057 Dr. Pious & Mr. Cool

I've been listening to a bunch of Christian artists from the Acoustic Praise Café on Word of Truth Webradio, and noticed how a little bit of variety in the lyrics would really be refreshing, since it seems that a lot of them have a very limited vocabulary in which they have thus far learned to express their love, affection and devotion to God.

I've also been trying to imagine how they would talk in every day language, and about the probably vast difference between the way they sing and then actually talk, since they probably aren't very likely to address their friends in Shakespearean English: "Thy countenance dearly pleaseth me this day, beloved friend..."

It kind of strikes me as some kind of double-life, and it's one that I'm personally all too familiar with. We think we've got to tuck our religion away, keep it safely within the confines of our church or allotted time-slot of worship and praise, and then put on our "just-like-everybody-else" act again, as soon as we step out of our sacred halls into real life again, lest someone should get offended or think we're nuts.

Contrary to that, King David wrote, "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall be continually in my mouth." Again, the people I know who come closest to that, are The Family, although I must admit that our habits to praise the Lord continually have died down somewhat in recent years.

But if you'll visit any Family Home, you're probably very likely to hear the terms "praise the Lord" or "Thank You, Jesus" a lot more than anywhere else in the world.

If the "Most High dwelleth among the praises of His people," then we should make an effort to make Him feel at home with us.

It's also a matter of deciding, instead of "being conformed to this world," to "be transformed by the renewing of our minds." According to the ways of the world, we consider things we like, to be "cool" or "great," or "awesome," which is okay, but why not give credit to the One Who made'em that way? And that means, not just praising the Lord in church or whenever we sing our songs of praise and worship, but, as the Bible says, continually and "giving thanks always"?

If you've read Merlin Carothers' "Prison to Praise," you'll know what a powerful weapon it is, and how it can change lives. So what if others might think you're some kind of a religious fanatic or freak? Who are we trying to please? God or man?

Even if we don't have the faith to be praising God in front of unbelievers, at least our own Homes should always be filled with praise, and our friends and spouses should be used to hearing us praise, instead of resorting to the lingo we inevitably pick up from the movies...

Otherwise it's like some Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde syndrome, where we put on one face and personality on one occasion, and the other one on others, "Dr. Christian and Mr. Normal," or "Dr. Pious and Mr. Cool," etc.

We can develop the guts to just be ourselves, instead of what all our peers around us dictate is cool and accepted and what's not. Have you ever noticed how kids are being drilled into uniformity these days by the media? If Hitler would have had those sort of tools, he would have conquered the world. And as I always say, the next "Fuehrer" is going to come for sure...

Are we going to be mature enough Christians next time, to have the guts to dare to be different?


056 Shane Claiborne

Watch and listen to this much-more-than-a-preacher.
Listen and weep. I did.


055 Thou Shalt Love

In my treatize on "Bible Verses Most Christians Choose to Ignore" I've brought out some of the advantages and reasons that make me stick to my Family, even after 27 years of ups and downs, constant spiritual revolution and the accompanying controversy that's bound to appear as a side affect...

But I think I left out one - probably the most important factor.

Nearly every church or congregation has a verse that they choose as their dogma, their highest commandment: for the 7th Day Adventists, it's the commandment to keep the Sabbath. For the Pentecostals, it's the gift of tongues. For most Catholics it's probably just being catholic. For Baptists, as for Mormons, it's the water. And then there are those red-white & blue flag waving patriots and warmongers who still seem to be clinging to the Old Testament dogma of "an eye for an eye..." (Not to mention those cunning politicians and leaders who pose as Christians, when in reality subscribing to the god of this world. You can recognize them by a very devout dedication to the 10 commandments: "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not covet; thou shalt not lie, etc., except that they always omit the word "not" from each phrase.)

Now, the highest, greatest, and yes, even only commandment the Family adheres to, above all, and which has been the gist of our message from the very beginning, is the very same one which Jesus Himself described as the fulfilment of all the laws and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40), namely, to love God and our fellowman.

As our leader and shepherdess wrote, "The only thing that matters is love."

In other words, our religion is love, and as one nature-born sucker for love, I can only say that that's the only religion, in my opinion, ever worthy of subscribing to.

For most Christians, love is probably not enough. They need buildings, rituals, certain amounts of physically visible success as manifested in the abundance of the things they possess, but you can keep all that, if it makes you happy.

As for me, I'll choose love any day above that. After all, if God IS love, as the Bible tells us clearly, then what higher thing could there ever be to strive for?

When love becomes your religion, it becomes more than that. Most Christians keep their religion tucked away well hidden from everybody else, in some neat little corner in their lives they reserve for God: that hour on Sunday mornings, or that brief devotional reading or prayer sometime during the day, which I don't want to minimize or put down.

But when you truly seek to adhere to the first and great Commandment of Love, it becomes part of every facet of your life. And I think that's precisely what Jesus was trying to teach us. He was precisely trying to convey to us the opposite of the "separation of religion and state" of our minds and affairs. He was saying, if it's the Real Thing, you can't keep it separate. After all, re-legio(n) is about putting things together, not taking them apart.

So, anything less than love is not enough (true) religion for me. Anything else is at best a cheap imitation.

How does your faith manifest itself in your life? How does your religion come across in your interaction with others every day? How much do you express your love for God and others on a daily basis? How real is what you believe in?