Convertible Theology????

So I have some good friends from back in NC – Doug & Bonnie.  This couple has always been a huge encouragement & help in my life and ministry (more than they will probably ever know).  I love hanging out with them cause they both have an extreme love for the Lord, each other, their family & friends, God’s Church, and just life in general.  

If you have ever met Doug & Bonnie you also know that they are unique individuals (especially Doug, not sure if there is anyone else like him ha ha ha – may be good may be bad – you can decide)  They are exactly who they claim to be and just enjoy life to the fullest.  I bring all this up because I started thinking about this idea of “convertible theology” because of Bonnie’s love for driving her convertible.  She LOVES that thing, so much so that when she was devastated after wrecking one she found another almost exactly like it – it was great.  Doug & I always pick on her cause I fully believe she feels like driving around with the top down can make ANY DAY better.  I think she would (and has done so) drive that thing with top down in about any weather.  Just to feel the wind blowing through her hair (Doug loves the feeling of the wind chapping his scalp ha ha sorry Doug) and smiling and loving life.

Now as much fun and as great as that mindset is for cars and the enjoyment of life.  My fear is that too many of us that claim to be “Christians” and way too many that take up residence in the church live in a detrimental state of “convertible theology” – we feel as though life IS BETTER lived with “top-down” decisions being made for us.  Let me explain.

I think there are too many of us out there relying on SOMEONE else to raise us up, challenge us, teach us, change us in our Faith.  We try to rely on decisions about morality and what we “should” or “should not” do to be made by someone else and handed down to us.  While I believe firmly that God has given some more of an ability to lead and shepherd and guide, I also believe that we are EACH as INDIVIDUALS responsible for being in a close relationship with Him through Jesus, and through that will bring growth and knowledge and a deeper understanding and love of Him.  It is time we EACH take it upon ourselves (granted this is best done in community where we interact WITH others and DO LIFE together, but not allowing our growth to HAVE TO ATTEMPT to come from someone else) to experience that growth with God.

I liken this to the political term that seemed to be thrown around a lot during the Reagan years of “Trickle-Down Economics” where financial & economic decisions and plans were put in place at the top and then it eventually trickled down to affect people on lower levels.  My fear is that often times we do the same thing in church – we wait for someone else to introduce a “trickle-down spiritual economics”.

Some of this has been brought on also by a recent study through the book of Daniel (our church is doing a series on it during the month of November).  I have watched how both King Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius each had moments after doubting the power of the TRUE God and getting people to worship themselves only, to see the one TRUE GOD show up – they then would declare “decrees” for people to only worship this TRUE GOD of Daniel and his fellow friends.  (See Daniel 2:46-49; 3:28-30; 4:33-37; 6:25-28 )  Each time though, this “DECREE” (from Top-Down decision making) did not last long and we find another episode of these kings turning away back to their old, power-struggle pride-filled lives.  Then something big happens and they return and then make another decree, it was this vicious cycle.

I see this playing out in our lives, so often we just want so bad to have “Christian Leaders” take over our nation.  We see battles waging and venomous arguments between Christians over which candidate is a “man or woman of God” and will restore all things to where they need to be.  Now please understand that I do feel it is very important for leaders to be Christians, but as much as I feel it is important to understand that everyone has a soul that God loves, and has redeemed through His Son Jesus.  God desires that NO ONE SHOULD PERISH.  So sometimes I believe we have “bought into” this same “convertible theology” of life being better with the TOP DOWN decisions being made for us in the spiritual realm.  When instead I believe that God wants us to help promote the change of this world from the bottom up.  I think that is why we see it say in 2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

It doesn’t say – well if we can ONLY get a Godly King, President, House, Senate, etc then the land will be healed.  No I believe it is up to each of us, to start from the bottom up – from getting face-down, humbled, ready to seek HIS FACE, turning from our wicked ways – then God brings the healing.

I think we can look at some of the countries today that are experiencing the greatest movements of God in His church – places like India and China, places that are also experiencing government and leaders that have NO DESIRE for the things of God.  These people in these places are not relying on a “convertible theology” to make decisions from the top that will “trickle-down” and allow them to be “better Christ-followers” – they are humbled, broken, sold-out, servants of the MOST HIGH GOD – committed to Him and to His WILL – whatever it takes and whatever may come.  It is through that mentality that God is doing a great work and is growing His Church and moving HIs people to do mighty things.

So yeah – maybe riding around in life in a convertible does make your physical day a better one and brings a lil more joy to this life, let me beg you, challenge you, encourage you to not fall into the trap of “CONVERTIBLE THEOLOGY” as we look to live our lives for the ONE TRUE LORD!

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14 Comments

Filed under My Theology

14 responses to “Convertible Theology????

  1. It is in the same vein of thought that I wonder if we as believers in Christ would not be better off if we were in a country where believing in Christ didn’t have ramifications… where it wasn’t the status quo… the standard that everyone is expected to believe in. Where we actually would have to seriously believe and live what we say we believe … whatever it takes.

    I in particular think about this when I hear the arguments about morality declining in this country and think that this concept is similar (at least in my mind) to this trickle-down concept – as if we can set a standard by leadership (or Congress via laws) and everyone will of course just follow it. But it seems to me this just ‘ain’t gonna work’… but it won’t.

    Each of us individually must choose their path, but it is my hope that we can as a community come together to strengthen each other as we choose our paths…

  2. Aaron

    Dude,

    You nailed it on the head. Nice metaphor, the convertible is. You look at places like China, where Chairman Mao made Christianity illegal and had the first, second, and third tier leaders of the church imprisoned or killed… and the Chinese church exploded–without the college-trained leaders, and in many cases without a full Bible.

    You don’t see Paul, Peter, or Jesus telling us to get up in arms about changing the world through changing political leaders or structures. You cannot legislate righteousness. In fact, you see them telling us to pray for, honor, and submit to them (and that was written under Nero), no matter who they are (except, of course, in cases where we must disobey if we’re called to renounce Jesus).

    Change comes about through the gospel, and it happens at the grass-roots level (from the bottom up, as you said), most notably in community with leaders not spoonfeeding, but equipping. When I look at the Bible, I see that it really isn’t the “professional” Christians who are really making the difference… it’s the “ordinary” disciples. Unfortunately, too many of us get jacked up every four years, but we don’t have near the same intensity about spreading the kingdom.

    On a totally different note, Laura and I joked about creating a “Shaky Hands Blog Drinking Game.” But since you abstain, it isn’t with alcohol. You would use glasses of super-sweet tea. Here are the rules:

    1. One glass for every paragraph you have to scroll down to read.

    2. One glass for every “ha”.

    3. One glass for every word/phrase in CAPS. An extra tablespoon of sugar if the word/phrase is in BOLD CAPS.

    4. One glass for every exagerated punctuation (e.g. ?????, ………..).

    5. You suck down a whole lemon if you “check” the blog from your Facebook status.

    So, for this entry, I would have had to drink 34 glasses of tea (4 with extra sugar). And one lemon if I clicked from Facebook. Ha Ha Ha (oops, that’s 37).

  3. I wanted to use tequila but I then I realized how drunk I’d be after the first paragraph and decided that tea was a better option.

    We love you Neal! Even when your hand shakes on the period button…………..ha ha ha!

  4. that’s hilarious – I was just e-mailing Aaron about his comment while you were commenting! Ya’ll trip me out – I think all of this creativity and over-punctuating is due to the fact that I was breast-fed as a child (ha ha like that connection to your post today Laura!!)

    Sweet tea is probably a much better option – and so fitting since I grew up on probably the best sweet tea EVER! Ya’ll have a great weekend!

  5. Aaron

    That’s three more glasses for your comment. I have to pee so bad I can taste it!

  6. Marty

    The drinking game idea is a trip, but I’m the jerk that won’t be funny in this post.

    Neal and Aaron are both guilty of overstating the case. I don’t know where you learned economics, but I don’t think you understand “trickle-down” economics very well at all. It’s a bad analogy that confuses the point I think you’re trying to make – that every disciple carries his/her own cross, daily, to follow Jesus.

    Furthermore, the point can be made without even talking about politics – another comparison/application that I think over-reaches your point.

    How about church members (notice I didn’t say Christ-followers) who pay ministry staff to do everything for them – or who throw a little money toward the kingdom instead of personally investing in it – or who attend worship rather than actually worship – or who volunteer a little time but don’t surrender their soul and empty their pride before an almighty God!? And that’s got nothing to do with politics.

    Just as there are church members who substitute a genuine faith for party loyalty, there are those who mistakenly withdraw from all things political in search of spiritual separatism. (Like the Amish, and everyone who’s “postmodern”). Got news for ya: Jesus was an incredibly political dude!

    I don’t doubt that there are church members like I’ve described above who are more dedicated to politics than to Christ. I don’t doubt that there are people who ACTUALLY BELIEVE that the answer lies in the inauguration of some candidate(s) who will usher in spiritual revival. But as far as I’m concerned that’s and exception. And it’s a bad straw-man for you to create. So, you overstate the case, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    Jesus said to “be faithful unto death” right? Does that mean the only way to do that is if we face martyrdom? Of course not. And here’s my main point: in this country, we face something even more deadly than that – we face spiritual apathy. Does that mean I should wish heavy persecution on myself or this country? NO WAY! Does that mean I should tell a Chinese or Indian brother that what’s happening to them is GOOD? NO WAY! God may use it to bring about good, but death is not God’s plan – it’s a result of the curse last time I checked.

    There’s an old phrase I heard once, “It’s easier to die for Christ than it is to live for Him.” Those in persecuted countries have it tough, but so do we. We both face persecution: theirs is martyrdom, ours is apathy/pride/lawlessness. We’re all challenged to do the harder thing: live for Christ.

  7. Marty

    For an unbiased explanation of economics, don’t go to Wiki, go here http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/SupplySideEconomics.html

  8. Aaron

    Tell us how you really feel, Marty 🙂

    I don’t the case is overstated at all… in fact, it may be understated. I can’t tell you how many Christians I heard this year (especially those voting for McCain) talk out of fear (and out of their butts) about how electing Obama was one step down from electing Satan himself. Just scanning the Facebook statuses in October alone was nausiating. It’s not just a few–it’s a ton of Christians who believe this whole “America is a Christian nation” thing and that we need a “Christian government” so that we can get back to being that so-called Christian nation. They indeed believe in some form of “trickle-down Christian government,” that if we elect Christians, spirituality will trickle down from the white house and houses of Congress to houses on Main St. It’s just not the case.

    Neal could have very well gone down the church-staff-does-everything path, but his posts are long enough already. 🙂 I think his point is valid and well-stated. We’re called to live the Jesus life regardless of the political situation. We’re responsible for our own maturity. Jesus might have been a political guy, but he showed one of the twelve–a Zealot–that there’s a better way. I fear that many Christians have a bit of Zealot in them. Not to the point of violent rebellion, but that only true change can come through “rebelling” at the polls, which isn’t true at all.

    I agree that we’ve got a difficult task to live in a culture full of apathy, but I’d almost be willing to bet that the person who said that it’s easier to die for Christ than it is to live for him never faced the possibility of dying for him (I could be wrong). Both are incredibly difficult things to do, but to me it’s like comparing apples to oranges. You can’t speak authoritatively on it until it’s become a very real possibility for you. All we can really say is that the only way we can be sure that we’d be able to die for Christ is that we live for Him now.

  9. I always want to go Yo Yo Marty – and then it makes me think of “Yo Yo Ma” ha ha – that’s just funny to me – okay now back to business.

    First – Aaron sort of nailed it in the fact that YES my posts are WAY long enough – so I really didn’t want to head down the road of church staff – rely on only the “paid” people blah blah blah – so YES MARTY I am totally with you and that MAY be an even bigger problem, so we don’t disagree to that end – just wasn’t what I wanted to cover.

    Second – I have NEVER really studied economics – nor do I care to – the point was not making a comparisons to “economics” as much as it was to the terms and what it makes me think about – I believe if you asked the common man on the street (which is who we are dealing with) most would not be able to give you a thorough explanation on economics or what the true definition of “trickle-down economics” is – but I bet you a ton that they would feel a lot like me that it has SOMETHING to do with someone making a decision in the higher ranks that “trickle’s down” to affect me. That was the only point I was making – but you were at a disadvantage cause you are smart enough to I guess know what it REALLY means – but not me my boy oh no not me ha ha ha ha. (Aaron you are getting drunk again on this comment ha ha)

    I am definitely much more where Aaron was in regards to seeing & hearing comments about how we are doomed for destruction with the election results – MALARKEY – I have always believe that I serve a God that is bigger than any gov’t and any decisions being made (proven that all through history as well as my proof from what is going on it other parts of the world with persecution right now)

    While I doubt that, Marty, you and I think the same about how “political of a guy” Jesus really was (which is okay cause that is not the main point of Christianity) I think it is safe to say – way TOO many people are making Him out to be a religious fanatic the same way that they are. Just in the same way that I agree with you about the fact that too many are WAY TOO apathetic about being “involved” and part of the solution within their own individual community and fellowship of believers.

    I really don’t see this as a set of 2 different arguments – I see us agreeing about some of the same problems and that we can only “EACH” step in and do our part – and SHOULD do our part so I don’t think any of us really are in disagreement. I think there is just a fact of you liking to debate and wanted to push these points a lil more with me and these issues. Were it that I had taken ALL the time and energy to type this subject out exhaustively then we probably would have all 3 been a lot in the same boat.

    No matter how you slice it – we all agree in many areas that the Church in general and so-called Christ-Followers need to “step-it-up”. My idea was that in whatever avenue – stop relying on SOMEONE ELSE to do the work for you. Stop making excuses or telling me about how your circumstances keeps you from both being willing to Die or Live for Christ. (which by the way I really do like that quote/comment about many being willing to “die for Jesus, but how many are willing to Live for Him” – used it many times)

    Thanks guys – some really good thoughts and ideas – and by the way – I WON’T be studying up any more about economics but thanks for thinking I really might care enough to go look it up ha ha ha.

    LATA

  10. Aaron

    Helloooo, occiffer. Take me drunk… I’m home again (urp).

  11. Marty

    Neal, you’re right I like to debate. I saw this as more a primary debate than a general election debate, where we all agree on some fundamentals, we’re just hammering out the details – although Aaron is like the Joel Lieberman to our GOP platform. How’s that for political analogy?!

    Aaron, I guess I still think your diatribes represent an over-correction. Be careful no to presume that one person’s political activism is wrong and another’s abstention is right. Jesus chose Simon the Zealot AND Matthew for the same team, and neither was a traitor. For more on Jesus’ politics, Mark Moore has some good stuff, and he by no means personifies the sort of “Christian government” proponent you and Neal have caricatured. http://markmoore.org/resources/essays/politcsweb.pdf

    As far as Facebook posts, is that really your evidence for the political climate of the church?!? Since when did Facebook become the authoritative cultural thermometer?

    Who are you including in this little anecdotal survey of Christians you’re conducting? Just Church of Christ people, people you know, evangelicals, protestants, Catholics? My point is this: I disagree that most Christians, even conservative ones, when actually questioned believe that “Christian Government” is the answer for our country. I think most realize that Jesus is the only answer. At the same time, they express strong political opinions, too. Their status on Facebook might need some context. I doubt many, much less a majority, cannot separate their loyalty to Christ from their loyalty to party. Ask, “Who is the Lord of your life: Jesus Christ, John McCain, or other?” and I’ll bet most Christians will get that one right.

    [btw, can someone tell me when we began separating politics from matters of faith? If Jesus didn’t, why should we? I thought our faith should govern all aspects of our lives. See Mark Moore’s article.]

    I know this kinda got away from your original post, Neal, and it was a great post. My comments were really just related to your illustrative material. But I just see a lot of needless bashing of those Christians who have strong political opinions. And I thought you could have made your point without trying to make another one about politics at the same time.

    The hostility toward “Christian conservatives” is not because of a purely biblical argument. It’s a backlash to an unusually high level of political involvement in our country – a pendulum swing – a “postmodern” break from the “modern” norm. It’s too broad a brush of negativity used to highlight a slight loss of focus. That’s the way I see it: and I didn’t have to consult Facebook to substantiate my position.

  12. Aaron

    Marty,

    Before I respond to your comment, I want to say something about the way you discuss (and take this from a guy who has been recovering for years from debate for the sake of debate and has had to repent and seek forgiveness for being a jerk). This isn’t meant to be personal at all, but you come off as a know-it-all who’ll argue just to argue, and you will offend people needlessly with how you debate. You have great points to make, but people will stop reading, or they’ll start slingin’ it back, and then it devolves into a personal thing. There’s a way to debate and discuss without coming off as cocky. Remember, this is a blog… not the high school debate team in the finals at the state tourney. As the old saying goes, you’ll draw a lot more flies with honey than vinegar.

    Now, as to your response, I don’t think that a majority of Christians that think this way, but it is a large contingency. It isn’t a fringe thing. I have no doubt that those who call themselves Christians would say that Jesus is Lord… but there are many whose actions and words show either an over-dependency on the political system, or a lack in trusting God to carry out his plan in spite of the political system, or something else. When you have Christians saying posting on Facebook things like “Christians who vote for (fill in candidate here) need to check their heart,” that’s something much deeper than “strong political opinions.” That’s a heart problem that only Jesus can heal (and I’ve been there… it sucks).

    And no, Facebook isn’t the “authoritative cultural thermometer”, but to simply dismiss it and other social networking outlets (such as this and countless other blogs) as insignificant to the pulse of culture just isn’t the smartest thing to do. Millions of people are using these sites to express their opinions on all things from politics to faith to everything in between. These things are, for the moment, the new community of our culture (for better and for worse).

    That’s it for me. I’m totally cool with agreeing to disagree on this point. The coolest thing is that Neal, as usual, has provided some really good fodder for some cool discussion.

    Marty, Neal… good day and much love. I’m out of sweet tea (ha ha… crap!).

  13. Wow. It’s gotten crazy around here. I think I need that tequila now . . .

  14. Marty

    don’t eat the worm

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