I’m thrilled my friend Don Stock is writing these chronicles. I have been on this journey for the last 18 years and have come to many of the same conclusions as have some of my family, friends, and colleagues.
Several months ago I attended a networking event that is sponsored by many of the religious elite in this city. After a pledge of allegiance to our country’s flag, a prayer full of “Our Fathers” and “Lord Gods” and “Jesus name,” and much pomp and circumstance of introducing various business people, I fully expected to see the guns come out, loaded and cocked, with monster truck engines revving in the distant background (they didn’t).
The “leader” of that group personally called me afterwards and asked me not to come back because I was his “competition” (I was only attending because a trusted colleague had asked me to join her for lunch there). I gladly assured him he would never see me at his rally again.
My point in telling that story is there are some religious business men in this community who assume a great many things about those of us who are serving people as best we can with the Kingdom in mind. I would have preferred he call me to ask me for a cup of coffee to clarify my reason and intention for being at that event as he touts it as one that is inclusive of all business people in the city. As I pondered his method for “dealing with me,” I was reminded of my own church experience here in the West and the behavior of those who claim to be my “fellow christians” in ligbt of the current political landscape.
There is a dangerous religious sect who thinks all things they say and believe are right. Perhaps they are. However, I get a bone chilling shiver everytime I am in their presence or hear them rain down condemnation on their fellow humans, excluding them without ever having a decent conversation to get to know them.
It is during these moments I clearly hear Jesus saying, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in THEM you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify ABOUT ME, yet you refuse to come to ME to have life.” [John 5:39-40]
These verses always bring me back to reality because I used to be of the same camp…but the Bible says this and the Bible says that…when Jesus is clearly rebuking us that while we can repeat the Scriptures backwards and forward and beat people to a pulp with them, we better KNOW HIM because HE is the author of the Word, our salvation, and eternal life. When I found those verses so many years ago, I repented of my legalist, Pharisaical heart and went about striving to embrace the love scriptures Don mentions in his blog post (and I regularly continue to bring my legalist judgemental heart before Him as it’s easy to fall back into those behaviors).
It’s such a beautiful, free life when we finally let go of trying to be God and just let Him be who He is, and we be who we are…His image bearers.
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- the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.
I first learned the word “syncretism” in my college missions class at Liberty University, some 25+ years ago. In that context, syncretism was discussed as a process that sometimes happens following the introduction of the Gospel to a culture which has its own existing beliefs and practices. In some cases, the message of Jesus and the Bible get added to or merged into the beliefs and/or practices and ideologies of the culture. The depth of the syncretism varies from slight to significant, with the latter resulting in a fundamental change in the message. In extreme cases, the syncretised message becomes what the Gospel is understood to be in that cultural context.
Great. So, whoopee, what does that have to do with anything?
As you may remember, last time, I…
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