Scandal vs. Pentecost

obama-umbrella

I preached this past weekend on two songs that seem to be vying for the attention of American Christians: the song of scandal that dominates our 24 hour news cycle, and the song of Pentecost through which the Holy Spirit uses God’s people to testify to His deeds of power. The reason that we can’t hear the song of Pentecost is because we’re so thoroughly immersed in the song of scandal. Think about where your mind was this past week and what you watched and shared on social media. Were you testifying to God’s deeds of power or were you sharing pictures of Umbrella-gate or another scandal? To tune into the song of Pentecost means assuming that we are surrounded by prophets and that each of us has a prophetic vocation. Listen to find out more:

Which do you like better? Scandal or changing the world?

ctwSeveral months ago, someone from the United Methodist communications office emailed me to see if I could blog about the Methodist “Imagine No Malaria” campaign. She gave me statistics about how many kids in Africa die from malaria each year and tried to make a case for it being an important enough issue for me to write about. To my discredit, I didn’t take her up on the offer. Why? Because campaigns against malaria and the other quiet, methodical ways that God’s people change the world aren’t sexy enough. They just don’t get blog hits the way that scandals do! But this weekend, Methodist churches around the world will be doing a coordinated missions push called Change the World in which the world will be changed through hundreds of thousands of humble, unglamorous acts of Christian servanthood, even if people like me aren’t paying attention because we’re wrapped up in our favorite scandals. Continue reading

The sad irony of the IRS and AP scandals

There has never been a time when somebody in our government was not misbehaving in some kind of way, whether it’s overthrowing democratically elected presidents of other countries or tailoring legislation to fill the pockets of campaign donors. The latest misbehavior has involved the surveillance of the Associated Press by the Justice Department as part of an investigation of leaks of classified information and the targeted scrutiny of conservative political “non-profits” by the IRS. The sad irony in these incidents is that the government is behaving undemocratically and very clumsily in response to issues that are legitimately undermining our democracy. Continue reading

752 and the messianic longing of Scandal

scandal-123Since my wife is addicted to Scandal, I watched it with her last night while I was reading the last few chapters of my friend Jonathan Martin’s newly released book Prototype, in which he argues that Jesus is the prototype of authentic humanity. The juxtaposition of Jonathan’s beautiful words on the page and the profound human brokenness on the screen was overwhelming. Throughout the Scandal episode, a character named Huck who has been severely traumatized by incredible wickedness is in a trance uttering the number 752 over and over again. Wrapped up in the mystery of that number is the basic pathos of the human condition that I believe the Christian gospel addresses, especially in the way that my brother Jonathan presents it in his book. Continue reading

Dinesh D’Souza and the revelation of God’s wrath

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). That is the fault-line that I try to follow whenever I write about a public figure’s sin, especially a brother in Christ. Delighting in evil is cynicism; rejoicing with the truth is prophecy. I am often a cynic rather than a prophet, and I have a very difficult time discerning between the two. Dinesh D’Souza is someone towards whom I feel a lot of wrath, some of which God has put into my heart and some of which is my sinful flesh. D’Souza has been a key player in what I call the outrage industrial complex, the group of pundits and professional hyperventilators who have seduced a large number of evangelical Christians with a form of ideological pornography that has poisoned the witness of our church. So I think it’s legitimate to say that I “rejoiced with the truth” to learn that D’Souza was caught attending a family values conference with his mistress and forced to resign his presidency of King’s College as a result. And I think that events like this are how God reveals His wrath against His people so that they can repent of misrepresenting Him before He has to up the ante. Continue reading