Michael Spencer wrote a really interesting post about homosexuality… whats funny, though, my wife has been saying the same thing for a while… so go over to her blog and read about it…
My own response, (which probably is a repeat of what others have said):
In my own experience, sudden, momentous experiences have not been the norm. Growing up in a Baptist church and going to a Baptist college, most people when sharing their testimony desperately try to pinpoint a specific time when “gettin’ saved” happened, because thats what they think is supposed to happen. However, most of them make it pretty clear, that they through much time and thought and life realized, I believe in this guy and I’m following him, I’m not sure when it really started, but here I am. I think thats the way it happens with most people. Certainly one can have an experience where they were faced with a choice, “do i really believe this or not?” or “should I make this public right now or not?” or “if I believe all of this, then i shouldn’t be doing ____,” and that kind of thing, but I think its something that happens within the context of a process.
John Piper said once, “A decision for Christ isn’t nearly as important as a life for Christ.” Even in the gospels, the disciples highly irrational decisions to follow Christ, but was that the actual salvation experience? It seems like it was a process for them too.
The New Testament seems to focus quite a bit more on where we are in the present rather than what experiences we’ve had in the past. Take the entirety of 1 John, for example.
The church I attended in college was a little light on teaching the gospel than it really should be, but the average new believer begins attending as a non-believer, begins to learn new things about Jesus and God, gets involved, begins to really follow Christ and then realizes “I guess I’m a Christian,” and gets baptized. The ones who do that rarely turn away, its the ones who begin “following Christ” based on an emotional experience who often go astray.
As we told people about our then possible move to Canada, we heard this phrase quite a bit: “the safest place you can be is in the center of God’s will.” Now, I’m convinced that most everyone who said this to us did not necessarily mean physically safe… but meant that if anything were to happen to us, (even death), we would be safe… but often times its used not that way, but in a way that would suggest that if you are doing exactly as God wants you to, he’ll keep you completely physically safe. More often than not, this turns into the suggestion that “if you are following god hard enough, then you’ll be generally successful in all that you do.” True, you should really do everything that you do to the best of your ability. And when you do everything to the best of your ability, it can lead to success, sometimes. But, this easily becomes something much more dangerous…
Take the movie “Facing the Giants.” Although when Leah and I moved to Canada, we escaped some of the problems of Bible-belt Christianity, unfortunately we did not escape Southern Gospel music (we’re one of the northern-most baptist churches in the world and there is still “southern” gospel music…) or cheesy Christian movies. Today, Leah and I watched a few minutes of “Facing the Giants,” I quite frankly, I got kinda upset. Upon first seeing this movie, I thought, “Thats nice, but bad acting and bad plot and bad moviemaking in general make this a pretty sorry movie.” I didn’t think to much of the message of the movie, but after thinking through it, I’m mad. I’m mad that the Christian community accepted this movie with open arms. I’m mad that of all of the people who KNOW because of their own experiences (of coursed backed up with scripture) that the Gospel is not a message of everything “working out.” Its a message of leaving the things that are dear to you in order to follow Christ. Its about letting the dead bury their own dead, not about trying to live a better life. “Life more abundantly” doesn’t mean that you live a better life with less bad things, it means that to live is Christ and to die is gain…
Facing the Giants preaches a false gospel… if you follow god hard enough, revival will break out in your school, bad kids will turn into good kids, you’ll win all of your football games (and when you don’t win, God will smite the other team because of their wicked heart, and you’ll get a chance at the championship anyway), and someone will give you a new truck, and you’ll have a witty black guy as a coworker who makes you laugh along the way… God is awesome
Thats not the gospel. The gospel is that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Sure there are a lot of people in Scripture whose lives God blessed because they followed him… but there are a lot of people who were beat, tortured, mocked, stoned, etc. because they followed God. Watch this Piper clip… its good stuff…
Jared Wilson on Who is the Kingdom For?
“Jesus is for losers.” is what he says… blessed are the poor… blessed are those who mourn… blessed are the meek… etc… etc.. etc… its not blessed are those who are successful… its not blessed are those who have a good education… its not blessed are those who have a good job… I know way too many Christians who would throw out Jesus’ beatitudes for their own version… you know, blessed are those who don’t go to the mission-field because that would make their mama worry…
Today is Maundy Thursday. As a kid, I always thought it was called “Monday Thursday,” and just knew we had an extra church service to go to. And it was always dark, with candles lighting the room. What the significance of that was, I don’t know. But what “maundy” is referring to is the new commandment that Christ gave:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
I don’t agree with everything that John Piper has written, but it seems as if every time he speaks amazing things come out of his mouth…
This sermon, Imparting a Passion: A Challenge to Youth Workers, is extremely challenging. I’ve been reading “Speaking to Teenagers” by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins, which has been helpful, but at the moment, I’m only halfway through with Piper’s sermon and have learned about 7 times as much as I have from that book. No offense to those guys, but everything they suggest means absolutely nothing if scripture is not at your heart and the heart of your ministry and the heart of what you say to your teenagers and the heart of everything that you do.
He talks about Luke 9:57-62
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
And his comments are “This is not boring, this is crazy!”
The message of the kingdom of heaven is crazy. It’s foolishness. It’s dangerous. It’s life-risking. It’s incredibly different than any way that we would choose to follow on our own. It’s most definitely not boring. Thats the message that I want the youth at Thompson First Baptist to get from everything that we do.