Mike Cope's blog

Friday, September 24, 2004

Have you seen the new Jaguar commercials? They're trying to sell their newest cars by appealing to four of the seven deadly sins: lust, envy, wrath, and pride. This is the funny thing: we still try to think of our country as a "Christian nation" in the most superficial ways, while we promote luxury items by appealing openly to things that historically Christianity has called "deadly sins"! (Note: This isn't to pick on Jaguar. They're just trying to sell cars. But some marketing firm has convinced them that in the USA the way to sell cars is to appeal to lust, envy, wrath, and pride.) It does the church no favors to live with the illusion that we're a "Christian nation." It weakens the church, for Christianity is best lived against the grain. (To see what happens to the strength of the church when Christianity is commonly accepted as the national religion, look back to the time of Constantine. Not a pretty scene--even though Christianity was declared the official religion of the empire.) Opening our eyes to realize that this is a post-Christian environment will help us return to our missional nature. Instead of positioning ourselves for a larger share of "the market" (by catchy billboards, bumper stickers, yellow pages ads, etc.) we'll have to live out and proclaim the faith that we believe. That wouldn't be a bad thing, would it? And this will open our eyes to greater concerns than whether or not our taxes will be cut. We'll realize that 8000/day are dying of AIDS in Africa; that 300,000 are left with nothing after the hurricane in Haiti (and that this is just a step below where normal life in Haiti is); that there is a genocide going on in Western Sudan; and that babies are being abandoned in many places of the world. Open our eyes, Lord. Someone who was visiting at Highland recently filled out an "encouragement card" for me in which they screamed: WHY ARE YOU PRAYING THAT THE KINGDOM WILL COME WHEN IT'S ALREADY HERE? I understand the (poor) theology that is behind that question. But for the love of God, open your eyes!! How can we blindly believe that the kingdom has come and God's will been done on earth as it is in heaven? Yes, the kingdom has broken in. But it is certainly not yet fully realized.

30 Comments:

  • If you're looking for an Amen, you've got it.

    I've signed on to the "missional church" idea long ago, and am interested and excited to see where it leads the Highland church.

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 9/24/2004 06:46:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I can't thank you enough for today's entry.

    That's about all I've got. But thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    By Blogger Terry Austin, at 9/24/2004 06:47:00 AM  

  • Great thoughts this morning. Jaguar should sell the hood ornaments to kids.

    It seems that we as Americans have been justice to what Martin Luther said when he stated that there are two kingdoms in this world: kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. Acting as an individual, we are to follow the Sermon on the Mount but in regards to living within our American culture/government we should hold high the standards set forth by temporal offices. But Clark, if we did that chaos would be created. Aren't we promised redemption?

    We seperate the secular and the spiritual in our lives. We can be Christians, but if we need to service as executioners, then so be it. My response is "NO!" All of life is sacred must be lived out missionally. I'm called to live for others, yes, but to see beyond my own society (USA) and recongize that maybe I'm part of the problem. Is my faith useful to this world?

    By viewing life as whole, not seperate, I wonder how we would view war, healing (body and spirit), family life, church, business, ethics, etc. Props to Bono for being a useful person and creating awareness of the AIDS problem in Africa and India and Radiohead for advocating clean drinking water in Hiati. Way to go rockers.

    By Blogger c, at 9/24/2004 06:48:00 AM  

  • I'm about to encounter the same in Memphis, I'm afraid. Thanks for your words.

    By Blogger RPorche, at 9/24/2004 07:13:00 AM  

  • Ealier this summer I was preaching at a church in east Texas in which I made a comment that Africa now had more Christians and more churches than America. The faces in the audience were distraught. One woman said to me, "This is so sad, because God gave us this nation." The Kingdom of God is advancing and this doesn't call for sorrow, but for praise to God. Oh God, may your kingdom come and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

    By Blogger Josh Ross, at 9/24/2004 07:41:00 AM  

  • Those who say we should not pray "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" must not live in the world I see. Wherever there is prejudice, God's will is needed there. When a husband hits his wife, God's will needs to prevail there. When injustice of any kind reigns, God's will doesn't.

    I can only assume that one who thinks God's will exists on earth has avoided the real world. They must live in Germantown, Plano, Suwanee, Margate or Beacon Hill. And perhaps even in those places, the absence of God's will on earth as it is heaven is most glaring. God help us!

    By Blogger MarkS, at 9/24/2004 08:57:00 AM  

  • Where are the missional preachers? The soul of preaching has been lost to the paradigm of promotion. Where is the "surgical work of scriptural exegesis" being applied to the heart and soul and mind of complacent Christians and clueless seekers?

    It is time for preachers to be bold and courageous, to trust God for their message instead of www.seriesofthemonth.com (Makeover, Survior, Traveling Light, etc.)

    Preachers, your congregates need an original message from your heart, discovered through prayer and meditation and empowering exegesis.

    Mike, the latter is the kind of preaching I have heard when I have had the opportunity to attend Highland.

    Is streaming audio in Highland's future?

    By Blogger David Michael, at 9/24/2004 08:57:00 AM  

  • David - Streaming video in Highland's future? Have you SEEN our website? Actually . . . I'm hoping that we'll be there before too long. Plans are being, well, talked about. The problem so far has been finding volunteers who actually have time.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/24/2004 09:18:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Josh, for relating that story. It struck me with a realization that may already be obvious to most of those who have been posting today, but that hadn't really crystalized for me until just now:

    The problem isn't the "culture wars" issue that is in the headlines from time to time, in which competing interest groups are clashing over the way values shape public policy. The REAL problem is that mainstream America long ago became a post-Chrisitian/post-Modern society, and the vast majority of practicing Chrisitans SIMPLY DON'T REALIZE IT.

    What Mike marvels over, if I'm understanding him correctly, is how Christians can watch commercials that sell products by showing how "sinful" they are, and not "get it."

    It is as if the Church is in a Matrix-sleep that keeps us in the comfort of an overly romanticized/idealized world of the 1950s, while the rest of the world has evolved into something very different from what we imagine it to be.

    (Slowly "getting it" myself, I think...)

    By Blogger Matt, at 9/24/2004 09:21:00 AM  

  • Video? I said audio. I didn't expect Highland to move into the 21st century. The 20th century would be just fine! (:

    By Blogger David Michael, at 9/24/2004 09:44:00 AM  

  • Coming to Highland has been a sort of homecoming for me. After living 30 years outside this country, upon my return great frustrations showed up.

    Questions came to mind. Where are the outreach Bible studies? Where are the women's and men's Bible studies geared to the lost? Why aren't whole families hearing and accepting the word? Where is the excitment in the congregation for new souls being redeemed for God? Why are people so afraid to share their faith with others, to boldly reach out with God's power unto salvation?

    If we feel we cannot attend nor support a Billy Graham Crusade, where are the ones we DO support and take our unsaved friends to? The same goes for Greg Lowry's Harvest Crusade, et al. I've attended lectureships at both Pepperdine and ACU - but they seem to be out of the scope of understanding for anyone not raised in the CofC fellowship - where is our bold outreach?

    Don't misunderstand me - the Lectureships are wonderful and I learn so much at each one, but where are the outreach activities and lectures or am I missing them, seeking out teachers I look for year after year? Oops! Probably so. lol

    As a fellowship, we simply are not known for our, there's that word again, outreach into the community. I'm so thankful Highland has begun that journey. It will be a bumpy ride for some, but exciting and God-fulfilling for all of us, at least that's my prayer!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 9/24/2004 09:57:00 AM  

  • ----Off the subject a bit, but I wanted to share my favorite Porsche ad for the 911..."Kills bugs, fast!" ----

    I wonder if African churches will start sending missionaries to America...

    I wonder if we as Americans remember our savior was born out of the middle east...

    I wonder if God really cares who our president is...

    I wonder what Mike will blog about Saturday... ;)

    By Blogger SG, at 9/24/2004 10:04:00 AM  

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    By Blogger John, at 9/24/2004 10:25:00 AM  

  • Addendum.

    If you want to get away from the 1950s dreamworld, dig into a support ministry. Believe me, it won't take long for the romanticized scales to fall from the eyes!

    For instance, in the Single Parenting group we try to address television from all its negative aspects, how to combat them and how to put some aspects to good use.

    We talk about the physical damage done to young brains that watch too much TV, We suggest parents watch commercials with the kids, turn off the TV and discuss what the commercial is trying to do, is that aim spiritually healthy? We suggest the family sit down once a week, decide what TV is going to be watched, setting a maximum amount of time allowed - giving each member one choice a week, holding to the time decided on, and turning off the TV after the time agreed - spending more time with each other, instead of being so separated by electronics. We also suggest that computers should be placed in family or living rooms where all the family is around, especially parents, in order to supervise their activities.

    Support groups will stretch you to find solutions to nitty gritty problems, like how DO you help someone that is trying to be clean and sober, or wants to be shown how to break other addictions to unhealthy and non-God glorifying habits. You find you have to learn how to console and counsel one that has been battered or whose children have been molested. Believe me, the world is an ugly place to live and to think we have the answer of deliverance from that ugliness. How can we NOT share that Good News?

    By Blogger Kathy, at 9/24/2004 10:29:00 AM  

  • Good afternoon Mike:

    You wrote, "How can we blindly believe that the kingdom has come and God's will been done on earth as it is in heaven? Yes, the kingdom has broken in. But it is certainly not yet fully realized."

    I am not trying to be contentious, I simply seek to understand. Are you saying that you do not believe the kingdom of Christ has come?

    Your help with this is truly appreciated!

    By Blogger John, at 9/24/2004 10:34:00 AM  

  • John - Thanks for asking for more explanation. I'm saying that the prayer of Jesus is still valid (hopefully so--since Christians have prayed it for 2000 years!). God's kingdom has broken in -- but his reign is not accomplished on earth "as it is in heaven." That's why we often use the phrase "already-but-not-yet" when referring to the kingdom. It has broken in. But the kingdom (=the rule of God) has not been fully experienced here.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/24/2004 12:04:00 PM  

  • Hi Mike:

    Wow, thanks for the quick response, and explanation. I am still a little confused however. I am not familiar with the term, "broken in" as it relates to the kingdom. Don't passages like Colossians 1:13; 4:11; Rev. 1:6, etc... show the kingdom to be in it's full sense, present now? When do you believe the kingdom will be fully experienced here?

    Again, I am not trying to be contentious, I am just seeking!

    By Blogger John, at 9/24/2004 12:43:00 PM  

  • John - Your patient comments encourages me to blog more about this in the future. For now, let me suggest a source: www.edwardfudge.com/gracemails/kingdom_of_god.html.

    This is so important because it relates to the very heart and mission of God. Without a proper understanding of the Bible's "already-but-not-yet" perspective on the kingdom, we head in the wrong direction in our understanding of the church, reconciliation, mission, justice, etc.

    For now, let me just say this: yes, we believe that the "reign of God" (kingdom) has become evident through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But that "reign" is not anywhere near complete--that is, the shalom of peace, justice, celebration, and reconciliation has not fully broken through. So, we pray for God's will to be done on earth as in heaven.

    More later . . . .

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/24/2004 01:02:00 PM  

  • SG-
    African churches are already sending missionaries to America, and to Europe and to Latin America. That fact alone should serve as a wake up call to our American churches. Sort of like when I think I'm doing the dishes right, but then my wife has to come and show me how I'm not doing that good a job at all.

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 9/24/2004 02:22:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    Any chance of a guest sermon by Darrell Guder?
    Heck, I'd even take a Hunsberger or a van Gelder!

    Just askin'

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 9/24/2004 02:28:00 PM  

  • Mike, you challenge me and push the envelope almost daily. I appreciate your brutal honesty and evaluation of us as a body. As I was reading today, for some reason the following question popped into my head: "Wonder if Randy Harris or Joe Beam have a blog?!" Now, there are two others who set the bar a lot higher for us all.
    Amy in south Texas

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2004 05:23:00 PM  

  • Amy - I don't know about Joe Beam. I haven't heard about a blog he's doing. But I can pretty much assure you this: Randy Harris doesn't. That would involve actually becoming computer literate. :)

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/25/2004 05:00:00 AM  

  • My inlaws attend a Baptist church in Round Rock. Last night, I was relaying to them what I am learning about domestic missions and church planting at ACU, and informed them that Africa is now the center of the Christian world. They were stunned. My father-in-law said, "How can that be?" We are so sheltered and comfortable that we believe the lies politicized Evangelicals tell us about the origin and current state of our nation. It wasn't my inlaws' fault, they just bought into what the majority of Western Christians believe.

    African churches are sending missionaries to the United States, but sadly, few American Christians see the United States as a mission field for themselves. I've heard 80 percent unchurched statistics about the Pacific Northwest and 70-80 percent stats on the Northeast (it could be more or less, and I need to update my stats). Lord, give us a hunger for our own nation before we think about proseletyzing other nations. The fields are white -- may the Lord of the Harvest raise up harvesters!

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 9/25/2004 08:31:00 AM  

  • There really ought to be a way to type this even louder...AMEN!!!!!

    By Blogger James, at 9/25/2004 06:16:00 PM  

  • Just curious, how many here have shared their faith (explicitly) with an unchurched person in the last month (outside of the church walls)?

    By Blogger ChurchKid, at 9/25/2004 10:09:00 PM  

  • I have. Don't know if I did it well -- and actually, was about 5 weeks ago. Still hearing from the one with whom I shared -- we communicate pretty much weekly. Still hopeful and prayerful about that person's future -- don't know how God's hand will manifest itself in that individual's life -- don't know what discipleship might look like there. Is someone whose way of life and family type are markedly different from mine, and most of those with whom I associate. I'm prayerful that God will continue to open my eyes to such people and to trust that he can use me to reach them even if their lives don't look like mine ...
    (Sorry so wordy.)

    By Blogger Clarissa, at 9/26/2004 01:08:00 PM  

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    By Blogger mchristophoros, at 9/26/2004 09:32:00 PM  

  • Many of our folks would understand the Kingdom better if we said more clearly who the King is. Somehow we (including me too until recently) have missed the meaning of "Christ", "Messiah", "King of Kings and Lord of Lords", not to mention "Are you a KING?" and "MY kingdom is not of this world".

    I further (recently) understand the kingdom as being the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within the believer, and NOT the beginning of an institution called "church", whether a capital or a small "C". This was the thing which was "near", "soon to come", and certainly "good news". "I baptize you in water, but there is one coming after me who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit" is said or alluded to six times in the gospels and Acts.

    I think Paul's description of the giving of the Holy Spirit as a seal and deposit on our full redemption helps explain the "now and not yet" aspect that Mike is referring to.

    I can't get enough of this!

    By Blogger mchristophoros, at 9/26/2004 09:48:00 PM  

  • On being mission minded as a church: yesterday I heard it put a little differently than I remember, and it was a good point. Many of us attend church to be served (maintenance), while others view it as launching pad for mission outside the walls. The folks who are complaining about the elders, worship style, etc, are maintenance folks, while the mission minded typically don't--they're busy thinking about the mission, instead of the externals. Not all maintenance types are complainers, but just about all complainers are maintenance types. I thought that was good.

    When a person says "I love baseball", he could mean he loves comparing stats, getting autographs, and going to the ball park, or he could mean that he loves to get in and play the game. Are we rule-book studiers, or are we actually the ones in there playing the game?

    don

    By Blogger don, at 9/27/2004 06:24:00 AM  

  • First let me say, that I'm am a christian. However, I don't think of my nation as a Christian nation at all. It's the most culturally diverse country ever in existence.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/29/2004 10:47:00 AM  

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