From the Kingdom to the Cross: A Confession

Standard

I feel like I need to repent of something.

For the last decade or so, I have been focused on understanding and promoting Transformational Christianity, which is based largely on Kingdom theology.  I believed — and still  believe — that the Kingdom of God is a powerful Biblical metaphor for understanding what the church and Christians are supposed to be doing on the earth.

But I think we’ve missed something.  To be fair, everyone else in the gospels — the crowds, the disciples, even John the Baptist — also missed it.  But that’s still no excuse. Especially since we have their example.

We have forgotten the cross of Christ. We have preached the life of Jesus in the gospels, and the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts, but overlooked the crucifixion that made both of those meaningful.  We have sought the glory of Christ without sharing in His sufferings.

We want to bring the Kingdom of God — which is a good thing.

But we have tried to bring the Kingdom without first going to the cross. Which is a bad thing.

Oops.

Dear God,

Forgive me for falling into the same trap your early followers did, of getting so excited over the promise of the Kingdom I totally missed what you were actually doing. I confess that I still do not understand the cross of Christ, or why you had to die.  Which is why I resist the fact that I have to die. And forget to tell people that they have to die, as Jesus did.  We have — forgive the pun — watered down Baptism to an empty ritual, instead of a way to share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I am sorry. Please forgive me by your grace, by that very same death on a cross I have so foolishly neglected.  Have mercy on those I may have misled or failed to help along the way.  Help me to do my part in bringing back the fulness of the gospel to your people.

And, um, please let me know if there’s anything else important that I’ve missed…

I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

God Loves Us Like Jesus: A Six Syllable Gospel

Standard

Since my son’s second set of seasons, I’ve sought a scalable summary of the gospel. Something simple enough to be sung by a six-year-old, yet sufficiently sophisticated to stun seminarians for centuries. Here’s my most successful statement so far:

God Loves Us Like Jesus

Simultaneously saying, in short, that the Father loves in the way:

  • Jesus loves us
  • He loves Jesus
  • that makes us more like Jesus

Submitting to that sort of Savior is a sweet smell to our spirit, but a shocking scare to our sin! Continue reading

Our Daddy’s Prayer

Standard

[This is not The Lord’s Prayer. This is just our Daddy’s prayer.]

Dear God,

We want everyone to know you are a Good Father.

Help us all to be happy by obeying you.

Thank you for giving us what we need

even if not what we want.

Help us be kind instead of angry

when other people hurt us

because that is how you forgive us.

Keep us safe from harm, even when it hurts.

Because you love us like Jesus.

Amen!

The Preschool Gospel, Take One

Standard

Yesterday my precocious 4-year-old said he wanted to be baptized.  I don’t think he’s ready yet; our church doesn’t baptize kids until they are at least seven.

But, how would I know if he was ready?

What is the minimum someone needs to truly understand in order to authentically embark on a lifelong journey of discipleship?  In short, how should you explain the gospel to preschoolers?

Continue reading

Partially Excerpted Conversation: Levels of Emergence

Standard

This is an expanded excerpt from the emergence discussion from the Partially Examined Life Citizen Commons.  We studied the classic More is Different: Broken Symmetry and the Hierarchical Nature of Science by P.W. Anderson.  Their discussion software butchered my reply, so I figured I should clean it up by reposting it here.
It is difficult to have productive disagreements around “emergence” and “reductionism” because of the vague, confusing, and downright inconsistent way these terms are used. To help clear things up, I propose we talk in terms of the following levels.
Continue reading

Becoming a Whole Christian

Standard

I want to be a Whole Christian.

I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, and be part of a worshipping community with others who do.

I want to love my brothers and sisters the way Christ loves me,
my neighbor as myself,
and my enemies.

Especially my enemies.  For I have discovered that I only see the log in my own eye after I find grace for the speck in someone else’s.

Continue reading