How to Fix Everything That Is Wrong with Everything


In the last week, I’ve seen more talk than usual about what’s right and wrong with the contemporary Church in America and the way we Americans worship…or don’t. Some of this may be in response to Donald Miller’s confession last week that he didn’t attend church regularly (see my response “Donald Miller and the Anti-Church“).  A quick pass through the Interwebs reveals more comments on Church worship and how it’s not right. I suspect some of that is in response to Miller too.

And if I go on Facebook, I read what’s wrong with our government. I read what’s wrong with entertainment. I read what’s wrong with kids today. I read what’s wrong with the elderly.

Well, maybe not so much that last one.

Nonetheless, there’s a whole lot of wrong out there.

My first thought is that each of us needs to drill this truth into our heads:

This life is not about me.

What if every person in the United States woke up tomorrow and said to himself or herself, This life is not about me ? And what if that thought echoed through our heads the entire day and affected everything we do?

I can’t help but think everything would be changed for the better. Maybe not overnight, but soon enough.

Human self-centeredness and pride is at the root of so much that is wrong in our country, government, schools, churches, and homes. Most of the egregious wrong that happens in the world is because someone, somewhere is looking out solely for number one. What’s in it for me? has replaced E Pluribus Unum as the motto of the United States of America. We just don’t want to admit it because it looks bad. And it looks bad because there is still that “thing” deep down inside us that considers looking out for number one wrong—whenever someone else lives that way.

Oh my.

Sun & CrossThe funny thing is, This life is not about me  is at the heart of the Christian faith. Imagine if Jesus had said to the Father, “Taking on the sins of the world and dying on a cross—you know, I’m not really into doing that.” Fact is, He didn’t want to do that. But He did it anyway.

By its very nature, the cross is hard to bear. No one said it wouldn’t be.

The cross hurts? No, it downright kills. But what spring from that death is life itself

That cross is at the heart of Christianity. There’s a cross for each person who follows Jesus. The cross epitomizes This life is not about me.

If we want to fix everything that is wrong with everything, we have to start at the cross. We pick it up daily and walk in its shadow.

There is no other solution.

Unity: A Failed Prayer of Jesus?


Shortly before He was crucified for your sins and mine, Jesus prayed this prayer:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ”
—John 17:20-23 ESV

Unity gets a bad rap in some Christian circles. Being an “ecumenist” is tantamount to denying the Lord publicly, at least in the eyes of some.

But can anyone look at the Christian Church today and say, “Jesus’ prayer was answered! Just look at all the unity Christians enjoy”?

Silly question, especially given the thousands of denominations that exist.

On the list of grievous sins most Christians carry around in their heads—murder, sexual perversion, stealing, lying, envy, pride—I don’t think disunity makes it into the top 100.

Look at the importance Jesus gives unity, though! He considers it the sign by which the world knows that He was truly sent by God, proving that He wasn’t just another in the long line of self-appointed holy men spouting nice aphorisms suitable for a bumper sticker.  And that unity of those who claim to love God verifies how much God loves the people of the world too (our favorite verse, John 3:16, and all that, right?).

Doesn’t that sound like it’s of the utmost importance? Yet unity is given the shortest of all shrifts. Being seen as always being correct trumps all efforts at unity, as if it were impossible to find unity if people are in different places in their walk with God and see life from different perspectives as a result.

What if disunity among Christians was the worst sin of all, since it undermines the very proof that Jesus is who He said He is and discredits the claim of God to love? Given the importance of those two bedrock beliefs in the Christian faith, how could disunity NOT be one of the most grievous of all possible sins? The perception of the character of God Himself is at stake when we are not unified, isn’t it? Doesn’t disunity within the Church even tear at the reality of the Trinity of God?

Yet who out there is striving to make unity important? Which well-known church leaders are working toward unity more than anything else, rather than separating themselves and their fans into tinier and tinier fragments of the Church Universal? Which disgruntled churchgoers are making unity the most important consideration for STAYING in a less-than-ideal church, rather than bolting like so many others do?

Fact is, too many of us Christians could not care less about unity.

My question then: Is the lack of importance we ascribe to maintaining unity within the Body of Christ making Jesus’ prayer for unity fail?

The Devolution of Beseeching Prayer


Beseeching prayers since the Protestant Reformation:

Reformation Era to 17th century

Blessed Lord, may this servant’s death at the hands of those who oppose Thee and Thy Kingdom further the Glorious Light of Thy Gospel to the ends of the earth, that Thy Name be praised on the lips of them who hear Thy Words of Life, repent in dust and ashes before Thee, and receive Thy precious gift of Eternal Life. Amen.

17th through 18th century

Holy Father, Divine Flame, purge the dross from Thy servant’s life, that in humbling Thy servant, the Christ would be visible to all who do not acknowledge Thee. Make Thy servant pure in Thine Eyes, that I not be cast away and lose mine inheritance, but prove Thee true before all men, for the glory of Thy name. Amen.

19th century

Precious Jesus, my Beloved, teach me to bear thy burdens as a good soldier of the Kingdom. May I know patience as I wait by thy feet and learn of thee. And if there be any wicked way in me, purge it by the light of thy grace, that I may be found in thee perfect, a witness to the nations. Amen.

Early 20th century

Glorious Lord, empower me to be a light to the world, taking your Gospel where it has not yet been proclaimed. Let me always ask what I can do for you, and let me know you more deeply in each passing day. Build up my blessings so that others might see the fruits of a life devoted to you. Amen.

Late 20th century

Lord Jesus, show me how you will use me. Bless me for the many ways in which I serve you. Send me, but when you do, please let it not be somewhere like Calcutta or someplace too dangerous, like an urban ghetto. And I really, really need a mentor too. Amen.

March 2012

Please God, do you really need to keep asking me to do all this stuff in the Bible? I have this Facebook Timeline thingy that needs tweaking, and maintaining my LinkedIn profile takes a lot of time too. Seriously. You want me happy right? Then what are doing about it? Oh, and the new iPad 3 is out and mine is only a 2. Can you do something about that? Please? It would be a great place to start. Bye.