two preoccupying questions

Everything Must Change is an exploration of the two following questions:

1. What are the biggest problems in the world today?
2. What does Jesus have to say about these problems?

In the first part of the book, Brian McLaren outlines some of the reasons why these questions are so important, and how it is that the Church has shifted away from its responsibility to address them. Lately, the Church has been focused on “a) how some individuals could go to heaven after death or b) in the meantime, how some individuals could be more personally happy and successful through God and the Bible.” We have abandoned our call to wrestle with and practically answer the above questions, and have, in McLaren’s words, become a “benign and passive chaplaincy to a failing and dysfunctional culture, the religious public relations department for an inadequate and destructive ideology.”

One favorite quote so far:

A right understanding of God and faith can train people to hold their heads high, to doubt the lies of a dysfunctional society and to work for its transformation. But a misguided understanding can be an opiate that keeps their heads down in submission or desperation so they continue to serve their social system that is destroying them, believing its lies, performing according to its self-destructive script.

Chapter Five really got me thinking about why it is that many young adults are in the process of questioning Church and faith, and why it is that to them [us] and many others around the world, Christianity appears to be a failed religion. I have been thinking alot about that over the past few months, and have some thoughts on the matter, many of which come through in the book. If anyone out there has a thought about it, feel free to let me know; I would love to hear it and discuss it further.

Whenever I have read a Brian McLaren book, I have found that he has a knack for articulating the struggles of those who are in the process of wrestling with these issues. I hope that as I continue reading the book, he will lead the read past the questions and into the realm of action.

And on I read …

    • justin
    • October 9th, 2007

    Good questions E.
    I would say oppression. I know that is so generic. So I guess the next question would be; who are the oppressed or who do you oppress. I believe whether we know it or not we are oppressing someone. So take a second to figure out if there is any one specific or a specific people group. IF you can’t think of any one off the top of your head then spend some time in and amongst the poor; i.e. Homeless, Mental Health, Orphans just to name a few. We all know the saying if your not part of the solution your part of the problem. Well I believe that to be true in this case. A lot of Christians have their own stuff to deal with and figure church (on Sunday) is God’s time but the rest of time I need to deal with my own stuff. Or the other side is that a lot of Christians focus their energy into thing like make sure the band sounds perfect or that the lights and the power point and the fog machine all run in sync. Who has time for things like making sure people have food to eat or taking the time to listen to those who are hurting? I guess a good starting place is to begin to recognize those hurting around us. If we make ourselves available to others and to be used by God, I believe that change will begin to happen.

    Who do you oppress?

  1. I think another way of asking that same question is ‘who is my neighbour?’ That’s a question I have been thinking about for years, and the straight up answer is, of course, everyone. Therefore, when Jesus commands us to love our neighbour, he is telling us to take care of the poor, oppressed and marginalized. You hit one of the big points of the intro of the book in that Christians are often focused on the wrong things [Jesus as ‘personal Saviour’, taking care of ourselves, music etc.] and don’t look into what we can do in terms of meeting practical needs as well as spiritual needs.

    Question to you: why do you think many people our age are questioning / leaving faith behind and see it as a failure?

    • j
    • October 10th, 2007

    My initial thoughts would be, because Christianity appears to be cliché. It’s the same old rhetoric with no end in sight. I find the people of our generation who claim to be Christians have immersed themselves into Church and Church culture so much that they have buried their heads in the sand. They are concerned with all the wrong thing as previously stated. Evangelism is made up of tactics to win people over, relationship are used as way of winning people to Lord. Why can’t we as Christians have a relationship with some without alterative motives?
    When you really look at what it means to follow Christ, we are called to give up every thing. Jesus did not say; ‘make sure give of yourself 10% and the rest is yours’. We are called to let go of our position, possessions and self-righteousness. We need to let go of our hate, anger and learn to love. I believe this is one of the missing pieces of our Churches today. It is difficult, and too many people are content with their lives. Unfortunately until like you said, we open up our eyes and look at needs of our neighbors and address them (because people are in need not because we are trying to make them like us. I believe that was tried about 50-100 years ago with the native, and most of us know how that turned out.)
    To wrap it up a little tighter, either people feeling that due to there church experience that faith is nothing more than smoke and mirrors or that people of faith don’t have a real clue about life outside the church.
    I think there is a lot more to it but that would be my initial ramblings.

    What do you think?

  2. In short, I think the problem is this: mixed messages. Clearly, the Church is presenting a faulty version of the message of Jesus, one that falls in line more with the expectations of our culture than the Kingdom. Maybe that demands an entire post. I’ll get to that later.

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