Archive for February 14th, 2008
I recently watched the short film “The First Valentine” in which my understanding of Valentine’s Day was reshaped.Â Basically, I had no idea it was St. Valentine’s day.Â (There’s a lot of debated history connected with this but the Catholic church maintains an encyclopedia of whom they consider “Saints” and a few Valentines made it on the list and a couple of those are supposed to be remembered on February 14th.)Â So I watched this classically campy 80’s afterschool special and was mildly surprised.Â First, that it was actually fairly decent (for a religious film from the 80’s) and second, that it challenged me to live the Christian life in such an obvious way that I am ashamed I haven’t seen it before.Â The valentine that was given was an encouragement and a love note from Christ (through His servants), but more importantly, it was the life of Valentine himself.
Valentine’s Day for any Christian isn’t about a date, someÂ chocolate, hard candies, flowers, and jewelry, and romantic bonding (these things are okay in and of themselves and I actually encourage married couples to employ these tools of romanticism, love, and general caring sporadically throughout the year to better communicate that their spouse is still special to them), it is about giving up of your own life for the sake of others.
In practice, this is loving others through actions that show that another person is more important than my own wants.Â Sometimes in simple and easy ways like an encouraging thank you note, and other times in difficult and drawn out ways like sacrificing money and time to help another in need, long term missions, and even death for many of our brethren throughout the world.Â (By the way, these all apply to how we treat our family members as well.Â I struggle daily with giving up of myself so that I can treat my wife and children better and show them that I love them as Christ has loved me.)
There are many ways that this post can go and I probably should have ended it already, but in light of the ministry of this blog I think it is good to take note of how we treat brothers who may not believe exactly as I do.Â William H. Willimon writes in “Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry,”
“I recall a fierce debate that erupted at an ecumenical gathering of clergy when it was suggested that we end the gathering by celebrating Holy Communion.Â Some objected to this intercommunion saying, ‘My church has a very high theology of the Eucharist an therefore I am not allowed to partake with those who are members of churches where there is a low eucharistic theology.Â I have such a high view of the Eucharist that I cannot celebrate the meal with those who have another theology of the sacrament.’
But based upon Paul’s corporeal readingÂ of the Lord’s Supper, it would seem that a ‘high’ view of the Eucharist is that view that stresses the unity of Christians about the table of Christ.Â A ‘low’ eucharistic theology is that which uses the table to draw lines of division between Christians.”
When somebody purports to take a “high view” of anything (especially Scripture) it is often so that that person can separate themselves from others whom they judge as having a “low view” of said thing.Â This tactic treats others with contempt and causes division.Â I am not a person who believes that if we all just love each other and get along then everything will be okay.Â But I am a person who believes that Christ commands us to love each other as He has loved us.Â That means that your spiritual health and well being comes before my ego, my interests, and my attitudes.
“Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.Â Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.Â Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.Â Â Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.Â Â But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”Â 1 John 2:7-11
So, Ken and Ingrid have both said they don’t like Shane Claiborne. Besides an association with Jim Wallis, what is it that they don’t like? Neither article talks about any of his writings, talks, teachings, etc. They just play the GBA game (guilty by association).
Please, inform the rest of us what is “bad” about him.
But the Sermon is not just ethics, and even the ethics need to be taken in context of the whole book of Matthew. Who in Matthew loves his enemies? Who in that book doesnâ€™t strike back at his enemies, but loves them? If you answered â€œJesus,â€ give yourself a gold star. Hence, a lot of the prescriptive elements arenâ€™t â€œThis is as good as you need to be to merit Godâ€™s favor, and obviously you canâ€™t fulfill that, so wait for Paul to explain justification by faith to you;â€ theyâ€™re â€œThis is who I am, and if you follow me, this is what you will become.â€ According to Jesus in the Sermon, the Churchâ€™s lot in the world is poverty and persecution, and it is ruled by love. Jesus is telling people what the Church is, what it looks like, and how life in it is going to be. Thatâ€™s why Matthew wraps the thing up with:
â€œTherefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.â€
Now if you agree with that at all this has implications for the following:
- Western (European and American) style church buildings and cathedrals.
- Politically minded Christians – demanding our rights, or that people be forced to do what we want, whether that’s gay marriage, AIDs relief, welfare or abortion.
- The idea that ministers and preachers should be a respected office with a special status afforded to it by society.
- Treating any group or individual as an enemy that must be marginalized, disrespected, verbally abused, disenfranchised, ignored, degraded or destroyed. This includes groups like bullies, Republicans, Democrats, illegal immigrants, liberal Christians, fundies, retail employees, abortion doctors, homosexuals, Muslims, members of your church and any other group or person out there.