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Room for doubt

A little while ago I had a post about one of the quotes I read in a book I have been reading called Life of Pi.  The quote was on doubt not being a good choice for a philosophy of life.  I still think this is an unhealthy choice, however I would like to say a little something about having doubt.

I believe doubt is something which is healthy.  Sunday morning we had a discussion on a passage in scripture which had a man crying out, “I believe, but help my unbelief!”  The more discussed this, the more we started to realize not only the reality of doubt (Meaning we all have doubts.) but also the need for such. 

Growing up, I guess I kind of thought doubt was something which was frowned upon in my Christian walk.  Where there were doubts there was weakness.  This was not something which was said or taught overtly, but it kind of crept into the mind.  I guess I began to get fundamental about this kind of thinking and was not able to be surprised.  Could doubt lead to being surprised….?  

I believe a healthy doubt challenges us to go deeper.  It makes us question what we think is true or real.  This is a good thing.  Think about Jesus and his interactions with some of the Pharisees for a second.  In challenging their way of thinking, they must have had to doubt where they were.  This caused growth did it not?  If they did not change, then they did not doubt where they were.  

The charge I guess in this is to embrace our doubts and go further.  Do not quit looking deeper.  The scary part of doubt is that it could cause us to stop looking….yet it should cause us to look further!

Table Talk

What does it mean to sit at the table with Christ and to eat?  What does this look like in today’s society, particularly within the Western culture so many of us find ourselves in?  I find it interesting about myself, in how I can describe what it looks like more in the 1st century, or for many of the other centuries past for that matter, than I can for the time of now.  

Now I can describe what it has looked like and ways in which I have practiced it, but I really want to wrestle with it on a different level than just passing the elements around and this being us sitting at the table with Christ.  Is it really to look like taking something from someone and being blessed?  I am not talking down to any of these forms or any which I have not written here.  Each of these have their place.  

What I am saying though is I lack the experience which I see in scripture of people being changed when they encounter Christ at a “table.”  Maybe there is something I am not seeing.  Maybe I am not looking in the right places.  I am not sure.  What I do know, is that when people came in contact with Jesus around a table, they left changed….forgiven, inspired, angry, and many others, which are all changes.  I want to see this in our community.  I believe it can happen.

Olympics

Could there be a topic which is more blogged about at this time than the Olympics?  I have debated in my head whether or not to put something about them even up here.  It is not that I am not watching them, because I certainly am.  I realize there are heaps of people saying something about them regardless of where they are, and so  I guess I just did not want to do what “everyone else was doing.”  

Then I began to think about how incredible it is that so many people all over the world are talking about the exact same thing, at pretty much the same time.  Sports or better yet, competition bringing people together and headlining the conversation on a global level.  There could be so many other things the world could be talking about or rather fighting about (I am not going to even get into my thoughts on the hypocrisy of Bush and his thoughts on Russia and Georgia).  However, this is something in a positive realm which the world is embracing.  

The Olympics 2008 is something the world is in need of.  I liken it to an adrenaline boost in the arm.  If you have ever seen Mission Impossible 3, where the female agent who dies in the helicopter, has the boost beforehand, this is the kind of thing I am talking about.  I hope this will help heal some foreign and domestic relations.  You never know huh?  I mean it could happen, right?

Quote-Life of Pi

I am in the midst of reading a novel called, Life of Pi.  One usually would not find me reading novels, as they are not my first choice when it comes to reading.  However, a few of my friends and I went to a bookstore the other day to actually find another book, Nineteen Eighty-four, and they talked me into getting this book instead.  So far, I am glad they have recommended the book to me.

To give you a bit of information before I write the quote down, it is a book about a kid named Pi, who is on a spiritual journey.  He has a great number of conversations with people of different faith backgrounds found in India.  In one of the conversations he says, “Choosing doubt as a philosophy of life is like choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”  

My first reaction was laughter, but then I started to think more about, I realized how this is such a helpful way of putting things.  Some of the people along my journey have chosen this as their philosophy of life.  When I look at where they are in life and what they are doing, it just seems to be somewhat stagnant.  I am in no way saying doubt is bad.  I actually think doubt is a natural and healthy.  But when it becomes the choice in which we use to look at everything, it is then that we see some of the unhealthy ramifications of doubt.  We loose our trust in everything else…other than of course our ability to doubt.  

Maybe a good example of healthy doubt can be seen in the bible with “doubting” Thomas?

Christian the Lion

Below, is a video I just saw.  There are quite a few hits on this one at youtube, so you ma have already seen it.  It amazed me to see the lion know them, but in watching it I thought wow, what brave people as well.  Would you stand there as a carnivore was coming at you like that?  

Antioch Way

Below is a video which has just been made about Antioch Way.  This video is to help get some information out about the church plant a group of us are embarking on in Perth.

The video starts by sharing a story to symbolize what the structure of the church is.  The reason being that the structure looks different from what a normal church and/or church plant entails.  In other words, we are not planting a Sunday morning gathering and calling it a church.  The second section is there to connect the story to what we are trying to accomplish.

This is only the first of what I hope to be a number of informative videos about Antioch Way.  So please be on the look out for others.  

I would love to hear what any of you think about it.  If there are questions it raises, please ask.   

This past Sunday morning we had a bit of a different sort of church gathering.  On the one hand, we had all of the normal elements to a normal Sunday morning for Westchurch; singing, prayer, communion, giving, etc.  However, in walking in and sitting down, you would notice right off that you were in for something a different.  

For starters, we had all of the seats set up in a circle, and in the middle of the circle was the communion.  I could go on and on about the symbolism of this…no hierarchy, equality, communion being the central focal point, but I will spare your eyes the unnecessary reading.  There was no sound system set up (this is something important because we meet in a school, and setting this up and taking it down is a big thing to do on a regular basis.)  There was no powerpoint, just a total focus on what we were there for.  From my perspective, this was something quite refreshing.  

The other part which was certainly different was the way we did the lesson.  Taylor Smith was able to lead some discussion on simplicity through meditation on Matthew 18: 3ff.  It was a time of communal learning and communal input.  There was not a long talk beforehand (I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing), but rather the Spirit of God coming out of the conversation.  If you ask me, it looked a lot like what was going on in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 14:26).  People were bringing something different to the table and sharing!  

Now, you might be saying to yourself, that sounds a lot like Bible Study.  Well you are right, I reckon it does.  There are of course a few additional aspects/elements which can be seen, but basically it does look a lot like a Bible Study.  My question to this is that I wonder if a “bible study” looks a lot more like what church is supposed to be like rather than what a normal church does?  I am not sure as of yet.  

I read a good book which raised some good questions about how we do things in church.  It is called “Pagan Christianity” by George Barna and Frank Viola.  If you are interested in a good quick read and some good history on where and why we do the things we do in churches today, I would highly recommend it.

OK, so I have been once again giving this whole notion of simplicity some more thought.  One reason for this is because I am doing a series on Sunday about the topic, but also because it just seems to really resonate with me at the moment.  I just can not seem to shake the huge desire in my life for more simplicity.  

I wonder what it is inside of me that craves such a thing, and yet really does not know what it would look like to live a simple kind of life.  I mean, on the one hand, I know what it would look like to get rid of so much of the things that I have.  I know what it would look like to get rid of so many of the “appointments” I have in my diary.  But would that truly feed this craving in a healthy way?  Am I just scared about the idea of doing something like this and am making excuses for not doing it….?  I am just not sure.

I read that perfection comes not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.  Perfection is this?  Is this what Jesus did by making things more simple with the greatest commands?  Love God and Love others…..everything in the law and the prophets hanging on this kind of thing.  Is this what he meant by his yoke being easy?  I mean I know it can not mean that turning the other cheek is the easy choice.  But maybe he means it is easy in that it is much more simple.  It is much more boiled down and not so flipping complicated.  I am not sure what it all is, but I know I want to live less and less complicated and the more I read the bible, the more I see my life in complicated ways…..

Quote

I have just about finished a book called Jesus for President, which is by Shane Claibourne.  It is a good book and I would recommend reading it.  There are a few things which have struck me and I have been pondering them for a bit.  However, there is a quote that I wanted to put out there and unpack a little bit.  He says this about Christianity.  “Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful.”

I find this to be interesting because I grew up in what is known as the Bible Belt.  The Christianity which was “sold” to me had a great deal to do with trying to be cool.  I can remember hearing things from people who were trying to be real cool and fit in so very much with the youth culture (This was not my youth minister though….he was about 50 and incredible….long pony tail baby!)  

I say this to say, is this kind of Christianity bad?  Is this where Christianity is not at its best?  I also can see that there are cultures in places like China where the Kingdom of God is moving out in incredible ways.  Christianity is being highly persecuted, and yet it is flourishing.  I recognize this and am extremely excited about such a thing.  Is the gospel the at its best in China?  

My answer for this is I do not know.  I can honestly see both sides of the argument.  I have seen lives transformed on either end of the spectrum.  Is not that one of the central messages of the Kingdom of God?  We are to be created more and more into Christ’s likeness?  Then again if this is happening….would not persecution begin to occur?

Simplicity

I reckon this is a state at which we would like to get to and yet we do not really know how to do it.  I believe one of the human conditions is to complicate things.  The freedom of simplicity is what we desire, but the natural flow is the bondage of complexity.

However, I think we are beginning to see a new trend in todays world.  Maybe not a trend, but I think there are signs of intentional simplicity.  Take a look at Google’s search engine and then compare it to Yahoo or MSN.  What do you see?  Maybe you can see this in some of the new ways of interior decorating or even the logos of products.  Simple is better.  I reckon you can see this is sports as well.  The game plans are getting more and more simple….although the Bulls were pretty simple back in the day (give the ball to Jordan).

I wonder if this complexity is something we have been putting into some of the was we do church and the way we perceive following Christ.  Have we made some of this stuff so hard?  Have we made too many lists of what it looks like or means to follow Christ?  Somewhere in the bible it says something about loving others and loving God….that being the end all be all right?  Maybe this is the basics, but as my coaches and others have said in the past, if you can not get the basics right then why “play the game?”