Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (10 of 14)

This is part 10 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Love the LordMatthew 22:37–38, Mark 12:30 , Luke 10:27 — Religious piety demands there be a system of easy assessment to the nature of a person's standing before God. Instead Jesus leaves his listeners with a command that is essentially unattainable. Jesus sets the entire success of living the Jesus way to a wholly obsessed physical, mental, and spiritual embodiment of participation in the immanent presence of God's divine spirit which permeates the entirety of his creation.

Love Your NeighborMatthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27 — Practice of the “second commandment” is so contingent on participation in the first. It is when God's permeating presence and work is recognized in the entirety of creation that our selfish desires are eclipsed to be capable to wholly participate in God's reconciliation work. It is only in total obsession to the fullness of God, that we can be fully emptied to work as conduits of God's compassion and mercy, fully participants in the divine loving renewal of the creation.

Watch Against DeceitMatthew 24:4-7, Mark 13:5-8, Luke 17:20-21 – Many people, groups, organizations will claim to speak with the authority of Christ. Many will want to manipulate the desire of the genuine follower of Jesus' lifestyle to their own gain. Others will threaten to destroy and even destroy those who are genuine in their selfless loving participation in God's justice mission in the creation. Jesus warns his followers to trust the “law of love” that burns inside as the preservation and illumination of the themselves and of the world.

Be Alert To God's WorkMatthew 24:36–44, Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:8 — The world is full of would-be messiahs and self proclaimed saviors. Jesus warns his followers to stay attuned and participating in the divine redemptive work of God's own in the creation.

Eat My Body, Drink My BloodMatthew 26:26–27, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-20 — These two commands are well beyond the scope of any satisfactory discussion in a post of this magnitude, and to be rightly handled would require at least an entire post dedicated to the combo and could be more fully worked out in at least a post for each. Suffice to say, these commands orient us to the position and posture of the Jesus follower in the world. Like Jesus we embrace the emptiness in order to be consumed as participants in Christ's brokenness which leads to new creation.

Continue Reading Part 11 of 14

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (9 of 14)

This is part 9 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Do Not DivorceMatthew 19:3-10, Mark 10:10-12, Luke 16:18 — Although the religious leaders posed a question to trap Jesus in an answer that would make Herod unhappy, he responds with a opportunity to remind his listeners not to give way to a stubborn selfish heart, that makes decision by convenience and emotional feelings, rather than by the selfless sacrifice his life was embodying..

If Possible, Do Not MarryMatthew 19:11-12 — Once again, Jesus offers a second command that reinforces the fact that the Kingdom of God should be placed before all institutions and traditions of culture and self satisfaction. Here Jesus commands that those to whom it is possible, should avoid marriage all together, thus surrendering their rights to it's pleasures and privileges in order to be fully consumed by participation in following Jesus.

Sell Everything, Give To PoorMatthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33, Luke 18:21-22 – Scholars and preachers have tried everything to make this text say something other than what it says, or to make it a personal command to this one rich man, despite it being given as a general command in Luke. Applying to just the rich man therefore somehow dismisses it's application to the broader audience of all Jesus followers. I admittedly wrestle myself with the meaning and application of this command. Although, I have not been remotely conformed to fully embrace this command, I believe that the fullest ability to be the embodiment of our commission to preserve and illuminate the world is hindered by our resistance to practice this command.

Choose the Servant PositionMatthew 20:26–28, Mark 9:34-35, Mark 10:43-45, Luke 22:24-27 — Here Jesus changes everything the kingdom of this world says about power. His followers are ordered to pursue the way of Jesus in an ever increasing commitment to downward mobility. Jesus puts no lower limits on the position of service his followers should be moving toward. Instead, his path is to ransom others through willing emptiness to enter their place of slavery, and remain in solidarity to their brokenness. It is in selfless sacrifice of solidarity with the broken that the practice of resurrection is borne.

Give Caesar Caesar'sMatthew 22:19–21, Mark 12:15-17, Luke 20:25 — One can not pursue citizenship in the Kingdom of God while hoarding the property of the kingdom of this world. Like commands before it, the followers of the Jesus way must live with open hands. There is no room for allegiances and properties other than the allegiance to the joining in God's redemptive work of justice and mercy. Whether it be the literal money owed in taxes, or the surrender of all other property that belongs to the world. Once again Jesus confounds our conventional need to hoard and protect my own self interests.

Continue Reading Part 10 of 14

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (8 of 14)

This is part 8 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Get Up, Do Not Be Afraid!Matthew 17:5-8 — As the apostle John points out, Jesus is the way and the word of God. As the way and word of God, Jesus will be revealed in his glory in the midst of our lives. Jesus instructs his followers not to fear, diminish, or dismiss the divine vision of God's work, but instead to embrace the mystery and revelation, and live on not in fear, but in realization of the revelation of God.

Become Like A ChildMatthew 18:1-4, Luke 9:48, Luke 18:16-17 – A friend recently told my 5 yr old that the reason why she was beautiful and he and I (also mid-thirties) were ugly was because she had come from more recently. I thought it was very cute, despite the implications of following it through to the end. However, challenging I find the idea being seriously considered in term of physical beauty, not that my friend intended it to be taken seriously, it must be very seriously considered in terms of the ugliness of our Spirit. Jesus commands us to not follow the pattern of the conventional wisdom of this kingdom, that darkens and ages the spirit through the constant ebb and flow of life's pain. Instead we are commanded to stay near the Spirit of God, our divine light constantly flowing out of spiritual proximity to his Spirit of justice and mercy.

Protect ChildrenMatthew 18:6-7, Mark 9:36-37,42 , Luke 17:1-2 — Continuing the thought from the previous segment, Jesus commands his followers to not only remain childlike themselves, but also to be diligent to protect the virtue and innocence of children. Jesus is not ignorant to the reality that devastation and pain will come into an individuals life, but he reminds that one's own spirit is destroyed by their participation in the damaging of the child's innocence.

Go to OffendersMatthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3-4 — Bitterness destroys the spirit of the one who holds onto it. Slander and gossip do not work to dispel the bitterness but rather to strengthen the position of the who feels their rights were violated in an encounter as the offender is further demonized in the assurances support by the hearers of the gossip. Alternately, when one humbles themselves and seeks the path of selfless sacrifice that requires listening to the other's understanding, baggage, and perspective on a conflict, the encounter becomes a bulwark against bitterness and instead builds bridges of trust and justice between the parties involved.

Forgive OffendersMatthew 18:21–22 — Forgiveness is nearly impossible without the intentional decision to empty ourselves of our rights and instead take personally take on the consequences of our offenders actions. Forgiveness is rooted in the justice and mercy of God. It grows up, as testimony to the power of practicing resurrection in the new creation of life that is built in the space where the brokenness of the original offense started.

Continue Reading Part 9 of 14

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (7 of 14)

This is part 7 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Take My YokeMatthew 11:29 — The 'Yoke' was the requirements placed by any rabbi on those who wanted to be proven as worthy to be his disciple. Jesus offers the command to bear his yoke as the antithesis of the yoke's of the religious experts and pharisees. The best, brightest, and most disciplined would take on an extra measure of purity and study to prove themselves worthy of their masters yoke. Jesus does no offer his yoke based on purity, study, or worth. Instead Jesus offer his yoke to the weary, the burdened, and the childlike. Jesus promises a new kind of yoke, one that is good and brings rest.

Stretch Out Your HandMatthew 12:13, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:10 — Although not considered a general command being it was given literally to a man with a crippled hand, who received a literal healing of his crippledness. The command stands to reinforce that Jesus' kingdom is built on the rejected things of this kingdom, and it is marked by new creation in those things.

Honor Your ParentsMatthew 15:1-6, Mark 7:8-12 — In some ways it would be easy to look at this command and leave it as self explanatory, but contextually there is much more going on here than just a reminder on parent child relations. This command orders us not to be blind to God's work of mercy and justice in the world because of our religious traditions. When religion precludes us from practicing love it is not rooted in the Spirit of God.

Don't Let Your Mouth Defile YouMatthew 15:10-18, Mark 7:14-23 — Here Jesus warns that it is not failure to comply with moral purity of the religious elite that lead a person in a spiritually unhealthy direction. Instead it is the thoughts which become words that show the fruit of heart that is not seeking selflessness or emptiness.

Beware of LeavenMatthew 16:6, Mark 8:15, Luke 12:1 — In ancient times leaven did not come in convenient easy open packages. Leaven was made by allowing bread from a previous batch to mold, and then adding the molded breaded in the fresh dough. Leaven was therefore associated with uncleaness. Metaphorically speaking, leaven had come to represent sin and evil. Jesus warns that those who seek his way must be intent to discern the evil that comes with spiritual elitism, because that evil separates one's heart far from God.

Continue Reading Part 8 of 14

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (6 of 14)

This is part 6 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Let Dead Bury Their DeadMatthew 8:20-22, Luke 9:57-61 — Leave all other allegiances behind. The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of comfortable homes, lavish funerals, and the comforts of this kingdom. Jesus reminds his followers that everything given by the hand of the powerful of this kingdom, will be taken away in their effort to break the will of those pursuing the selflessness of participation in God's reconciliation love

Go and Learn MercyMatthew 9:13 – The religious leaders of Jesus' day had boiled the law and prophets down to a system of piety and ceremony. Jesus rejects any notion that there is a system of behavior or a liturgy of ceremony that brings one into favor with God. Instead Jesus urges us not to attempt to 'win God's favor' but instead to synch our hearts in line with God's heart, which is practiced through mercy.

Pray For LaborersMatthew 9:38, Luke 10:2— Like Jesus' instructions on prayer in Matthew 6, this command reminds us once again that our prayers are to make God's will a reality that permeates the entirety of the cosmos.

Fear God, Not ManMatthew 10:26, Luke 10:10-11, Luke 12:4-5 — The systems of powers of this kingdom are tangible, and therefore easily manipulated to instill fear in those that challenge the systems and institutions of oppression that are the engines of this kingdom. Jesus reminds his followers that they are free to work against that machine, since all it's exploitation will be revealed.

Take Up Your CrossMatthew 10:34-39, Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-36, Luke 9:23-24, Luke 14:27 — Continuing on the previous thought Jesus gives a command that seems most harsh to our conventional wisdom. It was customary for Roman soldiers to make the condemned carry their own cross. Allegiance to the Kingdom of God will get you charged with insurrection by the powerful of the kingdom of this world. There is no way to remain at peace with those who prosper by exploitation, whether physically, fiscally, or spiritually.

Continue Reading Part 7 of 14

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (5 of 14)

This is part 5 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Do Not Cast PearlsMatthew 7:6 — Jesus knew the world had a great many people who would be drunk on their own self righteousness. Knowing this, he warned those who followed his way not to attempt to collude with their power for their advancement. Linking this teaching with the preceding commandment against judgementalism, Jesus warned that those who seek power, by the means of the powerful's tools would find themselves destroyed by the very allies they attempted to use.

Ask, Seek, and KnockMatthew 7:7–8, Luke 11:9-10 — Rather than the alignment with the power brokers in the conventional powers of this world, Jesus here commands reliance on a new kind of giving. The powerful of this world can give only from the resources of this kingdom. Jesus however reminds that submission to his kingdom requires reliance on the resources of his Kingdom. Ask, Seek, Knock is a promise to meet the needs of those seeking to practice new creation in the broken places of the current kingdom.

Treat Others As You Want To Be TreatedMatthew 7:12, Luke 6:35 — This command is Jesus' own “Cliff Notes” on the law and the prophets. This command is rooted in God's identity as 'Love' and reminds us again that we are to practice preservation and illumination in the world. It calls us to trust in God's promise to provide every need for the perfect reconciliation of this 'Very Good' creation. It commands us to act that way, despite the motivations and goals of the other and despite personal costs it may appear to ourselves.

Enter the Narrow GateMatthew 7:13–14, Luke 13:34 — Jesus words are not easy. Alignment with least of these and those nearest to the heart of God is no way to success in this kingdom. Jesus commands his followers to be salt, to be light, to practice selfless sacrifice as the marks of Kingdom of God citizens.

Beware of False ProphetsMatthew 7:15 — Echoed by John in Revelation, Jesus reminds that there are those who will speak the language of Jesus, but intend it to solidify their power in the kingdom of this world. Jesus warns in this command to watch the actions and outcomes to see if it is power of love that is being sown by those who claim to speak on God's behalf.

Continue Reading Part 6 of 14

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (4 of 14)

This is part 4 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Fast In Secret — Matthew 6:15–18 — It is impossible to separate this command from the command on giving a few verses earlier. God's purposes in intentional discipline is not to server as determination of which class of holy persons we belong in, but instead to orient us in the will and vision of God for the resurrection of all things filled with life and divine light.

Lay Up Treasures — Matthew 6:19–24 — Jesus deals here once again in the uncomfortable space of his desire for us to live open handed. Noting that the eye is the lamp of the body he convicts our selfish desire for acquisition that prevents us from fully embracing the practice of intentional emptiness. Our decisions are in the crossfire of two competing masters. To put it most relevantly to our place in time and space the selfish nature of consumerism can not coexist with Jesus invitation to emptiness.

Do Not Worry — Matthew 6:25-30, Luke 12:22 — Worry is the natural outcome of unsatisfied selfishness.

Seek God’s Kingdom — Matthew 6:33 — In the absence of seeking the Jesus way, one would hardly expect selfish satisfaction to just be poured out. God's Kingdom is no different. The Way of selflessness and emptiness will not just fall from heaven. The Spirit reveals God's divine light as calls us each down the path that sanctifies us to full participation in God's perfect Kingdom work.

Judge Not — Matthew 7:1 , Luke 6:37— The Way belongs to God. Do not judge causes us to trust God in his divine work. Although we join with God in working to practice resurrection and new life, though we believe that our calling is to breathe divine light into the darkness of this kingdom, we must remember that reconciliation is God's work. This command reminds us not to fall victim ourselves to Satan's third lie, believing that we can be like God.

Continue Reading Part 5 of 14

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (3 of 14)

This is part 3 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Give To Whoever AsksMatthew 5:42, Luke 6:30, Luke 6:38 — At least for me, Jesus' commands to live with open hands are the most challenging. Jesus' followers must look critically into the world and live transparently in selfless sacrifice to participate in resurrection to every need without judgment to it's productiveness and validity.
Love Your Enemies Matthew 5:44-45, Luke 6:27-28 — Perfect love is never contingent on it's recipient. As we come to the reality that God's redemptive life giving work is present in his entire creation, and comes from heaven distributed equally as is the sun and rain, we realize that we have no space but to creatively finds mean to bring new life into every person we encounter, and to trust God's greater work in their lives motivated by the selfless love of divine reconciliation of the entire creation.

Be PerfectMatthew 5:48 — In the time and space between the completion of God's redemptive work and the final consummation of that work it is hard to believe we could practice this command with any sincerity. This command stands to ground us in the perspective of God. It is connected to this section on non-violent resistance, open giving, and enemy love in a way to challenge us to understand the very look of what God deems as “being perfect.” We press on to embodiment of selfless sacrifice to remember the God light that it creates is the very thing we were perfectly created for.

Do Not Use God for Self PromotionMatthew 6:1–4 — Self promotion is the opposite direction of the Jesus follower. Jesus rejects the idea of upward mobility in any community by means of “righteous” living. Paul reminds us that Jesus, “though being in very nature as God, emptied himself.” We are commanded that walking in humility before God should be the street lamps that illuminate our path; for when it is the praise of men that is a temporal reward.

Pray God's VisionMatthew 6:5–14 , Luke 11:10-4— The command of how to pray deserves an entire post to itself and I will not attempt to treat it in this small form format. Suffice to say, that the purpose of prayer is to make God's will a reality that permeates the entirety of the cosmos.

Continue Reading Part 4 of 14

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (2 of 14)

This is part 2 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:

Honor God’s LawMatthew 5:17–20 — This command is certainly a good starting point for those who wish to condemn the sick of the world. All of the “evils” of society are certainly called out in the law. However, we must remember that Jesus when asked to distill God's law to the one most important part, chose “Love God Wholly.” Then of his own addition linked that with 'Love your neighbor.' We are reminded here that God's way is a law of love that is illustrated in how we practice preservation and illumination.
Be ReconciledMatthew 5:21–25 — Jesus has a tricky way of raising the bar on spiritual wisdom high above the level of conventional wisdom. Jesus reminds his listeners that where the world stops the cycle of violence at murder, even the hate itself will burn us up from the inside. Jesus commands his followers to practice reconciliation. This is not a command merely to 'fess up and take responsibility' but instead to go beyond responsibility to the selfless sacrifice, the intentional emptiness, the counter cultural denial of self interest and personal fulfillment. Practicing reconciliation, like practicing resurrection takes on the whole responsibility for the brokenness and labors until new life and God's light fill them.
Control Your ThoughtsMatthew 5:29–30, Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:43-47 — Here once again Jesus raises the bar above conventional wisdom of his day. “Do not commit adultery” is bounded set thinking. Jesus commands us to be anchored in a “centered set” thought life. As Paul reminds “for freedom you were set free” and “all things are permissible” Kingdom thinking is not dictated by a checklist of in/out radio-buttons, but instead it centers us away from the selfish lust for fulfillment and redeems us from the consuming destruction that conventional self oriented thinking leads to..
Keep Your WordMatthew 5:33-37 — Truthfulness is a commission to live transparently. There are actually two commands contained here in these verses. The first is to not take oaths, and the second is to live as you speak. Transparent living does not allow for personal agendas and scheming. The only means by which to accomplish this command is to live so openly in front of others that your motives are not questioned, and your answers are not suspected. Selflessness and humble service have nothing to hide.
Practice Non-Violent ResistanceMatthew 5:38–41, Luke 6:29 — Here are three distinct commands that I have at great debt to Walter Wink, John Howard Yoder, and Mark Moore combined into one summarized version of the three. Jesus teaches here that the human tendency to “Fight or Flight” is not the only option. Jesus instead using relevant examples to his immediate audience teaches creative resistance rooted in love and redemptive practice. In other words, when faced with opposition practice resurrection by finding means to expose injustice to create space for new life and God's light.

Continue Reading Part 3 of 14

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jesus: His Commands (1 of 14)

"Jesus is Lord," places him in the position of authority. As with any leader or authority there are commands and teachings that Jesus left for those of his kingdom to follow and obey. I will do my best over these posts to be fair to highlight every command, as I have counted 69 distinct commands this will be divided over a long series of posts. It is my honest hope that this contains everything commanded by Jesus as recorded in the canonical gospels, and is my best attempt to explain how I feel in this stage of life, about the meaning and relevancy of these to my decision to live as a follower of 'The Way.'

RepentMatthew 4:17 — Followers of Christ will are to have the humility to admit that the way of life they have been living is broken and come to Jesus, as traitors to that old life. Although this is the central tenet of Jesus preaching, it is not a singular event instead God will convict over and over throughout our life to where we as individuals are living traitorous to the spirit of the divine kingdom. It is God's spirit that leads us to repentance. (2 Cor 7:10)

Follow Me — Matthew 4:18-20, John 1:43, John12:26 — On the very heels of repentance is a command that calls us to embrace submission. Each time we are convicted by brokenness present in our lives, we must follow Jesus ways in his means to live differently. Our teacher is ever asking us to more and more follow his path which is a path of selfless sacrifice and intentional emptiness.

RejoiceMatthew 5:1-12 — Living counter to the pervading culture of self interests and personal fulfillment will result in being ostracized and branded a fool. It is into this reality that Jesus commands those who are called to the join in the emptiness of poverty, mourning, meekness, hungering, mercy, simplicity, and peacemaking to find joy that their efforts have value in the realm of God.

Let Your Light ShineMatthew 5:13-16 — Salt and Light, or preserve and illuminate, is the very core of the Jesus lifestyle. The ministry of Jesus lives out this message and we are commanded to be modeled by it. Like Jesus we preserve the world by loving mercy, practicing justice, and living out humility before God. Like Jesus we work as the illuminating incarnation of God present in the world by participation in resurrection. We take the broken abandoned places of the world's kingdom and fill them with new life and God's light.

Continue Reading Part 2 of 14

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jesus: Creeds and The Jesus Way

I grew up in a tradition that had very hard and fast rules to who was in and who was out when it came to matters of being right with God. Those who went to churches with our common name, and interpreted the Bible the same way we interpreted the Bible, were in. Everyone else was out. I once heard a well known personality in our tribe ask the question, "If God can forgive a multitude of bad behavior, why can't he forgive any thread of bad theology?" His question resonated with my young mind.

As I have grown, my circle of influence has also grown. I certainly do not read the Bible through those lenses I was given as a child. I have been blessed by the thinking of many in the conservative tradition that I grew up a part of. I have been blessed by conservative voices outside of the tradition of my roots. I have been blessed by more progressive voices in the "mainline denominations" who have challenged many of the assumptions I was taught by the lenses our tradition read through. Much to the chagrin of some, I have been blessed even by the liberal theologians. In totality I have seen that something of the nature, purpose, and mission of Jesus comes through all these voices. I have learned that since as Friedrich Beuchner says, "All theology is autobiographical" a piece of God is revealed through how each person and heritage interprets God through their story.

A common thread that I seem to hear over and over is the thread of Nicea. The common groundwork in so many ecumenical discussions is affirmation of the Nicene creed. For those of you unfamiliar with creeds let me give you the breif overview.
First Creed: Jesus Is Lord

Apostles Creed: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Nicene Creed: I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man, And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven,And sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen.

The "First Creed" is the common creed of the earliest church. The point here was not associated with divinity, but instead with authority. The creed stood in the face of the more common imperial credo, "Caeser is Lord." This creed put the followers of Jesus into a treasonous position. To follow Jesus was to commit high treason against the state. So the first creed of the church was merely ascent to participation in this insurgency. It was an identification for those who were living in the way of Jesus, with him as their new King.

Although it's origins seem largely unknown the Apostles Creed was commonly accepted and can be found in many early church writings dating from around 180 CE. By this time, this new creed had given up it's simplicity as an insurgency against the kingdoms of this world, now to outline a more rigorous religious structure. This creed had moved from participation in a revolt for an upside down kingdom, to a set of intellectual ascents. Broadly speaking, this creed however was still non trinitarian, and more aligned to seeing Jesus as the messiah prophesied about in the Jewish prophets who would rule on the throne of David.

Nicea however takes the language of the apostles creed and expands it further. Written under the request of Constantine, this was to intended to be a tool of the state. A great deal of language was added at this point from the previous creeds. Since I am not a scholar I will not begin to question whether we should or should not trust the motivations and outcomes of the Council of Nicea. I would refer anyone interested to spend more time studying the process and motivations behind Nicea.

Like those who reared me in my faith community, I am left considering which creed we hold to most firmly. I affirm the ideas of the creed from Nicea myself, but I question if ascent to a set of theological statements is remotely what the Jesus of the gospels would have envisioned when he talked about "Believe in Me." I personally can not use ascent to the ideas of Nicea as the measure of "following Jesus." I am too affected by the message he preached, by the actions he modeled, and by the consequences of his behavior, to let him be reduced to religous system. The Catholic theologian Hans Kung said, "Jesus came to initiate a kingdom, and all we have given him is a church" My affirmation of Nicea seems irrelevant if I am not following the Jesus Way.

This brings us to a particular soap box that I enjoy. This topic of his statement to "believe in me." There are two distinct ideas at work here. Let's look at these two ideas in the context of myself for a moment. The first idea is considers my existence. Since many of you have met me, and those who have not can see the outcome of my existence by the fruit of this post when I ask the question "Do You Believe In Me" you would probably answer yes that you believe I am real. Now let's consider the distinctly other way this question is asked. If I ask my wife, "Do You Believe In Me?" She is answering a completely different question. She is answering a question of trust that will greatly affect her life. I am asking her to trust me in the direction I am going that no matter the outcomes we see this direction will be a blessing for us together.

As example I dream of working in tutoring with homeless and high risk children. I also dream of moving to Southern Africa to live among AIDS orphans. These passions are in my radar because they among what it means for me to follow Jesus. So when I ask, "Do you believe in me?" I am asking her to invest and trust in one of these dreams, and follow me, despite the cost as I make it a reality.

The Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed answer the question of, "Do you believe in my existence?" The "First Creed" answers the question of "Do you believe in me enough to follow my dream?" I make decisions and move toward the future knowing Jesus is Lord, the king of a new kingdom, a kingdom that is inaugurated by resurrection and practices new creation. A kingdom where the last is first, and the banquet table is open to the unclean. A Kingdom where I am left to ask myself, "Am I following the Jesus Way?"

Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus is Lord! Let Jubilee be sounded

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jesus: The Reason We Suffer

As the Christian liturgical calendar enters lent today, I am very blessed to be at a point that my heart is much in need of the sabbath this tradition invites it's devotees into. I do not come from a tradition that practices lent, yet I am personally committed to it, since I have felt blessed in my Spirit every time I have taken on this practice.

Lent is a divine invitation. Lent celebrates a God who is in all the creation, but is greater than the sum of the creation. Lent reminds us of both the transcendence and immanence of God. Most importantly, Lent reminds us of the reason we suffer. As my friend Nanette Sawyer wrote on Twitter this morning, "Coming from dust and returning to dust means I am related to all things, interconnected with all creation." As we are connected to God's spirit, we are connected to the entire creation, so we suffer with the brokenness of creation.

Lent focuses on Jesus. Jesus, or perhaps in this case Immanuel would be better, is the reason we suffer. In Jesus, God pitched his tent in the neighborhood of humanity. Jesus, the light from Light, a man filled by the very spirit God. Jesus suffered, because God's creation suffered. In Jesus, the incarnation, God suffered. Lent focuses on Jesus, lent focuses on suffering.

Suffering is not easy for those of caught in the strangle grip of affluence. The earth groans because of suffering. The womb of God feels every tear that falls from the eye of the sex worker, the creator shivers with every chill felt by the homeless, the earth longs for redemption, while the affluent sit by our fireplaces and ponder philosophy. Jesus following will reorient us.

My goal this Lenten season is to look at Jesus, to be reoriented to suffering. I will look at the commands of Jesus, the parables of Jesus, the blessing and curses of Jesus. I will not look at Jesus as an expert, a scholar, or a preacher, since I am none of those things. I will look at Jesus as a follower, as a friend, to be reoriented to the suffering that broke his heart, shaped his practice, and ultimately led to his demise. I will look to Jesus to be resurrected in practice to a new creation that proclaims hope, life, and release.

The Kingdom of God is Risen! Let Jubilee be sounded!

Friday, February 12, 2010

God Is Love: Thoughts On Gay Marriage

“God is Love!” I join with the apostle John in remembering this truth. “Everything you do should be done in love.” I join with the apostle Paul in striving to live this truth. “Every minute build in more generous love to others.” I join with the apostle Peter in developing this truth. “As you are loved, Love!” I join with our Lord Jesus the Christ in being shaped by this truth.

Love is not a means to an end. Love is the means and the end. Love is the practice that will identify those who are the Kingdom of God. Love is a citizenship, that must pervade every element of praxis in a reborn life.

It is because of this I have stood at odds for a very long time with many people I love dearly in conservative Christianity over the issue of 'Gay Marriage.' I do not take anyone to task on their reading of and understanding of the Bible. However, I can not understand how reading a book, that calls it's followers to be a people defined by love one could ever use it as a source to demonize any class of people.

If YHWH God is love, and his are people who are known by their love; then Christianity's politicized campaign against gay marriage has cost her very identity. It is as impossible to tell a person they are “Love by God” and campaign to deny them of any civil rights, as it would be to tell a hungry man, “be warm and well fed” and leave him to starve.

I am reminded of the words of Jesus who said, “Be compassionate, as the Lord your God is compassionate.” This call to compassion must be as enveloping as the very compassion of God.

I am aware that many people who have heard countless Christian leaders press how 'Gay Marriage' is the most pressing issue to the church today may be very offended by this post. I accept that a post like this is not a perfect forum for such discussion. I ask two things if this offends you; first check out this website ( and read the words of the actual people affected by this. Secondly, feel free to think you need to correct me, that's right if you would like to discuss this in an actual human context please let me know, and I will listen to your reasons why love is not the issue and I will dialouge back with why the issue is love.

I close by going back to the beginning.
Love is not a means to an end. Love is the means and the end. Love is the practice that will identify those who are the Kingdom of God. Love is a citizenship, that must pervade every element of praxis in a reborn life.
“God is Love”