Monday, April 11, 2016

A Kingdom Outpost: More Than A Meeting

There have been many “Aha” moments in my life where a realization hits that changes everything.  A few years ago I had one such epiphany. Prior to this moment I had given my life to starting churches that multiplied.
I heard the Lord say to me, “So if you get hundreds of thousands of people meeting together in homes all over the world do you think that will be enough to change the world?” 
It wasn’t that starting churches was a bad idea, I am still investing in that. But there is more, much more, to be done beyond a meeting. The church is meant to work together, not just worship together––in fact working together is worshiping together.
Since then I have been a part of starting more than churches, but missional kingdom outposts. Yes, these are indeed churches of a sort, but meeting in regularly scheduled bible studies is not the aim, and often isn’t even what happens. 
Is a regularly scheduled meeting a good thing? Of course it can be. The meeting, however, does not make a church, any more than a regularly scheduled meeting is what makes your family a family. Can a church exist without a scheduled meeting? Yes it can. 
There are no sermons, Sunday schools or “services,” in these kingdom outposts, yet the Scriptures are the foundation to all they do. People live and work in community, not just sing songs and pass the plate. There are no offerings taken, but there is tremendous generosity. The people of these works share their lives together. They are giving so much more than their time and ten percent of their treasure to the kingdom work. These people are giving up their whole being––their sweat, provision, vocation and sense of purpose and identity––all to Jesus.
I would measure the disciples coming out of these outposts against any coming from traditional church forms. I’m not being boastful, just honest. I have spent time with some followers of Christ from this movement and they are not like the typical churchgoer. As my friend and associate Dezi Baker says, "they are different enough to make a difference."
I realized a while ago that you can’t produce a world changing disciple with a one hour service on Sundays and a midweek hour of bible study. The deluded idea that this is how we do our spiritual work is both vast and void. Disciples are made in the hard work of real life––in the marketplace, not a meeting place. Our impact should be felt in the populace not just in the pews. We should measure our influence out on the streets not in the seats.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A New Trend in the Kingdom of God

I have the privilege of traveling around the world equipping people to release Jesus movements. I see first hand what God is doing globally.
One trend I am seeing everywhere is the planting of new works that may be church (in a broader definition) but are so much more than a local church according to our common understanding. For lack of a better language I refer to them as kingdom outposts. These outposts share a few common characteristics:
·      They create micro businesses that employ people that are becoming kingdom agents in the world and provide a needed product for the neighborhood.
·      They involve providing a localized spiritual family in sustainable community (often living in close proximity, together under a single roof or on a shared property). For these people, church has become so much more than a once a week event.
·      They often practice sustainable farming (even in urban settings) to provide for the spiritual family and often the neighborhood as well.
·      They often do volunteer work to clean up neighborhoods and serve the community in tangible and often thankless ways. Painting buildings, building or fixing homes, planting trees, picking up trash, feeding the homeless are things that are a part of the regular rhythm in these outposts.
·      They often work closely with very marginalized people in their neighborhood and provide a path toward self-sufficient living and kingdom fruitfulness.
·      They are able to change rapidly and start new things whenever the opportunity presents itself.
·      They are beginning to find each other and network on a global scale...which is exciting.
There are multiple reasons for these shifts. Here are a few:
·      Reliance on tax-free donations is tenuous in a future that is rapidly becoming hostile to Christianity and many well-established ministries will discover this in an abrupt and sobering moment.
·      The artificial separations of secular and sacred as well as clergy and laity are being dissolved. The result will be a global impact of God’s people that are no longer segregated from the world.
·      Sustainable, local and green enterprise is not just a fad; this is a strong movement that provides a kingdom opportunity to serve our world and its inhabitants in a responsible way.
·      Disciple-making on the job and on the streets is far more effective than two one hour meetings a week at a church building.
·      Providing jobs, raising entrepreneurs and equipping people to prosper in this rapidly changing world is a necessity.
I am actively involved with one such kingdom outpost in Los Angeles, CA. Here we have launched a few micro businesses as well as a sober living home and a twelve-step recovery meeting. In the coming weeks I will post information about some of these incredible works and tell some of the stories of people who have changed the entire direction of their lives for Jesus. You will be encouraged and challenged.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Finding My Cross With Another Man Upon It: A Fictional Look At History's Greatest Injustice

I always thought of myself as being brave, but when I heard the footsteps of the guard coming toward my cell, fear gripped me in a way that I never imagined. Everything inside me froze from the terror. I couldn't move, or speak. My stomach was in knots, and my breath was gone. I was hoping that my heart would stop so that I wouldn't have to face the inevitable horror outside.

I had been in that cell for almost a week. The cells on death row are always the worst but I hardly even noticed. All I could see was the cross. The chafing of the shackles was a constant reminder of the nails that would soon be pounded into my flesh. Their unrelenting hold on me never let me escape the permanence of my sentence.

I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Every time I closed my eyes there was the cross. I would pace back and forth in my cell like a caged animal. "There's got to be a way out of this! This can't be happening! Is this really the end? Is this all my life is to be?" No matter how fast my mind raced, no matter how many times I walked around that cell--there was no way out! There's no Governor to pardon a Jew in this fascist government, especially one who rubbed out a Roman Centurion.

Before I was caught, I used to run with a group of revolutionaries. I guess you would call us terrorists. We prefer the term freedom fighters. We had a cause and were willing to go to extremes for what we believed. I was a thief and a murderer. There was always a kind of thrill when we would go out on a spree. As I watched the man's life flow from his body, I felt a kind of a high--a buzz that was better than wine. It was a release, as though I had finally gotten rid of the anger and hurt inside me. The next day my hatred was back, but even stronger, as though it fed on the violence.

I used to think that I was doing the noble and courageous thing. Now I see that I was just wasting what little and precious life I had. I knew that someday I would be caught. I knew that someday I would have to pay the ultimate price for my cause. I accepted that. But I always thought that it would be different from this. I thought that I would be brave and strong--a hero! I always hoped that when I checked out people would admire and remember me for my courage. I used to think that when I would die for my cause I would have the greatest rush of my life. The truth is, when I heard the keys jingle, the lock turn, and the door open, I felt only shame for having nothing good or clean to show for my life--only hatred and violence.

"Get out here Jew," the guard grunted, but I just froze. "Why me first?" Was the thought that ran through my mind. Then I said to myself, "No. Lets get this over with. Let's just do it!" I still wouldn't move. "If You want me outta-here pig you're gonna have to drag me out!" I had nothing to lose, but nothing to gain either. There was no thrill in my rebellion now. He grabbed me by my hair and pulled me out of my cell. I could here my brother in the next cell. He was curled up in the corner, weeping like a baby. He used to be so callused and hard.

The hall just wasn't long enough. The soldier was walking too fast. The door opened too easily.

The bright light of the sun was not a welcomed sight to me. I just wanted to hide, to disappear and never be found. Even before my eyes could adjust, I already could hear a mob forming. Their voices were like jackals wining before a kill.

"Well, where is it?" I asked myself.

The guard unlocked my chains, but they were more welcomed to me than the spikes. "Where is it?" I kept thinking. "Where's the cross?"

Then it happened. I still can't believe it! The words are still ringing in my ears. "Get lost Jew." I just stood there. "Is this some kind of a twisted joke? I must have heard wrong." Then he said it again, "Get lost Jew, I don't want to see your ugly face. Go, or I'll make you wish you were crucified!"

That was all I needed, I was gone. I don't remember the streets, the plaza or the gate, I just remember running. I didn't know where I was going, but I was making record time! I just kept thinking that at any moment they would change their mind and come after me.

I would have kept on going but a distant noise stopped me. The approaching mob was an announcement of the spectacle that was about to pass by. I remember telling myself that it was stupid to stick around, but I couldn't move. I had been rehearsing this sight over and over in my mind, and now I had to watch. I was drawn to the scene as though it was the culmination of my life. I hid myself in the crowd.

The first thing I noticed was the angry roar of the audience. Their shouts and jeers passed right through my body. Their hatred was intense. I felt as though it was me they were angry with, but no one even noticed that I was there.

The mocking and cursing then became muffled in my mind, as if someone pushed the mute button. I began to pass through the crowd as if I were in a dream. As the noise of the onlookers became subdued, the grunts and dialogue of the central cast in this drama were amplified.

There was my brother leading the condemned. It was definitely him, but I could hardly recognize him with the strange look of terror on his face. This was a part of him I had never met.

All our lives we had run together. I had always assumed that we would die together, but an unexpected twist of fate intervened. I should be with him. My brother had always followed, and now he is the one to go ahead of me.

We both knew that this was a righteous execution. "Why am I not with him? There is no reason for my pardon!"

"Good bye my companion, perhaps we will be together again...with this pain behind us."

A terrifying shout filled with rage gave me a jolt of adrenaline. My attention was drawn to the next man in this parade of shame. He was my partner. His wrath was a familiar expression to me, only now it was magnified by the helplessness of his lot. He had always been a fighter, and he was still fighting. I used to envy his strength and intensity, but this time it seemed like a pitiful display. This was not just a performance for the crowd. It was obvious that his very soul was turned inside-out for all to see. There was nothing salvageable, nothing innocent or good, only poison and sin. He should die.
A shudder passed through my body as the realization came to me: This was me! As in a mirror, I saw for the first time the wickedness that was within me. I felt a terror run through me that made my previous fear seem insignificant. I am my enemy! I am the reason for my hatred and violence. There is no one else to blame. I have had no cause but sin. I have not run free as I once thought, but had always been a slave to my own evil. There was never any justice in my actions. I had escaped the only justice I ever would have met. I should be executed! I should be crucified!

"What?!? A third cross? Who is this? It can't be! The Nazarene!"

"Why? He's done nothing! He is guilty only of unwavering idealism and speaking out against the party line. Why Him?"
It suddenly became clear to me. It was all a political ploy! My freedom was only convenient. Nobody wanted me to live, they only wanted Him to die!

I finally saw it...there was my cross.

My shame was mounting with every step of the procession. His agony was for me. He was not only carrying my cross, He was bearing my guilt. He was being executed in my place.

I couldn't look any more. I started to turn, but then, a gasp--a tiny whisper--thundered in my ears.
"Forgive them?" He said, "Father forgive them!"

"Oh, Lord, where is the justice? Where is the righteousness of this? He shouldn't be there. It should be me!"

Then He turned and looked at me, or should I say through me. His eyes pierced through my soul. He knew! He knew that I was to blame! He knew that it was my cross! He knew that I was the murderer!

But His face still had those words on it. Then He said them again, while He was still reading the headlines of my soul--"Forgive them."

I was wanted! I was loved!

The Jews didn't really want me? They only used me. In those eyes, in those words, I found the acceptance I had always desired; and from the one place I would least expect it.

I followed the group up the hill. I watched as the crosses were raised. I watched the men slowly die. I have seen good men die, but this man was different. He was more than a good man. He was the One, the innocent lamb of God, slaughtered for our sin.

I died that day. I too was crucified on that afternoon. The Barabbas that was full of hatred was put to death with the others. I finally found peace. I finally found justice. I finally found a cause worth living for. I found it there at the cross.

"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since by His blood He did all this for us sinners, how much more shall He do for us now that He has declared us not guilty? Now He will save us from all God's wrath to come." -
Romans 5:8-9 (Living Bible)

"I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
-Galatians 2:20 (Living Bible)
I identify more with Barabbas than any other person in the Passion Story. His story is found in the following passages: Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:17-25; John 18:39-40.

Monday, March 21, 2016

0.01% of the Flesh is Deadly


Whenever I use some hand sanitizer I notice the label boasts that it kills 99.9 percent of germs. While the label is meant to be assuring of effectiveness, my thoughts are always drawn to that 0.01 percent germ. That must be a strong germ, a super bacteria that can outlive a nuclear holocaust of Purell. If so it would likely be the one to kill me––kill all of us for that matter. It only takes one apocalyptic germ to destroy us all. 

In Philippians 3 Paul identifies the true Christ followers as those who put zero confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3), not even 0.01 percent is allowed. If we put even that little confidence in the flesh, we are not operating in the Spirit at all. 

We Christians are facing two paths and the destinations of each could not be farther apart than heaven and hell. One path is the path of doing good (the flesh). The other is the path of grace (the Spirit). Our problem is that we think the way to our desired destination is to take the opposite path. You can’t. You can't get to Los Angeles by taking the road to New York.
Unfortunately, we are far too easy on ourselves when it comes to the flesh. A do-it-yourself (DIY) spirituality cannot be thought of as neutral or tolerable. As Paul said, “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another” (Galatians 5:17). So when you are feeding the flesh you are rejecting the Spirit. Even if what you are doing looks and sounds good in the eyes of everyone around you, if it is not from the Spirit, it is against the Spirit.

Paul laid out for us a contrast of the deeds of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit. Here we find indicators of authentic or counterfeit spirituality.

Paul mentioned that the deeds of the flesh (DIY spirituality) “are evident.” I would add that the evidence is prolific and, unfortunately, way too acceptable in our spiritual climate today. We have been deluded to the point that we see these deeds as not only acceptable but even as good and godly endeavors. I believe this is a root cause for our lack of real fruit in this world and you really can't argue with the analysis. The outcomes are clear.

You cannot get the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) by practicing the deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19–21). The two paths are diametrically opposed. That is why we cannot be content with good works that are done in the flesh. Frankly, this is why I wrote my new book, One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love. We have become too accepting of a counterfeit spirituality that results in pride and delusional thinking. This must end if we have any hope of truly making a difference in this world.

Some do-it-yourself spirituality mixed with some Jesus-soaked good news is not okay in any way. We cannot tolerate a false gospel and expect to produce the fruit of God’s Spirit. As long as we continue to walk down the wrong path, we are taking ourselves farther away from the true destination, no matter how right the view looks. Until we stop practicing the false gospel of do-it-yourself spirituality, we will never be on the right track—only further invested in the wrong direction.

The flesh is not to be tolerated, excused, toyed with, allowed, ignored, or overlooked. It is to be crucified. It is to be seized by force, brought to submission, and then dragged to a violent and humiliating death—nailed alive to a cross until it stops breathing. The flesh is hostile to us, not helpful; toxic not healthy. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:24 NIV)

As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, NIV) This is the new creation. This is how faith works through love. This is the true gospel spirituality that bears fruit. Everything else is a counterfeit. Everything else is poison.

Living by do-it-yourself spirituality is no better than not doing so no matter how "good" you appear, in fact it is worse. All the effort we put into externally motivating righteous behavior is wasted and further leads us into the delusion of self-righteousness.

You cannot add healthy, organic, free-range, hormone-free ingredients to cyanide and expect it to be good for you. Unfortunately that is often our approach to spirituality when we try to redeem self-righteous, do-it-yourself spirituality with the gospel and hope it will all work out better because of the addition. It doesn’t purify the impure; it just taints the good stuff with lies.

An artist can use external pressure to carve a human figure from a slab of marble. While it may look lifelike, it is as dead as a stone. There will be no beating heart, no circulating blood, or lungs taking in oxygen. It’s just a rock shaped like a human. A true human body is formed from the inside out with the multiplication of living cells that contain the necessary DNA to code the development of life. You cannot create a human being by cutting away excess stone, and you cannot make a new creation with the old means that never worked in the first place. If it did work, as Paul said, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21). The result of do-it-yourself spirituality is no more true or life-giving than a marble statue is a human being.

Can the gospel be enough? I am convinced it is the only thing that is enough. I will live or die for that belief. If we are not willing to bet our lives on the true gospel to change people within, and instead we hedge our bets with a little do-it-yourself spirituality mixed in for the sake of practicality, then we are selling our whole selves to a false gospel. We must choose between the whole gospel or no gospel—there is no in-between.

I suggest our real problem is that we have put more faith in the law of the old covenant to change lives than in the powerful grace of the new covenant. This begs the questions: Why should anyone want our gospel if we don’t even want it? We have abandoned the true gospel for another. We are as foolish as the Galatians (Galatians 1:6-7).

If you are a leader who is using anything other than the gospel to motivate people you are part of the problem. Guilt, shame, fear, financial security, peer pressure, the promise of prestige or prosperity, the association with success or the removal from things that remind us of failures…these are not the means to godliness––ever. We cannot produce spirituality with means that are less than spiritual. 

Only the true good news of Jesus can produce a new life within. The true gospel will never tolerate a false one. A false gospel will tolerate everything except the true gospel.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Doing Good Can Be The Enemy Of Being Good

Is it possible that being moral can be just as bad as being immoral from a spiritual perspective? Wow, let that question simmer for a moment. Can it be that the “moral majority” at the tea party on the Right is no better than the Left who tolerate all forms of immorality . . . except of course being morally conservative ?
Paul wrote to the Galatians, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6) To us that may have less impact because we do not wrestle with the issue of circumcision today. If we were to contextualize it and say, "For neither morality nor immorality means anything but faith working itself out in love," we would better understand what Paul was saying. Doing good is not the same as being good. Listen, circumcision is not a bad thing but a good thing in the Bible. But it is also a meaningless thing in and of itself. Love, and only love is the one thing that fulfills everything.
In our Christian culture today, sexual sin is at the top of the list of capital offenses. That, however, is not the way the New Testament views spirituality. Acting morally superior to those who are sexually immoral is, in fact, treated more harshly in the New Testament. Why? Here are five reasons: it is deluded, harmful to many more people, far removed from love, is a counterfeit to the true gospel, and is difficult to recognize as sin. We need to treat self-righteousness with more harshness than sexual immorality, if we want to resemble a New Testament spiritual climate. And self-righteousness abounds in churchianity today, almost as much as our judgmental cruelty against sexual brokeness.
I have found that self-righteousness is as forgivable as any other sin, it just isn’t as recognizable as other sins. To many it looks “good” and, therefore, is acceptable.
Doing good can be the enemy of being good. When someone is convinced that they are good because of all the good work they do, then they are deceived into believing that they do not need help. This is why Paul and Jesus address self-righteous leaders so harshly and those broken and entrapped in sexual immorality with such grace. We tend to do the opposite, don't we. 
Those who think they are good need a slap in the face to wake them up. A gentle nudge is not enough, so Jesus slapped the Pharisees silly with sarcasm, insults and harsh rebukes. He called them "hypocrites" sixteen times in the Gospels. Why? Because he loved them and wanted them to realize that they also needed grace to find salvation. 
Paul wrote nice words to the Corinthians and said nothing at all nice to the Galatians for the same reason. The Corinthians were tolerating immorality of such a kind that even the pagans blushed. They were divided and had celebrity preachers that they followed. They turned the communion into a party and got drunk on the wine. But Paul called them "saints" (holy ones) eleven times. The Galatians were striving to do everything right, by the book without compromise and at great cost. They were moral in every way. Paul had no kind words for them. This is the only letter that he did not use the word "saint" when addressing the church. Instead he called them: "cursed," "bewitched," "foolish," canibalistic and "separated from Christ." He went so far as to say that if they thought cutting off a little foreskin on the tip of the organ made them more spiritual than others, then they should go the extra mile and cut the whole thing off and be really spiritual. Yes, he did say that. 
He was trying to awaken minds that had been deceived. He knew this, because he had been one of those Pharisees that Jesus had to slap around before he would come to the light himself. And that was his love and concern for the Galatians.
Thinking you are good when you are just self-righteous is a delusion that we must wake up from. Paul wrote to the Galatians: "If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves." (Galatians 6:3) 
Being deceived is a tough problem. If you knew you were deceived then you wouldn't be deceived. the problem is you are unaware of your real problem. If you knew your zipper was open, you would zip it up, but you are unaware of the problem even though everyone else may see it.
A deluded mind cannot think its way out of the box it is in. The deluded mind is the problem, so it cannot fix the problem. The only way to love such a person is to wake them up with a slap in the face. 
This post is adapted from my book One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Invasion Of Do-It-Yourself Spirituality

My home is being surrounded by large warehouse stores full of do-it-yourself (DIY) tools and products. Within six miles of my house are seven such stores! In fact, they all seem to be doing good business even though they are all pretty much the same. Evidence of DIY stores can be seen in every room of my house as well. There are not just television shows dedicated to the DIY revolution there are entire TV channels dedicated to it 24 hours a day. The DYI revolution is not just happening in our culture, it has even invaded our view of spirituality, but there are dire consequences of a DIY spirituality. 

The way we do ministry is plagued by human engineering. Programs are intended to make people more spiritual. We publish curriculum that are designed to make people more faithful. Models of church are intended to entice attenders. We have systems upon systems to accomplish what only God can do. In fact, most of what we call discipleship in our churches is merely an attempt to form people’s knowledge base and conform their behaviors to align with what we think is spiritual. The final product is really just theological moralists lacking true spiritual power. The results, beyond church attendance and proud pew sitters, are pitiful, to say the least.
We put faith in strategies of evangelism that are thought to be more effective than others. Pragmatism rather than the power of the gospel drives the evangelistic process in many churches. If we do the process right, we believe, we will see a higher rate of conversions per evangelistic event. One evangelistic method does not save more souls than another. In fact, an evangelistic method does not save any soul at all. Only the gospel of Jesus saves souls, not our methods. I can't save myself and I sure as heaven can't save you, no matter what method I employ. All of these types of ministry exercises reek of human engineering and quickly lose sight of the miracle of God’s promise and power. We have put more faith in our methods than in Jesus, and that is legalism. That is Galatianism.
We are so driven by pragmatism— after all, we’re really trying to do good things—that we are easily seduced toward a false-gospel spirituality. "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all." (Gal. 1:6-7)
Really, the only thing that is sacrificed by a false gospel is the true gospel. With that sacrifice, we lose everything that is important and keep a lot of things we think are important but have no real value. We do not lose our churches, our leadership, our finances, our buildings, our branding, our statements of faith, our creeds, our organization, our numerical success; even most of our theology is kept in tact with this false-gospel spirituality. All we really lose is everything most important, namely, Jesus (Gal. 5:2–4). Authentic spiritual life is also lost (Gal. 5:6; 6:15). With that, any real impact on the world is lost and replaced with organizations doing supposedly good things. What we lose is what is most important: faith working through love.
Using legalistic methods to modify behavior is a resort to a false spirituality based on a false gospel and it does not result in true fruit. If the true gospel of grace is insufficient, then all other efforts will be meaningless in the end. All that is not done in love is meaningless (1 Cor. 13:1–13). 

We’ve become so content with a false gospel that we have no clue what the real thing is. When we become so accustomed to the type of goodness that is only possible by humans, we have no imagination for a goodness that is possible only by God. As a result, we often see those without the Spirit of God actually doing better and looking more loving than those who supposedly have the Holy Spirit. This dumbing down of love is evident in our churches to such an extent that none are attracted to us but are actually repelled by us.  

Can the gospel be enough? I am convinced it is the only thing that is enough. I will live or die on that belief. If we are not willing to bet the farm on the true gospel to change lives, and instead we hedge our bets with a little do-it-yourself spirituality mixed in for the sake of practicality, then we are selling our whole selves to a false gospel. We must choose between the whole gospel or no gospel—there is no in-between.

For my part, I do not want anything to do with a Christianity void of love. But most people in the world already know the dirty little secret: our churches are not driven by faith working itself out in love. We can say otherwise, but nobody hears us, because our lack of love shouts so loudly in our posture, priorities, and practices. In much of Christendom we have replaced an authentic spirituality with behavior conformed to a moral standard and accepted that as a Christian life. 
The worst consequence of all when we choose do-it-yourself spirituality is that we get what we wanted—a Christianity all on our own. 
Christianity without Christ is an awful thing.  
This Post is an excerpt form my book One Thing: A Revolution To Change The Word With Love

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Very Uncivil War

The Right and the Left are growing farther apart with each passing week. Liberal politicians and conservatives are in a moral and political “take no prisoners” civil war. Each is strengthening its stance and asserting bold and often baseless accusations at the other side. This war has spilled over into all of life, not just politics, and includes the arts, education, business, journalism, science, technology, social services, military, and faith community.
The church is posturing itself farther and farther away from any positive influence in society, because it is deeply rooted in a moralistic crusade and quite comfortable shouting at the world from a distance. We should be on a transformative, redemptive mission of peace and love like Jesus the revolutionary, but instead we take stands, pass laws, protect interests and campaign against issues. We react to issues and take defensive postures and look as hateful as any faction in this growing divide. We are not a movement of love, instead we are a voting block.
The civil war is hot, and neither side is at all close to building bridges or bringing peace. We simply must take a different approach if we want to make a difference in this world—and now is the time! But in order to make a difference, we must first be different ourselves.
Today’s emerging generation is fed up with an unengaged, judgmental Christianity that is afraid to get its hands dirty with real change but is more than willing to tell everyone else how bad they are.
We have had unrealistic expectations of imposing morality without spirituality in a world that desires spirituality without morality. This is insane. We are surprised that the unredeemed act like they are unredeemed, but the real shock is how the redeemed act like they are not. My new book One Thing: A Revolution toChange the World with Love is a call to the church to respond in love toward the world and not to impose our own values on others but rather live them out.
Many Christ followers are tired of being the laughingstock of late-night television. They are also angered by the poor results the church is seeing as it seeks to be a transformative presence in society. This book will appeal to Christians who are tired of being characterized by the world as angry people known only for what they are against. It offers an alternative that is biblical, effective, subversive, and loving, all at the same time.
It is time for us to trade in our busy religion with so many rules and causes we are staunchly against for a “one thing” spirituality. That one thing is the love that is generated by being with Jesus, being focused upon Jesus, and letting Jesus leak out in our lives. We need to wear Jesus in more ways than just a WWJD bracelet. 
This article is adapted from the introduction to One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love