Removing [More] Ignorance…

“Ignorance often breeds unnecessary fear and violence.” (p.74 Chandler, Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road)

I hope the thesis of my last post was that we, as Western Christians, need to get out of our comfort zones/”Christian Bubbles” in order to engage people who are different from us. Specifically, how can we go out of our way to encounter Muslims, and allow the Spirit of our Savior, Jesus, to show Himself? First, we must burn away the false pretenses we have in our minds about those who are different from us; during this conversation we will focus on Muslim, but you can apply these principles to any situation where differences exist…

In response people who say, “I hate Islam”, Mazhar asks, “What Islam do you hate? There are so many expressions of it…I cannot afford to hate Islam, or anything. For me, hate connects with fear, desire for revenge and unforgiveness.” (p.74, Pilgrims)

I doubt any of you who read this blog would really say you “hate” Muslims. However, our actions, whether conscious or not may speak hatred louder than we may think.

“Christians are in danger of repeating harmful periods of history when the West has gone to war on the Muslim East to conquer, physically or spiritually, in the name of God. Muslims rarely hear “Good News” from Christians; instead they feel targeted as enemies of a new war.” (p.74, Pilgrims)

The book I am currently reading right now is called “Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road“, by Paul-Gordon Chandler. It’s a wonderful book, and is helping me to remove quite a bit of the ignorance in my life regarding Islam. It is currently touching on some major issues that we do not have time to go into (Mainly, how our Western view & practice of “missions” & “missionaries” MUST change, and will soon, if not already be ineffective in the world.)

The book has also touched quite a bit on war…

“In the war in Iraq, both Western Christians and Arab Muslims prayed for God to give their respective side victory-seeing it as a moral or holy war.” (p.73, Pilgrims)

Ouch. Think about that for minute. Are we so arrogant to think that God “sides” with OUR country as opposed to an Eastern Country? If I’m not mistaken, Jesus Christ Himself was born and raised in the East. Not to mention the Christian Church was birthed THERE, and spread from THERE to HERE. Who do we think we are, really? I’m not sure God “sides” with any particular country, or region of the world at all…I think He might want all to know Him and the power of His resurrection, but I could be wrong…

“The most beautiful part of the Gospel…the cross…became a weapon used against us in crusader’s hands (Crusader in Arabic means “cross-bearer”). The cross, where God had embraced humanity, had become a sword.” (p.74, Pilgrims)

I hope this causes us all to stop and think about how our country approaches war, and engages in battle with others for the “freedom” of our “Christian Nation”. Put yourself in the shoes of the countries we’re waging war war against and think for a moment what they must perceive about us…the thoughts that come to my mind are far from a gracious, loving, Savior God whom I’ve found in Jesus.

“The Christian West is often seen by Muslims as generally immoral and supportive of a regime which they perceive as having for decades humiliated both Muslim & Christian Palestinian people.” (p.73, Pilgrims)

We’ll stop here for today, but will continue later this week with a short story of my visit to a local Mosque here in Las Vegas…I hope you will all begin to open yourselves up to beginning a relationship with someone who is different from you-Jesus did it….A LOT. We do it…A LITTLE, if at all.

Beloved…

Not trying to be lame, and post other people’s stuff; Derek Webb is just so legit. I’ve listened to him for years, but the words to his songs are coming alive more and more as I listen lately. This song is called “Beloved”, and is another one of Derek’s “letters to the church”… (He is NOT writing this to a form, model, or institution. He is directing this at the people of God who make up His Church-keep that in mind as you read or listen)

“Beloved” – By Derek Webb

beloved these are dangerous times
because you are weightless like a leaf from the vine
and the wind has blown you all over town
because there is nothing holding you to the ground

so now you would rather be
a slave again than free from the law

(chorus)
beloved listen to me
don’t believe all that you see
and don’t you ever let anyone tell you
that there’s anything that you need
but ME

beloved these are perilous days
when your culture is so set in it’s ways
that you will listen to salesmen and thieves
preaching other than the truth you’ve received

because they are telling lies
for they cannot circumcise your hearts

(chorus)

beloved listen to me
don’t believe all that you see
and don’t you ever let anyone tell you
that there’s anything that you need
but ME

beloved there is nothing more
no more blessings and no more rewards
than the treasure of my body and blood
given freely to all daughters and sons

Again, Derek is speaking of unecessary things added, and ways we have been decieved. What do you think? What truths do you see here?

A Bad Thing?

Over the past few months I have become increasingly aware that there are many (Mostly “Big Christian Leader Men” in the Evangelical world) who seem to think that making disciples, and seeing new communities of faith birthed is a “Bad Thing…?”

Interesting.

I know what you are thinking: “Aaron, what do you mean they think it is a bad thing!? It has become VERY popular, and many pastors are starting to pursue planting churches out of their churches!?”

This is true. Pastors ARE realizing that if they are to be kingdom churches they must be starting new ones. However, I have noticed that “they” love church planting so long as it is either:

1) Planted directly out of their church

2) They can SOMEHOW take credit for the fruit produced

3) BOTH

In other words: If it continues to grow “their thing”, benefit them in some way, and DOES NOT challenge/get in the way of what they are pursuing then “yes of course we are a church planting church!”

The “question”, “A Bad Thing…?”, resulted after I became aware of several different situations taking place all over the country. The students, and young people we train to start lay-led simple churches have shared that they are constantly getting flack from institutional church pastors/Christian leaders.

For some reason the FIRST response from the pastors to these students after the students share what God has been doing is to: “Burst their bubble, reign on their parade, question God’s activity, doubt what is going on, oppose what they are doing, WARN them AGAINST it, and challenge them to the point of COMPLETELY delegitimizing what is taking place.” (Usually based upon extra-Biblical, Cultural American church concerns.)

This breaks my heart, and leaves me in awe. Picture it: young people all over the country being equipped/empowered/released to go onto their campuses and into their neighborhoods to plant Gospel seeds. In the process new decisions for Christ are made, and new disciples Baptized. Then, new communities of faith are being birthed as a result. Students are Baptizing students, who are then going and Baptizing OTHER students. Churches are birthing, and birthing OTHER new churches! This is bad? Dangerous?

It saddens me that these Christian leaders, for whatever reason, HINDER the movement of the Spirit by abusing their “authority” and influence in the lives of younger Christians. Instead, my prayer is that today’s Christian leaders would rise up to Spiritually Father these young people by affirming and encouraging them to keep moving forward; yes, even if it means their churches have one less member.

Thoughts?