Living Your Yes Is Hard

Since The Gospel of Yes came out on June 5, I’ve been doing a lot radio interviews talking about the book. When we start talking about growing up in a “culture of No”, almost everyone identifies with the description of going to church and being told what NOT to do. Then, the next Sunday we come back and praise God we didn’t do anything! How did that happen? How did the good news of Jesus become a list of all of the things we are against?

Because living against is easier.

Let me give you an example. The Ten Commandments say “Thou shalt not murder.” So, at night we’ll ask ourselves, “Did I murder anyone today?” If we answer, “No,” then we have fulfilled the commandment.

But Jesus said if you are angry with your brother to the point that you would commit murder if you thought you could get away with it, then you have violated this commandment. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors. When he was asked to identify our neighbors, He told the story of the Good Samaritan.  More than not harming, we are called to seek what is best for the other. That’s harder to measure, isn’t it?

That’s the problem I have with the secular teaching of tolerance. Tolerance is held up as the great virtue of our society, but it is a hateful way to treat another human being. Think about it. Do you really want to be tolerated?

No, we want to be loved. And so do our neighbors. So, we love our neighbors — saints and sinners all — because Christ told us to love them in His name. Love means seeking the best for the other.  And love knows no limits.

Of course, that’s what bothers us. We want a limit for what God can ask of us, for what God can expect of us. But God doesn’t love that way. God knows no limits… not in love, not in mercy, not in grace.

Jesus promised the Samaritan woman at the well if she would only realize who He was, life would become a spring that would never run dry flowing up through her.

That’s what living The Gospel of Yes is all about. Not keeping a check list of rights and wrongs, but living in the overflow of Christ in us.  Saying Yes to Christ allows Him to release His full Self to the world through us. There are no limits to that kind of love — the kind of love that flows through us from the Living Water that is Christ Himself.

The Power of Intent

I have a lot of friends who aren’t believers. Believe it or not, we end up talking about God a lot. This puzzles me… after all, as I remind them, if you don’t believe in something, why are you still so concerned about the topic? But that is another blog for another day.

Whenever we talk about how the universe began, we end up focusing on one issue: intent.  According to my friends (and I’m painting with a very big brush to make the point), the universe is random and accidental. Things are the way they are because molecules and atoms all ended up at the same place at the same time. There’s nothing purposeful or intentional about any of it.  Things happened because forces caused living things, both plant and animal, to adapt in order to survive.

Why People Leave the Church

People leave churches for all kinds of reasons…

  1. They move to a different part of town.
  2. They fail to get fully connected in the life of the church and gradually fade away.
  3. There is a pastoral care crisis that the church fails to respond to in a way they needed. They feel hurt and stop coming to church.

Pick up any publication about churches or church growth and you’ll find at least one article on how to keep church members from leaving “out the back door,” growing indifferent to their faith and spiritual growth.

Ain’t Got Time to Die

Jesus tells an interesting story that Matthew records in the twelfth chapter of his gospel. Here it is:

43 “When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn’t find any.  44 Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to my house that I came from.’ And returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order. 45 Then off it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man’s last condition is worse than the first.  That’s how it will also be with this evil generation.”

Did you notice the punch line? When the demon returned, he found the house “vacant, swept, and put in order.” Clean, but empty.  Does that describe any Christians you know?