It’s not that I want people to live in fear

… I just don’t see anything negating fear other than that which looks like the kingdom of God and the way of love. We read Hebrews 2 last night at our Sunday night gathering. The author writes that Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection came to

free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

John notes in his letter that

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how we have confidence when we are judged: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he loves us first.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians,

flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable… when the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

So many things we put our hope in foster fear.
– Governments use fear all the time… and not just on a national scale, but on a global scale
– Our commercial, consumer economic system keeps us in fear
– Our need to stay young causes fear
– Our need for safety causes fear
– Isolation, individualism, depression, anger, retaliation… all results of this deep fear

We are a fearful people in a fearful country in a fearful world. We put our hope and spend so much time in this realm of the perishable. It is as though we have these deep needs and we try to fill them with things that will fade. What happens when the perishable fades? Its death. The reason why death hurts is because of sin… that seeking to fulfill our deepest needs with that which fades. We move beyond this fearful existence when we become those that look like Jesus. We “clothe” ourselves with his image.

This is more than an affirmation… I feel like it is more than an adherence to certain doctrines… maybe even more than what we traditionally consider “Christian.” It comes down to looking like Jesus in all areas of our living, loving, breathing, serving, and sacrificing. When our hope is here, we have no fear. No fear. This does not pass away like the shifting of governments, economics, disasters, relationships, and so much more. All these things will come and go like the tide… like the fog. People will always be divided over these things. The republicans will not be able to love the democrats, the socialists will not be able to love the commercialists, the rich will not be able to love the poor, and on and on. We will live in fear until we live the kingdom of God. Where there is fear there is not love.

And so, no, I don’t want people to be afraid. It hurts me so much to think of this world in its fear and desperation. We must… we MUST be a light in this dark place. Face to face, heart to heart, breath to breath, and stride by stride as we walk, live, and serve together in love.

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Christian at Pagan Pride? What’s this world coming to?

Here is a beautiful post by a man I respect so greatly. Phil Wyman is building relationships with pagans, neo-pagans, witches, etc in Salem, Mass. Read the post. It is worth the whole thing!

He begins with

Yesterday was the Pagan Pride event in North Andover, MA. I had been invited to give a workshop at the event. Matt the Pirate, and his wife Mary the Goth Theologian, John the Master Dream Interpreter (though he denies it), and The Prof. Carlos Z. joined me for the event.

I hope to develop a team of Christians who can hang out at such events, and actually be good examples – instead of silly, judgmental, and icky. “Icky” is a theological term, you know.

We want to do things like Dream Interpretation, training in Neo-Pagan/Christian relationships, and simple friendship development to show that we can all live in this world together without fighting like cats. Of course, Neo-Pagans and the kind of Christians who like hanging out with me have something in common – we are like cats, herding us remains an impossibility.

The description of the workshop was this:

The Circle and The Cross Talk:  Re-visioning Pagan/Christian Relationships

Looking back to the Caesars, and to the Burning Times misconceptions and urban myths have had deadly results for both Pagans and Christians.  In our own times, though mild in comparison, Pagans have been on the receiving end of the religious persecution.  Some have chosen to remain in the broom closet, and others have faced the struggle head on – sometimes to bitter disappointment with family, friends, and work associates.  This workshop is designed as a deeper look into the worldview differences between Christian and Neo-Pagan thought with a focus upon deconstructing, and re-visioning some of the beliefs which cause the greatest pain.  Come learn to navigate this battlefield of philosophical tension. Topics of frustration to be covered include judgment, conversion, spiritual dissonance, and sexuality.

He gives a brief summary of how the workshop went and ends with:

Well, it still seems strange to me, but I was able to talk about Hell, Conversion, Spiritual Warfare, and Biblical Sexuality at a Pagan Festival and people loved it. All I can ask myself is, “What the heck have Christians been doing wrong for so long that this has not been able to happen?” Then again I have to remind myself that I have been excommunicated from a middle of the road Pentecostal denomination for doing such things. So, I guess I already know the answer to that question.

Read the article… so good!

Be very afraid

Imagine a generation giving up on national voting
Living in the belief that nationalism
And the national political platform
Will make no lasting difference in this world…
And be very afraid.

Imagine a people who have changed their priorities
Who think that communities living differently
And taking the words, living, loving, and politic of Jesus seriously
Will make the lasting difference…
And be very afraid.

What if organizational churches don’t make money?
What if capitalism was on the rocks?
What if there was revolution of love?
What if communities focused local and provided for each other?
What if there was a balance of resources across the globe?
What if we helped take care of the world’s dying, homeless, and hurting
    rather than wiping out their cities and killing their innocents?
What if there is no American Dream?
What if there is no hope for a “Christian America?”
Be very afraid.

And then consider where the fear comes from.
Hope placed in anything other than that which looks like Jesus
    must surely be misplaced hope.
Hope placed in any government will let us down again and again.
There is no reason to fear if our hope lies somewhere else.
Our priority on something greater
Should not falter in the changing tides of politics, economics, or oppression.
When we can live in this seemingly upside down and backwards way,
We no longer need be afraid.

We rejoice… we rejoice.

Talked to Jesus last week

I talked to Jesus last week
she told me that she and her family did not have
money for their hotel room
Two nights
Jesus was homeless with two kids.
Could I help?
5… 10 dollars… from each person.
Giving Jesus a place to sleep.

He called me a few days later.
This time saying he’s been sleeping in his car
For the last six months.
Jesus… sleeping in a car.
Who knew about this?
Not the people in his church.
He told me that from sleeping sitting up,
his legs were so swollen
he couldn’t get his pants on in the morning.
And who knew? Who cared to ask?

Jesus… everywhere I look.
In their eyes, their faces.
And how often I look away…
There must be a phone number I can give him to call
A shelter I can send him to.
Better that than let go of my own life for him.

What if Jesus ran for president?

Would anyone vote for him?

What if someone ran for president and their whole platform was the message of Jesus? Love your enemies… serve each other… balance of power and wealth… year of Jubilee (cancelation of debts)… forgiveness of our neighbor… would anyone vote for him/her?

Would the Christians vote for this person even?

Or would it be a vote wasted?

What would happen if Jesus got elected?

This seems to me the only viable option as I seek to prioritize living in the kingdom of God over everything else as I think about the conditions it would take for me to cast my vote in the national election.