“Gentrification of Christianity”~Featuring Sho Baraka

 

“Theologian Stanley Hauerwas says that ‘the heart of the gospel is that you don’t know Jesus without the witness of the Church.’ As church membership declines, will this witness be dampened? Writer and hip-hop artist, Sho Baraka, explores the history of the Christian faith, why its growth has slowed in western societies, and how the Church can reclaim our role as witnesses of Christ”.

Perspective: “We Can Admire And Worship Jesus Without Doing What He Did”

Introduction

Personally, I take great delight in gleaning new knowledge, insights and lessons from God’s Word and through various Biblically-sound teachers. I am thankful that God has created human beings with a rich intellectual capacity to think, reason,  problem-solve and rationalize on the varying complexities of life. Specificially, Christian Scholarship has presented us with an unprecedented level of access to innumerable academic Christian-based resources. While I do believe that God has worked powerfully through Christian Scholarship over the decades, I cannot help but recognize a subtle but very real danger that it sometimes poses to the Church today, namely incentivizing passivity. 

Do We Know How To Live Like Jesus?

It is no secret that much of those within the Church within the prosperous West has become spiritually-apathetic and lukewarm with our faith. One only needs to compare and contrast the state of the Church today to that of the Early Church in the Books of Acts to easily see the major differences between the two. Why is this? I cannot recall a point in time historically when Christians have been so well-educated and well-resourced, yet if we are honest with ourselves, it feels like we are missing the mark when it comes to our approach with Christianity. Despite our best intentions with all our scholarly teachings, our professional conferences, our debating with world renown thinkers, our academic book-writing, and our other academic pursuits, we have forgotten about what it means to truly live like Jesus. Shane Clairborne in his book, “The Irresistible Revolution”(Clairborne, 2006) puts it like this:

We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.

Even though this book was released back in 2006, Clairborne’s observation is still very pertinent to the way in which much of those within the Church still behave today. Paradoxically, I believe that our intellectualization and our scholarly approach towards Christianity has the potential to legitimize our passivity towards living authentically living like Jesus. 

Living Like Jesus through Knowing the Poor

Like it is possible to know about Jesus without truly knowing Jesus, it is also possible to know about the poor without actually knowing the poor. One of the central reasons for why Christians do not care for the poor like we have been called to is simply because we have not spent enough time with them to really know them. Instead, we foolishly rely on generalizations and stereotypes to inform our opinions of what the poor are like, when the truth is that they are more similar than different to us contrary to popular opinion. You can only fully see this when you decide to invest time interacting directly with the poor. No amounts of literature can serve as a replacement with actually spending time face-to-face with the poor.

After all, how can you love someone if you have not spent time with them to even know them in the first place? It would be like an absentee father returning after his children have grown up claiming to love them, despite the fact that he neglected to spend any time with them to know them, let alone genuinely love them.

The parable of the sheep and the goats describes what will happen on Judgement Day with believers and unbelievers. Within this parable, Jesus likens our service to the “…least of these brothers and sisters…” (Matthew 25:40) as our service towards Him!

Beware of “Intellectualizing” Christianity

It does not matter how much you know about God or even about the poor for that matter, if you fail to act on this knowledge. Frighteningly, it is possible to live your entire life as a “Christian” who is a perpetual student of the Bible with vast intellectual head knowledge while completely failing to live as Jesus commands. There are plenty of people like this today as there were back in Jesus’ Day(Pharisees, Sadducees, other experts in the law). It is not wrong to desire to grow in the knowledge of God and of the Christian Faith, in fact the Bible contains exhortations(see 2 Peter 1:5-6) to do this very thing. What truly matters is what will you do with this acquired knowledge? Will you let it remain stagnate in your mind while it amasses proverbial cobwebs? Or, will you let it re-shape the affections of your heart as you imperfectly but intentionally live like Jesus commands us?

Prayer

King and Lord Jesus,

Forgive us for failing to love others like you so clearly have commanded; please help us as a Church Body to live like You called us to live. Rather than staying within the comfort of our Christian Ivory Towers of Academia, I pray that Your Holy Spirit empowers and emboldens us to reach out towards those living within those hard-to-reach areas among our communities. I pray that You lead us towards action as You enable us to overcome the spirit of lukewarmness and apathy plaguing much of the Church in the West. Let your Kingdom be on earth as it is in heaven where the first are last and the last are first! In Jesus’ Powerful Name, I pray, Amen!

 

Rabyd Opinion – Christians, Before You Boycott Over Homosexual Marriage – Read This

This is a very insightful viewpoint towards the recent development regarding this widely contested issue. In the midst of our world’s current political climate it is so easy for Christians (myself included) to lose sight of the Great Commission. That’s why it is integral that as a Church we are continually keeping ourselves in check through relying on God’s Authoritative Word.
The Scriptures are essentially our “litmus test”, therefore they must be at the forefront of every Christian’s life. Like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
As Ambassadors of Christ I pray that we may reflect His gentleness, His compassion, His grace, and, most importantly, His unconditional love towards absolutely everyone. Lord, please help us to love the sinner but to hate the sin instead. I pray Your Spirit will empower us to keep our conversation with others full of grace and seasoned with salt(‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬).
In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

All Things Rabyd

I would rather be writing my Sermon Redux this morning but the events of this weekend and Christian response to the homosexual marriage decision by SCOTUS have left me a little irritated as to which Jesus Christ people are following.  I already wrote one article on this Rabyd Opinion – A Little Rational Perspective on Gay Marriage for Christians and it has been taken to heart by some others have simply decided to continue their temper tantrum because they lost and have now started to plan and execute more form of resistance to this decision.  The biggest problem some of them now have is how many companies came out in support of this decision and how they plan to boycott them, etc.  On a practical note, this is going to be amusing because if you boycott everything that promotes sin you are going to probably be down to eating nothing and buying…

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