Friday, April 18, 2008

Cineplex Christian

Awhile ago, me and my girlfriend went to watch this movie. It was this new flick called 'Street Kings'. I'm not really going to blog about the movie, but just the experience watching it. Well as you may know going out to the cineplex, its sort of a given, knowing that there would at least be some people watching the flick as well (DUH!). So, we were watching the movie with other people (none that i know of) but yet we were all experiencing the same environment. Watching the same movie, hearing the same thing, and experiencing the same technical complications that you get from watching movies in Miri, it's cineplex i mean.

As the story goes, there were parts that suddenly went blank, and some parts where you just couldn't hear the sound of the conversation the characters were making. And sure enough, there were groans and wails (me included). There was this uncanny togetherness that the crowd echoed. We were one with each other via the movie.

But as soon as the lights went on, and the movie came to an end, the engagement with the people also stopped. Everyone were strangers we soon realized, even after everyone sort of unanimously agreed that the quality we expected from the cineplex were not met. Well that's just in the theater right? Well i wish it was true.

Sometimes church feels this way. Like going to the cineplex. Sure we are all connecting with God, but as soon as the closing prayer is met with an amen, people become strangers. We like the saying that we go to church to get connected to God. But that is not the whole truth. The word church, actually talks about community, the church is the community of God's people, coming together and experiencing God together. Doing church is not an individual thing, its a relational thing. We get engaged with God with other brothers and sisters.

Lets get out of doing church as "cineplex Christians" but as the community of God's people experiencing God together.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

'Christianity in a Box and Getting Out'

Here's a sermon i preached, my first one preaching on a sunday in my church! 'Enjoy'.

Christianity in a Box and Getting Out

The struggle that we constantly face as Christians is whether we follow the rules of this world or we follow the rules of Jesus. This is purely evident when we are in a struggle to live out our faith in the world. The common tendency for us is living below par of how we should live as Christians. This is because we are constantly subscribing to the way the world wants us to live our Christian faith.

Subscribing the World’s way of being Christian

This is what I would call being Christians in a box. How does this happen?

By way of Religion. Religion is one of the facets of life jumbled up with other avenues of life- personal life, working life, family life, hobby life and religious life is one of them. So there are neat spheres where we divide these things up, and they cannot mix. What do we do here? We leave the faith life behind when we go through the avenues or spheres of life. So in that sense faith becomes something that we wear. When we move to the religious sphere, we wear the box- being Christian! This is what we can understand as compartmentalizing. We have neat spheres of life that have no consistency, where we constantly have to wear masks, where our faith is worn at certain time and taken off at certain times.

The tendency of confinement is, we are quite particular with practices that show that we are Christians. We say that it only in these practices we are Christian (Go to church, pray, sing p&w songs, attend Christian meetings)
These two tendencies tend to spell out a Christianity that has an escape view mentality which other religions have. Like the box Christianity, we escape life to be really Christians- we go to church- doing Christian things. Another expression that we can plum together with all that is the tendency of being disengaged- with living life. When we escape life we tend to be disengaged with life. We find no connection with faith when we are outside. The God of this world will be pretty happy when we subscribe with this way of being Christian, there will be no way that transformation to be evident. Do we really want to subscribe to this?

Subscribing to the Jesus way- how it is meant to be

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Message version- the word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood)
There are three expressions that we can mention when we read this-
Jesus embraced his surroundings and limitations when he came on earth. In other words Jesus accepted where he was put and it was there that he would be God’s representative.
Jesus was totally identified with his new living condition- as a man- flesh and blood- being mortal. Sometimes as Christians we tend to be super-spiritual beings, like people so out of this world.(Phil 2:6-8)
As if embrace and identification are already complete in Jesus’ incarnation- to round it up after all that Jesus has to dwell with man. He lived in their living conditions and he lived with them.

If anything these expressions spell an emphatic picture of engagement. Jesus was fully engaged with life, in its totality. If the gospel of John tells us rightly (and it does) God sent Jesus and in the same manner Jesus sends us into the world to embody the life of Jesus. Being in the middle of things to change or transform something we have to be in the middle of things and be agents of change from within. Jesus gives us some examples of how he wants us to be- being salt and light (Matt 5:13-16), and being his witnesses (Acts 1:8).
All these word pictures communicate to us that we are called to go out, being engaged in the world and becoming change agents from the inside out. Just like Jesus, he brought change coming in our world as one of us, and so he is our example. He sends us in the same manner, into the world, engaged with it and becoming agents of change.

Monday, April 7, 2008

'Missing the point'

Are we (Christians) constantly missing the point about what Jesus calls us to do and be?

Most of the time, the answer is yes, we are missing the point when we follow the guidelines of 'religion' (how the world tells us to be christians), that our faith is just a facet of life and it just touches the spiritual dimension of life rather then all of life. With this kind of thinking we are just disengaged with reality-life, and we make reality as the place where we escape-church (which is not how church is supposed to be understood). We miss the point of being followers of Jesus when we are being 'religious'.

We don't miss the point when we see our lives as 24/7 God enthroning walk that we carry into all areas of life which we have- like there is totally no restriction of our faith and the other things we do, for in everything we praise and glorify God.

We dont miss the point when we identify ourselves as human beings and not super human religion' does to us, with the advantage of knowing the creator and Lord thus knowing in a sense what we are created to do, What God had ideally intend for us to be.

We don't miss the point when we become agents of reconciliation to the world as a whole (not just human beings). Earth is God's and we are to treat the earth with responsibility- and humanity is God's, made in his image being his early representative, to humans we should show respect.

We dont miss the point when we see the gospel as far greater news then our shallow - Jesus died for my sins so that i can escape hell and go to heaven. If that is the case (going to heaven), we dont have to hear Jesus' call to feed the poor, heal the sick, love our neighbour, bless our enemies and love one another (to name a few).

We dont miss the point when we say that our belief consists of loving God- devotedly; and loving others as well.

Hopeful Theo

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OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations