In 1537, a reformer by the name of Phillip Melancthon wrote a document to confront the religious and political power in Rome during the Middle Ages. Melancthon understood that the power of the pope - claimed as both a divine right and necessary for salvation - was a threat to the Gospel.
Christianity is a crutch for the weak. We don't like to think of ourselves as being weak, we'd much rather consider oursleves strong, able to fight, and willing to endure the suffering and pain. We'd prefer that when others see us that they would be amazed at our ability to stay strong.
A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those days. I'm not really sure how to describe "those days" other than "those days." Work was exhausting - filled with tiring conversations, and overwhelming list of things to do, and not much accomplished at the end of the day. Coming home, I knew my wife's day was even worse.
When I was a kid, I dreamed I could fly like Superman. He was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able leap tall buildings in a single bound. The Man of Steel was untouchable. He soared far above the commoners - out of reach for those without super human abilities.
When Luke begins the story of Jesus, he makes a simple historical statement loaded with implications. Luke writes, "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered."
Mixed drinks lure us in. They mask the punch of an undiluted shot of scotch and increase the sex appeal with fancy colors and garnish. Theology is no different. We can mix in teachings, trite sayings, and bible verses in a way that can mask the punch of a word of law or add a bit of condemnation to a liberating word of grace.
We've become experts at hiding our real lives. We hide our real lives behind a facade of filtered photos, cropped profile pictures, and answers that rarely speak the truth. In the words of Carrie of Portlandia, "people are just cropping out all the sadness."
The Law gets a bad rap. There is certainly a negative component to the Law. The work of the Law is very different than the work of the Gospel. If the Gospel’s work is to revive, the Law’s work is to kill. If the Gospel’s work is to cover over sin, the Law’s work is to expose sin. If the Gospel is the Good News, the Law is the Bad News.
There is a large gap between what happens in churches on Sunday morning and what happens in the life of the average person on Monday morning. And this gap grows wider as the cultural differences between the values of the Church and the values of our communities are growing further apart.
“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo..."
The sociologist John Robinson is known by his colleagues as "Father Time." He has dedicated his career to researching how people use their most valuable resource, time. In the book Overwhelmed he makes a crazy statement regarding his research about time: