no true Christian

People love a good controversy. I love a good controversy. I love to debate.

It’s like a logic puzzle to me. Looking at all sides, taking in the information, probing and testing the ideas and their implications. I find it all fascinating.

And it’s a good time for controversy. At times it seems like the internet was built to create and perpetuate controversy.

You could look at what’s happening in Toronto with the mayor or in Ottawa with white poppies or the senate if that’s more you thing.

But if like me you love controversy the church may be the best place in the world to find it. We’ll argue about anything.

Love vs. judgement.

Saving money vs. trusting God.

Hymns vs. chorus’.

Big churches vs. small churches.

I remember being in a discussion about music and if it was possible for specific beat patterns to be demonic.

Not the words or ideas, the actual sound of the music.

And those are off the top of my head with no real thought. I didn’t even hit the big media ones!

We so often require either or. We so often want a clear definitive answer.

But life is so much harder than that. We push people to choose an answer. Pick and defend your side. And to do that we start to build these mutually exclusive perspectives. It’s like one giant no true Scotsman argument, “no true Christian would believe that.”

Rob Bell in his video Everything is Spiritual looks at these mutually exclusive perspectives and when asked “is it this or that?” he answers “yep.”

Not what I was expecting.

Watch it here.

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If you didn’t watch it Bell is talking about the shift from two dimensions to three. When you shift from two dimensions to three everything changes. He holds up a marker and notes that from the side the marker is a rectangle but looking at its end it’s a circle.

The answer then to the question of is it a rectangle or a circle is, yep.

So often we create division and disconnect with either or. And as we go out into community it is often the easy response. We need people to affirm that the marker is a rectangle and not a circle before we can love and connect with them.

Controversy and debate are fun but not when we use them to keep people away. Not when we use them to keep God to ourselves and not shared. Not when they are used to divide. Not when the controversy is at the centre and not Jesus.

Hymns vs. Chorus’, yep.

Big church vs. small church, yep.

Love vs. judgement, yep.

Saving money vs. trusting God, yep.

We have our beliefs and our understanding and that’s ok. But so often we take one stance and extrapolate it out.

“You think God calls us to love everyone? So there is no judgment? You’re not a real Christian.”

And worse

“You’re interested in connecting with God? Well you must believe in only hymns, the King James bible only and a God of wrath and judgment. If you don’t you can’t be a Christian. You can’t know Jesus.”

When we go out and share the God we know, share a God with space for the answer to be “yep.”

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redemption

Last week’s posts have been more out there than most of my stuff. Not a ton of practical stuff, more ideas. I think this will be the last one. We talked about what holds us back in the past but I thought it was such an appropriate time to talk about why we try to live the way we do.

This is about what I think the one of the biggest meanings of Easter is and more than that what the cross was about. Surprise, surprise I think it ties directly to compassion.

I suspect that if you’ve been involved with church for any period of time, you’ve heard a lot about why Jesus died.

He died for you and for me. He died so you could be saved from your sins. He died so you could avoid hell and live in heaven.

While perhaps not wrong this way of seeing Easter misses the true breadth of what happened.

I think it’s soooo much bigger than just you or just me.

I think the real purpose of it all is Jesus calling us into His holistic redemption.  We are now able to be a part of the redemption of EVERYTHING.

The message of the cross is redemption for everything and everyone and we get to be a part of it.

That’s why we get to share God’s love and grace in everything we do. That’s why we get to dive into the messiness of people’s lives. That’s why we get to open our lives to others, darkness and all.

Because we are a part of the redemption of everything. We don’t have to do these things, we get to.

Jesus didn’t come to save you from hell. Jesus came so you can be a part of Him redeeming everything.

If you don’t think that’s compassion then I feel like you and I are talking about two very different things.