Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A World That Needs Re-Shaped

Just finished reading this article, and am thinking I might vomit. Hard to believe that more than 2000 people in the world paid money to watch children get sexually abused, to the point of screams and crying, via digital reproduction.

Something is wrong with this world.

Something is seriously wrong with this world.

And something is seriously wrong with the church. Why?

I doubt that in many pulpits the story of an international child porn ring existing will get much airplay beyond the idea that it's just proof that people are broken and sinful. Not much will be said about the poverty and corruption that exists in Eastern Europe (where the images were made), or about a culture that has become so over-sexualized that people are turning to ever more degrading and exploitative imagery and practice as a means of stimulating something not easily stimulated anymore. In one case the preaching will get dismissed as too "social justice oriented" ("...that preacher doesn't believe in capitalism or the free market...") or too "puritanical" (although you don't need to possess Victorian sensibilities to be offended by child porn.... I hope).

At the same time, I can guarantee that there are churches in the coming weeks that will get upset because a worship service used "the wrong kind of music", a pastor said something or maybe used a piece of imagery that was deemed profane, or because a budget isn't balanced.

I can guarantee it.

So, in thousands of pulpits this Sunday, preachers will immerse themselves in that which probes the furthest reaches of what is wrong with the world, but mostly won't say much that their congregations don't already know. They'll throw in a couple of Greek terms, or maybe a bit of biblical history that will make people think they are listening to something new.... but really, in the end, if they inspire a bit of laughter, maybe a tear, one "ah ha" moment, and no angry words or letters from listeners in the crowd, they'll consider the day a success.

And little, or nothing, will be said about how in Eastern Europe, in 2007, little kids can be exploited in a such a grossly personal way, all so someone can collect a pervert's $89. And lest you think I'm just throwing dagger from the self-righteous position of my own soapbox know that I'm largely no different. I too have exchanged speaking dangerous prophetic words for the safety of parsing a Greek verb.

I am finding that my two biggest struggles as a Christian pastor are the following: 1) How not to live as if the minutia that occurs in everyday living in a church during the week isn't the most dramatic event in the history of the universe and 2) Maintaining a sense of peace in a world where little kids get abused for profit.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I'm captivated by the idea that writer of Genesis would choose a talking snake as the means to deceive Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I mean, it was a talking snake.... why, in the name of all that's holy, would a human being listen to a talking snake? That's how good a grasp the writer had on human nature... it doesn't take much to make us forget everything that's really important in life. In our loneliness, pain, and/or self-absorption, we abandon the great work given to us by God (which in Adam and Eve's case, was naming the animals in the Garden they were take care of) and embrace the ludicrous, ridiculous, and destructive.

We're still people who can be duped by a talking snake.... as if a talking snake knows anything about diddly-poo. So the snake whispers into the ear of the guy behind a computer screen to get him to de-personalize the experience he's about to have with a victim, the snake makes us think that God really cares whether the pulpit is located in the middle of the chancel or not, and the snake whispers "you can't do anything about happens in Eastern Europe anyway... preach on something else that really matters".

Surely Jesus didn't die so that a world where boys and girls could be violated for money could keep on spinning. That kind of world, a world where people listen to a bunch of clueless talking snakes, has to make God's heart ache.

It's a world that needs re-shaped by people working with God
out of an attitude of determination and not anger,
peace and not frustration,
hope and not a sense of resignation,
love and not disdain.

How does that happen? How does that story get told?

You can sure bet it ain't by Aunt Becky being upset with Darby Sue for reading out of the NKJV as opposed to the KJV last Sunday, or some wise-acre doctoral student/pastor screaming at the heavens in anger for God to do something,

or by just living our life tomorrow the same way we lived it today.

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