“You Are More”
Tenth Avenue North
I said I would sail the roughest of seas to find some peace,
But I’m backing out again.
Cause I want my oceans in a spoon
Where they’re short and shallow;
Something that I can swallow
- Weaver at the Loom, “You Can’t Escape Them”
Genius imagery in those lyrics describing how we can charge head-first into life’s battles, yet so easily lose heart in cowardice and lack of faith, when the going gets tough. Truth be told, we like the idea of being a warrior in life’s battles so long as those battles are safe, easy, and manageable. In other words, we want “our oceans in a spoon.”
All too often we in the Church have a tendency to overlook mediocre artistry in ”Christian films” and “Christian literature” because of the underlying gospel message behind the story. “As long as the gospel is proclaimed”, goes the line of thinking, “does craftsmanship and creativity really matter?”
We can do better. Movies like the amazing French film Of Gods and Men prove that artistry and a faith message can go hand in hand. The subtle, yet powerful witness of a group of French monks under fire can speak to the heart of someone outside the church far more effectively than movies made by Christians for Christians.
Missionary Jim Elliot once wrote, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Let’s “live to the hilt” not only on the mission field, but also in fields of music, film, and literature.
Tweet of the day goes to @RickWarren:
God WONT ask “Were u a Calvinist? Arminian? Pentecostal? Catholic? Orthodox? Evangelical? He’ll ask “What’d you do with Jesus?”
Are we forgiven by God of our sins because we repent of those sins? Or does repentance and faith follow in response to a genuine encounter with the forgiveness of Jesus Christ? Capon provides some insight:
We are forgiven for one reason only: because Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. Forgiveness surrounds us, beats upon us all our lives; we confess, to wake ourselves up to what we already have. We are not forgiven, therefore, because we made ourselves forgivable or even because we had faith; [faith] is not a transaction, not a negotiation in order to secure forgiveness… We are forgiven solely because there is a Forgiver. Nothing new is ever done to achieve anything. It was all done, once and for all, by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world – by the one God, in the Person of the Word incarnate in Jesus. We may be unable, as the prodigal son was, to believe until we finally see it; but the God who does it, like the father who forgave the prodigal, never once had anything else in mind.- Robert Farrar Capon
Arleen Spencely, writing on the Relevant Magazine blog, discusses her struggle as a Catholic Christian growing up in a Protestant school:
“I used to be Catholic,” my teacher said. “But it’s a lot harder for Catholics to get to heaven than it is for Protestants.” She told us about the Sinner’s Prayer and how awful it is to confess sins to a priest, how questionable the Catholic mass is and how rarely the Gospel is preached in Catholic churches. While she suggested we steer clear of Catholics and their church, my heart pounded hard. My tiny, 10-year-old frame shook. Scared to speak but compelled to do it anyway, I raised my hand.
“I’m Catholic,” I said.
We would rather cling to the Christ and His purposes than to try to be another voice in the already crowded debate over doctrine.
One of the most common ways people tend to define a church community is through the doctrines they profess. This definition is then used to evaluate and eventually judge one particular church over and against another. It is in this way that through the centuries Christianity has become a much divided religion. Don’t read us wrong — we are not saying that all division is blatantly deconstructive. Christ’s own metaphor of the Kingdom of God being like a large tree in which all the birds of the air come to nest may have been a haunting but tender prophecy of this very present divisive reality. Division may not be the Divine ideal, but certainly it has not left a too-small tree.
The humiliation of the father in the Prodigal Son story provides a striking parallel to the humiliation that God took on for us on the Cross.
Have you ever observed someone making a fool of himself? Even if you are a detached bystander, such a scene can be excruciatingly hard to watch. When I see a person embarrassing himself on television – such as a singer singing the national anthem off key or an actor forgetting a line in a live performance – I find myself flipping the channel, as if that will somehow help end the awkward situation. Clearly, we all have a keen sensitivity to “shame” and “humiliation”, making it truly painful to observe, let alone experience.
We commonly hear the word “humility” associated with our walk with Christ, but how often in the church do we talk of “humiliation”? It is really a foreign concept. But the more you read through the New Testament and discover what God actually did for us on the Cross, you begin to realize that our all-knowing and all-powerful God willingly humiliated and shamed Himself for us. One of the best examples in the Bible demonstrating this is found in Luke 15 in the parable of the Prodigal Son.