Christianity – Something Else Entirely

To most people in our society, Christianity is religion and moralism. The only alternative to it (besides some other world religion) is pluralistic secularism. But from the beginning it was not so. Christianity was recognized as a tertium quid, something else entirely.

The crucial point here is that, in general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him. We see this throughout the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life. In every case where Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (as in Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (as in John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (as in Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the elder-brother type does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders ‘the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you’ (Matthew 21:31).

Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think.

Tim Keller

Conflict and the Power of the Gospel

Great example:

During the genocide in Rwanda, 90 percent of the people claimed to be Christians. We don’t want to see that happen again. We did some work in Uganda a few years ago between two tribes, both of which profess to be Christian. It was a situation very similar to Rwanda. After Idi Amin left Uganda, his armories were unguarded, and 14-year-old kids got AK-47s, and 50,000-100,000 people were killed in cattle raids.

A missionary seeing this bloodshed contacted her church in Portland, Oregon, for help. A team trained through our Peacemaker resources went to Uganda and trained 20 pastors from the two tribes. They went on to train warriors, women, and elders. Eventually the two tribes called for a reconciliation meeting in the valley between them, which had been abandoned as a war zone. Some 2,500 people walked 15 miles from both directions to participate.

The gospel was preached and a revival occurred with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The people decided not only to make peace but to live together. They have now planted 60 villages of peace in that war-torn valley, 11,000 people have relocated, and truckloads of weapons have been taken away.

When visitors to the area asked, “What happened? How did you do this?” a woman who had been a catalyst for the reconciliation kept saying, “It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So whether the conflict is between a husband and wife or two warring tribes, the peacemaking principles remain the same. And church leaders committed to peacemaking will see it spill over into other areas.

[source]

Tightrope Walking as a Metaphor for Life

IMG_1062

Imagine a tightrope strewn between two peaks. Underneath is a gently sloping valley.

A timid young man sheepishly takes the first step out. This first step is the least risky of all remaining steps for he is close to the beginning and can simply turn around and abort the mission. Further, the valley slopes ever so gently that were he to fall, it would only be a few inches. The risk is small.

But with each step he takes the risk increases.

Suddenly (or so it seems), he passes the Point of No Return. This is the spot about halfway across where to turn back would be longer than going forward, and where the valley is so far below that to fall would mean certain death.

Not to be melodramatic (too late?), I feel that is where I am in life.

A second career at this point is nearly out of the question. And the responsibilities/risks in my current state only increase.

The sanest choice is simply to

take

the

next

step.

MCCA 2011: Following the Suffering Servant as an Asian American

Relationship with Self

Dangers of being colorblind described in Why we need Asian Americans.

Relationship with Jesus

“Asians are 5% of the population.. yet less than 1/3 of 1% of executive positions.. less than 1% of board positions.. even though Asians are better educated and make more money than any other group in America…” [source]

Asian Americans’ Rising Suicide Rates

A Family Suicide Risk in US Asians?

Relationship with Parents

Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Following Jesus without Dishonoring Your Parents

Relationship with the World

1 in 7 marriages are interracial — nearly 15% [source]

Eric Liu’s The Accidental Asian

7,000 Asian American churches in USA; 15.2 M Asian Americans [source]

Stats

  • 86 percent of Asian Americans are high school graduates.
  • 49 percent of Asian Americans are college graduates.
  • 20 percent of Asian Americans have graduate degrees (M.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D.).
  • Asian Americans have the highest median household income of any racial group ($64,238). [source]

Other Resources

  • Gospel Empowered Authenticity and Transparency Dr. Paul Kim – [Download MP3]
  • Asian American Christian Thought and Theological History: Pastoral Implications for Diversity and Innovation in a Multiracial Church – Stephen Um and Julius Kim [MP3; The Gospel Coalition 2011 Conference in Chicago]
  • Many more books and articles

Social Networking and Churches

Nearly two years ago I tweeted about three sites which sought to connect people in order to meet needs: worldwideopen.org, roov.com, thecommon.org.  All seemed to be quite similar in filling such a niche.

I had the same feeling when I heard of tableproject.org today.  It reminds me of mychurch.org, onthecity.org, beonebody.com, and some aspects of churchcommunitybuilder.com and other ChMSes.

No doubt there are differences between those listed above, but it will be interesting to watch how churches respond to all of these choices.

[update: related post on some of the above and another]