A reader writes: So busy battling – no spirituality!

A reader writes:

Hello Brian,
I went to church that was studying your new book and it seems there are some who are taking the guts out of Christianity and I just wanted to know where you stand. They seem to think that the spiritual miracle that happened when Jesus died on the cross was merely a political statement and not for our wrongness. The pastor argued that they had't done enough wrong for someone to die. Well I say it shows what love is and forgiveness is. It is like rear ending someone and that someone getting out of the car and gives us money to fix our car while driving away in their just crushed car. Small accident not worthy of any consideration but the impact is huge with Jesus response. The pastor also denies that Jesus is divine. I mean it is called Christianity for a reason.
The left has gone so for left and the right has gone so far right. I don't recognize Christianity anymore. They are so engaged with battling each other spirituality goes by the way side. The little people like me have no where to find shelter because of all the verbal shooting. If you respond speak in little words. I am uneducated.

Thanks for writing. It really can be frustrating ... it feels like people are arguing about everything, and sometimes we all just wish we could "find shelter" as you say. You asked me to be simple, so I want to give you a simple picture.

Imagine a field. At one end of the field is a tree, and at the bottom of the tree, a dog is looking up and barking. You think, "There must be something up that tree ... maybe a raccoon, a squirrel, a cat."

Then you look to the other end of the field. There's another tree with another dog looking up and barking. What would your reaction be?

Would you say that one of the dogs is barking up the wrong tree?

Or could it be possible that there's something interesting up in both trees?

My sense is that most people are trying to defend something that is precious to them "up in their tree." They make a mistake when they attack other people who have found something precious in another tree.

At some point, we have to learn to rediscover the treasure at the heart of the Christian faith. One of my books where I try to do this in very simple terms is called The Secret Message of Jesus. I think you would enjoy it.

Thank you for expressing this frustration. I feel it too. Let's keep trying to love everybody and realize they are after something that's precious to them. But let's be sure to keep the main thing the main thing, which, according to Jesus and Paul and John ... is love. That's simple. That's deep. That's what matters most.

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A reader writes: Laughing and moaning

When Brian came to New Zealand I heard him speak at my church in Auckland. The thoughts shared there really resonated with me and I know with most that were there.
Just recently I have begun to read A General Orthodoxy- and I am only up to chapter 3- but can I just say thank you. I really appreciate your willingness to share honestly and tell something for what it is. It is SO refreshing. I found myself laughing out loud and moaning in agreement at many of the statements made. Having grown up in a Baptist church, not devoid of the Holy Spirit but certainly not well advertised, I am finding this book amongst others so helpful in navigating my faith now and what it means to follow Jesus. What a beautiful thing. THANK YOU BRIAN.

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A Resource for Lent

At Lent, a lot of churches focus on self-examination and confession of sin. Many churches wish they had resources that addressed sin in a more thoughtful and far-reaching way. My friend Josh Scott wrote a litany for Ash Wednesday that could be used and adapted in many ways during Lent. I know you'll find it meaningful and powerful - here.

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Wow. An amazing rendering of Isaiah 58

... by my friend Paul Raushenbush, here:
http://auburnseminary.org/isaiah-58-america/

Here's a sample:
An American interpretation of Isaiah 58 on Ash Wednesday, 2017.

“Shout it, rap it, sing it, scream it, chant it, let it flow
Raise your voice like a trumpet, like an electric guitar, like a sitar, like a djembe
Declare to America its rebellion
and to the descendants of Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton their sins.

For day after day they claim to know me,
they pose and preen as if they desire to do as I would do,
as if they were a nation that truly believes in liberty and justice
and has not forsaken the commands of its constitution and the conscience of its soul.
They make public shows of prayer and righteousness,
and are eager to appear to privately own God’s blessings for their personal use
And then seem surprised when God leaves their hearts cold and unsatisfied.

I hope you'll read the whole piece, and ponder it's meaning for us today.

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