Category Archives: Thoughts

Thoughts on Racism

Over the last few weeks, like so many others in this country, I have been considering the role of race in this country. It would seem helpful to deal with what racism is.

Racism is in my estimation the belief that two people are fundamentally different, and in fact one is fundamentally superior, based on the color of their skin, which we see as an indication of ancestry. Racism is the continuation of the in-group out-group themes which have plagued human history. Unlike many other problems in society there is no substance to racism.

Racism is something that exists only in the realm of the mind. You cannot touch racism, or see it, or feel it. You can see, feel, and touch the actions which result from racism. Racism itself though is merely an idea and a racist is merely the person who believes in the ideas of racism.

How do you purge yourself of an idea? Stop thinking it. Stop giving it credence. Stop allowing it to define us. Start defining ourselves as humans, as fellow sojourners in a land of great joy and great adversity. Begin defining ourselves as those who can share hopes and dreams of a time and place when the world is better, where the injustice and inequality have faded and all that remains is hope and unity.

How does this begin? We must stop talking about it. We must stop defining ourselves by our race, unless of course it is the human race. Because if you are reading this you are human. You are not black, white, yellow, or red. You are human and I am human, and if we are both humans then we can share life together. We can share hopes dreams and ideals.

The moment I define myself as white, if you are not white that precludes you from being able to understand me. In the same way if you define yourself as black, or red, or yellow, then I have no way of being able to understand you. No matter how I may desire too I cannot make my skin color anything but what it is.

This is different from defining yourself as American, or Chinese, or African, or some other region/culture. Even if I am from another culture, I can immerse myself in a different culture and begin to understand it. I may never have the same understanding as native, but I can come close.

If you say you are a skin color and that is your most defining characteristic I have no way to bridge the gap. My skin color is what it is I was born with it, and I will die with it. If your skin color is different I cannot immerse myself in it I cannot understand it, and hence I cannot understand you.

If however, we all come together and say we will not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character, we will not define ourselves by the color of our skin but by our shared humanity, our shared hopes, dreams, and ideals. Then we can understand each other. Then we can see each other as we truly are, as uniquely human.

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Patriotism

Today, as I was driving around town I noticed something that struck me pretty hard. It was a large church—probably one of the largest in the area. In front of this church was a large flagpole and on that flagpole—much as one might might expect—was an American flag, and under that flag, maybe half the size of the American flag, was a Christian flag. It struck me hard because as I looked at it, it represented to me one of the fundamental problems with Christianity in America today.

It represents the we, those who call ourselves Christians, have sold our souls, and sold them cheaply. Here is what I mean. As a church we have sold our souls to the American dream and placed the dreams and plans of God as secondary, or tertiary—or worse.

Just like that flag in front of a church that boldly and largely displayed their patriotic pride, and colors, then placed underneath it and smaller was their secondary allegiance to Christ and Christianity so has the church gone. Now I realize that nobody at that church probably thought that through and if confronted with the idea most people there would likely deny it. However, that in my experience is the unfortunate reality of many of our churches.

Controversial folk singer/songwriter Derek Webb puts it like this “I am so easily satisfied, by the call of lovers so less wild, that I would take a little cash over Your very flesh and blood”. As a church I think that we have done just that. We have sold our souls to brick, mortar, cash, and temporal patriotism.

We like the people of Israel have found our Egypt and would rather live as slaves in the land of plenty than become free people in the far off land that God has promised us. I intentionally use the inclusive “we” and “us” because as I write this it requires not only the prophetic pointing of the finger but also, an act of repentance on my own part.

I write this after a day consumed with “getting” a day in which I spent most of my day working to make money then running off to buy “stuff” with the money I just made. Then at the end of it all I sit down to write a scathing critique of the system of which I spend much of, if not most of, my time gladly partaking in.

However, I do believe that it is time for us, all of those that call ourselves Christians to take a stand against the gods of patriotism, but more than that a stand for Christ and His Kingdom. A kingdom that if we recall is not of this world. A kingdom that does not need brick and mortar, but that does need patriots that will stand up and declare their allegiance to something other.

Men and women that will live their lives consumed by the calling and Kingdom of a risen savior. That will see beyond national, political, racial, socioeconomic, and gender boundaries to what could be. Women and men that will dare to dream, people that will dare to let Christ give them dreams and then chase those dreams with great and abiding ferocity.

God help me to be that kind of man.

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Leading as a Christian

Some not so random thoughts on the nature of church and Christian leadership.

  • Leadership is peacemaking
  • Leadership is about extending grace
  • Leadership is about being connected to God
  • Leadership has nothing to do with your agenda
  • Leadership has everything to do with the Kingdom
  • Leadership does not give you power over but responsibility to
  • Leadership is in front of NOT above.
  • Leadership is not about power but about serving
  • you lead the charge when it comes to having radical life-changing faith, you don’t get to throw people to the wolves.
  • Submission is not to ‘leaders’ but to God and one another.
  • The hierarchically most high person is submitted to the least high person as much as anyone.
  • Spiritual authority is just that–spiritual. It does not mean you get to flaunt your power over others.
  • As a Christian leader you are not in charge, Christ is.
  • It is not about you, its about people whom Christ Jesus Loves.
Its time for the church to begin to live as the church. It is time for the church to stand against the heresy of the absolute power of any institution, any person, or any theology. Jesus Christ is the only absolute authority. It is time for the true church of Jesus Christ to rise up and declare their allegiance–not to any institution or person–but to a King and a Kingdom. It is time to recognize why we exist–not to make converts–but to love people, to represent Christ to each other and the world. To forgive as Christ forgave, to love as Christ loved, to declare with Christ freedom to the captive and liberty to those who are oppressed, the good news to the poor, and sight to the blind.

It is time to let go of the theologies of man and cling with ferocity to the cross and Kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is time to allow God to be God, to allow for the great paradoxes on which our faith rests. To become comfortable outside of the confines of the scientific rationalism of modernity. To step away from the religion of our fathers to the faith of The Fathers. The faith of men like Paul, Peter, John, and Jesus. The faith of Thomas who looked at Jesus and in one breathless moment declared with absolute certainty “My Lord and My God!” who let that moment lead to a lifetime commitment to the risen Saviour.

Let us recognize our God, let God be God, of our churches, of our lives, of our relationships. Let us quit trying to force God on the world; live our lives before Him; let His power work through us; watch the world come to us as we submit ourselves to Him. For leadership, or conversion, with the edge of the sword, fear, guilt, shame, manipulation, or power does not glorify God but man; it doesn’t grow God’s kingdom but ours; it doesn’t bring healing, it doesn’t bring freedom, it brings a new kind of prison. Therefore, let us change, let us glorify the Father with our lives, and the love of Christ.
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