Clueless Christianity: Framing a postChristian Gospel: a heart to heart thing. part 4

Hands Puzzle Love Separation HeartGrappling with our culture’s swing to a postChristian mind-set has not been easy for me. In my conversations with normal people the idea of accountability to anyone outside my immediate self sounds nonsensical. It’s tantamount to explaining thermonuclear dynamics to a classical ballet dancer; there is no overlap in perspective or interest.

So, thank you, for bearing with me in my attempts to explain God and His Son, Jesus Christ, to a vast majority of people who have no notion of “god,” let alone of their need for salvation.

Let’s be honest as we continue opening Pandora ’s Box. We want a god, if, indeed, we want a god at all, with whom we are comfortable; a god who resembles us, who has human qualities, but not divine ones. We want a god of our own design, not one who tells us who He is and who we are; we want a god who plays by our rules.  We do not want a God like the Christian God who sets up the parameters of how we are to relate to Him and His world.

Even so, this is the God that postModern people need to see for who He truly is; not a watered-down version of Him, nor a Christianized-sweet-Jesus version of Him. They need to see the God of Glory, the Creator-Sustainer God who desires to love us and enable us to fulfill what He intended for us from the foundation of the universe. And we can only see that happen in reestablishing a connection with Him in Jesus Christ. Confessing sin, seeking His forgiveness for rebellion, and finding fulfillment, need to be blended together for this postChristian era. Any partial “formula” for a relationship with Christ will lead to death, literally.

I do not want to be seen as heretical in my view of God, of Holy Scripture, and especially of the Gospel of our Lord. But it is past time when the Problem Solving/Sales Model gospel presentation needs to be laid to rest. Even those who live in enclaves of evangelical America are so familiar with the content of these formulations that the words have lost their definition and Biblical context.  Summary outlines, though helpful to remember the “main points” of the message, can lack an authentic depth and life-context. It is time for followers of Christ to build rich relationships with those who don’t have the slightest clue as to what our faith is about. The Gospel is much more than a simple 4-5 point summary. It is time we put flesh on the Words of Scripture; it is time we started reading our Bibles and not simply quoting from them. It rests upon us to learn the heartbeat of the Scriptures and the language of our surrounding society…, & to bring them together.  We need to frame our faith and message in ways that can be understood, felt, seen, and lived out in our individual and corporate lives, as one.

Besides being able to couch our message in the mindset of our host culture, we also rests upon us not only to learn their language (Missionology 101), but one thing more— we need to learn to earnestly learn to love them. Love them?!? Love people who are so different from us!?! That’s easier said than done. Quite true. We can hardly love the differences among ourselves. Jesus understood how diverse a people His Church would become; that is why He said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) We MUST learn to genuinely love one another (also read- forgive) if we are ever to love “the world!?!”

Yes, precisely.

Any communication to people who have no Christian understanding whatsoever, true postChristians, must be couched in their language, their experience-set, and their precepts. To do so involves expanding our own understanding of the extent and very substance of the Christian message. The gospel is not simply about solving the sin problem. It is so much more. It is about pulling the entirety of human history back in line with the principles that God our Creator set down for us to live by. The greatness of Christ’s message reaches far beyond simple conversion; it calls for relief for those who are poor, justice in our courts, freedom for the oppressed, and healing for those in need. Jesus knew this when he read—

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has anointed me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to announce release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set oppressed people free.” (Luke 4:18 ISV)

The gospel in a postChristian era has more far reaching effects and implications than individual justification: it involves challenges for the whole person, the whole culture, and the whole world.

NEXT TIME~ Framing a postChristian Gospel: a heart to heart thing part 5.

Heart2Heart,

Gary

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How does love affect us?

gary, davis, love, live, heart, affect, christian, clueless

Your first thought should be, “You’re kidding right!?!” Everyone knows how love affects us. Do we? From The World of Psychology comes these ideas on How Being in Love Affects Your Personality. https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/05/30/the-science-of-love-9-ways-being-in-love-affects-your-personality/ .

  1. You’re a Combination of Happy and Anxious.
  2. You’re Addicted.
  3. You’re Capable of Taking More RISKS.
  4. You’re Over-the-Top Overprotective.
  5. You Can’t Focus.
  6. You’re Confident
  7. If You’re Neurotic, You Become Stabilized.
  8. You Don’t Judge.
  9. You’re Smarter.

In short, your dopamine level propels you to heights you never thought you could achieve. But it’s not simply chemical. That’s merely a scientific analysis.

Being LOVED is an enabler, a foundation, a definer, a source of personal strength, a reference point, and a reflective mirrorof who you are. When you know you are loved you feel safe, secure, and in a place where things make sense. This is true of romantic love, family love, brotherly love, or familiar love. Love provides the context for so much of our life that it can never be underestimated.

NOT being loved creates a vacuum in us which is not always filled by wonderful things! Just the opposite; we replace a healthy human love with a self-promoting, self-aggrandizing love. This kind of love may seem fulfilling at the moment, but in the longer view creates isolation, protective walls, and a façade we want others to see. Choose your loves wisely.

There is yet another effect of love on us. It stems from the love that we give to others. Because if love is to be grasped to the fullest, it not only must be received, but given. Dare I say that if you have difficulty receiving love, you will have equal difficultyexpressing love. Love’s manifold facets affect us in the giving and receiving of it; its volume expands exponentially as it is given. For that is what grounds love in its fuller context.

So, if I may ask, How’s your love life? Are you being loved in such a way that it fills your life? Are you loving another that enhances your own life (& theirs, of course)? Or do you find it hard to love or be loved? These are the kinds of questions to talk over with your spouse, a good friend, or a counselor.

 NEXT DISCUSSION:  What are the effects of NOT being loved? Of NOT loving?

 How do you say “I love you?

Gary

Why my heart aches

There have been too many times in life where my heart has been crushed by the suffering of others. Their experiences and anguish were hard to hear. I can’t imagine how they lived through those times. Some had gathered the fortitude and faith to persevere; others, not so much.

What the human spirit, heart, and body can endure always amazes me. I remember a woman, a teacher, once came to me with grey hair. The day before her hair had been auburn. The beating she had endured the previous night had been so terrifying that it turned her hair grey in a matter of minutes. Her husband is now in jail. How did she endure such terror?

Another person I know has almost lost her mind and any will to live because of a brutal rape. Another woman came to me after her 6th abortion. Sixth! She wasn’t sure who she was anymore; she wasn’t sure she could ever have children.

Other friends have lived through “less” traumatic experiences— the suicide of a husband, the loss of a job, living on the grace of others after months of unemployment, the loss of their child. My heart aches for these people.

Over the years, I have been able to move from sympathetic to empathetic, allowing me some distance to garner wisdom and perspective on their horror. It is hard to help another when we are in the thick of it with them. When there, we can offer comfort; but little else. We have not the strength.

On a grander scale, my heart aches for this world— the natural catastrophes, the fires, floods, and earthquakes; but also the human devastations— genocides, regional wars, terrorists attacks, the manipulation of the balance of trade, the prices of oil and grains, and forced poverty and human sex trafficking. The injustices I read online every hour. All of this weighs on me heavily.

How should I, should we, respond to this mess?

My first thought is to become a part of the solution. To make a difference! To be one-of-many who count the cost and throw themselves into the fracas. Who, instead of protecting our own interests, look to the needs and well-being of those truly in need.

Sure, my heart still aches. But at least I am doing something. How about you?

‘Nough said,

Gary

fireheart

The flame ignited, burning hot, passions flaring, intensity glowing, depth and elation stretching the limits of reason, mind and body. Your heart is racing, blood pumping. You are ready. You are on fire! Inextinguishable energy personified.

But there is another side. Burned. Emotionally, physically, to the core of your being. Trust destroyed. Energies extinguished. Your heart a pyramid of embers, not even smoldering. Or, ruthlessly smoldering with rage.

The heart holds such sway over human nature. Kingdoms have been built, flourished, defended, and lost because of visions dreamed and passion abated. Great art and great destruction have flowed from its river. The heart is a burning flame with the capacity to inspire or enrage. If crushed, its restoration is costly, both in time and effort. For a wounded heart is reluctant to let even its possessor near.

So what is it that ignites this simple organ, this muscle that calibrates and controls the flow of our life blood throughout our body? What is it that transmutes it from a simple body part into our source of passion and power? What enflames it to become a fireheart ?

1. A Challenge. Whether a problem to solve or a situation to resolve, or a task to be accomplished, it is only a burning desire within that is formidable enough to achieve a triumphant outcome.

2. Anger. Some things should get us so mad that we do something about it; not in retaliation, but in sensible reactions that resolve issues.

3. Intense Fear. The fear that cripples so severely may also serve as the catalyst that launches our hearts to fight. Use fear: do not give into it. [Note. Soldiers at war, in face of imminent death, have moved from mere men to heroes when they faced this fear.]

4. Faith. Believing that something is right and worth living for is an inspiring launching pad for great accomplishments. IF you truly believe in it. And act! [Note. Many genuine Christians have given their lives for what they believed; fewer agnostics or atheists have done the same.]

One final point to ponder— Is your heart a fireheart? What are you doing about it?

Have a nice week,
Gary