Monday, June 14, 2010

Devoted Servant, Seeks Promotion

Considering the current "models" of the church I hear about..

The "household" or "House of God". An organic concept, if you think of Bob, who gets saved and tells his wife and kids about Jesus,then tells his friends and his in-laws, and his neighbor. They function together based on those relationships and Bob, as the most experienced believer, takes a leadership role. This is what the group looks like initially. But what does Bob's role eventually look like? Is he a local patriarch, to whom his spiritual descendants continue to defer as long as he lives? Or is he more like the nuclear family dad, whose role is to prepare and release those he "fathers"? Or like the family doctor, who cares about the family but does not govern it, who gives counsel based on his desire for the family's well-being, without much role in making them act on his advice?

I see so very few real servant-leaders, perhaps because my definition is more connected to real servants than to defining our leadership as "servanthood", while holding power and authority over people that a true servant would never hold to. Our view of a leader's servanthood falls more along the lines of Shakespeare's "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown". Oh, what nonsense. Uneasy the mother who cares for her family without respite and without guarantee that they will prosper. Uneasy the man who must work from sun to sun to provide food and shelter and little else, who may not have that job tomorrow. The head who wears the crown, at least in our kingdoms, fares pretty darn well.

It seems to me almost like servanthood is considered an interim step to authority. But that is not what Jesus told his disciples. He spoke of "greatness" in the kingdom, not of who gets to make decisions for other people in our religion clubs. The servant who becomes "chief among you" must remain that very same servant, or lose his position.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Real World as a Second Language

"Christians have tended to despise the concept of philosophy. This has been one of the weaknesses of evangelical, orthodox Christianity -- we have been proud in despising philosophy, and we have been exceedingly proud in despising the intellect. Our theological seminaries hardly ever relate their theology to philosophy, and specifically to the current philosophy. Thus, students go out from the theological seminaries not knowing how to relate Christianity to the surrounding world-view. It is not that they do not know the answers. My observation is that most students graduating from our theological seminaries do not know the questions."
(Francis A. Schaeffer, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Ch. 1)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The One True "Sign" for the American Church

I was talking with a dear friend the other day about a multi-million dollar church project and he repeated a sentiment I have heard countless times. "If they can raise that kind of money, that probably means God wants them to do it."

Signs and wonders. For the ancient Israelites, it was a pillar of fire and daily manna. For turn-of-the-millennium believers, it was healing the sick and raising the dead. For modern American believers, it's large amounts of money. THAT is the sure sign of the approval of God, the one "sign" agreed upon by almost all doctrinal streams. This manifests itself in small and in large. How many poor laypeople are selected for church boards? Or denominational committees? How much influence do poor believers have in the church in your community?

We directly associate money with God's favor. What's the old country saying? "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?" The church's version seems to be, "If God likes you so much, show me the money." The occasional Mother Teresa is the exception to the rule, especially among Protestants. While public acclaim runs a close second-- how many followers you have is the #2 indication of God's approval-- large stacks of cold, hard cash is still Numero Uno in the American church.

Hmm. I wonder. Is Warren Buffet among the prophets?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Looking at the new models... and the old ones

I keep coming back to this western idea of finding biblical "models" to try on so as to get church "right". We still seem to think that the church had it right two thousand years ago and we need to back and rediscover our lost virgin state. But we are not latter-day believers. We are first-generation Christians! While I am happy to take wisdom and insight and counsel from my predecessors in Christ, trying to figure out how to accurately follow them is no longer my idea of trying to follow Jesus. I have spent a long time getting free of one-off relationship with God, and simply can't find it in myself to trade back down.

As to trying to find the correct "model" to follow, I am reminded of the man who bragged to his friends that his wife was telling everyone that he was a "model husband". Then a friend suggested that he consult a dictionary. He found the following definition:
MODEL(n) A small replica of the real thing.