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when Jesus said sacrifice your neighbor

Sometimes I think Christians treat the world like we’re living on the Island of Kong and someone needs to be sacrificed to appease the Beast.  Sometimes I think we’re so busy regulating the lives of others that we failed to see how thoroughly Sin has overwhelmed our own hearts and minds.

We can’t sacrifice someone else. It’s not heroic. It’s not heroic to throw someone else on top of a bomb.

But Christians do it. All the time. And twice on election years.

Nothing shakes out what your real comfort zone is quite like the election of a president. I don’t say much publicly about politics. Suffice it to say that I don’t feel qualified enough or interested enough. Everyone will have a problem with the former or latter. Doesn’t matter. Most of us feel our opinion is important, as we should, I guess, but whose opinion is the most important is a question that cannot possibly be answered. So we get to vote and we get to say that majority rules. Because that’s always the best possible world. And when an entire group of people try to co-exist and figure out that, at least in some way, might makes right, we end up with a very unstable environment at best and a downright explosive one at its worst. We’re seeing that now from all sides, and it’s ugly and I contend it will only get worse before it gets better and this is absolutely one time I hope TO GOD I am wrong.

Meanwhile, Churchianity is suffering and finding itself in a whole new world. Not so brave though. It’s terrifying. Suddenly you have to explain yourself all the time. Like actually USE WORDS to explain what you mean and why you mean it. We aren’t in the comfort zone of just everyone willingly accepting what we say and have said for centuries. We aren’t in an environment where people are eager to understand how Christians think and accepting of the idea that Christianity is the best way, the ideal way, to live. We’re seeing the effects of a post-post-modern world where the subculture becomes the culture which becomes the super-culture, the elitist culture, the one that looks with disdain on those who disagree with it. The churchians have long been that super-culture. It’s finally their turn to rotate out.

And this is where the self-sacrifice piece comes back in. Who is willing to say, Take me? Sacrifice me. Throw me, Bob (The Incredibles reference)! Am I willing to pull the cart that needs to get from A to Z – from misunderstanding, hostility, bitterness, and rage to civilized discourse, repentance, forgiveness, and harmony? And what am I afraid of anyway? Am I afraid of looking foolish? Not knowing everything? Do I think I’m losing something – a contest? A war? Do I really think that I – a daughter, a princess, an heir with Jesus Christ himself – can lose something worth having? Can I not afford to give it all?

What does that look like for me? What does that look like for you? What does that look like for The Church – not to be confused with the churchians who have clung to sacred golden cows – The Bride of Jesus, the true believers, filled with humility and dragging their crosses? You can’t carry your idols AND your cross.

Personally, I think we’re at an exciting time in the history of the American Church. We’ve all been trudging along and find ourselves at crossroads after cross roads – turning toward the redemption of all things or refusing to give up what holds us back from grace and light. Where will we turn, together, corporately, as the body of Jesus in this time? We’ve been doing things one way – the take no prisoners way – for a long time. We’ve been sacrificing others for our own comfort and pushing out people who just don’t fit in.

On the other hand is the way of just throwing out the baby with the bathwater – a horrible phrase for a horrible thought. We watch what was the “evangelical” aka “fundamental” aka “born again” aka “what are we calling ourselves now” fringe groups try something new – something that only slightly resembles historical Christianity – and arguably Jesus – at all. Many criticize this all-inclusive approach as watering down the Gospel essentials to not even actually including the essentials if they become bothersome. I still have reservations that this is the best way, though it feels like it started in the right direction and with the right intentions.

There must be another way, as our friend TKNY likes to say. (Tim Keller from NYC in case you were wondering)

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Jeremiah 6:1 ESV

I am asking. I am looking. Ancient paths. I love that. It’s like we’re trying to reinvent the wheel. Some may say it’s the American way to reinvent things. I don’t think we need to. I think we need to study and research and ask good questions. I think we need to ask ourselves what we really believe, what we want, what we think we need. And then dismantle those things from our idols, our sacred cows, deconstructing our ideologies and separating out the weeds from the real growth. I think we’ve been content with weeds. Weeds can be kinda pretty. And green and full. It’s better than brown and grey and dead, right?

It’s not. Weeds are being exposed for what they are, and they’re getting pulled and burned. Have mercy on us, o Lord. And it’s time to get serious again. It’s time to recognize our choices and discern the way to walk. It will not be easy, but it will be paved with love and grace and self-sacrifice and the gospel confidence that God will do the work and will complete it.

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