May 18, 2011

Focus Error

I'd considered adding my voice to the whole Harold Camping bible guaranteeing judgement day on May 21st thing, but the idiocy of it seems to be well documented already. Camping is making a big mistake. He has so zoomed in on the charge that we are to be ready and waiting for the return of Christ, that he has missed that we won't know when that is. It seems obvious to the outsider that he should know that, verses like 'no one knows the day or the hour' and that, 'Jesus will come like a thief in the night' should tell him he is off base.

However I think that this kind of mistake is not uncommon. Now most of us don't make it in the same way, but I think we all make it. We all zero in on a narrow section on scripture, or one aspect of the Christian faith at the expense of the rest. At least I know there are times that I do.

I have never tried to predict when Jesus will return, but I know I can give the impression that the Christian faith can be completely lived out in the comfort of your favorite easy chair. That is my focus error.

I think there are four basic categories for Christian living. They just so happen to be the the pages listed on this blog. I think we all have to think clearly, worship continuously, relate purely and live justly.  My natural inclination is towards thinkingly clearly and worshiping continuously. Which is to say I enjoy thinking thought different theological or biblical issues, and the spiritual disciplines are important to me. 

Those things can be so important to me that they over shadow my equally important need to connect in meaningful relationships and to do acts of justice. We all have this same problem. It just will manifest in different ways.

One person will focus on relationships at the expense of justice, another will focus on justice at the expense of worship, another will focus on worship and the expense of learning and reflection, will others will will focus on learning and reflection at the expense of relationships and on and on it goes.

I am not saying we have to do all things equally. We don't, we can't. We are not equipped to. We don't all have the skills, gifts and passion to do all things ourselves. But that is why we are in the body of Christ, to support and encourage one another as we collectively fulfill our mandate to think clearly, worship continuously, relate purely and live justly.

The Christian Life Cannot Be Fully Realized Here*
While we can't do all things equally we also cannot simply ignore the activities that are of less interest to us. So in that spirit allow me to refocus some. Here is a list or relatively easy, plug and play acts of justice for you to consider doing;

$1 Day’s, once per month

1.2 Billion people live on less than $1 a day. 2.8 billion people live on less than $2. The point of this exercise is to raise your awareness of how hard that is, and how very little you can get for a dollar. So spent one day a month where all you can spend is $1. This will likely mean you will go without food that day, or very very little food, like a can of soup from a dollar store. The only thing you will be able to drink is water from the tap, and the only way your able to go anywhere is by walking/biking (you’re not going to get very far on $1 of gas). If you really want to be honest about only using $1 a day you won’t watch TV, listen to your iPod (or other MP3 players) you’ll stay off the computer, cell phone and stay off video games. All of these things cost more than $1 a day either by their power usage or the monthly bill. Once you do this for a year (12 times) ask yourself the question; it is fair that I have so much and everyone else has so little? Also you should consider donating the money you would have spent on those days to an organisation dedicated to the elimination of poverty.

Green Your City/School/Church

Saving the environment is a big deal right now. Everyone is talking about it. One more good reason to do it is when we mistreat the earth the poorest of the world suffers the most. They are the ones that have to deal with droughts, floods, smog etc. So offering to make the world a greener place helps clean the air and helps the poor. Here are a couple of quick things you can do to help. 1. Offer to wash dishes at youth group, church, and school events. Youth pastors love paper cups, because it means we don’t have to wash them and can go home quicker. You will show you love your youth pastor, the poor and the earth by helping to wash dishes, it’s just that easy. 2. Clean up part of a city. Maybe in your neighbourhood you can sweep the streets, pick up garbage, and other things like that. A cleaner neighbourhood is the first step to a cleaner world. 3. Plant some trees or flowers. Wouldn’t your church look nicer with a little garden? 4. Make a mini park somewhere; a place with flowers, trees a bench some people can enjoy the beauty of God’s nature.

Honouring the Elderly

Let me say one of the saddest things about our culture is how poorly we treat the elderly. Everyone wants things fast flashy and energetic leaving little patience for the elderly. We seem so far away from ‘honour thy father and mother’. Two ways to honour the elderly are 1. Help them shop. Take them to the grocery store walk with them put things on in the cart, on the register and help them put it away. Two notes of importance, one you are there to help them, don’t let the cashier ask you questions, make sure they ask the Elderly person directly and second when you are putting things away put them where they ask. Don’t suggest different places that you think are better and don’t rearrange their stuff you're there to be their arms and legs not their brain. 2. Take some time and listen to the stories the elderly have and write them down. Let them know you care about the things that have mattered to them their whole lives and other people will/can learn and appreciate those things too.

Buy Nothing Day

The day after Thanksgiving is become known as buy nothing day. Maybe you’re wondering why we would want a day like that. Right now very smart people are looking at you not as a person but as a consumer. They are marketing you what they think you should look like, think about, say is cool and on and on. Buy nothing day says I am not a consumer, I am a person. When people forget that people are people, they can treat them like things. People are not things, they are people made in God’s image.

See it, Film It, Change It

Almost everyone has a camera and video camera now. If you have a cell phone or iPod you have a camera or video camera better than I had when I was 14. Couple this with the internet and the ease of posting photos and video this gives you a lot of power to make changes. Whenever you go anywhere keep your eyes open. If you see something that make you think “that’s not right, it shouldn’t be like that” take a picture or a video and make sure everyone else knows it’s happening and that it needs to stop. Most problems never get solved because they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but you can make sure no problem is ever out of sight ever again.

*This picture was kindly donated by Jenna over at