Monday, August 22, 2011

Learning to blush.

I read an article today about an academic conference that hopes to normalize pedophilia.
Absolutely shocking, but should we really be surprised, when the idea of any moral absolute is now largely taboo? Isn't this simply the seed of post-modern relativism in full bloom? The inevitable fruit of the root of thought which views any claim to moral absolutes as an imposition upon freedom?

Homosexuality, which was considered deviant two decades ago, is now a fiercely guarded freedom, as long as it is between two consenting adults. Could it be that the right for an adult to have sex with a consenting minor will soon also be a 'freedom' fiercely guarded by a culture whose conscience is quickly becoming seared? Unthinkable? I think not.

We've lost our collective blush. We need to learn blush with discomfort again. And in holy indignation too. We have learned to condone and excuse almost every human impulse as normal, as long as it does not encroach upon freedom. Freedom has become our culture's highest value. Our only absolute. And we spend our moral efforts on hunting down any encroachment on freedom. In many ways these efforts are noble and necessary. But has freedom become an idol? If we are not able to say no to our animal instinct, are we really free at all? Isn't resisting instinct what makes us human?

Elevating freedom without acknowledging the corruption of the human condition, is like setting a rabid dog loose and expecting nobody to get bitten. We are all sexually dysfunctional because we are sons and daughters of Adam. The dysfunction manifests itself in different ways but it is always destructive. Every one of us need rescuing from our own corrupt instincts. Only Jesus can free us to live as God intended. Which includes learning to blush again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A New kind of Crisis

Drama. There's always some of it in a church. It's the nature of an imperfect family.
But as a church perseveres by grace, God changes the grand metaphor of the season from drama to peace. It's not that there is a complete absence of drama. Its just that you find yourself lighting more fires than you are fighting them. Fires of vision, intimacy and courage.

This is what happened to the church in Acts 9 after Paul was converted.
God turned the chief persecutor of the church into its chief spokesman. Many turned to Christ. The Holy Spirit strengthened them. The fear of the Lord gripped them. Drama made way for peace.

"Then the Church enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, living in the fear of the Lord, it multiplied." (Acts 9:31)

What is most profound to me though, is what the church did with their new found peace. In terms of new converts it was like a post-war baby boom. They didn't allow peace time to pacify them. They allowed it to activate and multiply them. They found a new kind of crisis. It was not external. It was the internal crisis of the Gospel itself.

My question is how we as a church respond to a season in which the grand metaphor has changed from crisis to peace? Again, not the total absence of drama, simply a new metaphor for a new season. The evidences of grace are everywhere.

Well, first of all, we guard peace like a rare treasure. We battle vigilantly against that which disturbs it, putting away gossip and divisiveness as war-time weapons. We learn to beat our verbal swords into plows of grace and truth. We guard peace not just because it is pleasant but because peace and the gospel are powerful allies. When Paul called the church to pray for its political leaders, it was so that 'we may enjoy peaceful quiet lives." But he didn't leave it at that. He continued, "this pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved..." (1 Tim 2:1-2)

Peace-time in a community really can result in a post-war baby-boom of new converts, and not simply converts, but a multiplication of Gospel communities. Church planting and re-planting. This is something of what God has called us to as a church. Crisis comes and goes, but we are not waiting for the next crisis to get us multiplying.
We are preparing steadily for this next chapter with prayerful strategy, the launch of a 2 year church planters course called the 'Porterbrook Institute' in the Fall, and the establishment of other partner churches who would join us on our planting journey.

So let's guard the gift of peace, enjoy and engage the season God has us in, and use it for the unfolding Drama of God's Gospel story together.