Thursday, 16 August 2007

Test everyone

Someone asked me the other day why our church doesn't support the arts because we don't have dramas and short-act plays in the services. I realised the question, as with almost every question, goes back to creation. I don't believe something has to be in a church service to be 'for God'. ... A church is a community of people who are learning how to be certain kinds of people wherever thy find themselves, so they can do whatever it is they do 'in the name of the Lord Jesus.' The goal isn't to bring everyone's work into the church; the goal if for the church to be these unique kinds of people who are transforming the places they live and work and play because they understand the whole earth is filled with the kavod (glory) of God. God isn't in one building only. Doing things for God happens all the time, everywhere. ...

So the labels ultimately fail, no matter how useful they are from time to time, because the life of Jesus is just that, a life that is lived by people who have oriented their entire lives around being true to Jesus' teachings.

One of the first things God does in creating the world is separate dark and light. The ancient rabbis say the first thing God does is distinguish between dark and light, and the rest of the Scriptures is God teaching people how to distinguish between dark and light. Huge sections of the book of Leviticus are devoted to God teaching people how to discern between life and death, light and dark, clean and unclean. The Ten Commandments are God teaching people how to discern, and how to live well in relationship between right and wrong with their creator. The Bible is filled with stories of God teaching people how to think. How to discern. How to sort and sift and figure out what is true and what isn't. What is good and what isn't. What brings life and what brings death.

Being a Christian is about engaging the mind and heart more and more, not shutting them off or letting someone else think for you. The writer Peter urges Christians to be alert. Paul tells his listeners in Thessalonica to test everything and hold on to the good.

The danger of labeling things 'Christian' is that is can lead to blindly consuming things we have been told are safe and acceptable. When we turn off the discernment radar, dangerous things can happen. We have to test everything. I thank God for the many Christians who create and write and film and sing. Anybody anywhere who is doing all they can to point people to the deeper realities of God is doing a beautiful thing. But those writers and artist and thinkers and singers would all tell you to think long and hard about what they are saying and doing and creating. Test it. Probe it.

Do that to this book. Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it. Just because I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn't mean I've got it nailed. I'm contributing to the discussion. God has spoken, and the rest is commentary, right?
Velvet Elvis. Repainting the Christian Faith. by Rob Bell


Just Me said...

Gotta love Rob Bell!

Fresh Brewed Faith said...

We are doing Rob Bell In Sunday School - love his video series

Sarah said...

I love Rob Bell!

Thanks for the comments, by the way! Always appreciated!