What does your worldview do for the world?

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Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT)

Worldview is critical to our thinking if we want to reach everyone, everywhere with the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward. So it’s important that we check in from time to time on how we are doing with our own personal worldview. The worldview most commonly associated with Christians today does not serve our vision, so we have to be smart.

Worldview is not a battleground. It is not “our” worldview versus “their” worldview. Nor is it our goal to get everyone to have a Christian worldview. Before there is a right or a wrong worldview — before there is a Christian worldview — there is your worldview, and your worldview is the most important.

Here are some worldview questions to think about:

Do you have a worldview that promotes fear of the world or a worldview that promotes curiosity and adventure?

Do you have a worldview that fosters observation or categorization?

Do you have a worldview that emphasizes grace or judgment in the world?

Does your worldview have you generally seeing strangers as friends or as enemies?

Does your worldview belittle others, or make those who disagree with you out to be stupid? (As in: I’m right; you’re an idiot.)

What does your worldview tell you about those who are different from you?

Does our worldview have us all thinking alike as believers? Should it? (If you answered this in the affirmative, then go back to the top and start over.)

Does your worldview make you combative or conciliatory?

Does your worldview enrage or appease? (“Blessed are the peacemakers.”)

Does your worldview divide you from or bring you together with others?

Does your worldview create bridges or walls in the world?

Does your worldview seek common ground with other worldviews, or does it magnify differences?

Is there a biblical worldview? Well that depends on what you mean by a biblical worldview. If it means you look at the world in light of broad biblical concepts such as sin and redemption, law and grace, then yes, there is a biblical worldview. If by biblical worldview you mean primarily looking at society in light of cultural things like abortion, gay marriage and religious freedom (which usually means freedom for our religion, not everyone else’s religion, too, as it should), then no, because these are extra-biblical, politically-charged issues fueled by the culture wars that have been raging for almost 30 years now. This is more of a cultural Christian worldview than it is a biblical worldview, and right now, this cultural Christian worldview is the most prevalent. It’s where almost all discussions of worldview in the Christian world end up.

I think you can see the trend towards a culturally-resistant worldview versus a culturally-relevant worldview. I believe that — for the sake of spreading the gospel of welcome: grace turned outward — we want a worldview that does not pit us against the very people we are trying to reach.

Too many are too concerned about making society compatible with Christian beliefs than in helping people to come to believe in Jesus. What good is a society that is culturally Christian if the vast majority of people in that society don’t know Jesus?

I’ll say it again because I don’t think we can say it too much: Instead of trying to make society more Christian, we need to focus on making ourselves more vitally Christian in society for the sole purpose of leading others to Christ.

Getting the world to be more “Christian” without leading people to Christ is useless, not to mention, it’s just plain selfish.

Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT)

Posted in Christianity and politics, Religious freedom, Worldview | Tagged | 2 Comments

The miracle of forgiveness

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Catch MemberPartner, Robert, from Seattle, shared with us a “sore thumb” story about forgiveness. The story was featured on TV, so it reached a large number of people and makes a statement that no sermon could ever equal. And even though it took place 14 years ago, the story is still playing on the internet. Indeed, it’s a story that’s living on and teaching still today, and here we are about to learn from it.

It’s the story about a young 20-year-old firefighter/paramedic who fell asleep at the wheel after a 24-hour day at work and crashed into a car with a young pregnant mother and her toddler. The toddler was not seriously injured but the mother and her unborn baby were killed. The firefighter was devastated. “I’m supposed to be a helper,” he said, “and here I am, causing this.”

The husband and father of the toddler, who was not present at the accident, was faced with a choice. As he called it, it was an opportunity to “demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance.” As a pastor who preached forgiveness, he chose grace.

As it turns out, this was just the beginning of the story. Two years after the day of the accident, the two men miraculously ran into each other in the parking lot of a shopping mall. They were both after condolence cards for each other. They hugged and cried and spent two hours talking, suddenly realizing there was a bond between them. Now, defying all odds, they are fast friends. Their families play together. The pastor’s new wife had a new baby on the same date the unborn child who perished in the accident was due. And the firefighter is now a big brother to that “toddler” who is now turning into a young woman as he hugs her and says, “I just want her to know that she’s loved. Throughout her whole life, I’ll be there for her, no matter what.”

This story shows what can happen in the real world when we take the high road. And this story lives on. To those who choose not to forgive, this is a “sore thumb” story. It sticks out because it is unnatural. Forgiveness is contrary to human nature. Many would say this guy is “getting away with murder” (which he did — the pastor asked the judge for the most lenient sentence possible), and what about all of us “getting away with murder” every day as we walk in God’s grace?

Like the pastor says, “forgiveness is a choice.” You don’t wait for the feeling to forgive. You choose it; everything else comes later.

To read more about this story and see the video, click on the picture above.

And a special thanks to Robert for sharing the story with us. Also, Robert wants to encourage other MemberPartners to increase their monthly contribution, and those who are not yet-MemberPartners to sign up. We are in our last week of Mike’s $500 Match, worth $1,000 of sustainable monthly income for the Catch if we make it, and we have $260 to go. Almost halfway there. If you care about the Catch, please don’t let this opportunity go by!

And a special thanks to Robert for sharing the story with us. Also, Robert wants to encourage other MemberPartners to increase their monthly contribution, and those who are not yet-MemberPartners to sign up. We are in our last week of Mike’s $500 Match, worth $1,000 of sustainable monthly income for the Catch if we make it, and we have $260 to go. Almost halfway there. If you care about the Catch, please don’t let this opportunity go by! 
 
To sign up as a MemberPartner, just click here and check the “Make this monthly” box when you enter your amount. If you are already a MemberPartner, just sign up again for the amount of increase.
Posted in Friendship, grace, grace turned outward | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Sticking out like a sore thumb

OIP-28How does it feel to be a sore thumb? Notice I said to be a sore thumb? We’ve all had a sore thumb before but I’m talking about being one.

If you care for the hurting, the hungry and the homeless, you will stick out. If you care for the immigrant, you will stick out. If you defend the defenseless, you will stick out. Whatever political side you are on, if you reach out to the other side, you will stick out. If you refuse to take part in racial slurs or ethnic jokes, you will stick out. If you find something good to say about people others perceive as bad, you will stick out. If someone tries to take the shirt off your back and you give them your coat, too, you will stick out. If you come down on the side of mercy for people who deserve punishment, you will stick out. If you give people a second chance, you will stick out. If someone forces you to go one mile and you go two, you will stick out. If you try to understand those who are different from you, you will stick out. If you do something nice for your enemy, you will stick out. If you pray for those who are against you, you will stick out. If you turn the other cheek, you will stick out.

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Posted in Christianity and politics, grace turned outward | 4 Comments

Justice, freedom and love

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I’d (hammer, ring, sing) out danger

I’d (hammer, ring, sing) out a warning

I’d (hammer, ring, sing) out love between

My brothers and my sisters

All over this land

 

It’s the hammer of justice

It’s the bell of freedom

It’s the song about love between

My brothers and my sisters

All over this land

from “The Hammer Song” by Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes

“The Hammer Song” — originally written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement in America — turned into “If I Had A Hammer” in 1962 as recorded by Peter Paul & Mary and became a banner song of the civil rights movement. (Click on picture below for a link to PP&M’s performance of the song during the historic march on Washington.) Whatever it meant politically in 1949 in support of a small, third party movement, it took on a higher calling in the ‘60s, championing three things at the top of God’s list for humanity in general — freedom, justice and love.

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The high road

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“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What an appropriate time to remember Martin Luther King. On the eve of what looks to be a bitter and contentious debate here in America, I can’t think of a better time for the example of this passionate, prophetic, even-handed, unifying voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be heard and heeded.

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Sinners “R” them (or us?)

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This has been a tough week for me. I’ve been trying to grasp and write about mercy but it’s been alluding me. Twice I’ve had to abandon my first attempt at a Catch because it didn’t get by my first critic — my wife — sending me writing well into the afternoon, which I can’t afford the time to do. I think I may have to admit I’m far more of a Pharisee than I thought. My book 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me) comes to mind. We had to add “like me” to the title to announce a personal connection with this struggle. Once a drunk, always a drunk, they say, you just stop drinking. So, once a Pharisee, always a Pharisee, you just stop judging and separating yourself from sinners.

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Posted in Dealing with sin, Friendship | Tagged | 2 Comments

Love and mercy

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Brian Wilson, mastermind of the famous Beach Boy sound, says he was in his piano room playing “What the World Needs Now” when he got the idea for his 1988 song, “Love and Mercy.” He went on to say that he poured his heart into this song and that it was the most spiritual song he has ever written. Marti and I have been thinking about that song ever since we started thinking about mercy this week. As in, “I desire mercy more than sacrifice.” I want to share that song with you today.

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Posted in God's love, grace | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Getting inside out, and letting outside in

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Thanks to Catch citizen John Fagliano for the following quote from Tim Keller in line with yesterday’s Catch about God desiring mercy over sacrifice.

Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church.

That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.

Hearing Keller’s comments brought to mind an experience I had last summer attending a concert at Hollywood Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California by a singer/songwriter friend of mine from early Jesus Music days. I thought it would be a fun surprise reunion having not seen him for years. I took with me a professor from Biola University whom I knew loved that era of music. It turned out to be everything I hoped but there was a unique twist to the evening as well.

As we drove into the church campus, we passed under a freeway overpass that had been turned into tent city for the homeless. There must have been 20 or 30 people camped there less than a block from the church. It created a stark contrast — the juxtaposition of tent city next to the staid brick Gothic structure established in 1923. It was the broken and marginalized up against the buttoned-down.

On our way home that night, the prof and I talked about what it would have been like to invite the homeless people outside to the free concert inside. They would have loved it, and the people inside would have loved them. Barriers would have been broken down. Us/them thinking would have been defeated. The stereotypes Keller spoke of would have evaporated. But why didn’t we? Why didn’t I? I thought of it, but talked myself out of it by not wanting to disrupt my friend’s concert. However, the real reason was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of hostility from people less fortunate than me. Fear of crossing the line.

We’ve got to get over this, people. We are all one big “We.” There is no “us” and “them.”  We are all in need — the people in the tents, and the people in the pews. We are all much more the same than we are different. We need to get the inside out and let the outside in. Let the church truly be the church of saved sinners — diverse but so much the same.

In a poignant commentary on this situation, one of my favorite songs by the songwriter from that concert is about Jesus clearing the temple of hucksters of religious wares and it ends with these words: “Jesus, He came on through here today and asked everyone to leave.”

Jesus drove the religious hypocrites out and brought in the needy, the sinners and the marginalized. When we welcome these, we welcome everyone.

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