Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: June, 2009

Up @ Night #5 – Jesus

Jesus is the ultimate sleep-killer, don’t you think? Which is strange, because religion really puts me to bed.

Jesus is exciting. He’s such a complex, deep personality. Look at how he tenderly deals with prostitutes and money-grabbing bureaucrats, and then turns around and rips religious leaders to shreds. He bounces children on his knee and then causes a one-man riot in the temple, complete with whips and harsh words.

Yeah, Jesus keeps me up at night. Here’s a few reasons why:
1) Jesus doesn’t let me compromise. He didn’t ever compromise and he didn’t care what people thought of him. Tell Jesus that he’s being too unconventional or radical and you’ll probably get called a harsh name like white-washed tomb or viper or (if he’s a close friend) satan.
2) Jesus doesn’t let me get away with anything. Remember when Peter denied him? Jesus looked straight at him. He came later and pounded him with those three ‘love me’ questions. I mean, ouch!
3) Jesus is really, really, REALLY kind. Punks are beating him down and he’s still talking about forgiveness. That’s odd. That’s very odd. Jesus is not normal. And I’m supposed to be like HIM?
4) Jesus promises Ultimate Power. Just like in a Fantasy book only better. Rand Al’Thor may be able to touch the One Power, but he still can’t control the madness within him. Jesus helps me control it. Jesus slowly pulls the taint off my soul.
5) Jesus confuses me. I don’t get him. I really don’t get him.
6) Jesus loves me.
7) I love Jesus. That’s even cooler, in some ways, than him loving me.

So thanks, Jesus, for keeping me up at night. You’re always a good reason to lose sleep.

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Up @ Night #4 – Prosperity Theology

One of my earlier posts has generated a lot of feedback. Maybe you should check it out before you continue.

Prosperity Theology keeps me up at night. I’d like to tell you why. And I don’t think I’m going to be civil about it.

The Prosperity Evangelist would tell you that if you are living in poverty you are living in sin. Poverty is sin. Having fewer material possessions than most people you know is sin. Ministries that struggle financially are not receiving God’s grace. Jesus wants you to drive a big car, have gold fillings and the biggest iPod on the market. Jesus is your sugar daddy.

I have been sitting here, typing nothing, for a while now. I’m trying to think of a nice, civil way to continue this post. I can’t think of one. So I won’t be civil.

Prosperity Theology may be just about the most dangerous belief system on the planet. It’s near enough to the Bible that it sounds good but it is nothing more than a religious drug, stupefying our western church while dulling us to the cries of the poor all over the world and filling the bank accounts of scam artists posing as preachers. Prosperity Theology is anti-biblical and anti-Christ. It teaches you to ignore the fact that Paul warns about the dangers of riches and warns us to avoid the desire of money (1 Tim 6:7-10). It ignores Jesus’ advice when he tells us not to store treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). It denies that Jesus is all-sufficient even during times of severe economic struggle (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

I’m not going to be nice about this because this theology is ruining lives. It ruins the lives of the people who hear it because they think their economic struggles are a judgment from God because of their sin. This means that pretty much every believer in the third world is significantly less righteous than the average believer in the west. It ruins the people who subscribe to it because you need to put a bullet through your intellect to swallow it (told you I wouldn’t be civil). No one can come away from an honest reading of the Bible and decide that Jesus purchased a BMW while on the cross. This theology was cooked up deliberately by people who want full churches (=full offering plates) of people who can have their guilt taken care of without actually living the radical, self-denying, Jesus-loving lifestyle that God talks about.

Oh, but aren’t we healed by his stripes? Didn’t he become poor so that we could be rich?

He became sin, not poverty. He because sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. He became sin so that you could realize life is more than $$$. Isaiah 53 is talking about Christ’s sacrifice. Again and again God points to our sin. How can we suddenly think that he is referring to physical and economic ailments in verse 5? Only if we are living to believe a lie (a lie that comes with an expense account).

So go ahead. Store up your treasures. Hang out with Mammon. If you’re content with that, more power to you. Turn the Calvary road into a Law Vegas Strip. Me, I’m holding out for something better. I’m not satisfied with a BMW. I want Jesus. And Jesus carried a cross and told me that if I want him I’m going to have to pick up my own and follow him.

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This is second-hand unless you’re reading it at http://www.theilliteratescribe.com

Proclaiming #3 – Radical Kindness

We’ve all heard the stories.

A man is tortured and murdered while asking God to spare his attackers.

A woman forgives and befriends her husband’s savage killers.

A woman spends her life living way below her means and giving away everything she has to help the poor.

A man spends all his money on charity.

Someone is kind to someone they don’t need to be kind to.

We’ve all heard the stories. But you know what stories we never hear?

A man is kind to a good friend.

A woman prepares a decent lunch for her children.

A husband gives flowers to his loving wife.

You never hear those kind of stories. You know why? Because those stories are boring. There’s nothing special about them. You gave your wife some flowers? What, do you want a trophy for that or something? That’s just being generally kind. You’re supposed to be at least that kind. It’s the stories of Radical Kindness that stick out. The stories of kindness in the face of opposition and death that make us wonder what you’re hoping in and what you’re standing on. It’s Radical Kindness that proclaims something to the world.

No one will ever suspect that you place your hope anywhere special if your level of kindness is not remarkable. And I mean that literally. Remarkable – worthy of being remarked on. Are you so kind that other people walk away shaking their heads and saying ‘What is with that guy? I’ve never seen anyone act like that. There is either something seriously wrong with him or he knows something I don’t know.’?

Let’s be kind together. Let’s smile and wave at the guy who cuts us off on the highway. Let’s take five minutes out of out day and sit and talk with the dirty homeless guy as he begs for change. Let’s invite that annoying family out for dinner and pay for it. Let’s give a bunch of stuff to people who could use it and don’t deserve it. Let’s be nice, because if we’re not we’re all just a bunch of liars, aren’t we?

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This is second-hand unless you’re reading it at http://www.theilliteratescribe.com