After visiting with Bonnie's mom in the Rockyview Hospital and grabbing a quick dinner at Montana's we headed to Ambrose College to hear Tony Campolo speak on his views of Social Justice and the role of Christ's followers. I wish that I had invited a few more friends from MTC to come hear him speak but since I had only known about it for the past week it was difficult to let the others know in good enough time; not to mention that it was a week night and therefore harder to get people to come out. Anyways, we were both looking forward to it and I knew Bonnie would like his comedic storylines. Needless to say we had a few laughs throughout the night and we both got into quite a deep conversation during the drive home about the things we reflected on in his presentation.
WWJD - "What Would Jesus Do?"
I think it was the late 80's when I first heard the question and terminology "What Would Jesus Do?" It was thought provoking and most definitely influential in the way I think many approached their daily activities. Campolo seemed to talk a fair bit about this in the early parts of his presentation with particular stories of how it influenced his thoughts and actions during the Korean War. It was funny listening to him talk about arguing with his CO's (military lingo for Commanding Officer) about whether or not Jesus would drop a bomb on the enemy. Coming from a military family though, I find in the reality of the situation that I highly doubt he put up much of an argument less he spent much of his drafted career in the military stockades.
The question of "What Would Jesus Do?" has always bothered me though throughout the last decade. If it is implying "What would Jesus do?" then it seems to have an unspoken assumption and bias that he is not currently already present and doing it. This assumption marginalizes and then prejudges contexts and individuals according to the biases and beliefs of a specific person. So that when an individual deems that a person is non- Christian, pagan, unbaptized, and apart from "the Church" it is assumed they are without God and Jesus has nothing to do with or in there lives.
Bonnie and I began to picture how this looked in relationship to our own contexts. After visiting with Bonnie's mom in the hospital it was easy to identify with how here mom struggled to see how Jesus was a part of her life. It was true that she was not baptized, she did not really know how or in what way to approach prayer and understanding God's Word in her life, and she was not really a part of a specific church but; she did know love, she did have family who prayed with and for her, and she did care and show compassion for others. She may not have known Jesus in the personal and intimate sense but Jesus does know her!
For Bonnie and I then the question was not "What Would Jesus Do?" but rather, two fold; "What Is Jesus Doing?" and "How Can We Do It With Him?"
"The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him." - John 1:9-10
Power & Authority
Campolo's views on Power and Authority really resonated with me. Particularly in his statement that, "The Church needs to speak to the effects of sexual immorality in our culture with authority." It seems very much that the Church speaks more with the implied essence of power to our culture today rather then with authority and integrity; particularly when it comes to sexual immorality. It gives off a sense of arrogance and false self pride as the Church dictates judgments over homosexuality, promiscuity, and immoral social and economical habits.
Please do not get me wrong. I believe there are great reprehensible consequences to participating in such activities but, as followers of Jesus we must let the presence of integrity and personal life actions give authority to our voice as a church and not let ego or institutional religious conviction be a determining factor to action or voice.
I sometimes wonder if our personal understanding of time is a consequence to our rash actions and convictions as a church and as individuals. Rather then letting our authority of culture and society be shaped through the journey of relational time giving with the focus on communal practices which go beyond any one person or life span; we want change in the time span of now so that we can "see it" and perhaps receive personal recognition for it. Perhaps it is better to receive and recognize the unstated recognitions of Jesus' promises rather then risk the dangers of worldly acknowledgments throughout history both good and bad.
"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence oearth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is wthe second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:11-15
[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/02-freedom.mp3] The Katinas - Roots - Freedom
Pro Life and the Right to Choose
Throughout the night Tony alluded to issues surrounding the crisis of the infant mortality rate in the United States and the implications of abortion as a woman’s right to choose. Although not spending a lot of time on these issues it seemed he had a very strict black and white approach to such medical practices. I wish he spent more time on this subject.
Abortional practices I believe can have a great strain on ethical responsibilities particularly when we approach the issues of the right to choose as being more of a self motivating principle. However, it is anything but a Black and White issues. Nor do I think we have a right to stand as judge and jury over the past actions of individuals who have been involved or affected by the history of such practices.
If we are to have faith that God can and is working through the power of Jesus' death on the cross then we must allow for the practices of grace to extend to the many gray issues in life such as euthanasia and abortion. Let me make this clear; I am not an advocate for either practice. I simply think that as followers of Jesus we need to spend more time dialoguing and exploring these issues together in close proximity to prayer rather then insulating and retreating from such issues. Ignorance cannot be an excuse for our lack of action or involvement in any of these issues. It is our love, compassion, and unconditional acceptance of those who have been affected by such issues which will allow for communal growth and restructure in such areas of society.
Stagnation and the Lack of Social Involvement Regarding the Church
Towards the end of the night one of the Profs on stage asked a question relating to Social Activisms and Church Involvements. I must confess that I do not remember the question verbatim but in paraphrase I believe it was stated, "What do you think is causing stagnation to the Churches involvement in Social justice and communal activism?"
This is where I think Tony's response was perhaps most sketchy and lacking in structure. He articulated a great depiction of how the Church has maybe become a little influenced by a slave mentality to the social norms of consumer practices. Personally I wonder if he isn't cutting it a little short. If I were to state it I would think that the Church is perhaps falling into the pattern of Religious Institutionalization and the idolization of perpetuating imperialistic or dogmatic practices. I might refer to a previous post I wrote awhile ago called The Christian Church, Ideologies, and Some Random Thoughts (Click Here).
In following his picture of enslavement, Tony gave some basic encouargement for those listening just to go and be involved with social environments with particular focus on adopting children through World Vision. This is a great avenue to being active in the social justice movement but in honesty it seems lacking in substance, structure, and purposeful meaning or mission. If we are to be truly active in the Social Justice Movement both as a Church and as individuals we need to be deeply rooted as missional incarnations and followers of Jesus.
I know that in the conversations of missional and organic practices incarnational living can be diverse in nature and in a lot of ways I think that is the way it should be as God intended his creation to be creative, unique, and diverse. But, with any of these identities it is always important to be first locally present and culturally attuned to the needs, practices, and proximity of those around us; both those who are in the majority and those who are in the marginalized minorities.
As for Bonnie's and my structure... We just live for Expressions.