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Create your own religion. (Easy steps from Jimmi Hendrix)

"Music is my religion." A famous quote by a famous guy.

So famous in fact that I found it written on the inside of a lid of a gel container I bought a little while ago. I'd never been so deeply inspired by a hair product.

I wondered how you could call something a religion without the presence of a 'God', but the concept is well confirmed by the almighty treble clef (also the awkward bass clef) tattooed on all of the wrists.

It's not uncommon for many, including myself, to dive into music as though it defines, in order to define, our identity.

Integrating Life and Faith

On Preaching to Myself

This morning, I sat through church, pretty convicted the whole time. Pastor Craig talked about the church of Smyrna and the suffering of believers. One of the questions he had to ask was why we as the American church are not suffering nearly as much as the church in the rest of the world. Think about the people killed in Pakistan after their church was bombed. Or about the people in Westgate Mall questioned if they were Muslims and shot if they were not. That is persecution. That is suffering. That is tribulation. Losing my keys this morning is not a "trial". #richandspoiledpeopleproblems

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus, Paul, and others testify that Christians will suffer. We are called to follow in Jesus' footsteps. His footsteps are bloody, sweaty prints that lead into the valley of the shadow of death far more than they lead to the victory of the mountaintops or the respite of the river bank. A concept I thought up while reading Mark 10:32-45 is that service creates suffering. True service of God and others leads some to the cross but it also reveals the true threat to the forces of evil. Jesus served by healing the sick and hopeless in the streets almost everywhere He went. He came in the form of a servant. We are called to follow in His footsteps. The apostles did, and it led to tremendous suffering. The church at Smyrna did, and they suffered for it. Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, was one among the many that suffered and were martyred for following Christ in that city. As I sat in the pew, I thought, where is my suffering? Where is our church's suffering? Why are we not threats to forces of evil? Perhaps we aren't following in Christ's footsteps like we should. Perhaps we are not serving others or the cause of Christ enough to warrant the devil's opposition.

Enough of this "perhaps" language, I pretty much know that is the case in my own life and in the American church. The church is not suffering because the church is not following in the serving. I am not really suffering because I am not really serving.

So, in my GraceGroup (basically a Sunday School class about the message), people started giving their opinions on what the problem is with the American church. One person said part of the problem was infighting among Christians about little theological issues. Another said Christians are too busy judging others to reach out to others. Both were good point, but I tried to think down to the heart of the issue and I think I have got it. The reason why the church is not serving and the reason why the church is not suffering is because people in church have not effectively integrated life and faith.

In a culture heavily influenced by Post-Modernism, the fact that we have this problem should not be too surprising. In Post-Modernism, truth and faith have nothing to do with each other. When evolutionary theory was forced upon society, it all forced upon society a hopelessness of world of random chance with no morals or meaning and only mayhem. People did not like this hopeless existence. So, philosophers developed the idea that faith is post-rational. Basically, religion and faith are things that are beyond the realm of science and can only be made true in your mind. That train of thought essentially disconnected faith with the rational living we are all so accustomed to. For instance, my dorm room carpet is pretty dirty right now. In order to clean up the carpet, I vacuum it. The dirt and the cereal dust from my snacking gets pulled up by the spinning sweeper and the lower air pressure created inside the vacuum. I vacuum because it makes sense. I do not simply choose to believe in my heart that my floor is actually clean and that my room is actually tidy in order to make it so. It does not work that way. Cleaning my carpet is not post-rational. It does not defy logic. Its cleanness is, in fact, governed by the logic that if I do not vacuum it, it more dirt and cereal dust will accumulate to make the situation worse no matter what I believe. I am going to take a break now to collect my thoughts while I vacuum this carpet....

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