“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.” (Luke 6:46-49)
Some years back, a popular Christian movement centered on the acronym WWJD, asking, “What would Jesus do?” It is a great question that evokes the centrality of Jesus. The question implies that our discipleship journey today should reflect Jesus’ actions in the Gospels. I would love to see it make a sweeping return in a thoughtful manner but I would call it WYRTGWPDEPOJ (yeah, I know, my branding needs work). Because I think the better question is asking, “When you read the Gospels, what portrait does each paint of Jesus?” Asking that is a great litmus test to expose beliefs of successful-based communities, those practices not found in the Gospels which hinder and undermine bringing about the “kingdom of God” on earth that Jesus came to establish.
Successful-based beliefs/practices in the church today continue to undermine Jesus’ desire to bring about “the kingdom of God.” And the successful-based belief/practice on sin has arguably had the biggest negative impact on that. We conclude our look at sin by contrasting how faithful-based communities view it.
Successful-based beliefs/practices in the church today continue to undermine Jesus’ desire to bring about “the kingdom of God.” And the successful-based belief/practice on sin has arguably had the biggest negative impact on that. We continue our look at sin (from the previous post in this series) by examining how successful-based churches view sin.
Successful-based beliefs/practices in the church today continue to undermine Jesus’ desire to bring about “the kingdom of God.” And the successful-based belief/practice on sin has arguably had the greatest negative impact on that. Because of that impact, it is critical to understand as fully as possible what we mean when we use that little ‘ol three-letter word that is at the root of so much difference between successful-based and faithful-based churches. We will therefore spend three posts on sin (or you could say we’ll be “sinning” for the next few weeks). In this post we will engage in a brief overview of the concept of sin and a related spiritual concept, holiness, and introduce how successful-based and faithful-based churches differ on them. The following two posts will each explore in more detail how each side views and lives those concepts. Continue reading “A Brighter Path #3: Sin”
When we look at the nature of the church through the lens of Mother Teresa’s spiritual maxim that “God doesn’t call me to be successful, but to be faithful,” it might appear at first glance that both qualities should not only be acceptable but encouraged. It seems counter-intuitive to think we should not be successful for God. But the two concepts are opposites. One relies on God, and the other relies on ourselves but puts God’s name on it. Many churches today preach a life of faithfulness but their actions reflect Christianity’s long struggle with striving for success in its own human-derived standards.
An old joke I first heard while at seminary in the late 80s goes something like this— “Jesus came to earth in order to establish ‘the kingdom of God’… but all He got was the church.” The punch line can be self-deprecating humor for life-long church members but it also reflects a painful indictment. The history of the Church over 2,000 years is the record of an institution that has done some good (along with some evil) but overall has fallen far short of bringing to fruition Jesus’ mission proclamation to break-in “the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15).
By Ivy Lamb
Scott is a husband, father, and professor. Over the years, he’s slowly learned to relinquish the illusion of control. Moving past his own theories of how the world should work has been one of his greatest spiritual challenges, and yet he considers it core to the message Christianity. In this episode, he shares his journey of learning to let go, and how a recent health crisis helped him understand the profound importance of human connection. Continue reading “Stories From A Village Podcast – Episode #12: Living From My Heart”
We conclude both this series Walk Just as He Walked and our look at Gospel stories that support Mother Teresa’s spiritual maxim that God calls us to be faithful, not successful, with the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus found in John 3: 1-21.
By Ivy Lamb
How do we overcome experiences of struggle and find ways to share our gifts with the world? For Chase, the answer lies partly in practices of spiritual discipline. A relatively new high school English teacher, Chase feels called to use own experiences of struggle to empathize with and encourage his students. Journaling, yoga, and self-reflection also help him stay grounded on his journey toward authenticity and “being seen
We continue this series by looking at a third example of a parable from Jesus to uncover how it reflects his teaching to serve God faithfully, not successfully.
We continue this series by looking at a second example of a parable from Jesus to uncover how it reflects his teaching to serve God faithfully, not successfully.
“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-32)
By Ivy Lamb
As the son of a Methodist pastor, Andrew grew up intimately connected to the church. His childhood experiences exposed some of the difficulties and shortcomings of the church, but they also helped Andrew discover his own call to ministry. Today, he serves at Stone Village Church as a musician and worship leader. In this episode, he shares the story of how he moved from feeling judgement and shame about his sexuality to claiming God’s love and living more fully into his gifts.
The contrast of living a successful spiritual life versus a faithful one was not only in Jesus’ actions but also in his parable teachings. Over the next few posts we will meditate on three parables to uncover how Jesus taught to serve God faithfully, not successfully.
To learn how to “walk just as (Jesus) walked” (1 John 2:6), we must look at Jesus’ sayings, actions, and teachings. The Gospels portray Jesus as faithfully walking where God leads instead of seeking success in God’s name. We will spend the remainder of the posts in this series looking at examples of that.
As I wrote in the previous post, decades ago I adopted Mother Teresa’s spiritual maxim that God does not call me to be successful, but to be faithful. Though it rang true, it would take years of studying to see its origin in the various pieces of the Bible’s truth. The final piece that drove home the meaning was not from any one passage or story from scripture but kind of a finally-seeing-the-forest-amidst-the-trees realization. Though not explicitly stated in the Bible, it was finally seeing how Jesus lived this truth in the most powerful and dramatic way at the end of his life, a way that was very different from what we would expect from leaders today.
By Ivy Lamb
Angela is a black woman who grew up in the South attending Southern Baptist churches. Independent and always seeking, Angela has moved away from the church of her roots to a very different place. In this episode, she talks about the process of spiritual growth and how she’s reached a “quiet place” with God.
Once upon a time, a new shoemaker and his apprentices came to a village and set up a booth at the edge of the marketplace. The other more established shoemakers looked at them with contempt and told each other, “Surely, he will fail.” After all, shoemaking is a difficult trade and this shoemaker was not known by any of them.
But the new shoemaker spoke of how his shoes would make the people feel renewed. Slowly, people came and tried on the new shoemaker’s footwear. And each time, they were astounded! They had never felt this way before.
By Ivy Lamb
For more than a decade, Joey identified as an atheist. Today he calls himself a Christian again, but his story isn’t what you might think. In this episode, Ivy and Joey talk about his early experiences with Catholicism, how his moral convictions led him to leave the church, and how he eventually returned to Christianity with a different perspective. His story illuminates and challenges how we think about the labels of “Christian” and “atheist.”
Many people today are seeking after God and/or spirituality. Christianity has a simple invitation to this search for everyone: follow Jesus. It is fashioned after Jesus’ own call— a two-word summons sprinkled throughout the Gospels (emphasis added):
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” (Mark 1:16-17)
As (Jesus) was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” (Mark 2:14a)
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43)