Monday, January 08, 2007

What are you talking about?

Last night I went to the Metro church in Youngstown, Ohio. The pastor, Josh Shank, shared some thoughts on the issue of questioning God. Since I'm in a place of questioning a lot of things, I was greatly interested in what he had to say. In the Bible, in the book of Luke, you can find the story of the Good Samaritan. What a guy, right? It's a story that has been passed down from generation to generation. Heck, we have laws in many states that borrow the phrase as their name. (Kind of funny in a country that screams separation of church and state! I digress.) No matter what your walk in life or what your background is, chances are you know the story. But what most people don't know is why Jesus was sharing it. A teacher of the Law, an expert who most likely had (what we know as) the whole Old Testament memorized, was questioning Jesus as to how to get to Heaven. Jesus asked him what he thought the law said, and the expert gave Him a simple answer to love God with all you have and to love your neighbor. Jesus told him he was right; do those things and you would have eternal life. Then the expert, in an attempt to justify himself, asked who his neighbor was. As a response, Jesus told the Good Samaritan story.

I won't go into a sermon here, I just want to focus on the question. There are an awful lot of people in the world, and (unfortunately) even more in the church that test God with silly questions. And as Josh shared last night, they aren't asking to get answers. They are asking to avoid answers. I know a lot of biblically knowledgeable people that try to justify themselves by ranting on about this or that. Their objective, is the more they ask the more they don't have to live it out. If they play stupid, or even worse just judge everyone around them, they don't have to answer for their own actions. Their knowledgeable questions make them seem holy so they don't have to live out or pursue anything. And we wonder why so many people call church go-ers hypocrites?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting myself up on any kind of pedestal here. I have done this same thing more times than I want to admit. It's easy to look holy when I vomit out all my knowledge and try getting people to think. But that's not where true heart change happens. God wants us to actually "do" what we're talking about. Which is part of what I talked about in my last post. Actually "doing" and not "talking" is what Jesus did. So that's what I want to do. There's nothing wrong with questioning God. The evil happens when we are hiding behind the questions. Shut up and go "do" something.


Blogger Adrienne said...

I've been thinking about your thoughts recently. (That makes me scary, huh?)

I was raised in a very non-traditional Christian home. My father was never content to be complacement and strived for bigger and better in the church market for the first 12 years, or so, of my life. Around then, he started a small church/bible study and ran a clothing a distribution out of the building he was renting. It never got very large, but it pushed the family in new ways. That lasted a few years and then he felt it was time to move on, again. By the time we moved to Colorado he was no longer looking for a church, but moreso for a constant purification within himself and for his family.

Now, in some ways, maybe this has allowed me to get lazy spiritually because there's not a large support group or Sunday morning church to account to. But, in other ways it has kept me simple and unassuming.

All that said, I think that doing verses talking is a much more Christlike action. I think, however, that "doing" can become a problem when people decide that, "well, I am doing good and therefore I am good."

I think the real challenge is to be able to hear, from millisecond to millisecond, what God is requiring of them at the very time.

We should never become pleased with ourselves until we have reached perfection. The only way to become perfect is to become 100% selfless. We can only become selfless once we are completely immersed in Christ.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

That is so true Adrienne. And since we can never become 100% perfect, our constant striving for it becomes our witness.

What your Dad did sounds like what all of us should be doing. Finding something to 'do' that is an expression of the core things Jesus professed to be "ways to find eternal life." I want to find that, and I want to do those things.

On a completly different topic...I am not one of those people who have no regrets. I have a few. And the more I hear about your Dad the more I realize not meeting him is becoming a regret. It sounds like he had a wealth of knowledge and wisdom we could all learn a little something from. I hope that doesn't offend you at all.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

You know, people often choose to not say something for fear of causing sadness. The truth of the matter is, sadness is a very real and constant part of my thoughts. You saying that in no way brings up a sadness that wasn't there, it simply makes a little bit of that sadness proud that, even though he's gone, a little bit of my father's greatness can shine through!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Papa D said...

Can I get into the discussion? Over the last few days I've been thinking about what I've read here and have a thot or two.
First, Jesus loved the church. If we read the Bible carefully, Jesus came for the church, doed for the church, rose for the church, and intercedes for the church even now. NOTE: Church is not a building full of people, it is a people full of God. We are better together than we are apart, and we worship better individually when we have learned to worship well together.
That being said, God created us to "do", not just yack. In the book of James we find that faith without deeds is just plain dead - I love the line in a song I heard that says faith without deeds is like a screen door on a submarine.

Put the two concepts together and what you get is that God calls us to the church and calls the church to action. I though it was interesting in a prior blog when you (sam) said that your men's group put money on the table and then did something with it to bless another. This action would probobaly never have happened if you had not been gethered together, talking about spiritual things and studying what God had to say about "Christian actions". So, the gathering to talk resulted in positive action - therefore BOTH are needed. Talking without action is a waste of time, but action without talking is most likely not going to happen at all. Be careful that the baby does not get thrown out with the bathwater.

4:23 PM  
Blogger lyndsay said...

I completely agree Sam,lets get off our lardy butts and do the dang thing,oh and i enjoy our talks as well thanks for being there buddy!

10:49 PM  

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