Spectator Religion

Like a couple of million other folks, I stood with baited breath awaiting the verdict of the jury in the Michael Jackson case... I know, I know.. I should probably be ashamed of the sensationalism of the event, embarassed at the devastating impact of the accusations on an apparently innocent man... but isn't that what our society today is about... We look for the next big thing.. We want to see the show, to be told the latest "scoop". When the verdict was read yesterday, it was utterly mundane. He didn't do it... according to a trial of his peers, which is our system and the one I have to abide with.. He is innocent..

Funny thing, it doesn't matter what I think in the end.. I am only a spectator. When did spectators suddenly get to vote.. Life is not American Idol.. The masses rarely know what is best...Groupthink doesn't work because the group is too easily led astray. we (the mass media version) live for the scandals, the intrigue, the falls of mankind.. and yes sometimes, when we have some extra time, we listen to stories of heroism and love.. Each time I take that time, I think: "man, we should have more stories like that" but in the end those stories don't sell.. We have become the depraved spectators in the coliseum.. (images from "Gladiator" come to mind). We want to watch the battle, see the failure and heroism.. but we never step into the ring...

Okay, here is the leap.. Christian churches/even entire denominations are largely failing today, because they enable this behavior. We feed the congregational/human tendancy to fight rather than build... judge rather than love, split rather than accept diversity. We, the leaders of the church, allow our congregations to turn into spectators for a show. Helloooooo, that is not what God expects.. he expects us to "actively" love one another.. to model his love and sacrifice to our fellow man.. We must put some "skin in the game".. we have to give sacrificially of ourselves.. take on the risk, be willing to fail, and ultimately have to fall back only on God.

When the chips are down.. action is what matters... We are in a battle in today's world.. for the hearts and souls of millions of people.. for our children, and for our world... The stakes are real. But... we can't win by fighting, we can only win by loving. We the people can't do it.. I, God's humble servant can do it.. We may not be able to feed the world, but I can do something to help the guy in front of me...

We can't win by delegating responsibility and group action to an oligarchy, controlled by a few psycho conservatives... Each of us has a voice, each of us is a unique and special part of God's creation... We have an obligation to get in the game and play, to join a church(even if we disagree with some of how it does business), and we have an obligation to try and make things better through actions... Spectators just watch.. I watched MJ, and OJ simpson, and countless other poor examples...just like many of you. Why, because it is hard to play in the game. It hurts to risk and lose. The refiner's fire is decidedly non-trivial.

Repercussions for speaking out against the establishment, even in a church, are very real. Activists pay the price.. Catalysts for change are not stabilizing elements... their energy is quickly extinguished and likely fail.. They may fail, but God will not... Even if they fail.. at least they tried...Sitting in a pew, or chair on Sunday is not a license to "pass go, and collect heaven"... We are saved because of Christ's sacrifice and God's grace.. but we are called to action...not complacency.

Find your place and plug into the machine.. or invent a new machine.. start a bible study, tell your friends about your beliefs, and even your questions.. Be salt and light to a world that needs it..Just DO SOMETHING for others everyday.

Spectators watch... Players win or lose... Ministry is not a spectator sport. It also doesn't require that you be a professional. God will do the heavy lifting... try it, make yourselve available and you will see. Christianity is not a spectator religion. Trust in the Lord, and get in the game.. You are good enough, you can do it, and like a good friend continually reminds me... Even if/when we mess up... "God can hit a hole in one with a crooked stick" but he can't do it we never swing the club....

James 1:2-8 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

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