We’re WEIRD

Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic.

It’s estimated that only 12 % of the world is currently like this.  If you widen that out to “humans through history” – that small percentage falls dramatically again.  No one at all was WEIRD before 19th Century.

That’s not to say that any or all of these are negative traits.  We need to recognize though that none of them are really neutral in how we receive, process and live out the message of the gospel.  The message of the middle eastern-uneducated-woodworking peasant, who was obliterated by the Empire before rising again.

 

 

 

Antidotes

Practice what you preach.
Help people, ahead of getting heavy with them.
Do good stuff in secret.
Walk away from being famous in the church.
Avoid title and position,
seek service and humility.
Enter in to the Kingdom of God,
and ensure you yourself are thoroughly converted.
Stop looking for loopholes –
be mindful of the greatness of God.
Keep the main things, the main things –
justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Focus on getting your inside clean
through pursuing generosity and self-restraint.
Really pay attention to your inner life –
ensure it is life in there, and not death.
Honour the heroes that have gone before
not by putting up their statues,
but by living out their principles.
Get humble enough to be teachable –
open the door of your life wide
to prophets, sages and teachers.
Shout aloud: “Blessed is he,
who comes in the name of the Lord.”

A spin on Matthew 23

Give me success

A couple of months ago I was walking to the bus stop down my road to get the bus to go to home group at a friend’s house. I was already a touch late and to my dismay saw the bus going past me. I began to run as quickly as my little legs would carry me. It didn’t look good. Even gave it some arm waving. Then prayed, “God, give me success”. No idea why that phrase came to me – but that’s what I prayed.

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I missed the bus.

2 seconds later a BMW pulls up in the bus stop. The driver, fairly hard looking bloke, leans over and opens the passenger side door to me, “Get in, get in” he says. I was wondering if it’s an angel or a serial killer. Perhaps due to the adrenaline still pumping round from the impromptu sprinting I get in the car.

“Those bus drivers are a right bunch of !@~£$* &$£@>#’s” the driver says. My options are down to serial killer or a broader understanding of acceptable angel vocabulary.

“I’m heading this way – I’ll get you to the next stop before the bus and you can still catch it.” The driver continued.

In the end, traffic not being kind, we end up sharing the next 10 minutes or so in the car. We exchange chit chat, and I ask him, adrenaline levels still perhaps a touch high, “Do you believe God answers prayer?” He said, “Yes.” I explained what had happened – that I had been running, prayed and then he pulled up, and that I thought it was a small sign that Jesus wanted to use him in his life to be an answer to people’s prayers. “Do you follow Jesus?” I asked, “Not really, but I’ve got his name tattooed across my back.” “Well, he wants to touch your life, and use you to touch others.” “Thank you” he said, visibly moved, “that’s amazing.” And with that, we pulled in at the bus stop and I jumped out.

The end of last year I’d heard message after message – God wants to answer our prayers, not just for the little problems of our lives – the parking spaces, slower buses and pressing issues, but to touch a world in desperate need of him. That was a small glimpse for me.

God, give us success today.

Really Dangerous

There are some glaringly obvious dangers in a disciple’s life.  The sex, drugs and way false teachers roll that we try to terrify the youth group away from.  Obvious dangers that also have direct and obvious strategies to confront them.

Perhaps at this point in your discipleship though, it’s not those dangers, serious as they are, that should be your main worry.  You’re reading a Christian blog out of your own motivation – you likely have strategies and a lengthening history of victories over the sins that come with hazard tape and flashing red lights.

The real danger, the Jesus-tells-you-to-be-careful-of danger is the insidious influence of Pharisaism.  The temptation to maintain outward conformity to a “Christian ideal”, or social state of respectability, while the inward reality of having a heart alive before Jesus dissipates.  To keep singing robustly from the hymn sheet whilst the song in your heart fades out.  That’s the scary one.  Partly because, who would ever call you out on it?  I could be performing miracles in his name, whilst having no pleasure in him in my soul – and who other than he and I would know?

At 32 I’d place the odds on me going off the rails completely and beginning to feed a drug habit through people trafficking as fairly long.  That possibility doesn’t loom large enough to keep me up at night.  Enjoying prominence in my Christian circle, congregants clapping my course, superbly straining out gnats, whilst surreptitiously swallowing camels, my heart hardening all the while.  Now that’s the worry.  I could sway off to the foreign land like a prodigal, but far more likely is ending up as an embittered and entitled older brother.  That’s the danger.

“Be careful” Jesus warned them, “Watch out for the yeast of the pharisees.”  Mark 8:15