Monthly Archives: July 2017

I’ve been in ministry now for 8 years and one thing that has become clear to me in this amount of time is that the image that we project out into the world can mask much darkness. Human beings who believe in God and believe that they are doing God’s work can easily justify anything.  How often do we do something that we wanted to do all along and then attach God’s name on to it as if that makes it all okay?  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of this myself but I am.  Do what I want and then tack on God’s name as my legitimizer.  It’s a great tactic of ab-users.  The reason is that it’s hard to argue with someone who invokes God’s name in emotional circumstances and situations.  That’s what makes it so confusing.  That’s how it works.

The Pharisees claimed that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebub and his family said he was out of his mind. He didn’t subscribe to the normal narrative.  Accordingly, the Pharisees were considered the blessed, the sons of the light, and the keepers of the great tradition.  They were the faithful and they truly meant well.  They were ab-users, though.  They divorced their wives for better ones that brought more status and wealth.  They devoured widows’ houses to keep their way of life going.  They loved banquets, they loved to socialize, and they loved to network.  All of these things were for good because it could serve their children and their grandchildren well in the future.  All of this revealed that God was on their side and that they were blessed.  Ab-users wouldn’t want you to think otherwise, even though they left a trail of destruction behind.  Their image was great, the rest sucked, but you’re not supposed to know that.  That’s what social media is good for.  Press releases are a God send.  Triangulation is the best way to distract and push forth.

It’s not an accident that after being accused of being in cahoots with Satan and of being out of his mind that the Markan Jesus says, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Image is one thing, words are another, but actions speak much louder than anything else we can come up with.  How you live, how you behave, how you treat others reveals what you really believe, where your true allegiance lies. The rest…well…

 

 

Right before he died Emperor Constantine decided to finally be baptized.  Some scholars believe that this was because he knew that he could not be a faithful Christian while acting as emperor of the Roman Empire.

During this time in church history baptism was preceded by catechesis which placed a great emphasis on how one lived.  It wasn’t until a catechumen fully displayed a Christ-like habitus that they were baptized into the faith.  We know that Constantine had a deep respect for Christianity, but we also know that as emperor he preferred to take Christianity on his own terms.  It could be said that he was the first cafeteria catholic.  It seems that it was the prospect of death that finally prompted him to take the call of Christ seriously by literally shedding his purple robes (the early church rejected purple clothing as it believed that it was a sign of excess, privilege and wealth).

It’s strange to think but it would seem that Constantine has a one-up on many Christian leaders today.  He may have at least saw the contradiction between worldly power and faithfully following Jesus.  This hit me when I read the blog of a former church body president who expressed his disapproval of those athletes who refused to stand during the singing of our national anthem.  We’ve so wedded our civic religiosity with our Christian religiosity that we often can’t even tell the difference between the two.

One of the pernicious affects of unbridled nationalism and patriotism is that it serves as a conduit for all of the anxiety and anger of a people.  It gives us a sense of control in an uncontrollable world.  It provides a mask and a distraction from all the darker elements within ourselves.  It’s far better to be united around a common cause and against an enemy out there.  It’s a large scale example of Jesus’ teaching on projection – seeing the speck in your brother’s eye while not noticing the log in your own.

It’s a deep tragedy when the church signs on to this and gives it its blessing.

Integrity Lost.