Monday, December 1, 2008

The liberal rants of a conservative or the conservative rants of a liberal.

I just recently returned from a trip to Nashville for the National Youth Workers Convention and I have to say that it was quite possibly one of the greatest spiritual renewing events I have ever been a part of.  Probably more this year than last.  After I got back and was going over the convention and the swarming of thoughts that I had filling my mind I started to think and question just what church is about anyway.  I want to warn you that the following is just thoughts from the convention and a great deal of reading about John and Charles Wesley.  There maybe somethings that you read that disturb you and push you to think and to be honest I hope it does.  Please dont think that I am losing my faith or walking away from God.  On the contrary I feel as if my relationship with Christ is stronger than ever and I am excited about what God is doing in my heart, mind and life.  

One of the first things that I want to share deals with a comment that the president of Youth Specialties made regarding angry emails that he receives typically from the more theologically conservative youth pastors regarding the speakers that they bring in.  I think what breaks my heart the most is that it goes beyond just complaining that a Christian company has gone "too liberal."  I wonder if we conservatives spent more time sharing the love of God and the freedom that is found in Christ and less time writing complaining emails or trying to defend God then the lives of people would actually be changed by God and there would be less to complain about.  Instead being so concerned that "In God We Trust" being taken off our money why not make sure we are honoring God with our money.  If God's name is not on our currency does that mean that God is no longer in control?  No.  Instead of being more concerned with taking God out of the Pledge why are we not more concerned about the life of the man who is pushing for that.  Most people don't know how to say the Pledge correctly anyways so why not spend more time showing the love of God to those who truly need it.

I constantly hear this talk about how the founding fathers would be shocked at what the government is coming too and how they were Christians and this country was founded on Christian values.  Coming from a Nazarene background I hate to say it but not a single founding father would be given membership in our denomination.  Most of those who are seen as Christians also belonged to the Freemasons.  According to our very own manual members are not allowed to be a part of any organization where there are secret oaths and rituals.  Thomas Jefferson was at best a deist and Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian.  I understand wanting to protect the Christian freedom but the thing that makes America great is that there is freedom of religion.

Another area of concern and this stems from this past election year and the amount of negativity from both sides of the political spectrum concerning the candidates and certain issues that were passionately defended.  The fact of the matter regarding the election of Barack Obama is this.  Regardless of whether or not he has a Christian faith or not God is still on His throne and was not caught off guard by this.  Besides who are we to question a man's relationship with the Father?  Are we living our lives in such a way that no one can question our own personal walk?  Then there is the issue of gay marriage.  Christians on the conservative end have talked about protecting the sanctity of marriage and I am all for that however, we as a body of believers have not done our part in this regard.  When the percentage of marriages inside the church walls is the same of that outside then the idea that we stand for the sanctity of marriage gets very shaky.  The same Bible that is used as a basis of support for one man and one woman speaks very clearly to the issue of divorce and that it is not right.

Instead of conservatives being so concerned about defending God let's start living in such a way that He doesn't need defending.  Spend less time writing angry letters and emails and spend that time sharing the Gospel with those in need of God's saving grace.  Instead of walking out on someone who shares a belief that we don't agree with listen and allow God to either solidify what we already believe or possibly change parts if it lines up.

Instead of liberals being so concerned about redefining what Scripture means today start living it out in such a way that people are drawn to the Christ we proclaim and let our lives be the example.  Instead of claiming that conservatives are old fashioned listen to what they have to say and then it solidifies what you believe or possibly changes parts because it lines up.

The Church's greatest enemy is no longer Satan, it has in fact become it's on worst enemy.  We are more concerned with the protection, the redefinition, the defending of our beliefs that we have stopped being the true agent of change in a world that is desperately seeking something more than just lip service.  If we could start living out the words in red then imagine what would happen in the world.  Satan would have to start ramping up his work against the Church again and it would once again be a relevant force in the world.

There is a comment that is made from time to time that makes me want to laugh because of the implications of what it would mean for us if the comment were to become true.  "I want to be a second chapter of Acts church."  Personally I think it's a great goal.  I would love to be apart of a movement that was as powerful as that first church.  To see thousands added to the faith daily is an overwhelming and exciting thought but one that requires much more than most if not all American churches would be willing to sacrifice.  Think about what that church was doing.  They were selling all their possessions and giving the money to the church so that no one was without.  They were taking care of the widow, orphan, homeless, sick, poor, etc... the list goes on and on.  They put aside personal likes, desires, and tastes so that the Gospel of Christ would be shared.  They faced persecution like we have never seen.  They had to choose faith over life if it meant that much to them.  We don't know what it means to truly suffer for the cross.  We are more concerned if we have God on our money, God in our pledge, and the "right" person in office.  We want hymns or choruses, drums or the organ, casual or dressed up, we want people to come to us when it's very clear that we are to go to them.  We get uncomfortable when someone doesnt smell right, dress right, look right, act right, or talk right comes in.  Instead of being a hospital for the sick and hurting we become a country club for those who know the proper way of presenting themselves.  

I have recently been reading a great deal about John Wesley who the Nazarenes trace our core beliefs back too.  What amazed me was what John and Charles presented looks nothing like what we are today.  I would take it so far that what they presented would fit more with the emergent church of today.  To them the issue of sanctification, which is a term that is thrown around a lot, was not just a list of rules that you followed.  In fact there were two facets to their idea of sanctification.  The first being personal and the change that transpired in the heart and mind.  But if it didn't affect the social world that the person found themselves in then they were not being actively sanctified.  It was more than just a one time experience.  The brothers saw a direct correlation between personal and social holiness and you could not have truly personal holiness without having the social holiness as well.  Instead of doing something that lets us be the the "savior" let's work together so that there is a learning relationship established and God can save us both.

I know that there is a lot of thoughts and opinions here but just things that I have been wrestling with and trying to sort through on how this changes not only my own personal faith journey but also how I minister in the realm of being a youth pastor.  I am sure you noticed that there is a new name and new look so I thought I would try and blog on a more regular basis and share with you my journey as God continues to refine and re-identify who I am.  There will still be updates on Ally and the family so keep checking back but I hope that you will be challenged in your own faith journey with Christ.  All I ask is that you carefully present before God anything that I write.  I am still working through a lot of these things but I need an outlet and this gives me the perfect place to do so.  Also know that I am not leaving the church, God, or ministry.  I am wanting to be who God wants me to be, make the impact that God wants to use me to make, and be the church like I think Christ had in mind.  Till fingers meet keyboard again,

I am outie 5000,

Robb

8 comments:

Allen and Jessica said...

Oh, Robb!! Yes. . . YES, my friend! Continue to expose your thoughts and wrestlings. They are profoundly moving! Thank you for sharing.

molly said...

Robb,

It is great to know that there are people like you in leadership positions who are ready to battle the hypocrisy that the church has unfortunately become. You give me a bit of hope in the protestant cause by which I've been so disillusioned and disheartened. Anyway, it's nice to hear a Nazarene acknowledge the absurdity and offense of some of our excuses in the name of Christ.

good luck- revolution is a big thing

Aaron said...

I hope you are not a Methodist, or your slander against the Masons marks you as an apostate against the Church as well as religious freedom and toleration.

Rebecca said...

Amen, brother. This is more than a "rant", I think. Possibly a thesis for your MDiv, maybe? Great job, Robb.

Jeremy said...

Hi Robb,

I went to NYWC in Sacramento this year. It was good stuff, and connects with me; however, not so much in others. It seems as though everything I learned and came away with from NYWC is pretty much the opposite of many of our churches. It's indeed sad when we get so caught up in the little(er) things that we lose sight of Jesus and his salvation.

adam mclane said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm glad you had a great time at NYWC, but more importantly I am thankful GOd stirred your heart in Nashville.

Robz said...

Robb - Anyone who blindly accepts something without ever questioning it is someone who never grows. Brilliant!

"Respect authority while questioning it." - Randy Pausch


@Aaron: Thanks for being open minded enough to see that Robb is NAZARENE. In the sentence he mentioned what you backlashed him for, he mentioned the word Nazarene FIRST.

Kacie said...

Robb.
I really enjoyed this. I want to let you know that you are not alone in this. I know that there are many of us that God is stirring to completely change this world and a passion like this is just the beginning. I was thinking about Mother Theresa the other day and she started by just loving one person and she completely changed the world. I want to encourage you to continue what you are doing and know that God is speaking these same messages into many hearts :)