Thanks to those of you that joined us for the sermon discussion on Sunday, it was excellent! Let’s keep the discussion going. Have you been thinking more about what James wrote? Post your comments below.
As I have thought about the sermon, and all of James, one of my concerns is that you are getting the idea from my sermons that God only cares about sin management. Dallas Willard used that phrase a lot in his book The Divine Conspiracy, which I highly recommend. Yesterday, I found out about a blog post called “dear Pastor” which, as you can imagine, had me interested from the beginning. Let’s discuss that too.
I’m reading Rachel Held Evans‘ book (by the way, if you don’t follow her, you need to!) Evolving In Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned To Ask The Questions (Zondervan, 2010), and I just came to a great story she tells that illustrates well what James is talking about in 4:4-10. Before I share the story, let me set it up. In the passage we’re going to study on Sunday, James is talking about how pride can turn us into enemies of God. But pride is so hard to grab a hold of. Look at the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, and you’d never find them admitting to struggling with pride. And yet it is pretty obvious to us, isn’t it? Could the same be said of us? Is it possible that we have pride and hardly know it. Like Jesus was an outsider who critiqued the religious elite of his day, sometimes we need people from a different viewpoint to tell us how we come across. On page 201, Evans gives a response from a coworker she had invited to church:
Listen, I respect you and your commitment to your faith. Really, you’re one of the nicest Christians I know. It’s just that I’ve had some pretty nasty run-ins with your conservative evangelical cohorts and I don’t think I’m cut out for that lifestyle. I’m not into hellfire and damnation stuff, and I’m definitely not into this submit-to-your-husband stuff. I can’t imagine telling my gay friends that they’ve got to force themselves to be straight, and I can’t imagine voting for a guy like Bush just because he’s pro-life. Now, I’ve got no problem with Jesus. But it seems to me that if evangelical Christians were the only ones to have God all figured out, then they would be the kindest, most generous people around. No offense to you, but in my twenty-plus years in this business, I haven’t found that to be true. Most Christians I know are only interested in winning arguments, converts, and elections.
Let discuss! Are we more like the Pharisees than we’d care to admit?
For our church newsletter and website, I write a brief introduction to each sermon. My goal is to pique interest in the sermon. Here’s what I wrote:
Who are your enemies? Have you ever thought that God is your enemy? James says, even though you would strongly say “No”, you might be fooling yourself. God just might be your enemy. Sound impossible? Come join us to learn more.
How do you feel about this? What questions does it raise in your mind?
I am starting a blog.
I am conflicted within about starting a blog. Why do I feel so uncomfortable about it? Feelings aside, I paid for the blog. Just as clicking the “Submit Payment” button on the marathon registration website led to months of training and ultimately a painfully wonderful four hours, I am hoping for a similar result with this blog.
I know that I need some goals for the blog. Initially I have two:
First, I would like this to be a forum for my church to discuss sermons further.
Second, I would like to discuss books.