Archive for the category “Mark Kelly”

I’m done. I’m moving on.

I’ve heard it just once too often: “Keep the Main Thing the main thing.” And there’s the equally inane cliche: “Preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words.”

I don’t know whether to chalk it up to ignorance or confusion or just simple-minded parroting of what our mentors told us. Who decided there was a great gulf fixed between Word and Deed? Where did the idea come from that we can (or must) prioritize either Proclamation or Demonstration?

I know I’m harder on the “proclamation” crowd. Nobody really disagrees about demonstrating the love of God in the lives of those around us. Jesus ranked that mandate right up there with “Love the Lord your God.”

Where we disagree is whether demonstration is essential to our mission of making disciples. One large segment of the church community organizes around the principle that making disciples is simply “getting people saved” and then teaching them how to get other people saved. One segment of the mission community focuses almost all its energy on multiplying that strategy exponentially.

“Proclaimers” zero in on the part of the Gospel where Paul explains how the atoning death of the risen Christ reconciles us to God and enables us to receive the gift of eternal life. They agree it’s important to help others in physical distress but, to them, that’s not “Gospel.”

I’ve wasted a lot of time over the years, trying to convince those brothers and sisters they are preaching a fragmentary Gospel. Without success, as far as I can tell. An utter failure. A complete waste of time. So I’m done. I’m moving on.

The straw that broke my proverbial camel’s back this past week was when the Spirit posed a couple of questions to me:

— How does Word happen apart from Deed?
— Isn’t proclamation itself an action, a demonstration of God’s love?

I’m grateful for those whose passion is proclamation. We all should be so wholeheartedly committed to spreading the Word. But let’s quit pretending proclamation stands apart from (even above) demonstration.

Word requires Deed. You can’t proclaim without doing something, engaging in an action. And the act of proclamation is a demonstration of the love God has placed in our hearts for those broken, confused souls who have no idea what God has done to open the door so they can enter into new life in his kingdom.

Proclamation is one demonstration among many. Love your neighbor the way you love yourself. Love them enough to help them in their distress. Love them enough to speak grace and truth into their lives.

But it’s all Gospel. You can’t separate Word from Deed, any more than you could divide Christ’s deity from his humanity.

I’ve had it with the endless discussion about the proper balance of proclamation and demonstration. I’m done with arguments about Word versus Deed. I’m especially done with people who see demonstration as nothing more than a means to an end, a subversion that gains access and creates opportunities for the Main Thing. That denies the integrity of the Gospel.

When someone brings me an answer to the two questions above, I’ll be willing to reopen the discussion. But until you do, please stop pretending that proclamation has a higher priority than working for justice and righteousness.

Christ is not divided. There is only one Kingdom. The God who first loved us has told us from the beginning to love our neighbors the way we love ourselves. That’s how we make disciples: by pouring the love of Christ into their circumstances and showing them God has a better plan for our lives and communities than what we are experiencing.

Of course that requires words. Demonstrate your love for them, and for Christ, by explaining what they are seeing in your relationship.

I like what Terry Smith (cbmin.org) says: It’s not word. It’s not deed. It’s wordeed.

Antoine Williams: R. Kelly, sexual assault, and #truejustice

Our God’s Revolution podcast episode on the R. Kelly rape allegations is live. Antoine Williams of Blueprint Church in Atlanta offers some fascinating insights about why the power and status of some members of the black community protect known abusers and prevent victims from obtaining justice. He also discusses how God’s people can take steps to break the cycle of abuse and start multiplying #truejustice in their communities. Find the new episode by clicking here.

Review: ‘White Awake’ by Daniel White

White Awake: An honest look at what it means to be white
Daniel Hill (Intervarsity Press, September 2017)

I’ll admit to a certain degree of resistance to this book. One can reasonably be weary of self-righteous pronouncements about “white privilege” from quarters of our society where people don’t seem to understand the difference between justice and revenge. It makes sense to discount critiques from people whose ideology is based on a faulty worldview.

At the same time, you can’t ignore the reluctance of many “whites” to acknowledge – much less discuss – the systemic aspects of injustice in this country. It’s hard to take seriously complaints about “reverse racism” from people who are ignorant of the atrocities that created today’s circumstances of poverty and inequality. People who aren’t struggling every day with poverty and injustice let themselves off the hook too easily when the question “What should I do?” arises.

Both “white folks” and “people of color” can benefit from this book. Daniel Hill takes a stand between the strident voices complaining about “white guilt” and the complacent yawns or (worse) angry condemnations of those who think they bear no personal responsibility for either past atrocities or current injustices.

The heart of the book for me is when Hill quotes Mark Charles quoting Georges Erasmus: “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.” Once you get past the book’s opening personal testimony and the necessary lecture about cultural identity, Hill journeys through an insightful and helpful discussion about cross-cultural friendship, denial of injustice, the disorientation that comes with awakening, dealing with shame, the problem of self-righteousness in regard to “bad” people, seven markers of racial awakening, and practical suggestions for changing the status quo.

The cause of Kingdom justice is being harmed by both strident voices and complacent yawns. But we don’t have to buy into someone else’s ideology or political agenda to acknowledge that the status quo in our communities doesn’t begin to approach God’s Kingdom design. We ignore at our own peril the fact that God requires his people to open their ears to the cries of the poor and oppressed, love compassion, and do justice. Let Daniel Hill talk with you about serious issues with which we need to come to terms.

* I apologize for the quotation marks. So much of the conversation on the subject deals in stereotypes that oversimplify the complexities of these issues.

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