Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Excerpt #4 - Conveniently Useful

So here's yet another excerpt from my book in progress. Please feel free to comment and let me know if this is worth the time and paper its printed one.

Conveniently Useful

A lot of the time I can feel pretty jaded and angry.

Maybe it’s in my genetics.

Maybe it’s in my environment.

I feel jaded toward how selfishly we all can act at times. And these days I find myself especially fed up with the church (small c).

I want to go on the record, first and foremost, saying that the Church can be a beautiful thing when practiced as Jesus taught. The Church can be a force to be reckoned with in our world.

However, too often the church (again, small c) is more concerned with its rules, theological differences, decorations and sanctuary color schemes, constitutions, worship styles, politics, and determining who’s in and out.

When I think of all of this, one verse in particular comes to mind…”Jesus wept.”

Think of all the time spent on these meaningless things when the world suffers from genocide, poverty, famine, injustice, plagues and sickness, terrorism, rape, exploitation, extinction of creation, the list goes on and on.

Perhaps the world suffers because we have yet to learn how to love as Jesus taught.

When is the last time you attended a church council or town hall meeting to discuss our need and mandate to address and work at solving these problems?

No idea? Me either.

So I suppose this is my ranting song to get these thoughts off my chest.

Please bear with me. defines Conveniently as: suitable or agreeable to the needs or purpose; well-suited with respect to facility or ease in use; favorable, easy, or comfortable for use.

Now imagine “Conveniently” as an adjective to describe a person.

Isn’t it negative?

Have you ever thought of “someone” as being convenient?

Someone that meets your needs sounds a lot like a slave, sounds like a person in bondage, sounds like a victim of sorts.

If you haven’t done it on purpose, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve done it on accident.

It’s the selfish thing we do to use people, things, and ideas to our benefit when we don’t have a true commitment or tie to that object. “Object” being the operative word, as something or someone that’s convenient; they lose all sense of humanity. It’s something I’m guilty of, and I think we all are at some point, whether it’s the church, God, our families, or our friends, we objectify that which we can use.

On a personal level, it’s the objectification of someone that I believe is most de-humanizing. It’s the objectification of the individual that makes lust and pornography so ugly. It’s using someone for one reason and one reason only. When a woman is sold into sex, she loses her humanity and sense of hope, because she is an object of convenience. She is used over and over and discarded when something better comes along. You use it, and you lose it.

It’s sad and disgusting.

And what’s the saddest about all of this is that I do it on a daily basis with my Creator.

Sometimes I trivialize God to a slot machine and away goes all of my reverence, love, and respect toward Him.

God then becomes the forgotten.

God becomes my slave, for my purpose, my gain, and my lust.

And today, there are thriving churches and pastors all over that preach a health and wealth gospel. Somehow and somewhere, the Good News has been diluted to no more than, “If you pray more and you tithe more, you’ll be happy and rich!” And I couldn’t disagree more with those messages.

That’s not what the Good News promises at all.

The Good News does say we can have peace and abundant life and freedom in Christ. But me praying more and more and throwing in a couple extra bucks in the offering plate on Sunday doesn’t grant me God’s favor over those that don’t. It’s an easy message for lazy churches, lazy pastors, and lazy people altogether – that God is only in the good times.

How about this? God is.

God is with us in everything – good, bad, ugly, devastating, boring, uplifting, and mundane.

God is present always!

I get it, it’s easy to know God and feel closeness in the toughest of times. When we have nothing else or no one else to run to, the obvious choice is God. We pray more than ever in these times. But what happens in our day-to-day rigmarole?

The day-to-day stuff is so often Godless.

Not on his part either.

We just forget to chase after him. We are selfish. We see about two inches in front of our faces and lose sight of the Good News that is Christ, His Kingdom, His presence always, His love and provision.

Thus, God becomes conveniently useful.

And once something better comes along, God is simply discarded. And what’s better is that God loves so purely that he’ll hear us and take us back again. So we can use and abuse God time and time and time again.

I do it all the time.

So here I wrote about it in a song, Conveniently Useful.

Remember the man
that seems to do no wrong
never walks the like that leads astray
perhaps he speaks a truth in words

Loved by few and feared by others
still some only saw hate
this man of 2000 years still speaks

But I only go to and sometimes listen

when he's conveniently useful

Cause what was done, was done long ago

Today a faith makes me feel weak
not thinking for myself
being educated means i'm not a child

Every now and then my ignorance fails
And I regress
Now safe and sound, regained by faith
By that man



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