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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Missional Review: Dog Days edition

As summer runs to a close for another year, the weeks have gone into full-bore "get ready for Winter" mode. How does time get faster, anyhow?

So my friend and colleague Mark Davis, he of Left Behond and Loving It fame, presented a wonderful lecture this week where he urged us Progressive, unsure-of-the-Bible-so-we-act-like-it's-not-important types to get into some kind of way of understanding this God we proclaim to believe in. To do so, he argued, you might have to read the Bible.

I especially loved his distinction between the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God. The wrath of Satan in Mark's world is what we call "our reality." When we neglect to offer aid or help to people in need, when there are things we could do to make the world better but we don't, when we can have a positive impact, but instead make a negative one...those kinds of things are the wrath of Satan. In other words, WE are satans to each other. And whether we treat each other negatively by actually doing something, or neglecting to do something, we are behaving satanically.

The wrath of God, such as it is, are those things we do not control, or have no chance yet of controlling. The weather, for example, can often be seen as an act of God's wrath. Does this mean God sends hurricanes to fishing villages to wipe them out? Nope. But there are going to be hurricanes, and people in the fishing villages have to learn how to live amongst them, and this is important--not add the wrath of Satan to the mix.

Have you ever noticed how there are feats of great mercy amidst natural disasters? Those are people who are adding the love of God to the disaster, not the wrath of Satan. When disasters of this type strike your area, do you add God's love or Satan's wrath to the mix?

And I made an annual trip to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I having been going there since my junior year of High School, with a few years off here and there, but my oldest daughter--now 22--told Ralph Puke last year, that he is like a second father to her. He was appalled...but pleased that someone kept listening to his jokes. Like any other carnival or fair, this event is about the people. And the money...as a lot of people make their living on this quasi-costume play, street theatre, nerdfest. I mean, who needs a $1300 astrolabe when you can get a GPS for 69 bucks? And you don't need a Masters' degree in Mathematics to get it to work?

What I always wonder as I am wandering around there grazing and gazing, is how different this is from 16th Century England. (I let the historically "improbable" ninjas, transvestite pirates, and Jamaican jerk chicken wrap try not to influence me too much about this.) Beccause 16th Century Britain was a religious battleground. You don't see much of that in Shakopee...

But I think that shows the major shift Christianity accomplished in the past 500 years. It went from being a bone of contention to a lifestyle. Most people treat Christianity as a lifestyle, and for those Christians who want it to be about God, or the highest calling of humanity, or the stewardship of creation, they are bound to be disappointed. People don't care if you're Christian until you try to make them one...and then they get angry. If you don't care about making people Christian? Well, you're fun to look at, and interesting to talk to, but how can you help me on my spiritual journey?

Well...have you heard about the difference between the wrath of Satan versus the love of God?

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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