(In The Life Of The Church)
The Idolatry Plaguing America
This week as I was preparing my sermon, which is on prayer, I reread some of Kyle’s book on prayer. In the introduction he explores the idea that we’ve all been handed scripts. Prayer, he suggests, is often one form of a script we’ve inherited. In the spirit of self-deprecation Kyle offers three scripted prayers from previous expressions of his own discipleship. The third he calls “death by cliché.” It’s clever, picking on some of the sentiments you’ve likely heard over the course of your evangelical existence. There in the middle of the prayer was this, “help me stand for something so I don’t fall for everything.”
There are number of ways to parse “stand” and some of those understandings can be healthy. My experience with this phrase usually occurred in heated discussion when an individual’s sense of security was being threatened. In that environment, the confession “we must stand for something or we’ll fall for everything” was not healthy. It was a defense mechanism aimed at stifling discussion.
At first glance it seems that Christian faith should be about the business of certainty. We must be certain about what we believe. After all, some Christians have died pretty brutal deaths because of their beliefs. Wouldn’t it be a tragic if at the end of the day they were uncertain about the beliefs for which they were dying? And how about our creed? For thousands of years the church has confessed “we believe … we believe … we believe …”
At this point I should acknowledge that there’s an entire philosophical discussion about the word 'certainty' that I’m aware of, but not familiar enough with to include here. In that regard readers should understand that I’m talking the popular version of the same idea. Let me put this out there, I think certainty has become the newest form of idolatry in Christian faith. I define idolatry as anything that gives us the kind of life what we were designed to get exclusively from our relationship with God. Lest readers are feeling appalled let me add this nuance. I don’t think Christian faith is about certainty, but I do believe we are called to be a people of convictions.
My definition of conviction would be this: a belief that you are passionate about. I have deep convictions that Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. Conviction allows me to move around the world with direction, but simultaneously lets me hold my belief humbly. Conviction allows for the understanding that the Spirit works with me and through me despite my not having perfect belief. Conviction allows for me to believe in Jesus as I continually see Him anew from fresh perspectives. Certainty does not. Certainty led the church to believe that the earth was at the center of the universe while they tortured people for disagreeing. Certainty led Christians on crusades in which they murdered thousands of innocent people. Certainty destroys faith when threatened with change.
So why am I taking the time to pick on certainty? A few weeks ago when I preached on vulnerability I talked extensively about Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. In it she shares that we are scared of vulnerability so we compensate for that fear by numbing ourselves. As a result she points out that we are the most “medicated, obese, addicted, and in debt adult cohort in American history.” If you numb the fearful stuff (shame, rejection, exposure) Brown argues you also numb the good parts of vulnerability (joy, happiness, acceptance).
Brown suggests that there is another way of dealing with the fear of vulnerability. I did not mention it in my sermon, but I do want to here. In response to our fear of vulnerability we develop a need for certainty. We take deep comfort from the notion that we can’t be wrong and that our suppositions can’t be upset by new experiences or information.
My proposal is that in response the visceral world of politics, religion and public opinion we do away with certainty and celebrate our shared conviction that Jesus is Lord. This is the faith of the Church.
Special Thank You
We did it, we are officially 21 now! We hope everyone had a good time at the party, and you were all safe getting home. We say thanks to a couple of groups of people: First, let us thank Adair McGregor, Dilan Braddock, Kelsey Lawson, and Bridget Heins for being a part of the planning team. This committee worked hard to help pull off the party, so give them a hug when you see them. Second, we would like to thank Betsy Bracken for making the delicious cupcakes, Jacob Robinson for making videos, Katie Allison for putting together the slideshow, and Graham Dodd for taking pics. Lastly, we want to thank everyone who helped with set-up, those who stayed to help clean, and those who gave of their time in so many ways. Thank you to everyone who played a part in making Sunday special for this community. We can’t wait to celebrate our 42nd!
Renovation of the Heart SS Class
If you are in the Renovation of the Heart Sunday school class please email firstname.lastname@example.org for updates on the book and quotes for class.
Meet Our Newest HR Member
Ross Van Dyke
family: Beautiful wife Hannah, 18 month old son Luke, & one baby on the way due in June, a.k.a “Clarence"
tv show(s) i love: Seinfeld, True Detective(Season 1), Homeland, House of Cards & Vanderpump Rules
hobby(ies): Hiking/Backpacking, BBQ & Water Volleyball
favorite bible verse, book chapter: Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever"
best restaurant in Waco: Taqueria El Crucero
something you might not know about me: I was an Eagle Scout.
UBC Giving Statements
If you gave money to UBC in the 2015 calendar year a statement of your giving will be available to pick up after church in the foyer on Sunday January 24th and Sunday January 31st. Statements not picked up on those two dates will be mailed the following Monday.
Parents Night Out
Are you ready to pull your hair out? Would you love nothing more than to go to the bathroom without anyone else accompanying you? Does the perfect Christmas sound like a two hour nap with no one screaming "mom!" We have great news for you. Next Friday February 5th UBC will be hosting a parents night out from 6-9. Interested participants should sign up by emailing email@example.com.
Work is Worship
Greeters: Marygayle and the Blaylocks
Coffee Makers: Carson & Ryan
Mug Cleaners: Kaylee & Ashley
- Sunday Sermon: "Reclaiming A Previous Version of Yourself: Prayer" Matthew 6:5-15
- Love, Love, Love Feast, 2-14-16 @ 6:00
- Empty Nesters after church lunch at Baris on 2-21-16. For more information email kim @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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