Saturday’s Stray Thoughts

Another week-ending entry surveying several topics having no necessary or intended connection to one another. Give a shout if any of them need further reflection on this blog; one such request spawned the most active exchange yet for “What’s the Story?”

Speaking of that topic—poverty and wealth—what should I take from the fact that it was an issue concerning money and wealth that created more fire from the troops than any other topic yet addressed on this page? I’m hoping that it doesn’t indicate what really engages us, in spite of our stated opposition to focusing on money. Just asking.

It is discouraging to think that the general election is still more than six months away. Rhetoric, innuendo, name-calling, accusations, character assassination, and other forms of uncivil engagement must be yet another spectacle that we really shouldn’t be so willing to put on display for the entire world. It becomes ever more difficult to have much confidence in either side when the rules of engagement are themselves so foreign to the way Christ would have us present ourselves and evaluate others. On the other hand, it might serve as a reminder to not put our trust in princes or kings. Or presidents. I love what John Wesley said in defense of the early Methodists against all manner of false accusation. Paraphrased, he indicated that it is the way of the world to criticize others; it is our way to criticize ourselves. That criticism of self was not in the way of self-flagellation, but of improvement as examples of Christ. I continue to be dismayed at the level of vitriolic comment made by Christians against political leaders. Yes, there is corruption and deceit; it’s about power, not truth. But should we not be more attuned to our deficiencies, our inability to present a better way of life than we are to pointing out the failures of others?

This week delegates will begin gathering for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. As a mainline denomination, it has some of the same struggles and challenges as others in that category; but as the major organized descendant of Wesley, it has resources within its heritage to guide the way through the difficult choices that inevitably arise when a church body is trying to maintain unity with parties who cannot agree on important matters. For those of us outside this particular expression of the body of Christ, prayer for them and for their deliberations would be appropriate.

I’m not sure what to make of the reaction of Yankee fans at a game last played last week. There was a Tim Tebow sighting during the game, and the ever alert video crew at Yankee Stadium put Tebow on the large screen beyond the outfield seats. The response was a chorus of booing. Is that an indication of just a few New Yorkers that he is not really wanted? And if not, why not–the guy hasn’t done anything in a Jets uniform to this point. Or is it an inhospitable reaction to Tebow’s well publicized conservative Christian views and attitudes on a wide range of topics he has been asked about? I’m just curious.

Here’s one to ponder—but not too deeply. Do we make the faith too complicated? In a class session this week the topic was eschatology, the doctrine of last things—where is the world heading, what is the expectation for a return of Christ, what is the nature of the kingdom which will follow his return, who will be involved in what sorts of ways, etc. This topic is one about which a small segment of believers becomes extremely engaged and often intractable; nothing will sway their conceptions, and anyone not sharing them will run the risk of being portrayed as outside the faith. Other. perhaps the majority of Christians, have only confused thoughts about the topic—or no thoughts at all. One student in particular was distressed over the topic because of encounters with some people within that small segment. But the encouragement to focus our attention on the doing of justice, the loving of mercy, and daily life of humbly walking with God (Micah 6:8) came as a new revelation to this student. How is it that the simplest, clearest word from the Bible, repeated in various ways by Jesus and Paul, becomes lost in so many other things (like politics and ecclesiology and economics)? Wouldn’t it seem to occupy our minds and spirits sufficiently to find and enact the ways in which living rightly, extending mercy, and maintaining godly humility might happen in the world we actually live in, rather than the world we think ought to exist?

Enough straying for this week. May God bless you in your 6:8 living.