The Whisper of Grace

The following article is from Christianity Today (April 2010 web edition). It can be read in its entirety here. Thanks, Stephen, for sharing it. It rings so true to me.

Once upon a time, there was a man who said to himself, “I think, therefore I am.” It was a revolutionary statement, because up to that time, people didn’t think this was the way to begin. “In the beginning, God. …” Yes. “In the beginning was the Word. …” Yes. But now, for the first time, someone was saying, “In the beginning, I.”

It didn’t take long to catch on. Pretty soon everyone was saying it, and saying it in their own way. “I feel, therefore I am.” Or “I experience, therefore I am.” Or “I am mystical, therefore I am.” Or “I am creative, therefore I am.” Even “I am religious, therefore I am.”

Eventually, someone said, “I am, therefore I am.” And everyone applauded, because it seemed to be a stroke of divine genius.

Then, away from the maddening crowds, far off in the wilderness, a voice was crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” But people no longer had ears to hear that sort of thing. It sounded faint, quieter than a whisper. To most people, it sounded like gibberish. Others listened really closely and thought they could make out the words. But they just frowned, disappointed with the result of all their efforts, saying, “But what does this have to do with me, with my problems?” Read more here…

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Here’s another challenging article, also from Christianity Today, about the first century church and how it embraced a “we” approach above individualism. I’ll put a few quotes below, followed by a link for the entire piece.

“Note also Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (circa A.D. 250), and his commentary on the prayer Jesus taught his disciples: ‘Before all things, the Teacher of peace and Master of unity did not wish prayer to be offered individually and privately as one would pray only for himself when he prays. We do not say: “My Father, who art in heaven,” nor “Give me this day my bread,” nor does each one ask that only his debt be forgiven him and that he be led not into temptation and that he be delivered from evil for himself alone. Our prayer is public and common, and when we pray, we pray not for one but for the whole people, because we, the whole people, are one.’ “We, the whole people, are one”—Cyprian’s strong-group sensibilities could hardly be more pronounced.”

“For the early Christians, belonging to a local church was a commitment to a group of people, not to a highly programmed institution driven by corporate management and numerical growth. First and foremost, then, we must return to the concept and practice of church as a relational entity.”

Read the rest of the article, A Family Affair, here…

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Quote of the week:

From the article Coming Home: A Gay Christian Speaks to Fundamentalists, by Jonathan Odell

“I hadn’t come out as gay then, only as a Baptist.”

This makes me ask the questions, ‘Why are we so OK with some labels but not others?’ and ‘What’s wrong with being Baptist?’

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