Saturday, January 7, 2012

What is "Compromise?"

Dictionary dot com defines the word first as "a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands." It is not until the 4th definition that there is a negative connotation.

I’m reading about a category that David Kinnaman refers to as “Exiles” in the book You Lost Me (Barna Books 2011). Exiles are those who connect with the Institutional Church minimally, but want to find a way to follow Jesus that connects with the world they live in. They like the term “missional.”

The understanding mother of a budding movie producer has to contend with believing friends who question how her son can justify his occupation with making films that have language and other content that appear to be contrary to “Christian upbringing.”

She states: “I wish the church-at-large would understand that our children are called to mission fields that aren’t located on a globe but may be more culturally impacting than mission fields we currently recognize.” And may I editorially add: “…and conveniently write checks for.”

Her son observes: “ ‘A film isn’t Christian just because it has inserted the gospel message in there somehow. A film can point to Christ when it honestly portrays our human condition and invites us to experience something about redemption that each of us needs.’ ”

DK interviewed a musician who attended a meeting convened by Charlie Peacock at the Art House in Nashville.

He shares: “…One of them told me that she had been pressured by people in her church not to license her music to a secular television show because ‘the message would get lost.’ She said, ‘That just seems backwards. I mean, isn’t the message more likely to get “found” if people actually have a chance to hear it?’ “

DK also had many of them tell him that they don’t call themselves a “Christian band” as they desire to be heard as artists with a very important message to all who will consider what they have to share. (I have my own hang-up with companies that market “Christian clothing.”)

Are these the potential new “Billy Grahams” who have no hesitation of incorporating slang and mannerisms characteristic with the current culture? How far does the Mars Hill principle stretch? We often hear and have used the term “compromise.” Is compromise wrong? I’ve usually heard it used despairingly.

Doesn't Peter wrestle with what he thinks is a "compromise" prior to meeting with Cornelius in Acts 10? Doesn't Paul sense cultural tension in his distress prior to meeting with antagonistic philosophers at the Aeropagus in Acts 17? Does not the church owe its existence to these risky compromises?

My questions linger: "Why is it different today? Why are we still expecting the culture to come to where we gather?" It seems like a "cake and eat it" situation. We do benefit from gathering - no doubt. But we maintain an expectation that the culture is only successfully reached when they are present at our special place on the special day at the special time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

In Such a Way....

Matthew 6 contains Jesus' teaching about righteousness and how to personify it. He provides yet another mystic turn-about.

Verse 1 sets the tone: "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

I have been critical of Tim Tebow because of how he publicly displays his spirituality. And I have been chastised by many (and there are *many*) who feel that he represents a positive image of one who follows Christ.

We are informed that we are the "light of the world" and we are commanded to let our light shine. But Jesus qualifies it in the same sermon before he conveys this secretive demeanor in chapter 6.

In Matthew 5 we hear/read these words (vv 14-16): "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

The original language suggests that the shining of light has a purpose. By what we do, we actually deflect the source of the light from us to the one who initiates all light and life. Others are enlightened by our service and obedience and look straight to God and give honor and glory.

I believe that Tim Tebow is truly a Follower of Christ. I also believe that my good friend, Ssengooba Samuel Mugabi is also a genuine Follower of Christ. Samuel (Americans call him) is a pastor in Uganda who cares for children, in his country, who have lost their parents due to AIDS and civil unrest. You probably have not ever heard of him, which I think is very valid.

His ministry is called "Children Saved By Jesus Ministry."

I see Ssengooba Samuel Mugabi's good works and I glorify God in heaven. He enlightens me with his humility and obedience to Christ. His service provides perspective and encouragement to me when I am challenged with the so called rigor of ministry in America.

Although I may be unfair to my other brother, I can't say that I do the same watching an iron-pumped athlete genuflecting in front of Betacams and 70,000 Orange and Blue-clad worshippers. Please forgive me if this is troubling to you.

Footnote: Pastor Samuel does not have a website, but you can find him on Facebook by searching his full name of the name of his ministry.