The past few days I’ve been posting about a few things that I have noticed to be particularly enjoyable about recent ministry that I have experienced. You might want to read the others, post 1, post 2, post 3, and post 4.
#1: Finding Christ in the Common
Christian thought oscillates between the idea of transcendence (the “otherness,” sovereignty) of God and the immanence (nearness) of God. Different streams of Christianity emphasize each of these ideas. Pastors and ministries have a proclivity for each of these as well.
There are important developments in each of these streams. One is not more important than the other. There may be times and seasons where is one is better than the other “for the moment,” but Christians agree that each are needed to share about God.
There is some interesting rhetoric around conversations within Christianity today. The term “really” is being used in sermons and books from big name speakers.
“Do you really pray?”
“Do you really take up a cross?”
Do you really know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?”
There is always a place to critique, to consider, and to “test” whether we are really in the faith. These types of conversations can be compelling and vital for people to reflect on their lives.
Too much of this rhetoric, however, is frustrating or even demeaning. It creates uncertainty in one’s faith as folks continually consider that they may not be ever “doing enough for Jesus.” It also continually builds up a dividing wall between the “holy” and the “common.”
In my opinion, it would certainly help the discipleship process to not try and separate one’s Christian life from the rest of… life. Jesus is not only the risen and exalted Lord, but also the Incarnation of God. He is reconciling all things to himself whether things on heaven and on earth.
Pete Rollins has said, along with others, that sacred may not be items that we hold up against all others, but the way we deeply experience all things. Instead of constantly demeaning our people about whether they meet a certain standard that people that we like use to measure maturity or not, perhaps we should help one another see Christ as he is at work in our lives, all around us.
This is perhaps the most important benefit of the Christian religion. There are many possible options of what “religion” could mean and where it originates from. One of the most helpful ones that I have heard is that religion means to “pay attention.” At its best, the Christian religion provides space for believers to be challenged to pay attention to how God is at work in our world.
Or, as some Apophatic thinkers would suggest, that Christianity is interesting in drawing our attention to the possibility of living before we die, not just attaining life after we die.
John Wesley, who founded the Methodist movement, wrote, “One of the principle rules of religion is to lose no occasion of serving God. And since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbor; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us.”