Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Either/Or?

It has been over a month since I have offered my thoughts in this way. This morning my heart is stirred by many avenues. I could take time to enter into the Glen Beck statements about social justice, already have given too many words to that. I could take about the luck of the Irish, and most seem to think that luck is simply found by getting drunk, again already spent too many words on that. Instead what about the guy behind all this green, shamrocks and poor Irish brogue attempts. St. Patrick is often lost in the midst of the day which carries his name. It is interesting that when so much discussion about social justice, and/or the Gospel are in the mainstream, we would come across St. Patrick. Before getting any further I want to recommend a book about Celtic Spirituality, " The Celtic Way of Evangelism" by George Hunter III. This book opens a window into the life and work of St. Patrick all should see and hear.

I am not sure there was much of a debate for Patrick when it came to the Gospel or Social Justice. The two seemed to be deeply connected by the way he lived his live and encouraged others to live. In fact there is much of St. Patrick's life which we find a sense of both/and living rather than forcing a choice which is a limiting choice. That is what happens when we force people or ourselves to choose between things like Social Justice and the Gospel. It can and has been argued by myself and others far smarter than I, that you cannot have a Gospel without Social Justice, and you cannot have Social Justice without the Gospel. To force a choice is to limit both.

Why is it that we as humanity, especially we in the church, like to force people into an either/or corner? Often doctrinal, or scriptural purity is lifted high as the battle cry. Problem, whose doctrine or purity of Scripture shall we use? There is so much more to God, and the Scriptures given to us by God than we as humans can fully comprehend. No, my impression is the enforcement of the either/or is truly designed to great exclusivity. If we can force someone to choose one way or another, we can know whether they are with us or not. Better said, we can determine if they are truly a follower of Christ or not.

The reality the One we follow was the master of the both/and. Jesus did not simply say commit verbally to following me, and hold pure doctrine. Likewise, Jesus did not say just go around doing good deeds and working for justice. No! Both things were deeply connected to the Kingdom of God, which by its very nature is a both/and kind of place. It is both present and future. It is both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled. It is at hand, and yet to be embraced. I wonder what would happen if people who claimed to follow Christ began to see how broad, and deep God is. Life is not as easy as forcing a choice. Many messes are created by allowing room for both. Yet who ever said Kingdom living would be easy, and neat?

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