catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 14 :: 2004.09.10 — 2004.09.23


Seeking God in 2004

I haven?t come across a single political commentator, religious leader or even voter in the past several months who would deny that religion is a critical issue in the upcoming election for the President of the United States. On our own *cino discussion board, the majority of the conversation is dominated by political themes as they intertwine with living out of faith in a complex world.

Within the cross-section of believers who visit the online discussion and within the body of Christ, we are unbelievably diverse in our opinions about who would make the best leader. While some of us sense a feeling of righteousness and camaraderie when we see a Bush/Cheney yard sign, others of us are praying desperately for a change in leadership.

I don?t intend to write about election politics, but I do see the impending election as a backdrop against which the state of Christianity in North America is being revealed. I see a widespread tolerance for muddy theology that is spoken in the right language with enough conviction. I see an inability to articulate the deepest reasons we believe and act the way we do. I see a simultaneous timidity and overzealousness within the body that is leaving us broken and ineffective as helpers in the new creation. This is not to say that I see nothing good in the contemporary Church, but we must address our weaknesses if we aspire to be the bride of Christ and this bride seems awfully unsure of who she ought to be.

The symptoms of this identity crisis, as several of the articles in this issue suggest, are various and complex: the attempt to monopolize God?s truth, our tendency toward division and apathy, our failure to immerse ourselves in God?s revelation. What ultimately ties these elements together, I believe, is that we are so well-fed on our individual rights in this country that too few of us truly hunger and thirst for righteousness and in our state of comfort, we allow the apparent culture of blessing shape our theology (see the Introduction to the New Pantagruel for a thorough and articulate analysis of this state of affairs). And when life is so good this side of complete transformation, who?s to say that dying to self won?t lead to regret at a personal universe turned upside down apparently for the worse?

And so we have the uncritical acceptance, for example, of the idea that if we do God?s will, we will be blessed (blessed in the material sense, rather than the biblical sense of being truly happy and satisfied) and the avoidance of suffering becomes the litmus test for all our actions. However, even a surface level reading of the epistles reveals one account after another of faithful disciples enduring various kinds of suffering as a direct result of their obedience to God. Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians that ?just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows? (1:5, NIV). And in Romans 5, he writes that not only do we boast of the promises of the one true God that the faithful will share in God?s glory, ?but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not dissapoint us, because God?s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us? (5:3b-5, NRSV). ?Doing God?s will? then is a lot more complicated than quantifying tangible blessings; it involves a willingness to die to self, that is, to accept that suffering may be a part of the journey and that we may never see the realization of our efforts (Hebrews 11:32-40, NRSV).

If we are to reconcile ourselves as a community of believers to the one true God, we need to reconcile ourselves to thorough transformation by the Lord of all creation and this transformation includes turning to God?s truth rather than the truth generated by a false, diluted Christian culture that is infected by individualism. Toward that end, our greatest hope for *cino is that it can serve the Church with a prophetic voice, challenging the body of Christ as a community to cultivate a society led by joyful believers who profess with their whole beings the mystery of God. We have a vision for a world that is willingly guided by disciples of Christ who have shown a radical intentionality in living into faith and whose excellent work is a compelling model for searching and knowing the presence of God in a broken world.

But to attain these goals is a formidable task and we are easily distracted by all that demands our immediate attention as creatures of this world. Should we fast in order to know the physical hunger that mirrors our desire for God? Should we cultivate the habits of daily study and meditation? Should we pray for the will to keep our course in the journey? Yes, with the help and grace of God and a desire to be reconciled to the Kingdom, we shall as

The Spirit and the bride say, ?Come.?
And let everyone who hears say, ?Come.?
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
?Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
(Revelation 22:17, 20b-21, NRSV)

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