Tag Archive: religion

the life of Pi

i am busy reading ‘the life of Pi’ having already watched the movie and there are definitely some interesting thoughts on religion in it – while i don’t necessarily agree with everything written so far, this piece i found absolutely profound:

‘And that wasn’t the end of it. There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

these people fail to realise that it is on the inside that god must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open grpund of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.’

[from chapter 25 of ‘The Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel]

we watched a panel do some talking around the theme of globalisation yesterday and i jotted down some interesting lines and thorts on my phone while it was happening:

with globalisation there are three stages we need to go through:

– we need to discern
– we need to assess
– we need to engage

is it right or wrong, it is good or bad, is it useful or useless – too often as the church we can throw the whole thing out instead of taking the time to go through those three steps and see where we can get involved and make the most of what is happening in the world – Jesus often used the context around Him (fish, children, people putting money into the offering) to teach His audience – when it comes to globalisation, the scope is vast and so both throwing out and holding onto everything is going to have negative results – but discerning, assessing and then engaging is going to be valuable, productive and effective

one of the speakers said that one of the needs during globalisation is for the rest of the world (specifically the south, where the shift of power is happening – india, china and africa and so on) to go to the west and help them win back the west [for so long there has been the mindset of the west going out to save/help/reach and now the reality is that the west contains some of the biggest need, especially when it comes to the gospel and living it out]

there is too much world in the church [and not enough church in the world] – one person in my small group said it like this quoting DL Moody – the church is like a boat has been made to be on the water – but heaven help the people in the boat once the water starts coming in to the boat – the two extremes here are becoming too isolated and becoming too worldly and the church has been guilty of both in different areas – our national vineyard conference recently met with the theme of ‘taking the church out of the building’ and i really believe that is a huge key to the future – links strongly with the split between sacred and secular [that actually if we include/invite/involve God in every aspect of our lives then everything is or should be spiritual] – we need to be infecting the world and not the other way around

lots of churchianity, not enough Christ-ianity…

then three aspects of the gospel that need to be happening:

– we need to believe the gospel
– we need to behave the gospel (live it out)
– we need to bear the gospel (take it out)
– and a fourth would be that it is a Biblical gospel

which links to the vision statement of lausanne which is ‘the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’

another statement that was made was this: never before in the west have we had so much (stuff, toys, technology, opportunity) – never before have we had so little (depth, genuine relationship, life-transformation)

one of the problems of Christianity in the west is that it has been pitched as a product to buy – it never shows as discipleship because it never was truth – is there any surprise that we don’t live any differently to the world – what can i get out of this? how does it make me feel? how does it change me? a religion that is me-centered as opposed to a relationship that revolves completely around God that i am privileged to be an active participant in

one of the keys is that we need to be making disciples rather than converts – and even taking it a step further – we need to be making disciplers, rather than just disciples

another point which ties in with globalisation and this discussion on church is a statement John Fisher made at a breakfast recently when he was talking about his love of the church and he said we don’t need uniformity, we need unity – that is one of the biggest things that if we could get right, we would see the world changed…

cool, i really enjoyed my teaspoons/socks post earlier today cos it feels like the most for me thing i’ve written on here lately – almost like i’ve slipped into writing for an audience again which is not what i wanted my blog to be – aware of the audience yes (and my responsibility there) but writing what i want to write and what is more real than just giving a lesson…

anyways i have a feeling it’s about to head more that way and that excites me.

have heard a lot about john ellis (formerly Tree63) giving up Christianity or saying things that good christians aren’t allowed to say or something like that and i don’t want to comment on that cos i haven’t had a chance to connect with him and ask him what it’s all about – but i went on to his page and saw a comment which linked me to anne rice (the author)’s facebook page with these two comments:

Anne Rice: “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

followed by this one: Anne Rice: “As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

and i think i ‘get’ it – and it may be the same kind of thing John is saying, again i don’t know at all where he stands – in terms of my own stance which has been for a while now to refer to myself as a Jesus-follower rather than a christian because there seem to be Christians who follow Jesus and christians who don’t and i don’t so much want to be associated with those who don’t as if i am part of them, because clearly i am not…

again, i am not sure exactly what she is saying or what she means by it but there does seem to be an embracing Jesus, running away from religion kind of feel to it, and yeah, that i get

altho, and this is my twist, and it’s a question, do we get to do that? is it that easy? when i look at Jesus, He persevered with His bunch of people who lived and acted and spoke time and time again completely against who He was, what He was teaching them and who He wanted them to be, and yet He stuck with them… and ultimately – one Holy Spirit filling later – He transformed them and they were the ones (not a bunch of Jesus followers getting it right the whole time, the disciples!) who went on to change the world

so i get it. but i am not convinced, yet, that it is the way to go. altho it does appear to taste very nice.

let’s face it – Christians are not among the most loved and respected people when it comes to those outside of the church and i have often wondered why this is and so i started thinking about some of the core basics of this religion and suddenly it makes a lot of sense. when you look at what Christians intrinsically fundamentally believe (i’m not talking how some of them act or those who claim to be Christians but are living contrary to what being a Christian is meant to be but those who are actively living out what the bible teaches) then it becomes pretty obvious why we are despised and hated and regarded with suspicion

so let me take a couple of notes – purely by looking at the basics of what Christianity is about or meant to be about – to show why it is valid to hate Christianity…

part IV – It is all about others (or meant to be)

‘Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his very self?”’ [Luke 9.23-25]

‘One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart  and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”’  [Matthew 22. 36-40]

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’ [Matthew 5.43-45a]

‘The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” [Matthew 23.11-12]

‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’ [Matthew 13.14-15]

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [Matthew 13.34-35]

‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.’ [Romans 12.9-16]

and so on…

the most important commandment for a Christ-follower is to love God and love people (as he loves himself)

and then Jesus’ call to follow is essentially a call to die – to yourself, your pride, the it’s-all-about-me’ness that we grow up surrounded by and immersed in – and to follow Him and His example of being a servant to people who didn’t come close to deserving it

so as a Christian i am commanded to live a life predominantly about others – seeking their good above my own – meeting their needs… no wonder they hate us if that’s all we’re about.

for a last further different other ‘reason to hate Christianity’ click here.

let’s face it – Christians are not among the most loved and respected people when it comes to those outside of the church and i have often wondered why this is and so i started thinking about some of the core basics of this religion and suddenly it makes a lot of sense. When you look at what Christians intrinsically fundamentally believe (i’m not talking how some of them act or those who claim to be Christians but are living contrary to what being a Christian is meant to be but those who are actively living out what the Bible teaches) then it becomes pretty obvious why we are despised and hated and regarded with suspicion

so let me take a couple of notes – purely by looking at the basics of what Christianity is about or meant to be about – to show why it is valid to hate Christianity…

part I – the Love

in the book of matthew chapter 22 one of the local religious leaders comes up to Jesus and basically asks Him to define/sum up the Jewish law with the question ‘which law is the most important?’

Jesus responds by answering, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on this command.’

now if you study a bit further and read in the book paul writes to the early corinthian church you can find a description of just what is meant by this love command in chapter 13. not the kind of love sold by hollywood which is all about selfishly getting what you want and about instant gratification through sex and so on. no, instead paul writes,

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protect, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’

i mean, there you have it right there – the heart beat of Christianity and how deplorable it is. a love description that is more choice and commitment than feeling. that focuses on the needs and well-being of the other person rather than oneself. that seeks to build up someone else even when it means i get hurt in the process

no wonder they hate us if that is what we’re all about…

for the second point of ‘reasons to hate Christianity’, click here.

so the other nite we were hanging with some mates from church at our place and the giant of the group (aptly named klein (small) frans) came up with this saying “the God i believe in is not the God you don’t believe in” which i think is brilliant and which i blog posted and made my status line on facebook and twitter (some might say ‘overkill’ – i might say ‘collective ramifications’ but just because it’s a nice sounding phrase – go on, say it out loud… not SO loud, you don’t want to freak out the people in the office, sheesh!)

and i was thinking about it this morning briefly (but very quickly – so a lot of thort in a short space of time – i think my mind just works that way when i set it free as i do from time to time) the idea is we’re comparing Christ followers to unbelievers – so the idea or understanding or concept of God that unbelievers have is not a true representation of who God really is and i would go so far as to say that i also don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in (as a quandary, or a corollary, or whatever it’s called, to the original theoretical!)

but then (at an rpm of millions per second per second) [squared] i realised that actually that statement sadly covers a lot of christians as well – or people calling themselves christians at any rate (the ones who may never be accused of excessive Christ following) – i think churches (as in the buildings and the meetings) are filled with people who have a completely skewed picture of who God is and how He sees them and what His intentions are of relationship with them.

and so it’s sad, but i think it’s true, that i can say to a lot of the christians out there, ‘the God i believe in is not the same God you believe in’

for example, my God would not choose religion over relationships ever (as was hugely demonstrated to me on sunday when an old guy in my church went all psycho on me because some kids had got overly excited when communion was happening, and he chose religion over relationship with me, with them, and definitely did not act or speak in love)

the God i love and serve would never insist on you jumping through hoops of any kind to be ‘good enough’ to be worthy of His love and attention and acceptance – He has already done all the hoop-jumping necessary in sending Jesus – the price has been paid, you just need to accept it and live in that freedom

and so on.

exits strategy

i don’t understand existers.

you know, people who exist. who go thru the motions. have a job, maybe have a family, have some kind of church life (or not) but that’s it. no huge hunger for more – meaning of life – changing the world – world domination (in my case, for Jesus) – adding to someone, or some community’s life or meaning.

it’s like they don’t even care. How do you not even care? is it even possible.

Live. Thrive. Dominate. Excel. Dream. Hunger. Dare. Vibe.

but exist? i really don’t get it.

and there are a LOT of them.

and once more it comes back to my faith and my belief and lifestyle cos Jesus said “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” – how can that not be attractive?

i understand christians have gotten it wrong (a lot) and churches have messed up (a lot) and there have been some shocking role models or anti-models and a LOT of bad has happened in the name of religion. but the heart and essence of it – the life i have chosen to follow – is life to the full – abundant life – love God, love people – reach out to those in need.

Please don’t exist. PLEASE! Flee from existing. Run from mediocre. From settling. From the rut. From survival.

Choose life. And live it to the full.

Full, or fool?

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