How Then Shall We Live?

27 08 2005

I was listening to NPR with my wife Kim yesterday morning as usual. We were listening to a series about Nigeria and how this oil and natural gas rich nation was dealing with the intersection of money, power, and corruption. This particular installment highlighted the possible bribery by a U.S. natural gas company (which is a subsidiary of Halliburton) of Nigerian officials so that it would “win” a bid over several other competitors to develop a natural gas plant in Nigeria. It was clear that this compay was more focused obviously on its own ability to turn a profit, not to improve the daily lives of Nigerians.

Now stay with me while I make this leap, it dawned on me that stories like this is what has Al Qaeda in such a tizzy. Don’t get me wrong, Al Qaeda is still the bad guy. Blowing up innocent people around the world is not the way to confront corruption. It certainly is not Jesus’ way (whom they hold up to be a prophet). But the bottom line is that the “world system” that the Apostle John told us not to love in his first epistle is currently controlled by western democracies, and of course, our good ol’ U.S.A. is the big dog of western demcracies. So we basically are the world system. Think about it. We have world’s most powerful military. We are the wealthiest nation in the world. We set the standard for popular culture, with names like “Britney”, “50 Cent”, PDiddy” “Tom Cruise”, being known all around the world. Yes in deed, we are the world.

What remains for us is this: how then shall we live? How can we be in the world but not of it, especially given the fact that we live right smack dab in the belly of the beast? How do we live lives that are counter to the world system that is all around us? How do we stop being part of the cosumptive society of people who are more focused on what they wear, drive, listen to, look at, eat and drink? How do we pursue the Kingdom and demonstrate the reality of Jesus in this topsy turvy world?


My Thoughts on Pat

24 08 2005

I always cringe just about every time Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell open their mouths. I think both of these guys bring dishonor to the Gospel and to Jesus by their outrageous comments and their judgemental attitudes. Who do they speak for? Certainly not for me.

Now with Pat Robertson’s suggestion yesterday on his 700 Club broadcast that the U.S. government should assasinate the president of Venezuela, I am just fed up. What is most upsetting to me is that Pat seems to give the U.S. the same footing as the Kingdom of God. Well there is a name for that and it is called idolatry. This is the problem I have with the religous right, they argue for orthodoxy but when you dig deeper you find nothing but dead men’s bones and an over weening desire to be in charge of everything.

Further, I think that Jesus said somewhere that we are to pray for our enemies, and not to render evil for evil. Do you think that Pat is praying for Chavez? Do you think that he cares about this man’s soul and whether or not he knows Jesus as his Savior and Lord? Of course he doesn’t, so in the end he really does not care about the Gospel but about power and America’s place in the world. He certainly is not thinking about the Kingdom of Jesus.

Shalom (part 1)

19 08 2005

Bullets, lots of them, whizzing overhead. Sounds of anguish and horror as men, women, boys and girls have their bodies ripped apart by exploding scrapnel, both glass and metal. Tender flesh mangled and burnt beyond all human recognition. War.

Where did this happen? You pick the place: Iraq, Afghanistan, London, New York, Paducah, KY; Columbine.

Violence is all around the world, but most of you reading this post don’t worry about bomb blasts or gunshots on a daily basis. We don’t even worry about those things on a monthly or even yearly basis. But do we have real peace?

It has been said that the Hebrew term for peace, shalom, does not mean the absense of conflict, but the presence of justice and wholeness. We all know that simply taking away the weapons will not solve the problem in Irag, Afghanistan, or Inner City Detroit. The violence is nothing more than a mere symptom of a deeper, more fundamental dis-ease. The dis-ease is not a mystery. You don’t have to be a seer to figure out what the real problem is. It is very clear: too many people do not have enough to eat and drink, do not have dignity, and do not have authentic community, where they are loved and accepted for who they are.

Further, shalom cannot exist when you still have a church that is racially and ethnically divided as it is here in the U.S. Sure, we probably don’t have to worry about a race war anytime soon, but can we really say that black and white Christians actually get along with one another?

There is more though, I learned from my friend Jimmy, who used to coordinate the Pilgrimage for Reconciliation for InterVarsity, that they had to remove the word “shalom” from the title of the program (it was to be called the, “Shalom Pilgrimmage for Reconciliation”). Since the program was intended to be international in scope, they did not want to needlessly upset Arab and Muslim sensibilities. So think of the irony, Shalom itself does not engender peace and wholeness, but division.

So is it possible to have real Shalom in this life, I don’t know. However, I do know that we are called by the Prince of Shalom to be shalom makers.

First Steps

18 08 2005

I have been wanting to start a blog for a while now (okay, it has only been a couple of days) but I kept stopping myself because i could not figure out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. However, I know what I am passionate about and what I want to talk about. Here is a short list:

Jesus, my friend, Savior, and Lord
The Church (I am especially concerned about how we are to live out our faith in the context of authentic, biblical, community)
Good Books
Stimulating Conversation
Cycling (both mountain and road)
Jubilee/Kingdom of God
Racial Reconciliation
My Family

A little bit more about me, I am a black guy, 44 years old. I am married to Kim, and I am the father of Becca, Sojourner and Jordan. I am a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, MA.
I was born in Japan and raised in NY and MI.

Currently I am a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Oberlin College.

Why am a blogging? Primarilly for way to connect into a larger community of thoughtful Christians who are interested in having a conversation in how we are to “do church” in this postmodern age that we are living in.

I fell in to this post modern discussion just a couple of weeks ago with a new friend in Columbus, OH. He told me that he is connected with several young church planters who started their own communities of faith all over Ohio. He of course has his own community right smack dab in inner city Columbus.

These post modern Christians, as they like to call themselves, endeavor to live in authentic Christian community, seek justice, and find new ways to creatively worship the risen Christ. Some of them are even trying to rethink the faith altogether (I can not get with that myself). If you want to have a more detailed understanding of the ethos and history of this movement, check out: emergent village, the, relevant, and alleone.

Finally, I am primarilly interested in living out the Kingdom and discerning the true meaning of Shalom, Shabbat, Pentecost, and Jubilee. I will upack these themes in the next few weeks. I hope you come along with me for the ride. Feel free to post your questions or comments.