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SGtoDC: Continued

April 19, 2010

I really do. That is why doing church and being church can be so hard. What is a “good” church grade? What expectations should we really have? We have to have some don’t we? Without any won’t we do nothing? I think part two of section three’s introductory post should do the trick. I know, sounds like a form from the IRS.

My thesis is that we have two ways of thinking about expectations, what I would call head theology and then what I would describe as practical theology. Head theology is what we know the Bible says and I would contrast this with practical theology which is how we actually live our lives and measure success. As you can see from the first part I believe our practical theology says we should get B’s and A’s and if we must a C but only a C for a semester or nine weeks but never for any extended period of time.

As a side note, I also understand some churches just don’t care. They measure nothing except by how things have always been done. If everything stays the same then they are getting an A. I understand certain groups of believers work that way but that is simply not the focus of these posts. I’m talking about people who want to get things done, work to accomplish something for God’s glory who think I must be doing something wrong because if I was doing it right I would be getting A’s. I’m thinking someone has to understand what I mean.

I think our head theology says we are broken and creation is broken and sin has altered creation irrevocably until Jesus return. I think our head theology says we will always struggle with sin and doing the right thing and while this is no excuse to continue in sin it certainly means we better get that we will struggle with everything not working. That is our head theology, it is what the Bible teaches but here is the deal, I don’t think it is our practical, I live by theology.

Ever wonder why no matter how hard you try you have a child who still leaves his underwear on the floor in the bathroom? Is that TMI? You can charge them to pick them up or restrict them or do any number of time honored or book inspired disciplines. Still nothing changes. I know, someone is out there is saying not my kid. Neat as can be, always had everything picked up. I was raised with two other brothers. Oldest brother was an organized neat freak, became a numbers cruncher. I, not so much. I was the clothes on the bathroom floor guy. How did my parents go so wrong.

Someone else is saying well you should be doing X, it worked for us. So you are saying that there is nothing that your child does repeatedly no matter what you do? Nothing? If so you don’t believe a word I say so it really won’t matter.

To tell you the truth every time I charge my son or restrict his privileges I can’t help but think about a ritual in my house growing up. Our house had a basement and we would be downstairs and you would hear dad yell your name followed by a thud, thud, thud. It was your shoes coming down the stairs. I didn’t leave my shoes upstairs because I didn’t love my parents. It didn’t happen because I had no desire to be obedient, no it just happened. A long way to make a point I know.

If we were really honest we would confess that we all struggle with some of the same bad choices, they are called sin. Eating too much? Wasting too much time?

Why live in denial? We live in a broken world and even when we do something the right way with the right intentions with the right people involved things go wrong. The world is broken. This is the very reason we cling to Christ. None of us are truly A+ students.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:5-10

But I don’t think our practical theology likes to admit this. Every ministry has issues. Every place problems. I just don’t think we like that this is true.

A classic example comes from my Master’s work. One class contrasted the reign of David and Solomon. The professor said that at times ministry can be like David’s reign. David was not allowed to see the glory of the Temple. His rule was marked by conflict and battles. He contrasted David’s with that of Solomon. He talked about the fact that David wanted to build the Temple but it was Solomon who was able to witness its glory. Solomon’s kingdom equaled success and things going well.

That works as an example but does it play fast and loose with the facts? Solomon had a woman problem. Solomon had a money problem. He built alters to other gods. It made for a great class but it ignored all of the facts.

Some people may think I’m a little negative. That I can bring people down but what is down about helping people have proper expectations? What is bad about trying to get people to match their practical theology with what the Bible teaches instead of what some business consultant thinks? Trust me I have read the books.

I want to leave you with this last thought before I tell you what I think we should really do. In the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25 Jesus doesn’t give everyone the same amount of talents. He identifies the fact that we are all at different levels. Wouldn’t it be smarter to understand what talents we have received instead of trying to copy what someone else has? Is it right to assume we all have the same amount of talents? Whose books are we most likely to read and how would this impact what we do?

I am reading a book about the virtues of micro-financing. I read another book about a church who read a book about micro-financing and decided to invested $40,000. Not a dime of the $40,000 was repaid. Too many Sicilian choices.

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