How do you see it?

tribes_of_sydney_youth_subculture_2010

Welcome to this week’s devotion, dear readers!

Greetings to readers from various subcultures, including all my Trekker,  Goth, Vegan, and Teenager readers.  Hi!

(A subculture is a group of people that exist within the larger mainstream society, with their own ways of doing things.)

I’d also like to welcome readers from various countercultures, including Hippies, Gang Members, members of PETA, and even the Mafia.  Hello!

(A counterculture is a group of people who oppose and work against the mainstream culture)

I don’t understand or even agree with you all, but I’m glad to see you.

Now, one more group to welcome.

Hello, Christians!

Hmm, I’m wondering…

Which group are you in?

Is Christianity a subculture or a counterculture?

It’s a question worth pondering.

Are Christians a group just within the culture, or opposed to it?

This is kind of tricky, and Jesus isn’t walking around here in the 21st century to tell us the proper posture to take.

On the one hand…

  • Jesus said to pay Caesar what was due Caesar, but to pay God what was due God.
  • And elsewhere he said he had not come to abolish the law, but to transform it.

Those both seem to be statements accepting the current culture and showing a willingness to work within it.

But while its true that there were times Jesus seemed okay to co-exist with culture, I’m pretty such he never accommodated it.

  • He elevated women, children, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, and more far above society’s norms.
  • He preached a radical equality, a rejection of material wealth, and a life of Kingdom-centered servanthood as the goal of every follower.
  • He was willing to die, in fact, so that things might change.

Alright, then.

I believe that if Jesus were to weigh in on the subject, he would declare a strong desire that Christianity be seen as a counterculture.  A group of people mobilized for transforming the world.

I’m wondering, dear reader…

How do you see it?

Have a great week,

Mitch

1388023_10151942863970126_1635204135_nThese crosses hang in the back of the Trinity United Methodist Church Sanctuary in Ottawa, KS.

Even You.

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A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose.  Be made clean!”  Mark 1:40-41

Everybody gets dirty.

Everybody sins and messes up.  Everybody gets tainted by the ways of the world.

Even you.

So what are you gonna do about it?

1. You could pretend to be clean.  You know, strut around and laugh and act like you’ve never gotten dirty before.  You could pretend that you don’t have problems, or issues, or sins.

But that’s not gonna help.

2. You could give in to your unclean ways and dive right into the mud and muck–and let the dirt rule your life.

You could major in Sin with a minor in “who cares”.

But that’s the road to ruin.

3. You could just live with your predicament.   Not exactly filthy, but not really ready to get cleaned up, either.  Kind of stuck-in-the-mud.

But you’ll never grow that way.

4. What you COULD do, is to be like the leper in the scripture above.

He recognized Jesus in his midst, he came forward, acknowledging his predicament, and he asked for help.

More than just asking for help–he displayed a trust in Jesus.

He displayed faith.

“If you choose you can make me clean.”

And Jesus is moved.  He heals the man.

We read this as if it’s an isolated miracle in the bible.  Not so.  This happens all the time.

It happens anytime someone reaches out with faith to Christ.

Even you.

Have a good week,

Mitch

be_made_clean_1A

ON YOU OR WITH YOU?

blind-man-sight

POP QUIZ:

[Based on the following snippet of a conversation, can you tell where I am?]

“Which is better?  Number 1 or number 2?”

“Umm….number 2?”

“Okay.” click, click,  “Now try this.  Which is better?  number 3 or number 4?”

“Hmm….”

“About the same?”

“Yeah, about the same.”

“Alright.  Let’s try number 4…or number 5.”

– – – – –

Did you figure it out?

Yep, I went to the eye doctor this week.

As I sat in the chair picking between different lenses and looking at the tiny line of text across the room, I was reminded of a story from Mark 8.

– – – – –

One time, Jesus came across a blind man who asked to be healed.

Jesus licked his thumbs, and put them on the man’s eyes.

“Is that better?” he asked.

“A little,” the man said.  “I can see people walking around but they look like trees.”

Jesus put his thumbs back on the man’s eyes.

“Here, let’s try this.  Better?”

“YES YES YES!  Thank you!”

– – – – –

Two things really strike me from that story.

First…Eww!  I think I prefer the modern science approach to the spit-on-the-eyes approach.

(Although, if it were Jesus’ saliva, I guess I could make an exception. )

Second…and more importantly, this story of Jesus and the blind man is collaborative.

Did you notice?

Jesus gives the man’s eyes a zap and then checks in.  “How’s that?”

The man says, “Still fuzzy.  how about a little more?”

Jesus and this man worked together to make this man see as clearly as possible!

That reminds me of how my optometrist and I worked together, sorting through different lenses.

These are examples of collaborative healing.  Where the patient’s input is essential for success.

Hmm. Working with an eye doctor to find the right lens is one thing.  But collaborating with Jesus?

That’s right.  The all powerful savior of the universe wants to work with you, on your behalf.

– – – – –

POP QUIZ:

When you pray to God for healing, do you pray for God to work on you, or with you?

How you answer that question may determine

how clearly your life is put

into focus.

– – – – –

Have a great week,

Mitch

photo-jmnm

(my new glasses)

Are Your Lights On?

Desert road at night far west usa 2009

I drove home last night.

About 35 miles, through Lawrence, then east on I-70, and over onto 435 in Kansas City.

It was only when I turned onto Parallel Parkway, about a mile from my house, that I realized:

My car lights weren’t on.

– – –

Nobody flashed their brights at me.  Nobody honked their horn at me.

Thank God nobody swerved into me.

How disconcerting, looking back at the past few moments of your life, realizing you’d been putting yourself or others in danger

without even realizing it.

– – –

I’m sad to say it wasn’t the first time I’d driven in the dark.

I can think of whole stretches of my life,

stretches when I was swerving all over the road, clueless to my blindness,

clueless to obstacles (people) who might be in my way.

Thinking I was fooling everybody,

or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all.

– – –

When I think of my catalog of sins,

I’m aware that near the top of the page lies the category of inattentiveness.

The sin of not living alertly, passionately.  Deliberately.

I cannot change my reckless past, but I can dedicate this next mile to The One who makes each day worth while.

And each night, too.

– – –

This is my evening prayer,

as I reach over

and turn on

my lights.

– – –

Have a great week,

Mitch

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