Friday, February 25, 2011

Beyond the Flatlands of Religiosity

What is a Christian?

Reading Scot McKnight’s One.Life at the moment and loving it. In Scot’s introduction he tracked a bit of his journey and his understanding of what it means to be a Christian and how that has evolved over the years. His story almost completely parallels mine (and likely many others).

Having grown up in a Christian home Scot got saved at the age of six, I was four but our story is essentially the same. At the conclusion of an evening service at church an opportunity was given to get saved, to accept Jesus into your heart so you could be forgiven of your sins. God so loved me that he sent his Son to give his life for me. Forgiveness was available if I accepted Jesus into my heart. I did this and became a Christian. Thus...

Definition One = A Christian was someone who has personally accepted Jesus Christ, who has found forgiveness through his death, and who is now on their way to heaven when they die.

From the age of 10 through until about 17 or 18 (both Scot and I) were very involved in our local church Children’s Church and Youth Group, (and loved every minute of it, I ended up staying in Youth till I was about 26 as a Youth Leader and Youth Pastor). Here I learnt all about bible reading (morning and night / Bible in a Year), memory verses, praying (even if only for 5 minutes and then stretching it to 6 minutes and then 10, 15, 20, and so on. I think an hour was the goal), witnessing and evangelizing, church attendance and service (we were at church or church meetings between 3 and 7 times a week). Being a Christian was doing all of these things. And of course being a Christian was also not doing a whole lot of other things. Drinking, smoking, having sex, playing sport on Sunday etc. (for Scot, a different generation, he also includes not dancing and not going to the movies). Thus...

Definition Two = A Christian is someone who reads their bible, prays, witnesses, attends church lot’s and doesn’t drink, smoke, have sex, play sport on Sunday (dance or go to the movies). You could call these personal private practices of piety.

A Christian was defined by a single moment of acceptance or repentance and then a whole lot of do’s and do not’s.

I won’t go on to steal all of Scot’s material but wanted to wet your appetite in regards to One.Life; perhaps being a book you should read. I will keep going a bit longer though.

Next Scot writes...

Every time the single-moment act of accepting Christ becomes the goal instead of the portal, we get superficial Christians. And every time personal practices of piety wiggle away from the big picture Jesus sketches for his followers it becomes legalism. And I became a legalist.

He then goes on to talk about a revolutionary process and journey of transformation he went through in regards to his thinking and understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Which he outlines in this book One.Life; Jesus Calls, We Follow. My journey doesn’t quite track the same as Scot’s here but via the leading of the Holy Spirit in a different way my understanding of what it is to follow Jesus has been radically re-calibrated over the last 8 years or so. I just didn’t get it before.

What I understood about being a Christian was right; it just wasn’t right enough.

Definition Three = Read One.Life it will help you understand more clearly what it is to be a follower of Jesus.

In One.Life Scot (to quote the back page) calls you beyond the flatlands of religiosity toward a kingdom vision that will shape everything you do.

“After reading One.Life I made a silent covenant with God to read everything Scot writes from this day forward.” – Bill Hybels

I’m looking forward to using this book and many of its thoughts and concepts as a part of our discipleship process at St Luke’s.

Thanks Scot!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Four quotes that are ringing around in my head at the moment...

"It's not about disembodied escapism but rather participatory physicality." - Rob Bell

"Rather than admiring you, a good sermon leaves people examining themselves." - Moyer Hubbard (my edit)

"If you want to build a ship, don't summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs and organise the work; teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless ocean." - Antoine de Saint-Exuprey

"Ubuntu - a person is a person through other persons." - African wisdom proverb

For different reasons each quote has me doing somersaults on the inside!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christchurch / Earthquake / Fasting

The disaster that has recently befallen Christchurch is a genuine tragedy with so many lives lost and so many lives turned upside down. Literally, but also metaphorically, people are shaken, upset, anxious and worried, with any sense of peace they may have had in life evaporated. As a Christ follower my firm conviction is that God is there and can be found in the midst of the storm. Many (I know I have, and perhaps you have) will have experienced something of the divine stirring their hearts in the last 24 hours. We have all been reminded of the gift as well as the frailty of life, the importance and significance of others, both loved ones and complete strangers. What really matters in life is rearranged and realigned as we watch images of the grieving, the broken, and the displaced, and discover that so much of what we do is in pursuit of the temporal and the insignificant. We are reminded of how blessed we are to live in a nation where aid, support, encouragement, rescue and concern is so freely given and available. For those of us who have not lost a loved one, our home, our livelihood, or access to the everyday necessities of life we are thankful. For those that have our hearts and prayers are extended to you.

One of the ways that Christians for centuries have responded to the stirring of God in their hearts is to fast. When we sense his knocking, sometimes the most appropriate way to open ones heart to God and to allow the Holy Spirit to speak and work in our lives is to fast. By choosing to go without we acknowledge that we do not simply depend on food for life, but rather our dependence is on our Creator. By choosing to go without when we do not have to, in some small way we identify with and stand in solidarity with those who at the moment do not have a choice.

If you have felt God stirring your heart in some way or another as a result of the travesty in Christchurch in the last 24 hours my encouragement would be to join me in fasting tomorrow. As we fast our thoughts and prayers will be with those whose lives were yesterday changed forever. As we go hungry we are reminded of the hungry. That which we would normally have spent on food could be donated to Redcross or some other aid agency or organisation working in Christchurch. In a small way, even though we cannot be in Christchurch we can be with Christchurch. God is in Christchurch. God’s heart is for the hurting, the lost, and the broken in Christchurch.

Join me in responding to God’s stirring of our hearts in the midst of tragedy and fast tomorrow; 24/02/2011.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

St Luke's Website

Posts have been in short supply in the last week or so. Mainly that is because I've been working exclusively on our church website and getting all the content sorted for that. Check it out.