The New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof thinks that were Jesus’s Second Coming to happen any time soon he’d be upset that those religious people most closely associated with him (aka Christians) are rejecting the Democrat party platform. John Ellis does a good job of explaining that Jesus was not a bearded Progressive but was, instead, the incarnate intermediary between man and God. Indeed, Ellis’s article goes much deeper than that, by pointing out that Kristof’s “expert” is, in the classic sense of the word, a “heretic.”
Because I lack Ellis’s depth of knowledge about core Christianity and about heresy, I thought I’d amuse myself by going a different route. I haven’t read the New Testament since 1980, when I took a “Bible as Literature” class at Cal. (Can you imagine a time when a state-funded school could still teach that kind of thing? And yes, even at Cal they still offered traditional learning classes back in the day.)
I’ve placed lessons from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (from the Book of Matthew) in one column and, in the other column, I’ve set out my opinion as to whether those statements mesh with modern Progressive preaching and acts. Please note that, because I am not a religious scholar — especially not a Christian religious scholar — I am taking Jesus’s words at face value when deciding whether Progressives are in sync with his teachings or not.
I apologize if this post runs too long. The fact is, though, that I rediscovered what I first learned in my class at Cal: The Sermon on the Mount is vivid, thought-provoking, intensely humanist and, in the King James Version, exquisitely beautiful. In addition to appreciating the philosophy, I enjoy recognizing all the phrases that have worked their way into the English language (although today’s generation has probably abandoned most of them).
To read more, go here.
A secret document has come into my hands and in the spirit of C. S. Lewis here it is:
Memo on Radicalization of Christians:
Problem: Millions of Americans (and also in other nations, too) go to church at least two times a year or not regularly or go regularly but do not tithe or give substantially or witness for Jesus in their community, workplace or family. But some have been radicalized and now they attend a small group meeting, help in a ministry area, serve on leadership and share Jesus’ love to those around them.
So what do we do? How do we radicalize followers of Christ? What happens when they are radicalized? Is there a certain country we can send casual or nominal believers to for radicalization?
No there is not a particular nation to send nominal believers to be radicalized. Only the Spirit can accomplish radicalization but here are some ideas to get started:
Invite those in church who are involved to help with short-term missions. Most denominations have short-term missions trips through their church, district, state or national group. This can radicalize nominal or casual believers. The result can be the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit in response to the faith and the fervant worship and love of the people there. It can and does work. Testimonies in church or at small group meetings can help here.
[Blogger’s note: I have been on three such trips and I usually have been guilty of inviting veterans of prior trips to go with me. That will change. I can tell you the faith and fervency of the people in nations such as Paraguay, Ukraine and Nicaragua convict even me as to my faith and obedience.]
Believers go on business abroad all the time and can be sent for long-term efforts for their company. Persuade them to add the Lord into their plans. Contact the missions department of their denomination for ideas. Offer to teach English as a Second Language. If in academia, maybe seek a visiting professorship in another nation. Again, testimonies and encouragement will accomplish this. Even if you are sent to what the believers call a Creative Access Area, use that time to pray for open doors and for the Gospel and Spirit to come to this land, too.
Young people between high school and college or after college can go on a longer-term mission – again check your denominational missions office for details. Think resume development but come back radicalized!
There are local ministries to do: Most churches have soup kitchens or other human ministries to the homeless or orphans or other groups, the Salvation Army has the red kettle drive and other ministries, also inner city and rural churches, too. Maybe the worship band needs a guitarist and you play! It might be good to get active followers of Christ who are friends of less active followers to join their friend at the soup kitchen or inner city church. This can radicalize their nominal friend to service for the King. Also perhaps help a new start church nearby for a while and take that nominal friend with you. Start out by telling them excitedly about what you are doing and why it matters. Let the Spirit do the rest.
If you must have a 20 minute conference call at the gym while are you are running – make it a conference call without a cell phone: Prayer time! It helps to pray by name. But just start praying for more doors to open and casual Christians (some of whom might not have a relationship with Jesus at all) to be asked to join a ministry or a missions trip or maybe that inner city or new start church. Let’s pray, pray, pray for millions to be roused from darkness and doubt into light.
[Blogger’s note: There are many places to come to a living, holy relationship with the Living God through Jesus but here is my favorite from the Billy Graham website. Any reader can ask me about church as a comment or here: ssanders [at] varight.com or reprint this on their blog!]
Social media? Yes. Try to find ways to reach out to nominal believers through social media. Of course the usual be careful rules apply – the Internet is forever after all – but maybe we do not do enough. Maybe write for a blog!
Get missionaries to come to church and invite that nominal follower of Jesus to hear him/her/them. That can rouse the Spirit’s call to a deeper walk with Jesus.
Be a friend: Invite that nominal believer to have lunch or go shopping or some other activity and get to know them better. It is usually better if men ask men and women ask women for this lest it be misunderstood.
What if nominal believers become radicalized?
When believers are radicalized, they will find a way to serve such as work in soup kitchens, go to their pastor and say “How do I/we help?”, serve in worship, give more regularly or even pay tithes, go on short-term mission trips, voluntarily join inner city or new start churches or go to the field or seek more chances to reach out to neighbors, friends, co-workers, in their community. They pray for open doors and go through them obediently. They might have to find a different church so be open to newly-radicalized believers who are beginning to seek that new church. They radicalize others to believe in Jesus and live for Him.
Some even become pastors and missionaries.
The nation and world are changed for Christ and in His glory. Maybe even influence social and political policy. It can happen.
Blogger’s note: Of course I wrote this “secret document” – I had a conference call with God this AM at the gym and I was listening to how at least one of the San Bernardino shooters went to Saudi Arabia to be radicalized and I asked (maybe out loud) What country can we send nominal Christians to get radicalized for Christ? Not of course for violence (We turn the other cheek, remember) but for His service. So here comes this blog post. May God use it for His glory!
Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders