James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 4:1-17

classism image 1

This is the 7th in a series of posts on the epistle of James. I put the highlights here in the blog and then unpack it in my podcast. I encourage you to listen to it in order to connect the dots and get the meat of the teaching.

A lot of Christians seem to be just as obsessed as any pre-christian with wealth, social status, power, and personal pleasure…

James wrote some pretty severe things. And he was writing to the Church, not to the National Association of Atheists!

The Christians he addressed were fighting for more possessions, for a better class, for a better social position, a better socioeconomic status… Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 3:1-18

classism image 3We’re doing a commentary through James’ Epistle with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that treats everyone the same––a “Classless Christianity.” I put the highlights here in the blog and then unpack it in my podcast. I encourage you to listen to it in order to connect the dots.

James was intolerant of any Christianity that treats or speaks of others as nonpersons… Whether on the basis of socioeconomics, ethnicity, gender, or social privilege (or lack thereof) James confronts any Christian prejudiced against anyone not in their class…

Especially in these days of rancor and anger in our national conversation, Christians could stand to take James’ advice to tone down the rhetoric and the combative pitch… The name-calling and hateful talk doesn’t befit the Christian…

There are a lot of mistaken preachers today who inadvertently teach a class-filled faith in the way they speak of “success and prosperity” as the result of strong faith and spirituality… Continue reading

How Wide Is Your Welcome? (Part 2 of 2)

Welcome matIn Part 1 I noted how the twelve, like us, had a hard time accepting people outside their own spiritual circle. “Those other so-called Christians might believe in Jesus but they believe a little different than us. They don’t worship enough, or maybe too much. They don’t evangelize the way we do or pray in a way that is unfamiliar to us. They’re not strict enough in their practice of faith or they’re too strict. They have a different name on their church sign than ours, so they can’t possibly be as right as we are!”

There’s a church in our community whose sign you can see from the freeway called “The True Jesus Church.” It’s a clear message to all who pass by that there is at least one church in town that presents the True Jesus. I guess all the others worship an untrue Jesus?

As we saw last time, we don’t have a very wide welcome if we seek to shut up those who belong to a different expression of the Kingdom. But, as Luke’s adjacent story reveals it becomes obvious that these same disciples had such a narrow welcome that they prayed to burn up people who reject them and their Jesus. Continue reading

WHY WE BUILD THE WALL

WHY-WE-NEED-THE-WALLA song Anais Mitchell wrote 10 years ago based on a Greek myth. I suspect a comeback! No myth today. Listen to the familiar call and response here

[HADES]

Why do we build the wall, my children, my children?

Why do we build the wall?

 

[MINIONS]

Why do we build the wall?

We build the wall to keep us free

That’s why we build the wall

We build the wall to keep us free

 

[HADES]

How does the wall keep us free, my children, my children?

How does the wall keep us free?

 

[MINIONS]

How does the wall keep us free?

The wall keeps out the enemy

And we build the wall to keep us free

That’s why we build the wall

We build the wall to keep us free

 

[HADES]

Who do we call the enemy, my children, my children?

Who do we call the enemy?

 

[MINIONS]

Who do we call the enemy?

The enemy is poverty

And the wall keeps out the enemy

And we build the wall to keep us free

That’s why we build the wall

We build the wall to keep us free

 

[HADES]

Because we have and they have not, my children, my children

Because they want what we have got

 

[MINIONS]

Because we have and they have not

Because they want what we have got

The enemy is poverty

And the wall keeps out the enemy

And we build the wall to keep us free

That’s why we build the wall

We build the wall to keep us free

 

[HADES]

What do we have that they should want, my children, my children?

What do we have that they should want?

 

[MINIONS]

What do we have that they should want?

We have a wall to work upon

We have work and they have none

And our work is never done

My children, my children

And the war is never won

The enemy is poverty

And the wall keeps out the enemy

And we build the wall to keep us free

That’s why we build the wall

We build the wall to keep us free

We build the wall to keep us free

How Wide Is Your Welcome? (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome mat

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village. Luke 9

All disciples of Jesus are a work in progress. One way to know how far we have to go is the width of our welcome mat. Jesus’ first disciples had at the beginning a mat that wasn’t even wide enough to wipe one foot on! And it didn’t have the words “Everyone Welcome” woven into it. That sort of wide welcome developed over time. Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 2:8-26

classism image 7

We’re doing a commentary through the book of James with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that treats people equally––a “Classless Christianity.” I put some of the highlights here in the blog to pique your interest enough to check out my brief audio teaching on these key verses.

Classism is when those WITH LESS are seen and treated AS LESS!

The first part of this chapter could be entitled: “Bigots Go To Church!” That is to say that a bigot is a bigot is a bigot and some of them serve as deacons, Sunday School teachers, and ushers at the door…

Jesus taught that hated Samaritans often make better neighbors than beloved Saints…

Our neighbor may well come from a different neighborhood, but they’re still neighbors and require the same respect that we give someone next door to us…

True Christianity is Classless… There’s no room in the church for law-breaking socioeconomic bigots… Continue reading

Recovering the Christian Art of the Lament

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3)

weeping

A year ago I did a multi-post blog on the art the lament, the first of which was entitled: Sometimes You Just Have To Go Ahead and Cry.” Recently, since I summarized those posts in a message for a church in the Bay Area, I thought I’d share that primer here.

I find that biblical lament is a tough theme for many and it’s not commonly considered in many Evangelical circles. I confess that as a pastor, unless it came up in a study through the Psalms or Jeremiah, I hardly gave it any notice. But I truly believe that Christians should cry more; if not actually cry, feel the pain that God feels for the mess we’ve made of our world. Continue reading