Thursday, July 28, 2011

And they say I am compromising!

As you might imagine, I get into some "conversations" with people of all different ideological bent. But it seems my most heated disagreements tend to be with the group that would be considered the conservative evangelicals. It is apparent that we disagree on a few things. But what is funny to me is that I find the same accusations that are thrown at me, are actually the ones I make of them. Or in the words of the sage 2nd grader "I'm rubber and you're glue everything bounces off me and sticks to you"

Ok, so what the hell am I talking about today? Simply this, I am often accused of compromising the gospel, or the faith. And the reasons I do this are varied but usually come to these:

1. to fit my own politically correct socialist ideologies

2. to try and be cool, or hip

3. to try and be liked by the non Christians, (both atheists and other religions)

So in order to be a cool, socialist who gets invited to non Christian parties, I compromise the gospel. But if I was a brave, man, and took the bible at its literal word, I would be a non compromising, despised, conservative man who lets God speak for me when I am reviled.

But this is the thing... I didn't come to my political leanings and then change my theological views. I am liked, and disliked by many people from other religions and non religions because I am unashamedly committed to the idea of the uniqueness of Jesus' as the God man, who's work was salvation for the cosmos. And, I quite frankly, am so damn cool, that my beliefs couldn't make me any cooler. :)

I came to my beliefs not because of any reason other than, I belief this is what Christ, through the biblical accounts in the gospels, teaches with both his words and his deeds. I am not trying to be a lefty, a hipster, a liberal, or even to not have to worry about sin, rather I am trying to follow Jesus.

But lets talk about compromise:

The gospels show throughout their entirety Jesus' animosity towards the religious and moral elite, yet the church of today in their calls for "holiness" regularly lift up these same attitudes, rejecting the very people Jesus routinely located himself among. We compromise the words and example of Jesus, by emulating the enemies of Jesus instead of Jesus himself.

Jesus continuously tells us to not trust in money, to not store up treasures, to give all we have away and trust God, to share with whomever has need ect. Yet we do not take those scriptures literally, of course not! Jesus couldnt have meant something that makes me uncomfortable. The truth is Jesus talks way more about what you do with your wallet than what you do with your dick, and I am the one compromising? Excuse me if I am a bit nervous, you keep smacking me in the head with that log when you are trying to get the splinter out of my eye.

Jesus was consistently caring for the marginalized. He tells us a story of what is essentially, the righteous heretic. He spends time among the pagans, the heretics, hookers and the race traitors. He parties with sinners. He loves and touches the ritually unclean. Yet we make sanctified church services that make people that can't afford a smart casual, or even formal outfit, feel unwanted. We impose burdens of righteousness upon others and exclude them. We do not spend time with those of other or no faith in loving communion.

There is assent to taking the bible as its literal word, and then it being thrown right out the window when it says: Love your enemy, do good to those that do bad to you, and do not violently resist an evil doer. Instead we make up this bullshit about loving your enemy in your heart while you drop bombs on him, his wife and his children in real life.

There is constant clamor about the literalness of the hell of the afterlife, yet no willingness to enter into the hell of the present and rescue people from their pain and oppression. There is talk about the literalness about the heaven of the future, but no willingness to sacrifice to bring justice, mercy and goodness to all now.

I am not advocating a lessening of Christian discipleship, but a raising of it. I am not advocating an easier discipleship but a harder one. I am declaring that the rigorous believism of our current Christianity is a fragile shell of the grace and power filled way of discipleship of the early church. That orthodoxy needs to give way to orthopraxy or we are just big brains and big mouths with no relation to the Jesus of the bible.

You want to see who is compromising? Who is caring for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the marginalized, the imprisoned? Who is loving their enemy? Who is actually walking out the fruits of the Spirit. Don't ask me what I think, ask me how I live.



Kathy Baldock said...

One of my FAVORITE sections of scripture Isaiah 58---"so God why aren't you answering us? We do this and that and other stuff, so where are you God?" and God says "hey Isaiah, SCREAM at these fools and tell them go cut the cords of injustice and oppression and care for the poor and house them and THEN, I've got you COMPLETELY covered." I watch rather than listen.

Jon Philpott said...

You make a lot of sense, sir.

Janet Woodlock said...

Love it.

Patricia said...

Have you read George MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons? He says much the same, but did it in 19th century Scotland. His essay on Justice is a magnum opus. His works are out of print and available online. Here's a link to Justice:

In his day, he was perhaps the only Christian to whom Mark Twain ever took a liking, and the Clemons family visited the MacDonalds in England. He was a literary heavyweight who toured the U.S. but suffered from ill health and poverty. C.S. Lewis called MacDonald his "master" in terms of both theology and "baptizing" his imagination.

john jensen said...

I have read MacDonalds unspoken sermons, as well as most of his novels. This wonderful man has been one of the great influences of my life. My wife and I had the honor of staying at his family home in Scottland, when we visited Andrew Jones.


Patricia said...

MacDonald also changed my life, and my theology. Rather, perhaps I should say, rescued my faith, such as it is. Very few, however, seem ready or willing to explore his works, though I think perhaps such a read might could rescue churchianity from much of itself.

You've gotten to stay at his house ... impressed.

Unknown said...

It seems to me that the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees and other Jewish groups like them was not their morals but rather their "holier-than-thou" mentality. They portrayed themselves to be better than the rest of the populous. I think you can agree with me that one point of the gospel message is that ALL need Christ, not just the non-Jews, the poor, and the marginalized.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a less worldly life. In fact, it's what I've been chasing for months now. I'm done with consistently listening to worldly music, watching mainstream movies (especially the sexually explicit ones) b/c my body is indeed God's temple and I do not want to clutter up His home. And being this living sacrifice as Romans 12:1 asks me to be (especially in the entertainment department) feels beyond liberating and allows me to get in touch with God more than I have ever been! The issue is when one does this only to look down on others. Obviously, Christ-centered love is not in such attitude. And my experience thus far has been making my heart hunger for Christ to allow me to love more like Him. I love people SO MUCH. It's crazy! And to live a Christian life separate from the world's patterns and, more importantly, set on Christ's love, speaks louder than any testimony. And it would truly tell the world that the life of a Christian is indeed different from the life of an unsaved person. And they'll want to know why! And explaining why? PRICELESS! :)

btw, this isn't to diss what you have said. In fact, I agree with you on a lot of what you wrote!

lyn said...

Very true, have always felt this way too. Luckily though, there are a large number of Christians today who feel the same way, and they are across the whole spectrum of the church (all denominations and countries and backgrounds). What we need is more unity and grace, not more splintering into factions and pointing fingers...

David said...

I'm an atheist and I don't think John is very cool at all.

Hope that helps.


lyn said...

Oh wow - an atheist with a sense of humour ;D Brilliant.

john jensen said...

David and I have a long history :) good to hear from you David, I hope things are well with you and your wife. But seriously, stop trying to be contrary... I am totally cool


john jensen said...

Mary, I don't take it as a dis. I do however think that occasionally our own "righteousness" can whether we mean it to or not alienate others. Like when offered a beer, does your "holiness" depend upon saying no? If you do say no, does it say in some way, I don't do that stuff like you do? and then of course where is the line? My point is that the pharisees were Jesus enemy for three reasons, one they neglected the poor and the marginalized, two they used "holiness" as a way to have power over others, and three they were not motivated by love.


lyn said...

"when offered a beer, does your "holiness" depend upon saying no?"

"Hell, no!" ;D

Although I prefer wine...

Love seeing these conversations going, so good to have them...(and everyone is remaining polite and rare)

Unknown said...

Well, considering the fact that I am under 21, I'd have to say no hahaha!

And I agree with you on the points you made about the Pharisees. But my saying no to beer or my choosing not to go clubbing, etc. has never alienated me from non-Christians. Why? Because I love them and, get this, they know it! In fact, it often brings me to witness and to spark some hope of a Savior to them. Non-Christians and Christians can have things in common other than just drinking, clubbing, etc. and those similarities oftem bring room for witnessing to them. My choosing not to do those things is out of respect for the God I serve. My choosing not to do those things is part of my being a "living sacrifice". It is also my way of telling my non-Christian friends "I don't need those things to satisfy me and I want so desperately for you to find the same." Clearly, my chasing a more Christ-centered life is for selfless reasons and it is all done out of the love Christ has placed within me.

So it seems like we as Christians need to find a balance. We should NEVER neglect ANYONE when we show Christ-centered love to those who may not be able to return the favor b/c when we do it to them, we are doing it unto the Lord. At the same time, 1 Peter 1:16 says "Be holy, because I am holy." That's an often neglected verse b/c, ironic as it seems, chasing holiness in modern day Christianity is not as popular as it used to be.

john jensen said...

My question is what is holiness? Jesus was known as a drunk, (though I don't believe he got drunk, he did drink with others), a glutton, a friend of sinners, a party animal in other words. Holiness is not setting up a personal morality, but a holistic life that centers around love of God and love of neighbor. Particularly, the poor and the marginalized.


Unknown said...

"Jesus was known as a drunk"? That's the first time I've heard that. A drunk is someone who regularly drinks to the point of drunkenness. I doubt Jesus did that.

And you're right about holiness. Love God. Love people. But there more to that (I'll talk about it later in the comment). Like I said earlier, my choices to refrain from certain activities that aren't necessarily sin is out of my respect for God and what He has done for me (and trust me; He has done A LOT). Now that respect for God is also demonstrated when I love others, especially the least loved. I also know that as one lives his or her Christian life, God speaks. The question is are we willing to listen? And as I have been more careful with what I put in me, that is, God's temple, His voice has become clearer. And my being careful is not done out my personal morals but out of obedience to His still small voice. And I know that if we sincerely ask God, "Lord, how can I be more holy" and we listen with a heart of obedience, He can show us! Holiness is a journey and I'm choosing to follow wherever Christ leads. I think all Christians should do so b/c it is BEYOND fulfilling. :)

john jensen said...

As I clearly said, I don't believe Jesus got drunk. But others called him a drunkard, your translation might say wine bibber, the word means drunkard. Remember Jesus, at a party where people had already imbibed more than expected created 120 gallons of good wine. As a wine drinker I can tell you good wine isn't week wine.

I wish you well on your journey,


Unknown said...

Thanks Rev. And I wish you well on your spiritual discipline of prayer! I have read your other blogs concerning that and I must say that YOU are the one that actually inspired me to do the same! God is so wonderful.