would be good.

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Brannon’s Pride Warrants Hell

(thoughts spurred from the Rob Bell frenzy this past week)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about the controversy being stirred up by “Love Wins,” the forthcoming book by pastor-author Rob Bell. Judging from the promo video, Bell is raising a lot of questions surrounding salvation and (more importantly) what kind of God would allow some into heaven while excluding others.

I don’t want to talk about Rob Bell – too much talk already. I want to talk about questioning.

A thought: Questioning God is usually not the problem – The posture from which I question usually is.

Looking to scripture, there are plenty of examples of those who questioned God. While we’re likely to sympathize with men like David, Job, and Solomon, our most profound takeaway from those men needs to be that questioning God ought to be brought under the heading of loving, childlike submission to His fathership.

Example:

David’s lament: “Why have you left me?” (Psalm 22:1) is quickly followed by the confident declaration: “Dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). All in the same Psalm.

Job’s cry: “Why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child?” (Job 2:16) is followed by: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

Solomon’s ever-relevant expression: “Meaningless – meaningless – Everything is meaningless” (Ecc.1:2) finds its ultimate resolution in his poignant conclusion: “Now all has been heard; here is the the conclusion of the matter – Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13).

Joseph is my son. He’s five. This morning, I said – Joseph, stop pushing your sister. He’s too young to understand the full implications of why – He just needs to do it. In time (assuming that I’m fathering him well), he’ll gradually connect the dots and develop an understanding. God’s a much better father than I am. He longs to lead His children into fuller understanding of who He is and what He’s like. But questioning Him isn’t where that understanding starts – holy fear is the birthplace of our understanding and eventual mission (cf. Prov. 1:7; Isa. 6:1-13).

Here’s my main concern with “Love Wins:” Questioning without submission often exposes latent pride – at least this holds true in my life. What I would love to see is Bell raising an admittedly hard question – on what basis does a loving God send people to Hell? – and then hide behind scripture for his resolution.

Here’s some questions:

– From what posture do I question God?

– When I don’t get the answer I’m looking for, what is my response?

– Why do I get frustrated with God’s revealed word / will?

– What does my frustration reveal about me?

(a hopefully clarifying after-thought): In my experience, questioning God usually comes from one of two places: pride (the rich young ruler from Mark 10:17-25) or genuine seeking (the disreputable woman from John 4). God richly rewards the second kind of questioning and strongly opposes the first kind. If you’re like me – you’ll consistently find yourself more aware of how frighteningly prideful you can be.

the beam

(As promised, here’s a little poetry.  Please accept it as my apology for not contributing anything in a while.)

This has to do with church leadership.  Yes it rhymes.  Sorry if that’s cheezy.  My brother told me once that he thinks I’m a metaphysical poet at heart.  I don’t know what that means.  So, Adam – consider this your metaphysical thank-you.

the beam

– a self-persuaded beam

untested and untried

lies silent and alone

with purpose unapplied

– once useless and detached

but soon employed by grace

the beam is pulled and set

and fitted place into place

– beneath the weight of hope

and grace’s gentle pain

the beam learns holy patience

through unrelenting strain

– now give us faith to rest

beneath your sovereign will

to gently bear your church

as you will bear her still