God spoke at RecWeek 2017! I learned from students, staff and the city. You can see those discoveries here. But I also had three puzzles! Feel free to comment below and let's get a dialogue going.
Our way of life is unsustainable, oppressive and inconsistent with the kingdom of God; and as critical as we are of the "system", we are even more complicit in it. We can't speak with one another as evidenced by our facebook feeds, reading lists (or lack of) and divisive speech. I say "we" because I am not exempt. I am young, but the number of people I meet who simply can not communicate their thoughts and feelings in a coherent and consistent way knows no age limit or minimum. And, since dialogue especially across differences is what can humanize those around us is breaking down, exploiting the "other" around the corner and around the world seems to be accelerating. The wealthy, powerful and those seeking to be like them is not a group that seems to be getting smaller; but those willing to worship at the altar of selfish ambition and material prosperity is growing. In fact, I believe the last election was a doubling down of the integration of false american gospel into the supposed way Christians are supposed to live which leads to my second puzzle. So many questions...
How will 80% of White evangelicals compromise the witness of white Christians to women, the poor and communities of color?
The institutional American church seemed to push all its chips to the center of the table and go "all-in" on materialism, militarism and racism. If MLK sought to raise and change the values of this country, then his assassination and post-1968 backlash was a signal that this was not the way America wanted to go. And similarly, if Barack Obama was an attempt to make some sort of progress out of racism, then Donald Trump was a reminder that the racial hierarchy in this country is alive and well.
Therefore if I as a committed follower of Jesus, working in a predominantly white evangelical institution am having a hard time reconciling the political/social stances of my brothers and sisters that God called me to, how much more can my brothers and sisters without this call be struggling? There seems to be an emerging fork in the road that the powerful and the powerless are moving towards but Jesus is calling us to a "Third Way" that only a remnant will take. And those folks won't be one race, ethnicity or class, but those willing to confess, repent and be reconciled of all backgrounds for we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23).
With that said, I've got one more puzzle...
How can the world distinguish followers of Jesus from those following White American Folk Religion who worship at the altar of racism, materialism, militarism and sexuality -- when we don't read the bible and refuse to be in community with those who are different from us?
I truly wonder what revival looks like when we (Christians in America) don't study scriptures regularly, pray and intercede, or live justly and generously as the norm. What I do know is that I long for this and more and know that many others do as well. It was overwhelmingly evident that a holy discontent is swelling throughout our two months of programming.
This is because it's out in the open that America is segregated by race, class and increasingly ideology and level of education. Sexual assault and misogyny are left unchecked and victims blamed for the violence against them. The "church" sadly is no different. Yet, when I look at the scriptures, the 12 disciples and the Acts Church did not depict these divisions. In fact, when those divisions arose, there were concrete actions to press against the culture of the day in Acts 2, 6, 10 and Galatians 2. This was the foundation for our "Moving from Christian Clique to Covenant Community" conversation.
What became abundantly clear throughout our workshops with about 200 people over 6 weeks from all classes, races, and backgrounds was that no one was satisfied with his or her church, small group and what one author calls this "prep group for participation in the evangelical sub culture". God is stirring something genuine, worshipful and Holy Spirit-driven.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, covet your prayers, and am grateful for your prayers and partnerships.