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Scared to talk politics in church?. Why is it often scary to talk politics in church?

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Presentation on theme: "Scared to talk politics in church?. Why is it often scary to talk politics in church?"— Presentation transcript:

1 scared to talk politics in church?

2 Why is it often scary to talk politics in church?

3 The problem with being a bridge is that you get walked on from both ends!

4 Problem 1: What do you mean by politics?

5 Politics: Dirty, partisan, divisive, dishonest, power- grabbing attempts to make US winners and THEM losers.

6 Politics: The way groups of people organize their lives together.

7 Problem 2: The gospel isnt political…

8 Our contemporary gospel is primarily INFORMATION ON HOW TO GO TO HEAVEN AFTER YOU DIE with a large footnote about increasing your personal happiness and success through God. with a small footnote about character development with a smaller footnote about spiritual experience with a smaller footnote about social/global transformation.

9 self church world A gospel of self-enhancement and sin management in this life and the next…

10 Dallas Willard calls the dominant understanding the gospel of sin management. The purpose of the gospel is to answer these questions: What do we do about original sin? How do we go to heaven after we die? In a footnote hidden away in the back of The Divine Conspiracy, he adds...

11 that the gospel of sin management produces vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else.

12 self church world A gospel of self-enhancement and sin management in this life and the next…

13 self church world

14 self church Nation? Religion? Ethnic group? A dangerous diversion

15 self church World transformed = Kingdom of God

16 world self church

17 Gospel of saving individual souls from hell, and abandoning earth to destruction. Gospel of saving earth* from human sin, beginning with us. *Including individuals Two Gospels:

18 Personal transformation is the starting point but not the end point. We are blessed to be a blessing … Changed to be agents of change Healed to heal others Transformed to transform the world.

19 A friends mission statement: Reaching Christians for Christ, beginning with myself. Why would that kind of mission statement be needed? We need to be reached with the gospel of Jesus: the gospel of the kingdom of God.

20 Remember: Kingdoms (or Empires) were contemporary realities in Jesus day!

21 Too few people realize the radical nature of the message of the Kingdom of God. There are 2 main reasons for this misunderstanding.

22 1.The Matthew Problem: Many think kingdom of God means heaven (after you die). Why do Mark and Luke say Kingdom of God, but Matthew says Kingdom of Heaven?

23 As the most Jewish gospel … Matthew follows the Jewish reticence about using the name of God directly. Heaven substitutes for God.

24 It is clear that kingdom of God (or heaven) does NOT mean heaven after you die, because the Lords prayer teaches us to pray …

25 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

26 It does NOT teach us to pray … May we come to your kingdom when we die. May we all go to heaven where, unlike earth, your will is done.

27 2. The John Problem: John uses kingdom only in chapters 3 and 18. Elsewhere, he uses the phrase life - life to the full, or eternal life. But it is also clear that eternal life doesnt simply mean life in heaven after you die, contrary to popular opinion.

28 Eternal life is defined by Jesus clearly in John 17:3 - Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

29 To know means to live in an interactive relationship. If we know one another, we interact with one another in a relationship.

30 The phrase eternal literally means of the ages. (zoein aionian) It means life above the present age and regime, life on a higher plane, life above the mundane, life that is part of what God is doing across time. True, that life doesnt end at physical death - but neither does it begin there!

31 So … what is the kingdom of God? It is a life lived in a network of interactive relationships … With God as King With other citizens, creatures With the territory or land With other kingdoms

32 It is a matter BOTH of personal transformation AND of social transformation. Jesus says, The time has come! The kingdom of God has come near! Repent and believe the good news!

33 The gospel of sin management and earth-abandonment produces institutional believers (Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholics, etc.) who adhere to a system of belief and a structure of religion - but ultimately support the status quo. The gospel of the kingdom must produce disciples who learn a radical new way of life and participate in the transformation of the world.

34 Personal transformation …until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)

35 Global transformation …the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord... (Revelation 11:15)

36 So personal transformation is not the end point. We are blessed to be a blessing … Changed to be agents of change Healed to heal others Transformed to transform the world.

37 Transformed disciples transform their world: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

38 You are the light of the world. A city 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 who is in heaven.

39 Salt of the earth … Light of the world … Light to everyone … Jesus is calling his followers to re-inhabit the original calling of Abraham … a light to all nations … bringing out the whole worlds potential for beauty and fruitfulness.

40 Salt of the earth … Light of the world … Light to everyone … This is inherently and unavoidably a political calling.

41 What is the church in relation to these two gospels? 1.A warehouse to store a growing inventory of souls awaiting their final shipment to heaven: Mission: Increase inventory, protect from spoilage, damage, wastage, theft.

42 What is the church in relation to these two gospels? 1.A warehouse to store a growing inventory of souls awaiting their final shipment to heaven. Mission: Increase inventory, protect from spoilage, damage, wastage, theft. 2. A community of spiritual formation. Mission: Train people to be agents of the kingdom of God who live in the way of Jesus and bring healing and transformation to the world (tikkun olam).



45 To those under the law I became like one under the law … so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law … so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel…. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

46 For Christs love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting mens sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christs ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

47 COMPLEXIFY DUALISMS AND BIPOLARTIES … There arent just 2! Secular Left vs. Religious Right Secular Left vs. Secular Right Religious Right vs. Religious Left Secular Right vs. Secular Left Secular Right vs. Religious Left … etc. Then add Corporatist vs. Populist, Nationalist vs. Globalist, Modern vs. Postmodern, Colonial vs. Post-colonial, or Globalist versus Localist, etc., to previous bipolarities.

48 As center

49 Liturgical Charismatic Social Action Evangelical

50 a stage

51 Consider that we live in at least three worlds. Pre-modern world Modern world Emerging world 2006

52 Missional: emergence and convergence

53 Modern Crisis Medieval church Conservative way Liberal way from Nancey Murphy, Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism

54 Modern Crisis Medieval church Conservative way Liberal way Increasing Polarization

55 Modern Crisis Medieval church Conservative way Liberal way Increasing Polarization

56 Modern Crisis Medieval church Conservative way Liberal way Postmodern Interruption The Post-Liberal, Post-Evangelical Convergence

57 Modern Crisis Conservative way Liberal way A Generous Orthodoxy? A Missional Orthodoxy?

58 Modern Crisis Conservative way Liberal way


60 1. We must stop answering questions that are framed badly. When Jesus was asked a trick question by representatives of a conservative religio-political party of his day, he didnt fall for the trap (Luke 20). Rather, he showed how the question was based on false assumptions and used the trick question as an opportunity to expose those false assumptions and instruct the questioners.

61 2. We must start raising new questions and issues that need to be raised. When Jesus was being tested in another politico-religious interview, he refused to answer the question of whether taxes should be paid to Caesar or not (Matthew 22:27 ff.). In fact, he cleverly deconstructed and neutered the question and instead pushed another question to the surface: were those asking the question willing to render to God what is Gods?

62 3. We must answer questions with questions. Some opponents asked Jesus a trick question for which there was no good answer; rather than falling into their trap, he said he would answer their question if they answered a similarly difficult question (Luke 20:1-8).

63 4. We must go cleverly deeper. In Jesus day, there was plenty of debate over divorce, with clear liberal and conservative polarities. Jesus rose to a deeper level of discourse by dealing with the issue of motives: were men seeking legal divorces to indulge their lustful desires, trading in their old wife on a sexy younger model – but doing so according to the rules (Matthew 19)? He exposed the lustful intentions of their hearts on the deeper level rather than merely taking a position on the surface level. Paul did something similar on the controversial question of eating meat sacrificed to idols in his day: its the motive that is more important than the policy, he said (Romans 14).

64 5. We must agree with people whenever we can. Survey the gospels and notice how often Jesus said, You have answered wisely (for example, see John 4:17 or Luke 10:28). Similarly, we must agree with both conservatives and liberals whenever we can. Conservatives are right, for example, when they affirm the importance of good business in lifting people from poverty. Liberals are also right when they affirm the role of government in not trusting business to always behave well. Conservatives are right that personal sexual integrity really matters; liberals are right when they say there is more to morality than personal sexual integrity. Both are right in many ways, but both are wrong when they blame the other for all our problems. Both are wrong when they think the thing theyre against is the only danger worth fighting. Well help them see what they dont yet see when we agree that we see what they do see.


66 6. We must speak through action, not just words. When Jesus sought to confront people for their hypocrisy and misplaced priorities, he didnt argue; instead, he healed a man on the Sabbath. This created a stir that made his point more than any number of well-reasoned arguments could have. So, what we do for those suffering in Darfur or Congo may speak more eloquently than anything we say about domestic issues; how we treat our critics privately may speak more loudly to them than what we say in public.

67 7. We must tell stories and create drama. While dining at the house of a Pharisee, Jesus was honored by a woman of ill repute (Luke 7). When the host and guests began judging him for his failure to adequately judge her, Jesus told a story about economics, debt, and forgiveness. The story abducted the imagination of the critics and transported them to a new vantage point. Then Jesus dramatized his message in his interaction with her.

68 Now these approaches didnt help Jesus be well- liked by the counterparts of Limbaugh and Carville in his day. In fact, they heated up the hot water he was in even more, and ultimately he was rejected by both polarities. But Jesus ways of responding to the religio-political debates of his day did something more powerful and important than making Jesus popular: they got both sides thinking and they assured that Gods higher perspective was given a place in debates that generally missed the point.

69 Jesus rhetorical strategies made Jesus something far more valuable than a bridge between left and right. They showed him to be more than a bridge – maybe more like a ladder, by which both left and right could rise to higher ground, and common ground – a place where they can come to God, and to Gods truth – and in that truth, find one another. That, I hope, can be our higher calling today in these divisive, polarized times. May God help us. ?

70 What will happen?

71 What will you and I do?

72 Our Father, above us and all around us … May your unspeakable Name be revered. Now, here on earth may your kingdom come … On earth, as in heaven, may your will be done.

73 Give us today our bread for today. Forgive us our wrongs as we forgive those who wrong us. Lead us away from the perilous trial, But liberate us from the evil. For the kingdom is yours and yours alone, the power is yours and yours alone, the glory is yours and yours alone, Now and forever. Amen.


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