Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Good Works and Other Good Ideas

Matthew 28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

That classic faith/doubt dichotomy in which faith ain't faith except over and against doubt. And the classic about catching fewer flies with vinegar than with honey! Telling each of our individual stories and maybe even surprising the listener with discovering all Christians aren't always all that self-righteous!? It does work well, and even if it doesn't lead to getting another Bible study participant or church member, if usually does lead to dispelling stereotypes and other imaginings about Christians being too good and very out-of-this-worldly.

Back to Back Door Evangelism, with the for instance of inviting people to help with a Habitat house or similar enterprise: that's generally a workable approach and also one that surprises lots of non-church people. Among the stereotypes of Christians and church-goers outsiders frequently hold, one of the most abysmal is Christians aren't interested in anything tangible, physical and truly applicable to an average person's average daily living. A somewhat different aspect of Habitat-type activism (as opposed to more politically-based or more "liberal" social projects) is the way they can be opportunities for cooperative ministry both with ecumenical partners with whom we already do a fair amount of feeding, clothing and housing the hungry and also sometimes worship together (as least on special occasions) but with other groups, as well. When I lived and served in Salt Lake City many Latter-Day Saint wards (local churches) did Habitat, and several CROP-walked with us mostly mainline Christian types. A major highlight was the Adopt an Apartment endeavor. My congregation helped clean, rehab and furnish one of the floors in a 3-story, 3-unit apartment building, while an nearby LDS ward did one of the other floors and a Roman Catholic group the other, and while we were involved in the project we talked together and ate together. It's great to hear people being amazed we're not just into "soul-saving" but into redeeming and reconciling whole lives...

But returning to:

"Does Jesus even *care* how we vote on resolutions that probably won't necessarily be implemented?" I'm so very exhausted by all the talk-filled meetings. The GATT treaty often got called "General Resolution to Talk and Talk!" Talk and more talk is the way of far too many church meetings and I'm tired of having to hear everyone, needing to take the pulse of the group, not offending anyone but not caring whether or not Jesus cares. Maybe you know the prologue of John's Gospel in Spanish?

En el principio existía El Verbo y El Verbo estaba junto a Díos y El Verbo era Díos.

God is a verb, not a noun! However, returning to church meetings, this question is all about how we obey Jesus' authority "in a corporate way." Yes, it is important, because the church is synergistic, as in the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Does "institutional obedience" even exist? Previously I've cited Walter Wink's Powers trilogy and Wink's assertion each institution, each organization, each local church and every judicatory, etc., has its own quasi-independent spirit or "angel," which lives and breathes with a life of its own external of the life of any of its constituent parts.

In *doing* ecology, we're talking about the E-word, *Evangelism* besides, since ecology profoundly is about claiming the Divine image God created us in, and because stewardship of creation is so deeply about the co-creation and re-creation God calls us to as part of our Divinely imaged lives. Ecology's also about seizing the fullness of our humanness, just as Jesus demonstrated and as the Spirit enables. We totally depend on earth's bounty (and on the wellbeing of all of our water supplies) for the existence of the sacraments! All this is about our being Christians, Christ-like, truly "little Christs."

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