It’s not easy being green

kermit     If you’ve been challenged by this call to develop a postChristian Gospel, please know that it has been something I’ve been struggling with for quite some time. Remaining true to the Biblical/historical constructs of our faith, and to the Church, while trying to acclimate our message into yet another cultural context is no easy matter. Wycliffe Bible Translators face this challenge with every new language group they encounter; as did early Western Christian missionaries trying to introduce Western Christian constructs to Eastern and African cultures). Our difficulty is in recognizing that our postChristian era has developed its own culture and language group, based on its basic premise that there are no absolute truths; there is no meta-narrative to explain all of reality; there is no one singular system of belief that can encompass the grand diversity of human experience. At this point, of course, genuine Christians must disagree and still engage with the prevailing points of view.
     It is thus, at this point of division, that we must still follow our Lord into this world’s various cultures, adapting His time-tested message to be understood within the grand diversity of human experiences. This is not a task to be taken on lightly, let alone naively. Our message can neither be too complex to be grasped by the simple, nor can it be so simple that its matrix, woven throughout human history and into both ends of eternity, be lost in “the simple gospel,” with no context outside of the Creation/Fall/Redemption/Fulfillment rubric. That is why we must end our consideration of a postChristian Gospel with a reference to BEING GREEN.
     Being green, surprisingly, refers to more than environmental/ecological responsibility. The framework to which I refer comes from a 1969 musical piece sung by Kermit the Frog, Ring-master of Jim Henderson’s MUPPETS. I encourage you to watch it; go to-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpiIWMWWVco&feature=related to view our hero sing it in his own croaks.] “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green.” (lyrics by Joe Rapposo)
     In the song, Kermit’s point is this- that he may not like the way he is, blending in, often passed over, ordinary; but this is the way he is and that’s that. He is the color of Spring; he is cool & friendly-like. And though as a frog he is small, he can be big, like an ocean, or important, like a mountain. He is green, and that’s just fine. Engaging the postChristian heart is a lot like being green. We may not be too good at it, we certainly don’t fit into our culture’s predominant mindset, but we have to remain true to who we are, to what we believe, and to be what Christ has designed us to be in the grand scheme of things. We are each called upon and designed to play our part in the daily activities of the Lilly Pond. Some days we just sit around and zap flies with our tongues; other days we may run into those postmodern Bull Frogs that beat up on us and take away our pad, trying to push us out of the operations of the Pond entirely. Nonetheless, God has plopped many of us in the middle of the postChristian Pond and expects us to live up to our responsibilities as a vital part of this society’s nurturing and development. We are here to bring Christ’s peace, forgiveness, and new life to the rest of the Pond. We may not like the taste of fresh fly on our tongue…, but we’d better get used to it if we’re going to make a difference.
     There remains yet one more thing to consider- merely practical suggestions on how to be who you are, within your own personality, family, church, and society, as you endeavor to translate the Christian message into postChristian-speak.
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Play Time
1.      How do you befriend a person who is in pain and/or angry?

2.      To the best of your recollection, what is the Christian Gospel?
a.       Now find someone who is NOT a Christian and ask them what it is.
b.      Tell them your understanding of the Gospel. Ask for their feedback.
3.      Interview people, Christian and otherwise, about the statement- The only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths. What did you learn?
4.      Ask people if they have overriding principles that govern their actions. Learn.
5.      How are your overriding principles apparent in your actions?
6.      Given that throughout history the Christian faith has adapted to fit into every people group, culture and era around the world, what do you think of the idea of a postChristian Gospel? Is it opening Pandora’s Box?
7.      To what extent is our message a mind-to-mind transfer of information leading to a decision to follow Christ? To what extent is it a heart-to-heart thing leading to an encounter with Christ that can be explained later?
8.      In what circumstances is a problem-solving model of the gospel more appropriate? In what circumstances is a fulfillment model more appropriate?
9.      How do you discover the presuppositions and assumptions a person holds about life and the Christian interpretation of life?
10.  How simple is the Gospel? How expansive could it be?
11.  How are you doing at being in the world, but not of it?
12.  Where do you have a tough time bein’ green?

NEXT TIME~ AFTERTHOUGHTS: my best ideas come to me in the shower
…mostly green,
Gary
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Beyond Words – Take 3 – Cultivating a Biblical Mindset

BEYOND WORDS: Cultivating a Biblical Mindset— Take 3

One of the great delusions within the Western Church is that we know our Scriptures. We do not. We know a few feel good verses or sections that we can summon up as proof texts or evangelistic references, but, by-in-large, most of us draw a blank when it comes to the warp ‘n woof of the great expanse of Biblical history and how it overlays the rest of world history.

Cultivating a Biblical mindset takes effort. It takes thinking. It involves an understanding of history and how Biblical Truths weave their way throughout.

Imagine all of History, recorded & unrecorded, from the Beginning of Time through Final Culmination. BIG PICTURE. We know just a minuscule slice of it. Scripture describes an actual Creation in Hebrew poetic verse—brilliant! It then tells us about the important events and people that God knew we couldn’t figure out by just looking around. How much of this unique revelation do you really understand? It’s important.

Again, a picture may be worth a thousand words—

gary, davis, needinc, chrisitan, bible, mindset

Think of History, all of History, as cradling the birth of our story of Creation—Fall—Redemption—and Culmination, when all things will come together under the majesty of Jesus Christ. Scripture holds the principles by which we are to live in this world, and the practical implications of those principles to our daily lives in our interactions with others.

To grasp the depth and expanse of God’s gift to us we must immerse ourselves into the Bible. Not pulling out certain verses for comfort or combat—but to learn to live within its culture, walk its roads, and hear the heartbeats of the great men & women who walked with God before us. But we must also learn human history: not that of our own country, but of all countries. Become a student-of-history and you will see your own situation more clearly.

Slow down. The more you can integrate your life within the paths of Holy Writ the simpler it will be to express and communicate your faith.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

a curious Bible

The Christian Bible is a curious thing. Most people in Western & Latin cultures have one; that is also true for much of the African continent. Many claim that it is the revealed Word of God, inspired by God, inerrant and infallible. Defending these beliefs about the Bible (short of a circular argument) becomes virtually impossible, historically and rationally, given our current culture’s proclivity for self-creating truth.

At a Christmas party in our home we gave small bibles wrapped with a chocolate bar as party favors. One particular person took the chocolate, but lifted the Bible with two fingers as if it were a dead rat to be disposed of in the trash can. That was almost 30 years ago. Today, I would never consider even offering a Bible as a gift in this postChristian mélange.

Oddly, even giving a Bible to a Christian can be a like pearls before swine. Why? They rarely get used. Read, occasionally, yes; but truly used in contemplation or study? Rarely. Why? Genuine Christians carve out very little time to learn about the Bible. It’s just too much work. Unless it’s a Bible video download to an iPad. Or there’s always the History Channel’s version. “That was easy.”

In the same way that many of us want an easy faith so also do we want an easy Bible.  Seriously, what is so difficult about God’s revealed Word, 66 individual treatises (some say more), written by 40 authors, over 1,500 years of written history, spanning 4,000-10,000 of remembered history and then some?!? Then passed down in over 900 English translations alone, across widely diverse cultural perspectives, reinterpreted and oft misapplied by countless of our forefathers over the past 2000 years. I mean, where could there possibly be any difficulty in understanding its message?

No wonder so few of us read it deeply, Christian or otherwise. It just takes so much effort. I want a simple, sound-byte faith: so do you. So don’t concern yourself with the difficulties in understanding the complexities of the Bible. Leave its richness and depths to the scholars. “Just give me Jesus.”

Really!

Just give me an intelligent faith that leaves the Bible in its own history, utilizing its history & principles to guide me to God and to live an honorable life before God and men. Selah…, means pause.

Maybe it’s not the Bible that is curious: maybe it is us.

Have a nice week,

Gary