Friday, December 19, 2008

Troubled. Obama and Warren Part 1

I'm really troubled tonight because of all the noise about Obama picking Rick Warren to say a prayer at his inauguration. I'm troubled for different reasons...

(Click here for Part 2)

First, when we finished our study this fall on the book UnChristian we were left with the impression that if the church began to change certain behaviors our reputation among our nation would dramatically improve.

For example: if Christians focused on having civil dialogue with those around us -- even those we disagree with -- people would come to respect us.

If we, the church, started really working for finding a cure for AIDS and/or helping out the HIV community, -- people would come to respect us.

But here is a person (and believe you me I am not a Warren fanatic by anyone's stretch of the imagination) who is doing both of these things. He is encouraging dialogue. Who else got both presidential nominees to come together? He is working hard for HIV/Aids. Which I find truly commendable. And yet what is the opinion of those in our nation?

Homophobe. Insulting. Arrogant. Liar. And these are the nice words.

I'm really not sure that being "civil" and working for HIV/Aids is going to change the rep of the church all that much. I think we must be civil and we need to work for social causes such as this, but I'm not putting my hope in changing the way the world views the church.

Recently, one of my devotional passages reminded me about this:

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

also
John 15:18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

I'm not trying to fly the martyr flag here. I'm just being reminded again that maybe the world as a whole will never see the church as people of grace and truth, because of the hardness of their hearts.

Where this battle will be won is at the individual level. Respect, love, service, and dare I say it -- truth - combined with God's Spirit will win the hearts and souls of men and women.

(Click here for Part 2)

3 comments:

Scott Cheatham said...

Travis,
Good thoughts. I'm not sure how I feel about all of this. I knew Warren would get skewered no matter what. Obama is such an opportunist though. Wonder what Jeremiah Wright thought about this?

As for your larger question, I don't think we will ever see a time when the church universal is respected as you outline in your post. There's too much of a stigma attached to Christianity by uneducated people and then there's also too many uneducated people speaking out in Christ's name. This will only increase as people move further and further away from the Scriptures.

What I can hope for is to try to mature the people in my congregation to be well versed in Scripture, mature in their apologetic, and willing to take some criticism for their views while at the same time showing respect with passion. I believe the video you have with Penn on it a little further down on this blog is the perfect example of what we can hope will be the catalyst for change in our culture.

Scott Cheatham
http://www.scottcheatham.com

Travis Penn said...

Thanks Scott. I think what I'm coming to grips with is that I grew up in an America where you could be a Christian and still be respected by most people.

I'm somewhat fearful for my kids. There is a good chance that if they hold to what I believe are Biblical views, they will be considered a fringe element of our society. Basically their church will be considered a cult.

I know that God's grace is sufficient. I just think this shift is really showing itself in this event.

I think your words on developing our congregations are worth heeding. We need to learn to take criticism with meekness and still stand strong. Thanks.

Jacob said...

Have you ever heard the saying "if you try to please everyone, you'll please no one?" I believe that.

While books like "unChristian" are good, they can be taken as a guidebook to on how to make the world like Christians. And the last time I checked that's completely opposite of what it means to live as a citizen of another kingdom.