Tag Archives: shalom

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

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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

“Black and Blue” Lives Matter

black-blue-lives-matter-cartoon-598There’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter, like arguing about one another’s mottos about what matters!

Just so you know, I’m pretty sure that it’s my life that actually matters most! Okay, I’m willing to concede that everyone who looks like me and agrees with me matter too––somewhat.

Of course, we also stand for the officers who are serving their communities faithfully and with equanimity. Saying “black lives matter” is not choosing sides against law enforcement. It’s not saying that all cops are bad any more than it’s saying that all blacks are good.

It’s a contextualized statement, like saying “Children’s Lives Matter.” That doesn’t mean adult lives don’t matter! In Hitler’s Germany precious few courageous souls stood and said in effect, “Jewish Lives Matter!” [Before you rush to the reply button, I intend no precise correlation between German Nazism and American racism.] Nevertheless, racism is racism.

Nobody in their right mind believes that it’s “only” black lives––or blue ones, for that matter––that actually matter. In a semi-literate society we really shouldn’t have to explain that the dictum simply means that black lives matter too!

For clarity sake, this “too” isn’t the same as the other two “to’s” in our language. Though this too has two meanings, as in “too much” and “me too,” the former meaning being the one implied by the “Black Lives Matter (too)” movement.

So we should not be confused by the assumption that black folks only matter “to” us, or that there are only “two” of them or us that matter. Those are those other pesky two to’s. The “too” that we’re trying to clarify is the one that means also, the one we shouldn’t need to need in order to make it redundantly obvious that we don’t mean they’re the only ones that matter.

If all that seems too convoluted, I recommend just reverting back to me being the one who matters (most). Continue reading

Servant Subversion versus Exploitation

Wash-FeetJesus, our prototypical Subversive, was a culture-changing, foot-washing troublemaker! He insists that playing on his team entails more than having his name on the front of our jerseys. When we say that we aspire to be like him are we just talking about his clean-talking, drug-free, conservative-voting niceness? Or do we mean that we’re following him as strangers into this earthly foreign land with the goal of subverting the dominant culture as servants?

I’ve been contrasting this so-called “Servant Subversion” to some commonly practiced survival strategies of many Christian exiles in our Babylonian world. In the last post I made the comparison with the Fortification tactic. In this post I’d like to take on the strategy of Exploitation of Babylon.

Super Faith prosper-now-Christians tend to treat this world as “a planet for the taking.” Out of one side of their mouth they complain about the evils of Babylon and out of the other side they claim its riches as their rightful inheritance as the privileged people of God. God allegedly included in their salvation package a no-limit gift card to consume as much as they can without regard to the needs of the earth or their fellow earthlings. Continue reading

How do we get “prosperity” (shalom)?

jeremiah-29-11-web1To refresh our memories, God deported the Jews to Babylon for a lifetime (70 years). This prosperity preacher’s opus (Jeremiah 29:11) is part (only part) of the letter to the exiles that he inspired Jeremiah to write.

If you’ll look at the entire letter you’ll see that just four verses before he commanded them to:

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 

Again, though the NIV uses the word “prosper,” (three times!) in each case God used the Hebrew term rife with meaning, “shalom,” which means something much more and much better than personal prosperity. Oh, and when the translators of the NIV rendered it, “Seek peace and prosperity,” they’re translating one word, “shalom,” into those two words. The verse actually says, “Seek the shalom of the city… because if it has shalom you too will have shalom.” Continue reading