Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Grenade

A new recruit went into training at Paris Island, hoping to become a marine. He was one of those young men who seemed to be a bit out of step with the norm, and he easily became the subject of ridicule for those who enjoy picking on off beat people.

In the particular barracks to which this young marine was assigned, there was an extremely high level of meanness. The other young men did everything they could to make a joke of the new recruit and to humiliate him. One day, someone came up with the bright idea that they could scare the daylights out of this young marine by dropping a disarmed hand grenade onto the floor and pretending it was about to go off. Everyone else knew about this and they were all ready to get a big laugh.

The hand grenade was thrown into the middle of the floor, and the warning was yelled, "It's a live grenade, it's a live grenade! It's about to explode!"

They fully expected that the young man would get hysterical and perhaps jump out the window. Instead, the young marine fell on the grenade, hugged it to his stomach, and yelled to the other men in the barracks, "Run for your lives! Run for your lives! You'll be killed if you don't!"

The other marines froze in stillness and shame. They realized that the one they had scorned was the one ready to lay down his life for them.

And so it was with Jesus.

(Taken from Tony Campolo's book "Let me tell you a story")

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monk Warriors

For those of you who love Randy Harris and his unique perspective on the Bible, he now has a blog, several actually, so you can feed on his insights into spiritual formation.

The first is

The other is dedicated to a covenant group of young men that Randy is discipling:

The question I'm begging to ask from the latter site is, "What does it take to be a 'Monk Warrior?'"

Seems they anticipated my question by providing a statement describing their committment to their covenant relationship. It is called the "Neophyte Rule" and it goes like this (emphasis is theirs):

Specifically, as a NEOPHYTE MONK WARRIOR, I make the following vows to God and my brothers.

1. I will read the Sermon on the Mount 4 times a week and begin to commit it to memory.

2. I will meet for prayer, confession and encouragement 2 times a week with another monk warrior.

3. I will treat Everyone with respect as ones created in the image and likeness of God. I will value people over technology.

4. In every situation, I will seek to do acts of service, take the lowest place, place others’ needs above my own.

5. I will cultivate the discipline of a warrior. I will do my part to improve our physical benchmarks and excel in school. I will practice the “One”—giving my all. I WILL NOT WHINE.

6. I will cultivate the contemplative life of a monk, by practicing silence, solitude, and fasting. I will enter the dangerous way of prayer. Specifically, I commit to fast one day a week and spend 15 minutes a day in silence before God.

7. As Jesus taught us, I will be a bearer of love, peace, and reconciliation, to those who are Jesus followers and to those who are not—especially to those who in our world are “the least of these.” I will participate in some small way in “The coming of the Kingdom” everyday.

I ask my brothers to hold me graciously accountable to this rule and I pledge to do the same for them, for the sake of the kingdom of God and truly meaningful life.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

No conviction

The first chapter of The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins is a parable called "No Conviction."

In a world where following Christ is decreed to be a subversive and illegal activity you have been accused of being a believer, arrested, and dragged before a court.

You have been under clandestine serveillance for some time now, and so the prosecution has been able to build up quite a case against you. They begin the trial by offering the judge dozens of photographs that show you attending church meetings, speaking at religious events, and participating in various prayer and worship services. After this, they present a selection of items that have been confiscated from your home: religious books that you own, worship CD's and other Christian artifacts. They then step up the pace by displaying many of the poems, pieces of prose, and journal entries that you had lovingly written concerning your faith. Finally, in closing, the prosecution offers your Bible to the judge.

This is a well-worn book with scribbles, notes, drawings, and underlinings throughout; evidence, if it were needed, that you had read and reread the sacred text many times.

Throughout the case you have been sitting silently in fear and trembling. You know deep in your heart that with the large body of evidence that has been amassed by the prosecution you face the possibility of a long imprisonment or even execution. At various times throughout the proceedings you have lost all confidence and have been on the verge of standing up and denying Christ. But while this thought has plagued your mind throughout the trial, you resist the temptation and remain focused.

Once the prosecution has finished presenting their case the judge proceeds to ask if you have anything to add, but you remain silent and resolute, terrified that if you open your mouth, even for a moment, you might deny the charges made against you. Like Christ, you remain silent before your accusers. In response you are led outside to wait as the judge ponders your case.

The hours pass slowly as you sit under guard in the foyer waiting to be summoned back.

Eventually a young man in uniform appears and leads you into the courtroom so that you may hear the verdict and receive word of your punishment. Once you have been seated in the dock the judge, a harsh and unyielding man, enters the room, stands before you, looks deep into your eyes and begins to speak.

"Of the charges that have been brought forward I find the accused not guilty."

"Not guilty?" your heart freezes. Then, in a split second, the fear and terror that had moments before threatened to strip your resolve are swallowed up by confusion and rage.

Despite the surrounding, you stand defiantly before the judge and demand that he give an account concerning why you are innocent of the charges in light of the evidence.

"What evidence?" he replies in shock.

"What about the poems and prose that I wrote?" you reply.

"They simply show that you think of yourself as a poet, nothing more."

"But what about the services I spoke at, the times I wept in church and the long, sleepless nights of prayer?"

"Evidence that you are a good speaker and actor, nothing more." replied the judge. "It is obvious that you deluded those around you, and perhaps at times you even deluded yourself, but this foolishness is not enough to convict you in a court of law."

"But this is madness!" you shout. "It would seem that no evidence would convince you!"

"Not so," replies the judge as if informing you of a great, long forgotten secret.

"The court is indifferent toward your Bible reading and church attendance; it has no concern for worship with words and a pen. Continue to develop your theology, and use it to paint pictures of love. We have no interest in such armchair artists who spend their time creating images of a better world."

"We exist only for those who would lay down that brush, and their life, in a Christ-like endeavor to create a better world. So, until you live as Christ and his followers, until you challenge this system and become a thorn in our side, until you die to yourself and offer your body to the flames, until then my friend, you are no enemy of ours."