I AM Peace… and Baal is Not

***Click here to download the audio via sixeight.org***

Watch the video first… (war eagle!)

Slide1

Now, I realize we probably don’t have many Auburn fans in the room this morning, but, after watching that video, I have one question for you: do you think going to an Auburn football game – being in the stands, watching this video on a massive HD display, surrounded by 87k fans screaming in unison, flags, banners, cheerleaders, the band, an eagle circling the stadium, maybe fireworks, smoke machines – is this worship? Would you describe going to the Super Bowl to watch your favorite team compete as an experience that’s similar to what we’re doing here this morning in the “worship service”?

Slide2 How about this? Not trying to make any political statements here, but is attending a presidential inauguration an act of worship? They follow a strict ritual, play music, great speeches from world-renowned leaders are heard, all the most important, powerful people are there, and thousands of others brave the rain and cold just to catch a glimpse. Is this worship?

Slide3

 How do you know you’re worshiping? Does it depend on the place? If you’re at church, does that mean you’re worshiping? Can we worship at home? So, there’s a place everyone in this room has been before, but you’ve never gone there to “worship.” I’m going to read something now that describes this particular place, but the description intentionally blurs the location. So, as you listen, close your eyes, see the place in your mind’s eye, and try to figure out where you are:

One might say that this religious building has a winding labyrinth for contemplation, alongside of which are innumerable chapels devoted to various saints. As we wander the labyrinth in contemplation, preparing to enter one of the chapels, we’ll be struck by the rich iconography that lines the walls and interior spaces. Unlike the flattened depictions of saints one might find in stained-glass windows, here is an array of three-dimensional icons adorned in garb… As we pause to reflect on some of the icons on the outside of one of the chapels, we are thereby invited to consider what’s happening within the chapel – invited to enter into the act of worship more properly, invited to taste and see. We are greeted by a welcoming acolyte who offers to shepherd us through the experience, but also has the wisdom to allow us to explore on our own terms… after time spent focused and searching in what the faithful call “the racks,” with our newfound holy object in hand, we proceed to the altar, which is the consummation of worship. While acolytes and other worship assistants have helped us navigate our experience, behind the altar is the priest who presides over the consummating transaction… We don’t leave this transformative experience with just good feelings or pious generalities, but rather with something concrete and tangible, with newly minted relics… And so we make our sacrifice, leave our donation, but in return receive something with solidity wrapped in the colors and symbols of the saints and the season. Released by the priest with a benediction, we make our way out of the chapel… to continue contemplation and be invited into another chapel.[1]

Any guesses? What’s being described here? Where are you “worshiping”? Need some hints? Those garbed, 3D “icons” you contemplated? They’re called manikins. That “chapel”? It was J. Crew. Your “relic”? Skinny jeans. The “priest” was your cashier who received your credit card “sacrifice” at the checkout “altar” where digital signals flowed like pleasing incense through the wires to fill the nostrils of the great “gods” of Visa. You’re at the mall and you’re worshiping. Did you realize it?

Slide4

It’s all worship: football games, presidential inaugurations, shopping. The list of “worshipful” activities and “places of worship” is infinitely long because we’re always worshiping – all day, every day.

Slide5

Why all this talk about worship? Last week we looked at the first episode in the story of Gideon found in the book of Judges. We saw how Israel, God’s chosen people, was in this state of transition, of twilight, an in-between time. They were stuck in this cycle of unfaithfulness to the promise they had made to God and God was raising up judge after judge to save them from their enemies. Gideon was one of these judges – a deliverer – who God was calling to save Israel. God had to take special measure to get through to Gideon and eventually Gideon got the message loud and clear. How did Gideon respond? WORSHIP. He built an altar and named it “The Lord is Peace.” Last week we learned that the first step, the foundational step towards the all-encompassing, comprehensive peace that the Israelites called shalom is to worship the God is who Peace. If we long for peaceful community – well-being, justice, security, wholeness, healing – we begin by worshiping the God-who-is-Peace.

We left Gideon in Judges 6:24, so let’s pick up where we left off and read just a bit more in the story:

Slide6

The message I want to bear witness to this morning from the life of Gideon is simple:

Slide7

Let’s go back to the text and break this down a little.

Slide8

Worshiping the God-who-is-Peace is costly. When Gideon finally realized that he was talking to God, he had to come to terms with the fact that GOD had just commissioned HIM to be a judge, a deliverer of Israel. Now, we may be excited if God called us to do that, right? Don’t we all want that sense of God-given purpose and mission in life? And wouldn’t we love the assurance of this kind of personal encounter? Maybe so. I know I wouldn’t mind. But I’m not so sure Gideon was as excited about his commissioning as you and I might be because, as it turns out, Gideon and his family are… a bit pre-occupied. They’re Israelites but they’re kinda “on a break” from Yahweh, the God of Israel, and have started seeing another god. His name is Baal and he has a cool friend named Asherah. The text is pretty clear: Gideon’s family OWNS the altar to Baal, who is basically the most well-known pagan god in the Old Testament. When Israel rebels from God and turns to idolatry, it seems like they always turn to Baal.

Slide9

 So, when Gideon hears this call from Yahweh, the true God of Israel, and then builds this altar and names it “The Lord is Peace,” he’s actually making a pretty significant decision because he’s changing his allegiance away from Baal back to Yahweh, the God of Israel. He recognizes that if Yahweh is the God-who-is-Peace, then every other “god” is a false god of chaos, violence, confusion, destruction, and death.

But, as significant as that decision was for Gideon, it was only the first step. It’s one thing to build an altar to Yahweh, but it looks kinda silly when that altar is actually just down the street from the Baal altar, you know, the one you and your family OWN. The first step of worshiping God leads Gideon to a second step: tearing down the Baal altar. What does this mean for Gideon? It means confronting his father. He not only has to dismantle the Baal altar and chop down the Asherah pole, but he also has to build a new altar to Yahweh on top of the ruins of the Baal altar and then sacrifice his father’s prized bull using the wood from the Asherah pole as fuel for the flames. Destroying the Baal altar is going to have serious consequences: as the text goes on to tell, this is not just a personal family shrine – it’s being used by the whole community. Gideon is deconstructing the community’s source of security, comfort, and hope. But it’s not just the community’s idol, or his family’s idol – it’s his idol too.

Slide10

For Gideon, the cost of worshiping the one, true God-who-is-Peace is experienced in a confrontation with false gods that is simultaneously personal and social, public and private.

But Gideon goes through with it; he’s afraid but he does it anyway. As he feared, the townspeople are super-pissed. They want Gideon dead, but he survives and he even gets some unexpected help from his father. What happens next? Well, in brief summary form, Gideon delivers Israel from the Midianites, this people that were oppressing Israel because of their idolatry. So, Gideon worships the true God, tears down the idols, defeats the enemies, and delivers Israel. Sounds good right? What could possibly go wrong?

Let’s skip ahead and pick up the story in Judges 8:22-28. This is just after Gideon has returned from his successful military conquest of the Midianites:

Slide11

Slide12

There’s tons of irony here. One detail about Gideon’s conquest over Midian that I didn’t mention before is that God made a very specific, very intentional effort to ensure that there would be no way the Israelites could miss the fact that it was God who was delivering them – not Gideon. But what do the people tell Gideon? “for YOU have delivered us from out of the hand of Midian.” Not surprisingly, they miss the point.  This episode is already off to a bad start. But Gideon sets ‘em straight: “Nope, there is no king but God. Sorry folks.” Unfortunately, he keeps talking… Earlier we said that our worship of the one, true God-who-is-Peace is costly because it’s continuously challenged by our appetite for easy, cheap, imitation gods who make promises of peace that don’t last; that actually lead us, and all creation, towards death. We talked about the costly part already. Let’s look at part 2: the continuous challenge we face from our appetite for the easy gods, the “Baals,” that lead us toward death.

Slide13

Gideon says one thing – “I won’t be your king. Only God is king!” – but then he does another. His actions speak louder than his words. He passes the offering plate and asks for gold and then makes an ephod. Now, what on earth is an ephod? It’s this apron-like garment that was to be worn only by the high priest. It was highly symbolic of God’s presence. It was worn only in a ritual, sacrificial context and it was considered to be one of the holiest objects that the priest wore. Where there’s an ephod, you should find a priest.

Slide14

Now, the text doesn’t come out and say why Gideon made the ephod, but it does tell us the result: “all Israel prostituted themselves  [to the ephod]” and “IT became a snare to Gideon and his family.”   Judges chapter 2 uses this same imagery – prostitution and a “snare” – to describe Israel’s cyclical abandonment of God and return to idolatry. The connection is clear and its confirmed by what happens a few verses later: “As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites relapsed and prostituted themselves with the Baals.”[3] When Gideon makes this ephod, it’s like he’s saying, “I won’t be your king but I’m gonna be my own priest.” He refuses to be a leader but then takes a leadership role that brings Israel right back to worshiping false gods.

Slide15

Gideon may have pulled Israel out from under the oppressive hand of Midian but he couldn’t break the hold of Baal on their hearts. He couldn’t break Baal’s hold on his own heart.

Idols don’t just go away. You have to dismantle them and then build a new altar to God on top of it. But even then, they return.

Slide16

It’s like whack-a-mole… Gideon was, once again, oblivious to his own appetite, and the appetite of his community, for worshiping these cheap, easy, imitation gods that make false promises of peace that really just lead to death.

And, when I say “death,” I really mean that in a literal sense. This week marked the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII.

Slide17

Nearly 140,000 lives in Hiroshima and another 70,000 in Nagasaki were lost in an instant. A Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama, wrote that “Baal persists in human history… [history is] the story of the confrontation between Yahweh and Baal.”[4] The destructive power of idolatry, on both sides of the war, was burned into his memory. We’d do well not to forget.

Like Gideon, we are a people who declare that God – the God of Israel, of Jesus Christ – is the one true God-who-is-Peace.

Slide18

But our worship of God – our annunciation – rings hollow without corresponding denunciation. When we build an altar to worship God, God calls us to complete our act of worship by tearing down our altars to Baal, by denounce our false gods. This is a painful process. It is costly because we too often build our lives on these easy, false promises. We don’t like tearing down idols; we usually get really upset just by being told that we have idols! But we do.

I began this sermon talking about football, presidential inaugurations, and shopping for a reason. These “rituals” embody our idols: entertainment, national might, and consumerism.

Slide19

Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline, calls them money, sex, and power. Brennan Manning, another great author who wrote The Ragamuffin Gospel, describes them as security, pleasure, and power.

These idols, and probably others too, manifest themselves differently in all of our lives. We experience them in different ways. They present unique obstacles to our exclusive worship of the one true God-who-is-Peace. They lead us, by different paths, into brokenness that disrupts our relationships and disorders our community. These false gods are buried deep inside our hearts, competing for our love, enticing us with images of the “good life” that don’t last. They’re hard to detect and even harder to remove; like Gideon, they keep popping up and leading us away from God. Are you aware of your idols? What are the altars in our hearts?

Slide20

We’re always worshiping. The question Gideon’s story calls us to answer is “who?” Not just between the hours of 10a and noon on Sunday morning; everyday, all day. If we say “Yahweh, the God of Israel, of Jesus Christ,” then we have one more step to take: tearing down our idols so that, in everything we do, in all our relationships, throughout our community and in the deepest places of our hearts, God is worshiped and peace, the shalom of God’s kingdom, breaks in.

Now, is money, or sex, or power always an idol? No. Is Auburn football inherently idolatrous? Possibly – and Cam Newton is most likely divine. These are our blind spots; the major weaknesses of our day where we are most prone to idolatry. But again, maybe you struggle with a different set of idols. The point is that we all have idols and we have more of them in common than we are sometimes willing to admit.

In spite of our unfaithfulness, we still have hope. The last verse we read says “the land had rest for forty years in the days of Gideon.” Even in spite of Gideon’s flaws, his struggle with his idols, God still used him to deliver Israel and bring rest to the land. One commentator I read sums up the matter well, so I’ll close with this: “The repeated cycle of deliverances in the book of Judges portrays a God whose essential will is to forgive and give life… Such grace is indeed free, but… it is not cheap. It demanded of Israel, and it demands of us, our souls, our lives, our all – in short, it demands that we worship and serve God alone.”[5]


[1] James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 21-22.

[2] Judges 6:25-27.

[3] Judges 8:33.

[4] Kosuke Koyama, Mount Fuji and Mount Sinai (1984), 38-39, 215.

[5] J. Clinton McCann, Judges (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 2002), 25.

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Imagining the Kingdom with James K. A. Smith

After hITKcoverolding my breath for 3 months until the spring semester was over, I’ve finally started reading James K. A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. It’s the 2nd installment of his “Cultural Liturgies” project and follows what could be the best book I’ve read in several years: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. You can find my extremely brief summary of that book right hereYou can find a great review of Imagining the Kingdom over at the Englewood Review of Books.

What does Smith have in store with this book?

The focus of this second volume is to home in on these themes, further exploring the shape of a liturgical anthropology in order to articulate a Christian philosophy of action that (1) recognizes the nonconscious, pretheoretical “drivers” of our action and behavior, centered in what I call the imagination; (2) accounts for the bodily formation of our habituated orientation to the world; and thus (3) appreciates the centrality of story as rooted in this “bodily basis of meaning” and as a kind of pretheoretical compass that guides and generates human action (p13-14).

Hmmm… that sounds nice and all, but what exactly does it mean?

In short, the way to the heart is through the body, and the way into the body is through story (p14).

Ahhh… much better! Smith wants to help us understand what really causes us to do what we do. This is important because the life of Christian discipleship is not a “spectator sport.” It’s full contact and, as John Wimber would say, “Everybody gets to play.” We are all actors, agents, the movers and the shakers. We are a sent people who are caught up in the missio Dei – the mission of the Triune God (p3-8).

Smith is particularly interested in how we are shaped by “secular liturgies” (like going to the mall) and the role of Christian worship as a practice that re-shapes or re-forms us over against all the ways we are formed by the practices all around us. In addition, Smith is concerned about re-framing the paradigm of Christian education, universities in particular, from an “information” model to a “formation” model. Basically, Christian education and Christian worship are preparing us for the same thing: our participation in the mission of God (p3-8). But, how does this formation happen?

Smith’s response to this question has me uber-excited about finishing this book:

And this is how worship works: Christian formation is a conversion of the imagination effected by the Spirit, who recruits our most fundamental desires by a kind of narrative enchantment – by inviting us narrative animals into a story that seeps into our bones and becomes the orienting background of our being-in-the-world. Our incarnating God continues to meet us where we are: as imaginative creatures of habit. So we are invited into the life of the Triune God by being invited to inhabit concrete rituals and practices that are “habitations of the Spirit.” As the Son is incarnate – the Word made flesh meeting we who are flesh – so the Spirit meets us in tangible, embodied practices that are conduits of the Spirit’s transformative power. The Spirit marshals our embodiment in order to rehabituate us to the kingdom of God. The material practices of Christian worship are not exercises in spiritual self-management but rather the creational means that our gracious God deigns to inhabit for our sanctification (p14-15).

I can dig it.

Smith on What Victoria’s Secret Knows Better than the Church

I suggest that, on one level, Victoria’s Secret is right just where the church has been wrong. More specifically, I think we should recognize and admit that the marketing industry – which promises an erotically charged transcendence through media that connects to our heart and imagination – is operating with a better, more creational, more incarnational, more holistic anthropology than much of the (evangelical) church. In other words, I think we must admit that the marketing industry is able to capture, form, and direct our desires precisely because it has rightly discerned that we are embodied desiring creatures whose being-in-the-world is governed by the imagination. Marketers have figured out the way to our heart because they “get it”: they rightly understand that, at root, we are erotic creatures – creatures who are oriented primarily by love and passion and desire…

As Augustine famously put it, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” This is not a matter of intellect; Augustine doesn’t focus on the fact that we don’t “know” God. The problem here isn’t ignorance or skepticism. At issue is a kind of in-the-bones angst and restlessness that finds its resolution in “rest” – when our precognitive desire settles, finally, on its proper end (the end for which it was made), rather than being constantly frustrated by objects of desire that don’t return our love (idols).

James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, pg. 76,77.

READ THIS BOOK!

The Vision of Oscar Romero: A Look at Economics, Ethnicity, and Ethics in America [Part 5]

oscar-romero-iconLife in the modern world is best interpreted through three primary lenses: economics, ethnicity, and ethics.[1] As Oscar Romero demonstrated in both his ministry and in his pastoral letters, the problems faced by a specific people in a specific time and place hold a primary place in the life of church which practices and proclaims the liberating word of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in order to move toward an articulation of my own vision of ministry, it is imperative to consider the economic, ethnic, and ethical dimensions of life in the modern society of the United States in the beginning of the 21st century.

In his book Journey to the Common Good, Walter Brueggemann names the controlling economic narrative within U.S. society as the “kingdom of scarcity.”[2] The primary characteristics of this kingdom are fear and anxiety, which lead to “entitled consumerism… in which we imagine that something more will make us more comfortable, safer, and happier.”[3] Consumerism, and the energy required to sustain it, leaves no room for working towards the common good; life in community is nearly impossible because everyone is too busy taking care of themselves.[4] When the pressure of consumer debt in America is considered, Brueggemann’s analysis provides a clear, powerful insight into a reigning economic force in the lives of millions of Americans.

The work of leading Greek Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas sheds considerable light on the ethnic dimension of American culture. According to Zizioulas, “there is a pathology built into the very roots of our [modern, Western] existence… and that is the fear of the other.”[5] This fear grows from our culture’s foundation of individualism, which comes to see other individuals as threats.[6] In this environment, “radical otherness is anathema” and “the fear of the other is in fact nothing but the fear of the different.”[7] This fear can only see differences as divisions, which create a society of institutionalized fear as these divisions are codified as laws.[8] Zizioulas’ analysis rings especially true when ethnicity is considered. Even today, fear of the racial other continues to divide American society.

Finally, the work of James K. A. Smith offers considerable insight on the ethical dimension of contemporary American life. Smith defines human beings as “liturgical animals” who are “governed not primarily by what we think but by what we love, what we desire.”[9] Human love is oriented toward particular “visions of the good life” through everyday habits that train human desire.[10] Some of these habits are part of a larger, more powerful practice that attempts to reformulate human desire at its most fundamental level and Smith defines such “thick” practices as liturgies.[11] He reveals three secular liturgies fully operative in American society – the mall, the stadium, and the university – which make “us the kind of people who desire a version of the kingdom that is antithetical to the kingdom of God.”[12] These secular liturgies demand a considerable amount of worship across American society and therefore exert a powerful force on this society’s ethics.


[1] Adetokunbo Adelekan,  Lecture, Truth and Transformation: Ethics of Visionary Leadership THLE624, Palmer Theological Seminary, King of Prussia, PA, October 25, 2012.

[2] Walter Brueggemann, Journey to the Common Good (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 29.

[3] Ibid., 28-30.

[4] Ibid., 7.

[5] John Zizioulas, “Communion and Otherness,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 38, no.  4 (1994): 349.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 350.

[8] Ibid.

[9] James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 215.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., 92, 215.

Homo Liturgicus

Well, I finally just finished up an amazing book that I started back in January. I need to thank my newest sister-in-law for providentially selecting this book for my Christmas present from a list of nearly 100 books on my Amazon wish list – not sure how you did that Amanda, but good choice! The book is one that I’ve blogged about before, and that I really should blog about a bit more: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith. The main idea of the book goes like this:

  • Human beings are liturgical creatures and not just thinking or believing ones; you are what you love and not, primarily, what you think.
  • Practices – the things we do – shape our desires. The end, the goal, the telos, of our lives is oriented by what we do day in and day out. The shape of our desires reveals our definition, or our vision, of the good life.
  • We participate in “liturgies” all the time – going to the mall, attending a sports game, or going to college. These seemingly “secular” and “neutral” practices are actually forming us into the kind of people who desire a specific vision of the good life; one that is antithetical to the Kingdom of God.
  • Christianity is not primarily a set of beliefs or a worldview, but rather “an encounter, a love story; it is an event.” What we think and believe as Christians is born out of what we do and this raises the stakes for what wedoin Christian worship.
  • By analyzing the common practices of Christian worship (the stuff we usually think of when we hear “liturgy”), we can articulate a Christian worldview. Worship should be seen as a counter-formation to the secular liturgies that vie for our hearts.
  • Finally, this has implications for “Christian education.” The usual goal of Christian education is to develop the same kind of students as non-Christian education, only with a “Christian perspective.” This results in students who act the same as their peers and who still desire a life that is antithetical to the Kingdom. Instead, “Christian education” should be deeply connected to the formative practices of the Church. Its goal should be formation; not information.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this book. It really has me excited in a lot of ways. I could not recommend it enough!

 

believe INTO[εισ] me

I’ve never been much for new year’s resolutions. If you have a goal, why put it off until January? Having said that, I’ll just go ahead and claim this post as my new year’s resolution – mostly because I happened to be thinking about it over the past week, which was the start of the new year. Good timing I guess.

I got this book for Christmas from my favorite soon-to-be sister-in-law: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith. Honestly, I had forgotten that I had even added it to my Amazon wish list (which is growing exponentially), but I’m glad that I did. I haven’t even made it through the introduction yet and I’m already excited.

The book examines how what we DO informs what we THINK. Smith asserts that the Church has been dominated by “worldview thinking” which is built upon the belief that human beings are primarily thinking beings. The emphasis is that we think rightly, ie that we have sound doctrine. He does not want to get rid of this, nor does he deny the influence of our thinking capacities. However, Smith wants to present a more basic understanding of human beings which will then provide a balance to our obsession with “worldview.” Basically, he says that our thinking arises from our material, embodied practices. The things we do everyday, or often – like going to the mall – shape and form our desires. He calls these “liturgical” practices simply because they form our desires. As indicated by the title, he wants to discuss how the Church might provide an alternative practice (alternative to practices like shopping) that will shape the people of God to desire the Kingdom. Pretty cool stuff…

You may be wondering: what on earth does that have to do with the title of this post? Well, good question. Here’s your answer: I began my first New Testament Greek class this week at Palmer. It has been pretty good so far and I’ve really enjoyed it (I’ve decided that I just love learning in general). Today, we discussed a very exciting topic… PREPOSITIONS! Exciting, I know.

Well, as we were going through the major prepositions, we came to this one: εισ [ pronounced as “ace”]. So, what does it mean? In Greek, nouns can take 4 forms. One of the forms is accusative, which just means that the noun is the direct object (I throw the ball). When εισ is used with an accusative noun, it means into but it can be translated as simply in. In general though, a preposition used with an accusative nouns implies movement in time or space and this understanding is key.

In John 14:1, Jesus says to his disciples,

Believe in God; believe also in me.

Pretty simple right? This seems like a pretty straightforward command and one that virtually all Christians accept. However, you may have noticed those pesky little prepositions. Guess what? that’s an εισ and it is used with accusative nouns (“God” and “me”). So, it implies MOVEMENT! This little preposition begs the question: is belief simply a thought that we accept or is it necessarily an action – a movement? Is Jesus commanding us to mentally affirm the idea that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, or is He commanding us to move into Him? 

Do you see the connection? In Desiring the Kingdom, Smith is asking us to consider how our practices, our ritual actions, our movements shape the way we think. Too often, we look at this verse, and our faith in general, as a mental exercise. Our brains are our gods. But could it be that our actions – what we actually do with our lives on an everyday basis – mean more than our systematic frameworks? Do our actions shape our desire more than our thoughts? I say yes. I say we need to do a LOT more thinking about how we act and move in this world so that we might move INTO Christ.

What does our liturgy (literally, the work of the people) say about what we worship? What does it say about who we believe? Our faith is not merely a mental exercise. As James subtlety reminds us: “Faith without works is dead.” I fear that we have simply taken this to mean something like, “Oh, ok, well I’ll try to help some poor people every once in awhile.” We live the same, but with a little bit of “works” sprinkled on top. Unfortunately, I don’t believe this is the kind of life Christ is calling His Church to bear. We are called to bear witness to the reality of His Kingdom on earth in every part of our lives.

In 2012, how bout we spend a little more time believing INTO Christ?