2 things: Preaching & freedom…
Well today I am thinking about 2 things; preaching and freedom. We’ll start with
Preaching / teaching is what I do. I’m an “evangelist” (which means something TOTALLY different today than it did 20 years ago, and again something TOTALLY different than it did 2000 years ago). But for me it means I travel (full-time as an occupation) preaching / teaching the scriptures, hopefully proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and the life that he offers. BUT the conversation comes for me in the question, “What does it really mean to preach?” You see I hear A LOT of “preachers” who give dynamic talks but they are nothing more than a good self-help, encouraging pep talk. They might toss in a scripture reference or two but for the most part (in my opinion) they have not preached. My thought is that they came up with a good idea, some clever message to give to their congregation and built it up but because they are a “pastor”, a “preacher” they had to toss in a scripture reference or two. Is this really preaching? I never want to give my own clever concept or witty messages, I walk to preach the scripture, we call it God’s word for a reason. Right? I don’t think this is about right or wrong, maybe it more about good, better and best or something like that.
Just thinking about that today and wanting to be a preacher / teacher of the words God has given to us, not my own clever ideas or concepts.
I am also thinking about freedom today, it’s memorial day. I was fortunate enough to be born on this lovely holiday and would like to think that Monday (which is my actually birthday) people are actually celebrating me and the event of my birth. But in actuality we know that we are celebrating veterans that have served in the military.
Some of my thoughts:
I don’t want to disrespect veterans at all. I have some great friends and people I respect highly who have served in the military. I respect brave women and men who have chosen to sacrifice their own time and efforts with the intentions of helping people who are in need and protecting people who are in danger. I respect the hearts and motives of so many military personnel. With that said I am a pacifist (or close to it) and I don’t believe violence can be redemptive, I think that redemptive violence is a myth at best. Are their exceptions to that rule? Maybe, probably, but I am thankful that I am not the one who is called to make the call on those exceptions and I think they are VERY few and far between anyway. I have to admit that I get uncomfortable when I am asked to put my hand over my heart and “pledge allegiance to a flag / a country”. I get very uncomfortable when I am ask to stand and salute a flag and sing about “bombs bursting in air”, lifting up violence and once again pledging my allegiance to something that is not the God who I love and serve and give my all to. That all makes me uncomfortable!
I was thinking this morning as the pastor said, “we want to honor our military personnel for giving their lives so that we could be free…” I was thinking that I’m not sure that is true. Do we not say in the church that “every good and perfect thing comes from God” and that He is the one who has brought us out of captivity into freedom? Do we not believe that God has given us the only freedom we really have? I wonder if our freedoms as Americans really enslave us to so many other things. Am I thankful for not being persecuted and being able to worship freely in this country? Yes, I think I am thankful that God has enabled me to freely worship and pray but I hope that I would worship in all circumstance and in any place. And I don’t want to worship the idol of American freedom and social liberty. So I find a tension in my head and heart; I am thankful to brave people who feel the call to be peacemakers and decided the way they can do that is by putting on fatigues. My hope is they would learn to carry a cross instead of a gun but I am not sure how all that works, I don’t claim to understand and I admit that the way of Jesus doesn’t always seems to make the most sense. I also want to give credit where credit is due; I want to thank God for my freedom and pray that I would not use it for evil but would use to give my life away and be the kind of peacemaker and reconciler that Jesus was.
SO yea, I don’t claim to have answer today, I just claim to be on a journey and I am thinking…