And so, Paul is admonishing believers in Corinth for living with the same mindset: “This life is all we have, so let’s live a little! We aren’t going to be resurrected, so let’s make this life all that it should be!” And, because of this mindset, they were spending time with those of “bad company,” which was clearly corrupting their morals. The rend result was that the witness of their faith in Christ was indistinguishable from those with whom they were spending time.
“Thoughts and prayers.” If ever there was a heaping up of empty phrases, these three words after every major mass shooting in this country would win the prize for most overused phrase with the most under-whelming effect. “Thoughts and prayers” mean nothing when they do not move people to affect real and lasting change.
I meet with a group of people to do morning prayer over Zoom and the other day, the officiant decided that we would be reading Canticle 10. Though we’ve read this canticleRead More…
It’s Paul’s approach that I find interesting here as well. He basically tells his listeners that he didn’t come with big, fancy words, but with the basic concept of a crucified Lord. It was the story of a God who humbled himself, and was humiliated by the powers of this world. It was the story of a God who died for those he loved. It was the story of a Christ who presented his weaknesses to the world to show them the strength of his desire to redeem them. And Paul did all of this while he, himself, was afraid, trembling in the fear of his own weaknesses. But that’s what Paul wanted. His approach was to let others see the power of God in his actions, and not in his fancy and persuasive words.
The paralyzed man stood up, picked up his bed, and walked away. And all those present were filled with awe and amazement, and they said, “We have seen strange things today.” After having been told that the people were filled with amazement and awe, and were glorifying God, these people then said what amounts to, “Yup. That was weird.”
This question by these money changers and livestock peddlers is essentially the same as those who complain about Cancel Culture. Rather than take the public outrage as a correction, and a chance to learn, they push back, attempting to prove their innocence. It’s not my fault; I did nothing wrong; why would someone do this to me; don’t they recognize that they are infringing on my right to live and make money?; I’m the victim here.
What motivates us to enter into these self-congratulatory states of inflated valuations of our own self-worth? We may indeed be better than some – by our own standards – but by our own standards we are also worse than others (Matt 7:1-2). Yet we still try and congratulate ourselves on our own righteousness, when standing before the God who reconciled us to Himself, no less.
Sometimes, asking people to jump into an existing ministry works, but more often it doesn’t. People may be excited about their faith, but that excitement fades when they are told to embrace the constraints and guidelines of an existing ministry merely because “we’ve always done it this way at this church.” That vetted ministry may have been dying for a reason, and throwing a new and excited individual at it will probably not bring it back to life, because their creativity and passion will have been saddled with a vision that is not their own.
Some people attend charismatic or pentecostal churches because they need to see the miraculous to understand a God that provides healing, or understands them deeply, beyond what they share of themselves with the world. Some people attend churches that focus on social justice because they need to see a God that serves up justice and cares for the oppressed. Some attend legalistic churches because they need to experience order and clear cut rules amidst an otherwise chaotic life. And each of these churches provides an aspect of God to the world.
Daily Office Readings Psalm: 126In convertendo1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, * then were we like those who dream.2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, * and our tongue withRead More…