27 October 2010

Idealism - Good Thing?

"The need to perceive a deeper meaning for out lives is not just a midlife phenomenon. According to brain specialist Joseph Chilton Pierce, a brain spurt occurs in early adolescence related to the capacity for idealism. An adolescent's greatest developmental need is for adults whose model of a meaningful life encourages this idealism. If this capacity for idealism is not encouraged, the young person experiences profound frustration. Pierce suggests that our epidemic of teenage violence is a direct result of stunted brain growth and frustrated idealism caused by lack of meaning in the adult world that confuses them. When we move into adulthood without having discovered a deeper sense of meaning and purpose for our existence, our disillusionment can settle into a profound (and sometimes very subtle) cynicism and emotional detachment that are quite antithetical to the hope, passion and energy that are basic to our Christian faith."
- Barton, Sacred Rhythms - pg. 115

Does your life have meaning? Where do you find that meaning?

How are you modeling a meaningful life to those around you?

22 October 2010

Salt Isn't Very Tasty...

The indoor soccer team I joined last night won our game 7-6. In many way, though, we lost.

It had been a while since I'd been in a un-Christian sports environment. Playing intermurals at my Christian undergrad was, in many ways, an illusion to the real world where players cuss and fight among each other, occasionally threatening the referee. I hadn't experienced this since I was in high school and assumed that guys would mature by the time they were this age. Apparently not. As discouraging and even saddening as it was, though, it was quite refreshing. It was like I was meant to be there.

Christians are called to be the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). This image of "salt" is often misunderstood. I've always been taught that Jesus was trying to make a statement about how Christians are supposed to "make the world taste better" by sprinkling their Christian-ize everywhere they go. If we're going to be completely honest, the Christian life is by no means "tasty." How is loving your enemies appealing? How about turning the other cheek? Such signs of "weakness" are in no ways attractive.
Before Christ ruined my life, I would consider actions such as retaliation and revenge very tasty. Perhaps even spicey.

Luke gives us a better idea about Jesus meant here:
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, now can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out (14:34).
In first century Israel, salt was used to break up manure. It was thrown into nasty, smelly areas in order to decompose waste faster. This makes better sense with why Jesus parallels salt with light in Matthew 5:13-16. Both are symbols of how Christians are meant to expel evil from the world.

I think that too often we are hesitant to enter into dark, ugly and messy places because we are afraid that we will lose our "saltiness." We're fearful that the bad will influence us. Or perhaps we just use all of this as an excuse not to go outside of our comfortable Christian walls. Either way, regardless of whether we "save" ourselves by hiding or become too entangled with the world, we are going to become unsalty. Salt is only salty when it is used.

We are meant to be in the world, breaking apart spiritual strongholds, tearing down oppressive infrastructures, dethroning antichrists. When Jesus prayed for his followers, he asked that they would not be taken out of the world. He prayed that they would be protected from evil while serving in the world (John 17:15).

It was amazing what a few kind words at the game last night could do. A quick "thank you" was like water on a dry ground to the referee. I stuck out like a sore thumb because I didn't cuss out someone else who had "wronged" me. Salt is really salty when mixed in with very unsalty things.

I encourage you to dare to journey into messy places and share Christ by breaking something apart.