Gimme a God with a Posse

Gimme a God with a Posse July 9, 2011

Years ago I read a magazine interview with Brad Pitt. Pitt was raised up in a Baptist household. In the article, which I  still have buried somewhere, Pitt said he left behind the faith of his childhood because he thought it was a big cop-out when people use faith as an excuse for not being involved in making the world a better place in the here and now.

When all they care about is the heaven to come.

Pitt’s remarks gave me pause.

There’s nothing that gets Believers more stirred to debate than the “what ifs” of Heaven and Hell.

Just consider Rob Bell’s latest book — Love Wins.

Or Francis Chan’s latest  release – Erasing Hell.

I’ve not read either of these books, and am not sure I will,  so I will leave the debating about these issues to scholars who care.

And it’s not that I don’t.

I do care very much about the world to come.

It’s just right now I’m a bit more caught up, as I suspect many of you are, with this one.

For whatever reason, God saw fit to put us in this world to live out our faith.

To be the hands and feet of Christ to others, in the here and right now. Many of you are doing a terrific job of doing just that. Not in showy ways but in a kind and quiet fashion.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the admonition in I Thessalonians 4: 11 to aim, make it an ambition, to aspire to live out a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work hard with your own hands.

It’s such a contrary notion to the current culture of Live Life Out Loud.

Do you ever feel like Christianity is an ill-fitting suit?

Or at least the sort that we seem to practice here?

Maybe it’s just me.

I really understand what Brad Pitt meant when he said he thinks people use their faith as an escape for not living this present life better.

Maybe my thinking is just warped but does it seem to you that all too often Christianity is passed off as a consolation prize?

Sorry that your daughter was murdered but there’s comfort in knowing that she’s in the arms of Jesus now.

Sorry that you lost those legs in Iraq, son, but one day, when Jesus comes back all this warring will stop, and God will restore you to wholeness.

Sorry that you lost your job, Mister, but we know all things work together for those who love God and are called according to his purposes. Maybe that job wasn’t your calling.

When viewed this way, Christianity seems pretty sorry.

Heaven doesn’t interest me near as much as the hell I see so many people facing in the here and now.

I get the struggle Brad Pitt faces. The only God I’m interested in serving is the one who puts on his leather boots each day,  ready and willing to trod into the ditches first.

I don’t want a God who shrugs his shoulders when children are murdered.

Gimme a God with a posse willing to fight to make things right.

Or at least die trying.

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  • Like most other topics, balance is the key. Yes, it’s wrong to focus only on eternity. But it’s equally wrong to only focus on the here and now and not live for eternity. This is clear in Scripture. Jesus never spoke anything without a purpose, and if He told us about the importance of where we spend the next trillion years, then there is surely some value in considering such things.

    • That’s not to say I don’t agree with you that some of the stuff we Christians do and say isn’t beyond ridiculous, especially when comforting people who have lost someone. I’ve been appalled at some of those statements. Your post does have a lot of truth in it. I’m just not willing to completely ignore eternity. I’m fairly sure that Jesus wouldn’t want me to.

  • That nun photo is hilarious! I know I’m a Christian and do find myself daydreaming of eternity quite often. However I have a hard time fitting in at church. They always seem to be one extreme to the other. But I do know I love God and follow Christ and try my darndest to live through example and works. Works or action make a bigger statement then fitting in at any church – in my humble opinion. Nice post 🙂

  • MaryC

    Love the picture and the title – sounds like a country song! And I agree with you. Being the hands and feet of Jesus here is what’s important and eternity will take care of itself.

  • The top picture immediately made me think of our daughter’s high school alma mater, St. Mary’s Academy, in downtown Portland. It was founded in 1859 by a group of nuns of the Sisters of the Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). It’s one of the oldest institutions in the state. But just reading about their journey from Montreal to Portland makes one realize how incredibly free of obstacles our lives have become.

    In 1922, riding a wave of anti-Catholic hysteria, the voters of Oregon passed an initiative requiring all students to attend public schools. It outlawed not only Catholic schools but ALL private schools. The sisters, and others, appealed and won in U.S. District Court in 1924. The will of the people was declared unconstitutional. The Governor of Oregon appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which upheld the lower court’s decision in a ruling on June 1, 1925. There were times back then when the sisters probably felt like taking up arms. They did: with prayer, patience and the rule of law.

    Interesting to reflect on the citizens’ initiative. Would anyone today think that the Supreme Court got it wrong in 1925? Just goes to show… At any given time, the will of a majority of the people can be wrongheaded. Wildly.

    Heaven. Hell. Rob Bell… Someday, I’d like to write you a whole piece on that subject. Jesus didn’t get crucified for being in 100% lockstep with religious authorities, with all the right-thinking people of the day, now did he? I haven’t yet read Bell’s latest book. I picked it up and flipped through it at Powell’s and condluded that I would not pay 22 bucks for a hard cover book that was essentially a double-spaced blog post. I will read it, but when I can get a used copy for a dollar or two.

    But if you really want to ponder something worth your while of the faith and life here on this earth, I cannot commend to you more highly Robert Farrar Capon’s books on the parables (which is why I gifted you with copies, Karen).

    This is no trendy, flippant, “I’ll just choose to rule out hell because it’s not attractive or convenient.” Capon doesn’t do that, but he does cast hell in a different light, one that bears our deepest ponderings.

    Because when it comes right down to it, we never sell hell and law short. No, indeedy. But what we murder on a daily basis is grace. Ask Christians for a definition of grace and you at best mostly get a definition of mercy, not grace.

    Yeah, we churchy-wurchy types all have the lingo down. Saved by grace. Saved a wretch like me… But in our heart of hearts, in our speech and our actions, we by and large betray a different reality. We don’t want grace. We want the merit system. We want to believe we’ve made it on our own. And we want “justice” for those not like ourselves. That’s why we can with a straight face sing “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” And live that way.

    It’s sometimes stunning how we can be saved from death but seemingly not brought to life.

    Last month I heard Shane Claiborne say that he found Jesus absolutely fascinating. That if we wanted to get today’s kids interested in knowing this Jesus we might do something much better than “tell ’em the good news”. We might oughtta show ’em some fascination for a change.

    In defense of Rob Bell, I could not have asked for a more fascinating tool when doing Bible studies with mentally ill, addicted and homeless people than Bell’s nooma short films. These folks have had enough of being rousted by the police from sleeping places when it’s dark, from a rest stop on the sidewalk after being on their feet all day. They’ve also had enough of Christians who read Jesus and Paul like they were the Oregon Revised Statutes, not fascinating good news.

    It’s about grace. It’s about not only being saved from death but brought to life. It’s about fascination. Praise the Lord and BURN the ammunition! It’s about time. Amen.

  • Frankly, I have never heard of people using faith as a reason NOT to do good in the here and now. Maybe it’s out there, but it just doesn’t make sense to me and therefore I am blind to it. Hmm?

    And as for the Christian suit, it scratches something fierce and is quite ill-fitting when I start thinking of me, myself, and I too much. By the way, that scripture is my family’s motto. We are good with driving the little truck underneath the parade float. I’ve never been a fan of streamers and confetti anyway. 😉


  • Rose Blackwell

    Hi Karin, been cruising through your pages. This one really hit a note with me. If you get a chance go to the Fayetteville Observer today and read the Letter to the Observer section. Since you lived here you may know the story about Moses Mathis , The Bicycle man.