We live in a world that seems to be more divided than ever before. The issues that separate culture today are sharp and complex. We have seen the news. Race. Gender identity. Inequality. Corruption. Poverty. Terrorism. In this harsh setting, many christians feel utterly puzzled when it comes to expressing their faith in an effective and compelling way. Often times we don’t even know where to start.
Scripture calls the people of God to be a powerful missionary force of love, wisdom and healing in a world that is continually falling apart. Something is deeply missing in the lives of many christians today. They seem to be totally blind to the power of the answers that they hold.
The problem is that many of us have been raised in the religious setting but have never really asked ourselves how our christian convictions fit into the broader landscape of ideas that fill this world. We may have accepted our christianity as our faith system but we have never asked how it extents to all of life, or how it interacts with the big questions that every person around us is asking.
How does the gospel pass from simply being our private Sunday morning routine to empowering our thinking, speaking and action in every aspect of culture and society? How do we learn to think as christians in an anti-christian society? How do we deal with the complex line of questions that are fired at the church today?
These are just some of the questions that we will ask at this year’s youth retreat. Join us for a stimulating, challenging and empowering time of rooting ourselves deeper into the true power of the gospel for all of life.
Have you read stunning story about the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo? Or did you read the OTHER story, the one about explosive outcry all over the country in defense of the gorilla? To me, the second one is the bigger story. A petition on change.org has gathered over 300,000 supporters, protesting the killing of the gorilla, as well as charging the parents with negligence.
Throughout the massive public outcry that has resulted, an article in the Huffington Post asks an important question – “Whatever happened to empathy?” Many have been shocked that such a judgmental and harsh reaction has blown up to judge the mother and the decision making of the zookeepers.
The conversations today are full of the fight for liberty. We are told that we must throw off the chains of oppression and marginalization and fight for true freedom. What is seldom answered however, is freedom to what??
This pushes us up against the next big question, what is true freedom? Anytime you try to answer this question you are going to inevitably bring in some sort of moral judgement. We must be freed from such and such evil in order that we may experience such and such good. Anytime we are talking about fighting for freedom we are talking about liberating humanity from some sort of wrong state and into some sort of, more right, state. In essence we are talking about a right way to live, a order for life the way it should be.
It is an essential characteristic of us humans that we seem to never stop in our quest for truth. Survey any age, any culture, at any time, and there is one thing that you are bound to find: people asking and seeking answers to some of the most fundamental questions of life. Some of us more than others. Yet all to some extent. There is always an element in all of us that is hungry for answers. We cannot settle down to merely being utilitarian; that is, to merely fulfilling our role in society, going to work, paying the bills, and calling it good.
This week I have met in my reading an individual who has been challenging me in new and unique ways. Rosaria Butterfield was an English professor at Syracuse University. She was a stalwart feminist and defender of gay and lesbian rights. Rosaria met Jesus in the life and witness of a pastor who was willing to sit and discuss her worldview with her. The book is a fascinating read and very well written. There is so much in it that is challenging me, and so much that could be discussed. But perhaps the biggest thing that stands out to me as I work my way through the first half of the book is her discussion of her entrance into the christian world, and the complexities that this process caused.¹