Love actually

I find the whole “violence in the name of religion” thing rather strange. And, can I be honest, it makes me want to cry. But this I find especially hard to comprehend:

In the manifesto, “you actually hear a frighteningly clear articulation of Christian theology in certain sentences and paragraphs. He has, in some ways, been well taught in the church,” said the Rev. Duke Kwon, a Washington pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America, another evangelical denomination which shares many of its beliefs with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors – The Washington Post

If he could “articulate” what he had been “taught” but could not put it into action (or maybe he did?!) he has not inwardly “understood” what it is to be a follower of Jesus. “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

The real question is how people who are in all appearances “orthodox Christian” (by the standard of their particular denomination) can still act in ways that deny the very ideas they process. Or, to put it the other way, maybe your theology – the articulation of what you believe – is lacking when someone can draw this conclusion?! Maybe (just maybe!?) there is something fundamentally wrong with how people understand Jesus?!

Love is a choice that is actualised in compassion and empathy. Everyone (no matter what their choices!) is made in the image of God and is loved by God. That is the radical message of Jesus – “love even those whom you do not like because I love you”.

some music

When I look back upon my life
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

books and more books

My Kindle is my constant companion. I like physical books (and sometimes I miss the experience of reading a physical book) but with the Kindle I can have three or four books on the go at ones. And I get to read the free sample.

So I thought I would collect my top ten books I would like to read: ten books. Not complete and I can swap or change things. But a good place to start.

SK’s Tax Collector

I have been reading SK’s Communion Discourses (via Sylvia Walsh’s Discourses at the Communion on Fridays). I think SK’s reflection on Luke 18:13 (The Tax Collector) is filled with insights and depth. Here is a little quote:

“Thank God, I am not like …”. Contrast, distance, division. A very modern attitude.

The real issue is how I – I alone, just me without others – stand before God.

On another note, I would like to record another podcast. I am thinking of reading a little of the above discourse. I feel I have nothing to say at the moment, especially nothing as insightful as SK. So maybe?!

on being a pharisee

I follow Keith Giles on Twitter (btw: follow me!!) and he shared this article that he wrote: I Am A Self-Righteous Pharisee. I identify with so many elements of his initial story. I was called a pharisee along with a barrage of expletives.

The “logic” is simple enough:

  • you are a pharisee because you disagree with me or my agenda,
  • Jesus hates pharisees,
  • therefore I can hate you, or worse, “it is my religious duty to hate you”, and I can behave in an unChristian manner towards you.

I was struck by this paragraph that nicely summaries it:

Knowing the truth isn’t the same as doing it. Being a Christian isn’t only about what you believe, it’s actually more about what you do with the things you say you believe.

The followers of Jesus are called to love without holding back. This love is so radical that even enemies, those that hate us, are objects of love. Loving faith in Jesus is actualised in compassion and empathy. And, yes, I do that so poorly!!!!

I need to reflect more on it all.

compassion

 For people are willing enough to practice compassion and self-denial, willing enough to seek after wisdom etc., but they want to determine the criterion themselves, that it shall be to a certain degree. They do not wish to do away with all these glorious virtues; on the contrary, they want – at a cheap price – to have as comfortably as possible the appearance of and the reputation for practicing them. Therefore as soon as the true divine compassion appears in the world it is unconditionally the sacrifice. It comes out of compassion for people, and it is people who trample it down.

Practice in Christianity, 60 (Hong)

Compassion on my terms? Is that compassion or self-validation? Compassion is love in action – love for neighbour actualised.

I am dreading the Easter sermon farmed in legal terms – Jesus took the punishment for my sin. An angry God that needs to be satisfied – a holy distant God that is offended at my sin and fallenness so He sacrifices His own Son. Not the Loving Father who cries with me and feels my pain – who has compassion on my weakness and wants a relationship with me in His Son. A relationship that is truely human!

Anyway!

Kierkegaard and preaching

I would like to explore preaching in a modern context from a Kierkegaardian point of view, if I had the time. Most of the preaching I have heard is average at best, simple battle of authorities, or spoon feeding. The academic lecture explaining doctrine is my least favourite form of preaching! I once heard a preacher, in a parish setting, parse a greek verb during his sermon. And there is no need to explore every point of the text. I think Show, don’t tell is a good summary of the type of sermon I would like to hear.

Anyway, here is a Kierkegaard quote: