People are drawn to spaces of belonging, places where people never want to leave and always want to come back. Sometimes I wish church was more like a dive bar.
— Read on www.prestonsprinkle.com/blog/2019/12/11/dive-bar-church
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28–30, NRSV)
We want the rest. But we resist the yoke.
The yoke is one on learning, discovery, and growth. But we fear it is a yoke of rules, restrictions, and limitations.
The heart of Jesus is gentle and humble. He wants us to have the same heart. I’m ready to lay down my burden and take his instead.
Who will join me?
Ladogoa, Indiana, USA
Obedience is not an add-on to faith. It is an expression of faith. In fact, obedience is the expression of faith.
Faith without works is dead.
‘Praying for particular things’, said I, ‘always seems to me like advising God how to run the world. Wouldn’t it be wiser to assume that He knows best?’ ‘On the same principle’, said he, ‘I suppose you never ask a man next to you to pass the salt, because God knows best whether you ought to have salt or not. And I suppose you never take an umbrella, because God knows best whether you ought to be wet or dry.’ ‘That’s quite different,’ I protested. ‘I don’t see why,’ said he. ‘The odd thing is that He should let us influence the course of events at all. But since He lets us do it in one way I don’t see why He shouldn’t let us do it in the other.’
CS Lewis, God in the Dock, Part 2, Essay 7, Scraps
This section is Brueggemann at his absolute best:
The paragraph on the emancipation of Jehoiachin, as it stands, is a statement of hope. It reminds us that hope is not a property, not a possession, but always a gift given generously and held loosely, always a chance and not an assurance, always a gamble against the staring face of reality. Despair is a disease in the modern world, a sense of closure already enacted against the world. Nostalgia is a pathology that imagines a possible return to the way it never was. Optimism is a sickness that pretends and disregards how it really is. Denial is the stuff of refusal to live the life given us.
Taken all together—despair, nostalgia, optimism, denial—are all fashionable in a technically-ordered world that is thin on memory. But this boy king stands, as placed by the narrative, against all of that disengagement from the reality of exile. Hope, elusive and emancipatory, is a refusal to accept an end, a refusal to give Nebuchadnezzar the final word, a refusal to think that our defeats have in them the defeat of holiness, a refusal as it is more recently said, to give Hitler a posthumous victory. And so the boy king, now middle-aged, eats and waits, not knowing. The scene is so Jewish.
Walter Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings, ed. Samuel E. Balentine, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Incorporated, 2000), 607–609.
Unfortunately, the so-called “leaders” of evangelicalism today have not been pastors—they have been self-appointed Thought Leaders™ without any theological training. They are “shepherds” who have never smelled like sheep. Or as they say in Oklahoma, “Big hat, no cattle.”
This approach produces cult members, not Christ-followers.
Perhaps you have pinned your hopes on politics, on politicians, or on the political process. Perhaps you have been deceived by proclamations of a modern day American messiah. Perhaps you are disillusion, or perhaps you are buttressed in your hope.
One thing the past week has taught me is that hope in politics is misaimed. Such hope can only lead to confusion, destruction, and chaos.
I choose to place my hope in Christ alone. He’s the only one providing good news instead of bad. I will follow him in trust and obedience, until he returns or calls me home.
This is an invitation to leave false and misaimed hope and enter the hope that God himself provides. Please join me.
Leave a comment if you want to discuss it.
Modern churches are more and more built or employed like theaters, places of entertainment. The congregation doesn’t enter into the service and participate so much as sit outside the experience as spectators. The clergy and other leaders have gotten impatient with a liturgy that requires movement and participation: they prefer an audience. And so the songs become less singable, the sermons more performative, and the rest drowned in the blather of announcements and chit-chat. In order to jazz up all this dull stuff, the preacher-performers turn to electronic jiggery-pokery, especially video. These would-be rock stars would add lasers and smoke effects if they could figure out how.
But spectacle is not the point. Meeting God is the point — in his house, together with others who are also part of our company, living and dead. You shouldn’t have to struggle with the worship service to keep your mind on that. Everything you do, everything that is said, the very walls and furnishings, should facilitate that. Nor does every symbol and action require explanation, as if they had no meaning but what the commentator pours into them. We need to talk less, and let God speak more.
Amen, brother. The church we attend is moving in the right direction. Others in our past are not.
After my pastor’s sermon last Sunday, this has become my slogan for 2021: Live and breathe the gospel.
What does this mean? Not sure, entirely, but I do have adjustments to make.
- Focus on what I can do for God rather on what I can no longer do
- Focus on my abilities rather than my illness
- Use what I have and what I am to glorify God
I’m sure there is more to come. Ideas?