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- Thoughts on Confession and this Good Friday
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- "The Romantic Solution" from Earnest Becker's "The Denial of Death"
- Wisdom: What is It? by Tim Keller (What is the Fear of the LORD: Negative Fear vs. Positive Fear)
- Rob Bell "Love Wins" Chapter 4 Review, Good Friday Edition
- Notes from Tim Keller's Sermon "Joy"
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How the Church Can Finally Finish the Job of Destroying its Reputation begun by a thousand Internet Complaints, and the Poor that ignore them
The Church’s Bad Reputation
I regularly read on the Internet about the Church’s bad reputation:
- Christians in the past have been responsible for bad things (and they’ll probably do it again).
- People have had bad experiences in churches (and will again).
- Christian people are hypocrites (among other things).
- Christian leaders abuse the weak in various ways and don’t live up to their high callings.
- Christians spend more money on themselves than they give away.
- (Fill in your own complaint) __________________________
All of this is true.
The Internet’s Failure to Adequately Disseminate This Vital Information
I also know that the Internet has failed to adequately inform the public of the menace that the church is, because the poor keep calling on the phone and come to our door. They look for
- Utility Assistance
- Someone to listen to their problems
- Someone to treat them with respect
- Someone to pray for them.
You would think word would get out about an organization with such a BAD reputation. You would think people would STOP passing the names and numbers around of the pastors and deacons in the church to their needy friends.
Instead of this happening I find that they ARE still passing out our name and number to their friends and saying “call them”. I find that when there is a car in the parking lot people DO stop in and see if we can help them. They do this and their friends find help and pass our name and number out to other friends. Everyone who is helped is helped with no strings attached. Most never come back for worship, or join the church, or call us again unless and until they need help again.
I suppose the only way to make these people STOP coming to such a horrible institution and group of people like the church in looking for help would be for the church to STOP helping people. Then the word would get out that there is no longer any point to call the church or find a deacon or a pastor or stop in just in case there might be someone who can help.
Voices is good for confession. It’s obscure enough that you can (probably) confess nearly anything and word wouldn’t get out. Happy are we.
Our big confessions are of course not the organist we’re sleeping with or the money we’re embezzling, but the kind of thing Snapper is confessing here, our idolatries.
Sleeping with the organist or embezzling money would be obvious sins to get us fired. These are smaller things. The larger things are as Snapper, and Hugen and CS Lewis confess are the permissible sins. We want to be famous, wealthy, successful or at least seen as such. We want to gossip about Joel Osteen and his “little group”. We’d like to use Jesus to make us famous and important. We’re right there with James, John and their mother but together with them we demur at Jesus’ answer to them.
Good Friday (or maybe really Maundy Thursday, but liturgically illiterate are we too) is a good day to expose frauds and to see the real deal splayed naked for our mockery. The way of the cross never looks right, even from the perspective of Jesus in the garden. Surely there must be a plan B that will get the job done at a lower cost.
We, unlike Jesus get backed into Good Friday. To our shame most of the crosses we take up are the ones we were unable to avoid.
Fortunately for us, the gospel is about Jesus’ work for us, not the other way round, no matter what we may think. He takes up the cross we deserve, and gives us the life we don’t. This may shame us, but my prayer is that it makes us grateful.
We keep trying to take up little silver crosses, hoping that a little silver Jesus will get busy giving us what we want. We buy books from those who say they can tell us how to do it, with a little religious help from Jesus of course.
To our good fortune and our misery, however, tonight we will rehearse the story and learn the truth. We’ll suppress it with all of the trickiness of our hearts, only to have it pop up on us again, like it always does.
I suppose being a Calvinist means we’re given grace we cannot refuse. I really don’t know how that is supposed to work, I only know that when it does work I am grateful that it has.
The gift sits and sits and sits while I try everything to make it unnecessary. It is too often when I realize that I am in way over my head, that I finally, reluctantly, receive the gift to my joy. I find that I wish I had taken it first and that it has been my folly to ignore it and rely on my own resources. After I feel stronger, better, more self-assured, I go back to my pattern of ignoring, resenting, resisting the gift. Wash, Rinse, Spin, Repeat.
So tonight we will gather with the faithful who have burned through all of their good ideas, their resources, their petty means of making life work. Tonight we hear the bad news about our stubborn resolve to hijack the world and our abysmal failure at running it only to once again see the naked, bloody gift that brings us peace.