Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Recovering Holiness

What is holiness? I believe that if modern day Christianity could recover an idea of what holiness is all about, we'd be a little better off than we currently are. We continue to spend our time moaning and complaining about our ineffectiveness in churches. We constantly scratch our heads asking, "What will work?" What's unbelieveable is that the answer is always right in front of us. Most of us know what the answer is. How ever few choose to actually sacrifice for Christ. If you are reading this and you are a Christ follower, what have you given up for him? I've given up little to be honest. My lifestyle reflects pretty much everyone I know. There is little "evidence" of my faith played out. This, I'm afraid, is not an exception to the world of Christianity as we know it in America. I was convicted by the way Ron Sider begins his book,

"Once upon a time there was a great religion that over the centuries had spread all over the world. But in those lands where it had existed for the longest time, its adherents slowly grew complacent, lukewarm, and skeptical. Indeed, many of the leaders of its oldest groups even publicly rejected some of the religion's most basic beliefs.
In response, a renewal movement emerged, passionately championing the historic claims of the old religion and eagerly inviting unbelievers everywhere to embrace the ancient faith. Rejecting the skepticism of leaders who no longer believed in a God who works miracles, members of the renewal movement vigorously argued that their God not only performed miraculous deeds in the past but still miraculoously transforms all who believe. Indeed, a radical, miraculous 'new birth' that began a lifetime of sweeping moral renewal and tranformation was at the center of their preaching. Over time, the renewal movement flourished to the point of becoming one of the most influential wings of the whole religion.
Not surprisingly, the movement's numbers translated into political influence. And the renewal movement was so confident of its beliefs and claims that it persuaded the nation's top political leader to have the government more closely with religious social service organizations to solve the nation's horrendous social problems. Members of the renewal movement knew that miraculous moral transformation of character frequently happened when broken persons embraced the great religion. They also lobbied politicians to strengthen the traditional definition of marriage because their ancient texts taught that a lifelong covenenat between a man and a woman was at the center of the Creator's design for the family.
Then the pollsters started conducting scientific polls of the general population. In spite of the renewal movement's proud claims to miraculous transformation, the polls showed that members of the movement divorced their spouses justd as often as their secular neighbors. They beat ther wives as often as their neighbors. THey were almost as materialistic and even more racist than their pagan friends. THe hard-core skeptics smiled in cynical amusement at this blatant hypocrisy. The general population was puzzled and disgusted. Many of the renewal movement's leaders simply stepped up the tempo of their now enormously successful, highly sophisticated promotional programs. Others wept.
This, alas, is roughly the situation of Western or at least American evangelicalism today."
Ronald Sider. The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: 2005), p. 11 - 12.

I often side with liberal ideology when it comes to dealing with American social ills. Among Christians, I continue to see, this is often not looked upon favorably. I think that Ronald Sider's picture of American evangelicalism is right on, and it is exactly why I fail to uphold a more conservative ideology. The premise is good . . . in reality, it doesn't work. The social ills of society are systemic and need systemic addressing. That leaves churches, governments, and other organizations. Put simply, churches aren't doing the job. If the social welfare system in our country went belly-up it would be complete and utter chaos. I am scared to death to leave it in the churches hands. I am excited to see where Sider goes in this book. The bottom line as to why Christianity is struggling in America, is because is seldom looks anything different. What are we calling people from? Where are we calling them into? Some quasi-world that looks exactly like where they already are (except where they spend their Sundays)?

One of the biggest inconsistencies in CHristian politics. All this rhetoric about gay marriage. Ohio passed a gay marriage ammendment last year. I have been in full time ministry for five years and have yet to deal with a single instance where a homosexual relationship has had an ill effect on anyone.. My sole dealings with homosexuality are how those individuals overcome the persecution and prejudice in churches. However, 95% of the situations that arise because of family struggles are due to divorce. How dare we spend such a misappropriation of our time on homosexuality while allowing the great unspoken sin continue to eat away at the fabric of our society. It is DIVORCE and unwed mothers raising their kids, and the single fathers out there raising their kids, sexual abuse and predators, verbal and physical abuse not the GAYS! But I'm sure our time in Ohio on this gay ammendment was well spend . . . whatever

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