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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Are You A Deist or A Christian?

I've been reading a book called HOLY LONGING by Ronald Rolheiser who is a frequent contributor to the Catholic Herald as well as is a professor in Systematic Theology.  This book has a ton of depth to what spirituality looks like in our 'modern church world' as compared to the original church & even the message of God redeeming humanity through Christ to establish the 'BODY OF CHRIST' here on earth.  I appreciate that Rolheiser starts the book off to the broad audience of people who would want to read a book on spirituality but then narrows in on why his conviction is that a Judeo-Christian view of Spirituality is the only view with any depth & balance to it.  

He penned a paragraph that has been forcing me to wrestle with questions as an individual follower of Christ as well as a Pastor.
What is the difference between a Christian and a Theist?
....A theist believes in God.  A Christian believes in God, but also in a God who is incarnate.  What is the difference?  To put the matter into street language, one might say: A theist believes in a God in heaven whereas a Christian believe in a God in heaven who is also physically present on this earth inside of human beings.  The theistic God is transcendent and, if not wholly so, present in matter only as some vague ground of being. The Christian God is also transcendent, is also the ground of being, but has a physical body on earth.  The Christian God can be seen, heard, felt, tasted, and smelled through the senses.  The Christian God has some skin. pg 81

This has been a section of the book I keep being drawn too and the funny part is I know why I am kept being drawn to it.  Christ didn't dwell among us (past tense)--He CONTINUES to dwell among us (present tense).  The incarnation of God in man-flesh didn't happen in the past, it actually happens NOW as well.  The Spirit of the living God that takes up residence in us as we understand the working of the salvation of God through Christ in us is the representation of Christ living through us.  Christ did come, live here on earth die on a Cross to the resurrected from the dead & ascend into heaven.  But his presence NEVER left us!  The church, the living body of Christ, is still the incarnation of God.

I am forcing myself to ask questions like;

  • Am I living our the incarnation of Christ in my life?
  • Do I serve people as if Jesus lives inside of me?
  • Is my attitude towards sin the same of Jesus?
  • Am I guided by me or God's Spirit?
  • Do I love my wife & kids with a God-sized heart of love?

But as a Pastor I am asking questions like:

  • Does the church, as a whole, look, live, operate, serve & teach that way?
  • Does the church I help pastor live out the incarnation of Christ?
  • Do care more about people's emotions & feelings than the conviction of the Gospel?
  • How do we help people live incarnation-ally & not just go through motions?

Specifically speaking as a Youth Pastor I see a lot of teenagers who live like deists.  They see God somewhere in life, but not personally present in their lives.  Often they don't want God to be personal because of the life Christ calls us to & the surrender that takes place.  Sometimes they don't know the difference between a Deist view on life & Christian view on life because the Christians around them aren't living with an incarnational life.  I am finding that some students raised in the church feel that all this is about is going through the motions and God is just somebody on the pages of an ancient text that make no sense at all.   They have a ton of questions of How does a life with Jesus work? Who is Jesus? How can I be led by the Holy Spirit?  They need space to process their questions and doubts.
  I desperately want to lead & Pastor students so they can see people who are living an incarnational life in Christ.  That God is fully present doing some crazy, God-sized, ridiculous alterations in this life.  I want to continue to build a team of people around these students who can model, show, speak & live out first hand what it means to BE ALIVE IN CHRIST.  I hope that as this generation rises up myself & others who care enough are apart of raising a generation that looks, smells, tastes, touches like that of Jesus in the world....and  not just on Sundays.

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