The people in older times understood that even though there were nations and empires, like Rome and Babylon and Israel, the world was really broken down into “tribes.” So within a smallish nation like Israel there were tribes that often didn’t like each other – half of the Bible has Israel split into two Kingdoms, “Judah” vs. “Israel” (the 10 tribes). And although we think we’ve outgrown such old fashioned ideas, the world is still broken up into nations and tribes. That’s why there are people you need very little reason to distrust (outside your tribe), and who need very little reason to dislike you. There are even warring tribes that can’t stand the sight of one another. Much of U.S. politics is really tribal… the Tea Party people look at President Obama, and they just can’t accept him because he’s part of an enemy tribe. Continue reading
Middle class folks LOVE getting free stuff. I mean, who doesn’t right? So when we give generously to the poor, we think “O man, we just made their day! What great people we are!” And so this is what a lot of good people do or aspire to do… and we don’t understand when people in soup kitchens snicker, or a homeless person doesn’t want your food leftovers. “So ungrateful!” So we take it overseas or across the border to shower our generosity on more deserving poor, who smile as we bring them toilet paper and teach their children Jesus songs – and they bless us in God’s name, but then at some point we sense a hint of resentment, a snicker, or something… What’s going on? If you really just want to make yourself feel better and earn your title of “good person” by your generosity – and that’s all you want, then just keep doing what you’re doing. But if you want to understand why people (sometimes) don’t seem to want your charity, or scam you when they’re clearly in need, or resent your generosity, then read on.
…is something EVERY Jesus-follower should wind up doing. I don’t like the word “evangelist” sometimes because it implies that only certain people do this stuff. Yes, some people are better at it than others, but helping people come to know Jesus is something EVERY Jesus-follower does or will do. So here are 10 simple steps to becoming a better Jesus-finder-helper evangelist-like person: Continue reading
I’ve needed tube socks for ages. And I see people selling socks on the street by the 59th St bridge and Union Square and at Home Depot – and just random people selling socks from a cart… I even see them at street fairs with tables and tables full of socks. Once a couple of months ago I went to Sports Authority – but the socks were expensive, and they didn’t even have any I liked. So I bought some ankle socks that were on sale. They’re fine, but they feel funny and they’re not so comfortable with boots… So why didn’t I just buy the perfectly good (and ridiculously cheap) socks I see on the street every day? I don’t know exactly: When someone approaches me and tries to sell me something, my first reaction is “Um, no thanks.” But I really needed them. Maybe I thought it would be a hassle (although that’s unfounded, I’ve never been hassled by these kinds of street vendors). Or maybe I was afraid of being ripped off (although they’re around $1 a pair – it’s not a big deal if I bought lousy socks for a dollar). I don’t know why I said “no” all this time. But I have a feeling other people do this too. Continue reading
Allow me to borrow the title from Pete Scazzero’s book, and ask the question: What would the Church here in the U.S. look like if it were emotionally healthy? If instead of dwelling in emotional fusion it was able to imitate God’s patient, humble, self differentiated love? First, pastors and church leaders would stop making an issue of things like evolution, global warming, and liberal-conservative politics. How come? Because: reasonable people tend to have different opinions on things like these… and our Scripture teaches us that it’s okay to differ. No one is “saved” by believing the right things about evolution, global warming, or political leaning… “But doesn’t what you believe about God impact what you believe about these things?” Yes. But devoted Christians come down on both sides of each issue! To make these issues into divisive litmus tests for faith is a symptom of emotional fusion that implies: if we’re going to be in the same tribe, you better believe what I believe! Continue reading
This doesn’t apply to everyone and every situation – and both secular atheists and staunchly conservative Christians will dislike this… but if you have a desire to be a missionary and serve God by “adopting a culture and influencing (from the inside) with Jesus’ Gospel” – then my advice is: come here and do it… Come enter THIS money-focused, love-hungry, diverse, materialistic culture of NY, and love the people in it, and help people know and love their Savior…here. Continue reading
A few of my early teachers said the same thing (although CSL said it first): that the main problem with following Jesus isn’t “understanding,” it’s “imagination.” Many times people refuse to believe something, not because they can’t understand that it might be true, but rather because they can’t imagine it! And from years of talking to people and hearing questions about the Bible, the vast majority of questions come from this crisis of imagination… Often the “answers” that satisfy people are not the air-tight “rational” ones, but stories that help them imagine how something about God could be true… Anyway, when it comes to following Jesus as a disciple, the problem is similar: it’s not that people don’t understand what it means to follow Jesus – it’s that we often lack the imagination to show how one could do that…HERE…at my school, at my workplace…in this city. So for many of you, what God wants you to do here is help people imagine what it looks like to really follow Jesus in this world. Continue reading
It stabs me in the heart whenever Christians don’t seem to believe this… One of the common (responsibility dodging) attitudes is “I didn’t know, they don’t tell me these things…” If people need my help they should just come up and ask… Well, just the way it’s sort of a nurse’ job to know if a patient is not doing well, and it’s a pastor’s job to know if someone’s in trouble, it’s actually you’re job to look out for your friends and neighbors… especially within CF. Continue reading
Almost every Filipino I know is Catholic, this was once true for my Irish friends too. Almost every Korean American I know went to a Presbyterian or Methodist church as a child. And almost every older African American woman I know goes to church as well. What does this mean for us? It means it’s easy for our unbelieving friends to see us going public with our faith, and assume it’s a part of our residual cultural identity (whether it is or not). As a result they might respect our faith, but feel, “that stuff is fine for you, but it has nothing to do with me.” It’s like celebrating Thanksgiving in Kenya… It’s fine as an American tradition, and can be respected elsewhere, but it doesn’t mean the same thing for non-Americans.
That’s how many people interpret faith… a personal tradition. But what they need to see is how real faith is emotionally and intellectually alive – and not just a tradition… They need to see that grace and redemption, forgiveness and seeing oneself as a sinner under grace…lives in your heart and mind right now, that you wrestle with these things, and rely upon them… Because only then can Christianity be plausible as something for everyone…
Studies have shown that people find it harder to believe someone when they are culturally different from you… So when someone from a foreign country who speaks and looks and sounds strange to you tells you something, it’s harder to believe even if everything they’re saying is true. I bring this up because if only certain kinds (culturally) of people talk about God, it’s very easy for your unbelieving friends to feel God and the Bible is implausible… But if people like them, (ie, people like you) who believe were to go public with their faiths… it creates a plausibility structure. Continue reading