Nov 10 2011
Memo to Ourselves: Don't Idolize People

Don't idolize people.

Ever.

No one. Not football coaches. Not politicians. Not TV personalities. Not athletes. Not movie stars.  Not musicians.

Shoot, let's name names:  Don't worship Joe Paterno. And don't idolize Tim Tebow. Or Billy Graham. Or Bono. Or Chris Tomlin, or Steve Jobs, or Mercy Me, or Albert Pujols or Kirk Cameron or Stephen Hawking or Casting Crowns or John MacArthur or Francis Chan or Joel Osteen or Barack Obama or Whoever the Republican Nominee Will Be.

Don't worship dead humans, either.  Don't idolize Mother Teresa or Ronald Reagan or C.S. Lewis.

Don't idolize your preacher. Ever. Or your cool worship leader. They're sinners, they tend toward self-centeredness, and your idolatry will destroy them.  

Don't worship your spouse. Ever. Or your mom or dad.  

This is because they are humans. Humans are not to be made into idols.  Idolatry first blinds people, then leaves a wake of victims, wondering why no one seemed to see what was so obviously there.

You don't have to be a freak to engage in this. Normal people do it. And when idols are toppled, we deny, we lash out, and sadly, we wind up looking like the fools we have become.

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Nov 10 2011
The Totally Not Safe for the Family Christian Radio Podcast: Christian Music, Sex, and Free Expression

Click HERE to listen!

Our guest is Dan Haseltine of the band Jars of Clay, and founder of BloodWaterMission

Dan talks about whether Christian musicians should write more songs about sex.  He also -- wait, you're not reading this anymore, are you?

 

Nov 07 2011
Does "Falling in Love with Jesus" Skeeve You Out?

So somebody's Facebook "religion" profile says this:  "Falling more and more in love with Jesus."
 
A friend calls me, and grills me about what I think.
 
"Does this kinda skeeve you out?  Is it kinda immature, really?  Is it kinda inappropriate...?"
 
Answer, for my part:  Nope. 
 
I mean, yes, on the skeeves-me-out thing -- a little, yes, I'm a guy --  but honestly, I get why someone would say this.  I don't think it's too simple.  I don't think it's immature.  I don't think it's one of those I-could-be-singing-about-Jesus-or-my-girlfriend lyrics.  I think it makes sense.
 
"But doesn't it imply kind of a romantic element to the relationship?  Isn't that inappropriate?" 
 

Well, I'm not the one who chose the "bride of Christ" metaphor.  The Great Wedding Feast is going to happen, and you're not invited just to attend.  You're invited to be standing up, front and center.  And, following the metaphor:  You're the one getting a ring.  I didn't make that up, and the Facebook "falling in love" person didn't, either.  And I didn't write the Song of Songs, or Hosea, who got to understand how God feels as a jilted lover.
 
"Falling in love" doesn't seem more inappropriate than, "Do you take this man...?"
 
"But there's a lot more to Christianity than 'falling in love' with Jesus."
 
I used to agree with that.  Now?  Not so much.
 
Jesus was the one who boiled it all down, and, you can bet, the religious folk didn't like it one bit, when he said that all the rules could be summed up with one, and another like it.  "LOVE the Lord your God..." 
 
Love God.  With all your heart, soul, mind, strength... love.  Jesus said that.  Too simple?  Yeah, it still bothers religious people.  We desperately want to make this a pure intellectual exercise, checking off beliefs and arguing doctrine.  We want our religious educations to mean something, all those hours at seminary, or in Sunday School, or listening to sermon after sermon, or reading Christian books.  And then someone comes along and "sums it all up" with love?
 
Some didn't like that, and some don't like that.  And then he went and picked a bunch of uneducated types to be his disciples.  Rabbis don't do that. It's a point no one could miss, and the religious didn't like it.
 
"But it makes things too simple.  It sounds like something a young Christian, who doesn't know much, would say."
 
Maybe.  But you know what?  It also sounds like something a very old Christian would say.
 
Paul Ricoeur wrote that there's a "second naivete at the far side of complexity."   That's kind of a mind-bender, but think about it:  We start with "Jesus loves me, this I know," and then we complexify everything, and debate pre-destination and women's roles in the church or whatever, but when we're sitting on the front porch, in our twilight, watching our great-grandchildren, we're not into debating anymore.  It's back to "Jesus loves me, this I know."
 
True maturity might just mean the ability to distill things to their essence.  To simplify.  To know what really matters.  To weed out the frivolous, and, just maybe, expand our idea of what "frivolous" really means. 
 
"But isn't it going too far to say it comes down to just 'loving' God?  Just 'loving' Jesus?  What about all the stuff we're supposed to do to prove our love?"
 
Jesus said there would be impressive-sounding religious people who will say to him, in the end, "Lord, didn't we do all this awesome religious stuff for you?" (my paraphrase) and he's going to say, "I didn't know you."
 
He wants our hearts.  We are to love him.
 
"But that sounds almost childlike, like just anyone could do that, and -- "
 
Yep.

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