Sunday, August 26, 2007

Clanging Symbols

I played a "game" recently in one of my classes last semester that was based on communicating to different cultures. There were two teams. Both were tribes. The two were split up and given instructions and they knew nothing about the neighboring tribe. All my team knew was that we had a "Bible" and our goal was to be excited and outgoing and tell the neighboring tribe about our God because we believed that God would not come back to get us until the whole earth had heard about Him. When we entered the room we were shocked by the other team. They had a new "language" and they backed away from our personality. We had two very different cultures interacting/ being represented. One was very outgoing and individualistic, the other was cautious and every thing relied on community.

The game was a great way for us to learn about communication through cultures. It took awhile for my team to figure out the other tribes way of life and how to be welcomed, but eventually, with the right attitude and the right questions, our tribes talked together. It wasn't easy and there was alot of frustration for our team. But with time and patience, we got somewhere.

After the game ended we debriefed about it. And something hit me hard. I thought about the team I was on. I thought about how our entire mission in the game as a tribe, was to tell the people about "God". It didn't matter if they believed. Our "bible" told us that as long as they heard about God, God would come back for US.

Then I wondered. Is that how some of the church acts? Instead of sharing and showing the love and peace of God to others because we know the hope and beauty that a relationship with the Creator is....instead.....we do it as a job. It's just something we have to do if we want to look good.

I remember when I was about 13 years old, I felt like I was doing something wrong because I never "lead anyone to Christ". I thought there was something wrong with me because no one had repeated the sinner's prayer with me. Doesn't that just feel weird?

Some people have stopped caring about one another and knowing and sharing life with them. It becomes a goal to save people.

The point of the game in class was to show that you cannot just go into another persons life and think you know everything. It will take time to learn about the people and find out their history...why they are the way they are. It takes time to gain trust. We have to love one another and care about the things that God deeply cares about. We have to clothes the clotheless, feed the hungry and stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves. I'm being bold here, but it's just NOT enough to lead someone to Christ and walk out of their life without a care for who they are or where they are going.

To quote one of the best 80's television shows ever created (Scarecrow and Mrs. King), "You can't just walk into my life, hand me a package, tell me you love me, and walk out of my life again."

Maybe you'd have to watch it, but I think it's great. You just CAN'T have relationships like that. When Our Lord returns and we are spending eternity in harmony with Him and with each other, it won't matter so much if you helped 50 people say the sinners prayer. What will matter is the lives that you touched, the Jesus' in disguise that you loved on. If you can love on 50 people and change their lives, then great. But if it's void of love, it means nothing.

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1

A good start is to stop talking and just listen.

Monday, August 20, 2007


"We all lose a part of our humanity, of our divinity when we sin -- when we betray our sacred relationship with one another or with God. When you sin, you feel awful. Because in many ways you end up knowing that it is not in your best interest, ultimately, and that often someone is going to be hurt by what you do. We often think of sin as a violation of religious or moral law or as an offense against God. But we sin whenever we are less than we could be, when we miss the mark of our potential to be fully lovingand caring human beings. These smaller sins also need forgivness, as of course do the larger violations of another's humanity and holiness."

-- Desmond Tutu, God Has a Dream

You don't know how many times I read and reread that.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Made to love

I had the privlidge of hanging out with a very smart 6 year old boy from the inner city of LA last week. His name was Andrew and he was apart of the VBS we were putting on for the kids in the neighborhood. On the last day of VBS we got into groups of two or so and asked questions about each other so the kids could knowmore about us before we left. Andrew and I didn't end up talking about ourselves as much as we talked about God.

I asked Andrew, "Is there anything you want to ask me?" I was expecting something like "What is your favorite color?" but I got this:

"Why are we learning about God?"

I thought for a moment, trying to put theological terms into kid language.

"Well, we learn about God because he made us and wants us to learn about Him and how to treat other people."

He nodded. Then he looked around. The theme of the VBS was "The Lord's Army", and I didn't really like the theme all that much, but I went along with it because this was about the kids, not me. Then Andrew said,

"Why are we doing the army?"

Good question. "Well, Mr. Maaz thinks that there are some things about the army that are the same about following God."

He looked confused. "Because they die?"

"Well, no....he see's things in the army like respect and compassion and untiy (our three focuses)."

Andrew looked at me, still confused, but nodded. I decided to ask him a question this time.

"What do you think about God?"

"I think he made us so that he could love us."