Progressive is the Thursday word of the day. “Liberal” is no longer an acceptable word to describe an agenda on ideologies, political views and theology. Progressive is the new group-chosen word to describe an agenda of certain groups; please note I used the plural–meaning that the word progressive covers a myriad of societal arenas. Progressive comes from the word progress which means “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” Forward movement–that’s their battle cry. But can someone from the progressive side explain to me how what we see is forward movement?
Just a few days ago a man in Jacksonville Florida drives his van into a political party’s Voter Registration Tent. In this own words, he did it because he did not like President Trump and “someone had to take a stand”. To take a stand, he took a lethal weapon and aimed it at 6 people exercising the Constitutionally guaranteed, all because someone had to take a stand. Two of those in the crosshairs of his lethal weapon were over 65 years old. I know for a fact that, as I am less than 14 months from reaching that age, you don’t move as fast at 65 as you did at 25. Mr. Timm surely knows that, too. But it didn’t seem to bother him. After his someone had to take a stand moment he exited his van, flipped them off and drove away.
An unnamed (by me) Speaker of the House of Representatives rips a legal document on national television. People flood the streets with violence when something doesn’t go their way. Anger is ruling the day because progressive political ideology promotes it. Hate is the order of the day. A man in San Francisco gathers volunteers to pick up trash and is verbally attacked and physically threatened because the progressive wuss assumed they were dismantling a homeless camp.
Even in the arena of theology, progressives call anyone who does not agree with them misogynists, racists, homophobes, mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant and tell us we just need to either agree with them or leave the church. All the while, these progressive thinking people claim to promote love and grace. Well…they do unless you don’t agree with them.
Here’s my point: Progressive Thinking Is Leading Us Into Regressive Living. The fear, self righteousness and anger is fueling the chaos that is moving us backwards, not forwards as a society and a people. Progressive Thinking, as it is currently being defined by the left, is creating a toxic environment that is threatening to take us back to the Stone Age. And that, my friends, is the truth and the truth will stand when the world’s on fire.
Being “in the country” means sometimes you have to go the distance to find what you are looking for. Now, understand that I model the example of buying locally as much as possible. But sometimes . . . you have to go the distance. We frequently have to go north of here to see some of our doctors, and most importantly, to go see Dad. In one of these paths I inevitably have to stop at this particular convenience store; “have to” being the operative word.
You see, I have an enormous love for coffee, and I have to take a little “fluid pill” prescribed by my doctor to help with my blood pressure. Well, if you love coffee and have to take one of those demon pills–then you understand why I “have to” stop there. And out of respect for that business owner, I do purchase something for the convenience of their restroom. Now, to my gripe.
The first time I stopped there, I was in shock. This is a southern convenience store and to my horror and deep disappointment, they were no where to be seen. My heart sank and a gloomy cloud formed over my mind. My heart and mind were set on, and wanted one of these southern delicacies:
How dare them consider themselves a southern convenience store and NOT sell Little Debbie products. It’s immoral and should be illegal for a southern convenience store shelves to be bare of Little Debbie snacks! It’s the preferred snack of Coach Nick Saban! This alone should be enough of a mandate to carry them. I shouldn’t stop there; I wouldn’t stop there–if it weren’t for my love of coffee and that little demon pill. So, I stop there nearly every time because it creates an inconvenience if I don’t! What’s all this ranting have to do with the Kingdom? What’s the lesson in this? Glad you asked . . .
The influence of the Kingdom of God is waning and even sickly in the U.S. This sickness did not happen overnight–but through a process over the last several decades. It happened as Tenured Pew Sitters began longing for a ‘More Convenient’ Jesus; a Jesus that is comfortable with what they are comfortable with; a Jesus who does not challenge their views; and most of all, A Jesus That Serves Their Desire To Be The Consumer Of Rather Than The Producers Of The Kingdom Life.
And this desire for a ‘More Convenient’ Jesus by the Tenured Pew Sitters has produced a new variety of people who have diluted The Message of The Kingdom. They proudly label themselves as Progressives. They, too, want a ‘More Convenient’ Jesus. They want a Jesus that neither challenges nor inspires them to the life of Transforming Grace. But rather than being consumers like the Tenured Pew Sitters, they are producers of a message that Jesus is all love, and as such, requires nothing to change in us except that we love, and that is all. It’s not considered ‘loving’ to embrace the Christian-Judaeo morals and values–but being mean, ugly and unreasonable. Cover immorality over with love and instantly it’s no longer immoral. ‘Convenient Jesus’ does not mention sin–but angrily points the finger at any who disagree with their ‘Convenient Jesus’.
But here’s the thing: ‘Convenient Jesus’ doesn’t exist–never has–never will. Whether one is of the ilk of Tenured Pew Sitters or the ilk of Progressives, Jesus is anything but convenient. Allow me to explain with some examples from the Real Jesus:
When the woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged before Jesus: (John 8:10-11) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” Giving up what makes one feel good, well that’s inconvenient.
When someone wanted to follow Jesus, but wanted first to bury his father: (Luke 9:60) But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”Jesus doesn’t want to fit into your schedule; that doesn’t sound convenient.
When Jesus told the disciples of him impending death He called out to the crowd: (Luke 9:23) Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Life from a cross doesn’t sound convenient. (OK 1 more in case you missed the point)
When James and John wanted the places of honor: (Matthew 20:26-27) “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.”Being a servant and a slave doesn’t fit into the sin-tainted game plan.
Convenience is the desire of the old heart and the old life. It is also the lie from Satan. Jesus came to create inconvenience in us so that we can be set free from the bondage of sin. Jesus did not come in our human form to make our lives easy–rather He came in human form to make our lives full and complete. And sometimes . . . well it is inconvenient. But don’t stress out–He promises to be with us to guide and empower us to the only life that really matters. The life God created for us–not the life we designed for ourselves.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him.
Well, it’s the day after the Fourth of July, and I’m on a rant. Go figure. Maybe it’s seeing on Facebook all those who allege they are Christians going all patriotic, ranting against Kap and Nike. singing God Bless America. Some seem to “up their game” when it comes to achieving the status of being a “Patriotic Christian”. Patriotic Christian? Really? But that’s a rant for another day.
Today I’m ranting against “Statistical Christianity”. I’m not talking about Barna or Pew Research. I’m talking about those who use statistics as proof of their beliefs–why they are right and I am wrong. Maybe I should give you my definition of Statistical Christianity:
Statistical Christianity is defining what it means to be a Christian by the numbers, rather than the truth.
Statistical Christianity has two branches. One branch is occupied by the Tenured Pew Sitters. They look at the past and try to build the future based on what they used to do. They look at the numbers back then, and in an act of ultimate futility, insist that it can be that way again IF we just replicate what we did then. For this branch, it’s all about 3 things: the building; their personal preferences dressed up in the clothes of tradition; and the most important part of all: DEMOCRACY! Every decision should be made based on the vote of the majority–and they make sure that their governing boards are stacked with people who think like they do. It’s about the numbers!
The second branch is occupied by “The Allegedly Enlightened”. The Allegedly Enlightened Branch looks to the culture to define what it means to follow Jesus. It is a life based on assumptions, presumptions, feelings, and sincere personal beliefs. Oh, and don’t forget THE NUMBERS. Mark Holland is proud to point this out in his blog 76% of US Annual Conferences Reject Traditional Plan. Mark bears witness to something I learned way back in college days when taking Statistical Math: 92.5874685% of all statistics are made up on the spot with a 99.99 percent margin of error.
The Allegedly Enlightened have the Numbers on the assumptions, presumptions, feelings and sincere personal beliefs to back up their claims. This Branch of Statistical Christianity wants us to allow the views, feelings, and emotions of culture define the Body of Christ. Public Opinion, be it a majority or minority, trumps anything else provided our personal experiences and feelings bear them out as truth.
And so we see it: The Tenured Pew Sitters Branch and the Allegedly Enlightened Branch stand across from each other shouting derogatory remarks at each other, while the rest of the world (statistically speaking they are the true majority) shakes its head and says, “If this is what being a Christian is about, thanks but NO THANKS!”
I close with this:
Excuse me for a moment. Statistically speaking, I need another cup of coffee…..
The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” Genesis 3:4-5, The Message
Though I haven’t been actively writing much lately, I have been actively thinking… more like…reflecting on the current state of affairs. I have been engaged in active observation of our culture… of the church… and though it’s given me a headache, frustrations, aggravations, agitations, and a variety of discombobulations, it has not filled me with despair nor desperation. Maybe a Goody’s Headache powder or a little 15 year old single malt–but I’m not anywhere near throwing in the towel and giving up. But I have reached a moment. It happened this evening as I was taking a shower. This moment is NOT an epiphany–but a question? Here it is:
In the book of Acts, those who committed to be Disciples of Jesus were committed to the Good News of The Kingdom of God. Their life was called Koinonia, a shared life together. Others were always more important than themselves. Sharing was natural. Caring was deeper. They hungered for more understanding of this Kingdom. This Kingdom came first. Koinonia Community marked by being TOGETHER in the Ekklesia (that’s the Greek word mistranslated as church). Ekklesia is a Greek word that means “the called out ones”. They were passionate about The Gospel of The Kingdom of God, telling that powerful story. And church today? Tenured Pew Sitters have stopped being producers for the Kingdom and started being the Consumers. As consumers, they want to church to do and be what best suits them. They want to be in control. It’s no longer about Koinonia Life, but what suits them.
Another thing, it seems there are those who think that with the passing of centuries, suddenly WE know more about what God means than the ancient writers who shared their stories. I know the saying , “With age comes wisdom.” LIE! LIE! LIE! I’ve seen way too many examples of age coming all by itself; wiðutan–that’s an old English word that means ” a word expressing lack or want of something”. They called themselves “Progressives”, thinking that their thinking is making progress for humanity. They insist that there are parts of the Biblical Ethos that is, for a lack of a better word from me, WRONG! Progressives insist that our minds, our reasoning processes (a process that is polluted by sin in ALL of us) are better suited to guide us in life on earth. Pardon me, but isn’t that what Satan told Eve and Adam? It’s not longer about seeking, praying and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Yet another thing, unique to the U.S., is that politics will solve all our problems. Voting becomes a matter of religious preferences. It’s about which political party sits in the Oval Office, which party controls the Senate, which party controls the House of Representatives. We are about to enter a new election cycle and there will be all kinds of ads of candidates holding Bibles, talking about Biblical values, while standing in front of an American flag. Since when did Jesus give up His purpose of being The Messiah to a political party? I’m wondering if there are other responsibilities Jesus is giving up and where do I apply for it? People get all worked up over politics and say our nation is doomed because of this party, that party, that politician. Whatever happened to making our culture better through personal actions that reflect the heart, mind and glory of God? Somehow, I don’t think God is neither Democrat nor Republican. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that both parties causes God to have many a face palm moment!
Oh, I’m just getting started. Entitlement! In the words of Madea, “Oh, Lort!” Whatever happened to personal effort and goals worth WORKING toward? In an earlier blog I place much of the blame on participation trophies (Click here for that blog) People simply think that (and I call it a ‘philosophy’) I exist therefore I am owed! Look, folks, you are not owed anything simply because you breathe oxygen. It takes drive and determination to achieve success. You want us to reward mediocrity as if it were a virtue.
And then there’s “feelings”….feelings, nothing more than feelings….Got that song stuck in your head? Good. People are being lied to that you are who you feel like you are. In other words, your feelings override everything–biology, truth, reality. And to inflict as much damage and harm humanly possible, there are some who insist that God, the Creator, made you that way and that the Cross sanctifies your feelings. Well, I feel like a Billionaire, and you need to provide me with everything that would make me a billionaire. Whether I have the cash or not, give me what a Billionaire would want–a jet, huge mansion, multiple cars, you name it! After all, my feelings are that I’m a Billionaire, that’s what matters the most. Living by feelings does not liberate you–it makes you its prisoner. We are all more, much more, than our feelings!
Well, I could go on….but I’ll stop here. I’ll end with this:
The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”
It made me think about the Great Debate going on in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. While some have chosen to make it a debate about human sexuality, I see that it is something much more that this single issue. The real issue is Grace. There are some within our Orthodox Camp who show little grace to those who are struggling with their identity, but I’ll leave their narrow view of grace to another post.
I’m talking about the artificial grace from those with a progressive persuasion. They claim that because of grace, sin needs to be redefined. At the core is that the suffering of Jesus was designed to free a person from that nasty thing called sin. Grace gives us the authority to redefine everything. Not so fast, Buckeroo.
The grace that condones and encourages anyone to live outside God’s Intended Design, is not Real Grace, rather a prosthetic grace. I have nothing but deep respect admiration for our Wounded Warriors and others who have lost a limb and then proceed to live their life to the fullest through the use of that prosthetic limb. If you are one of these, know that you inspire me to do better, BE better.
But to insist that there is a form of grace that allows us to live by our desires, our feelings, our understandings–well, it’s not really grace. What I see is a progressive grace that denies people the opportunity to experience God’s Power of Transformation. And thus, their theology ceases to be progressive…it becomes regressive. Perhaps this explains the aggressive behavior of many within the progressive camp.
Listening to the stories of those who have those prosthetic limbs, I hear the difficulties and pain involved in learning to use these marvelous devices. Ask anyone who is required to use a prosthetic limb, “Which would you rather have, the real limb or prosthetic limb?”, and I believe that would answer, “The real one, of course.”
This false grace being promoted is filled with both difficulties and pain. False grace leaves no room for the true purpose of Grace–which is to engage us in a lifelong process of transformation. It is telling people you are a prisoner to your desires and feelings. And to the LBGTQI+ community I say, “God loves you, period. But His GRACE is made to liberate you from your feelings and desires about who you want to have sex with. You are not identified by your sexual desires. You are identified by the person God wants to make you. Because God is good, He will transform you into someone beautiful and wonderful.”
Grace without a lifetime of transformation??? It’s not real. It’s not grace. It’s a prosthetic to replace the real.
And remember to love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!