Discussing
"We choose love, we choose light"

Bethany Keeley-Jonker

John
June 10, 2009

It sounds like your are lost in some kind of movement to better yourself and the planet. I don't see God first, but are you doing what you think you need to do to be cool in today's society? It related to me that you were boasting about walking to the coffee shop to get organic coffee and to sit in such a place to show off that you are doing God's work. I wrote a Christian book and I now understand the things that have to be done to market that book. I wrote the book so that maybe just maybe one more will come to the table with Christ Jesus. If that happens then the book did what it was written for, I find it hard to market the book and find it much easier to tell someone about the hope I have in our Lord and Savior. Sorry if I offended you, but remember God first and everything else after that. In God's Grace John

Sistersharonblcl
June 10, 2009

Hellooooo!!!!! all<br><br> I would say both go together i can not choose one with out the other because jesus is the light of the world and to live is to die and to die is to live meaning killing the flesh. god told us that he gave his only begotten son so that we may live and live more abuntdently and have life and to be forgiven for our sin. i want to see the light when my time comes if this mean this is the way to heaven of course who don't want to see the light when they wake up in the morning or when they leave the body. The bright light of day is a part of life or would you say that the light would be more of having the light of knowledge and not be left in the dark we have choices and the only choice that i see that people don't have light is one who is born blind and even in that i would like to think that they would want to have knowledge of the light of god. This is truly a touching subject one will never know how many that are in the light or darkness but i would like to have both, can one really choose with out the other less see what the viewer has to say amen.

John
June 10, 2009

Where is God in all of this? I don't see him sitting with you in the coffee shop and indulging in what you believe to be cool in today's society. God first and then let everything else come because of your love of God. If you conform to society, you allow them to dictate how you should act and what you should wear and whom you should be seen with. For me I pick Jesus to sit with anywhere he wants. In God's Grace John

Bethanykj
June 14, 2009

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear: God commands us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. To me, acting justly and loving mercy involves being concerned about issues of social justice and trying to involve implicating myself in unjust economic systems. Hence the buy local/fair trade/ go green tendency. The challenge, though, is that these behaviors also are a way of being, well, less than humble, which is my confession. Perhaps you are perfectly humble in your attempts to "pick Jesus to sit with anywhere he wants" but I doubt it, since we all live with sin.

Bethanykj
June 14, 2009

Maybe my tone didn't come through. I intended to make fun of myself more than to boast; we all do silly things to achieve the image we want for ourselves. Of course, following Jesus is important, but if that's all there is to say about thinking christian, this blog will get pretty boring pretty fast. I believe that God calls us to love one another, and that evangelizing is just one form that love can take, especially when those other people are people you may never meet. That isn't to say trying to win others to christ isn't important, but that sometimes our strategies for loving might be more subtle.

Stephanie Jo
June 14, 2009

Bethany, thank you for articulating these thoughts and confessions in regards to our struggle with materialism vs. going green vs. honoring God in all that we do. <br><br>Unlike John, I see God through-out this posting. Yes, you've admitted that your motives for being earth &amp; human-kind conscious are sometimes self serving (b/c really, who doesn't want to be hip?). This is our on going battle as sinners: we deify ourselves - constantly acting on self serving whims, even whilst we try to honor God (while truly the motives for honoring God may be so we feel good about ourselves for honoring God). <br><br>I completely agree- I believe that we are called to live in a way that brings honor to our Father and his creation. For me, this means treating all people with respect and dignity, taking stands against social injustices, and trying to be conscious of what I am ingesting &amp; what implacations that may have on the environment and people throughout the world. I will confess alongside you, I fail every day, multiple times a day. But, praise God that has I struggle to seek Him and His will, HE is sitting there alongside me: In my hip coffee shop, or at my desk when I am dreading my job, or in my home when I just want to go to sleep and forget spending time in His Word. <br><br>This is an overwhelming issue. Thank you for your reminder that we are part of a body. God uses each of us individually &amp; doesn't expect us to fix things on our own. So, I will continue with "you and me just trying to get it right."<br><br>And by the way: I will be purchasing that album!

Rick
June 14, 2009

Yeah. It’s hard to be humble when I am so progressive. I think we should follow Jesus example of promoting social justice at every opportunity and overturning unjust economic systems. I think we should resist the excesses of capitaism and the consumerist society just like Jesus did. I know I appreciate Paul’s exhortations to buy local and only fair trade. I love those passages. I want to be as green as he was because I know that that is just what the gospel is all about. The born again theology is so self-centered and fundamentalist piety. We want a gospel that produces long term social change, that deals with society, not just the individual. A gospel that raises the standard of income just like the great comission commanded. A gospel that doesn’t stigmatize loving same sex couples and keeps abortions safe and legal. Because that’s what the gospel is about. And as far as Bible thumping preachers, I agree with St Francis, preach the gospel and if necessary use words. Because, in the end, the real enemy is those fundamentalist judgemental, narrow minded christians.

Rick
June 15, 2009

“Of course, following Jesus is important, but if that's all there is to say about thinking christian, this blog will get pretty boring pretty fast.”<br><br>Now Bethany, you really can’t mean that? Have you not read Phillipians 3:8 8? “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. <br><br>Following Jesus should be the most intellectually stimulating experience we can have. And following Jesus is not something separate from loving one another. I maintain that CS Lewis’ chief occupation was following Jesus. As was Paul’s.<br><br>I apologize for being so sarcastic in my earlier post. But it seems that just as the extreme right wing can wrap their ideology in the gospel, I find that that left wing progressives can as well. I am not saying that being green, leaving a smaller footprint, eating organic, involvement in social works projects and buying fair trade is wrong. I am also concerned with all those things and they may or may not be good. But it is not the Gospel. Just as carrying a gun to church or wrapping a blue eyed Jesus in the flag is not the gospel. And those who pretend it is are in fact distorting the gospel. Authors Like Jim Wallis, Shane Claiborne and Brian McLaren have constructed a different gospel and wrapped it in religious language. Just as Ian Paisley has. That was the intent of my sarcasm.

Bethanykj
June 15, 2009

I agree with you that politics on either pole are not the same as the gospel. And of course the gospel is central to our christian life. <br><br>However, does that mean that we should never concern ourselves with these questions? I was trying to be critical of myself, even as I want to maintain these social values in addition to my relationship with Christ. I just don't believe they are mutually exclusive, and teasing out those questions is why I made this post in the first place.<br><br>I also think that we all have a tendency to stereotype those who are different from us as insincere and simple-minded, and though there are some of those people, most of us are doing the best that we can.

Rick
June 15, 2009

Bethany, I would never think of you as insincere or simple minded. I know you are a very careful thinker and I respect your positions. Hopefully I am one off those who is also doing the best I can. My criticism is of those who create another gospel by re-making Jesus into a political rabble-rouser, anti-war activist, social justice crusader, gay rights advocate and Republican bashing Democratic party functionary. It’s so easy (and a little Phariseeical) to criticize others of affluenza and use a perjorative term like Bourgeoisie. <br><br>I think about the same issues that you do, my business is built on a model of promoting organic food and sustainable businesses and responsibility for the earth. I shop at farmer’s markets and ride my bike (ever seen a 58 year-old white male on a bike? Scary.) However I am very reluctant to baptize these issues in theology. I don’t want to get lost in unfruitful sidetracks like What Would Jesus Drive (or de-construct for that matter). These are simply my opinions and I’d like to think they are well reasoned. <br><br>But what I do know is that Jesus was moved with compassion and so he healed the sick. By the thousands. And He preached the gospel of the kingdom and introduced us to the Holy Spirit. He commissioned the 12 to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Then he commanded the 70 to heal the sick and preach the gospel. And finally he commanded all of us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, lay hands on the sick and cast out demons. And then, just in case we didn’t get it, we have the book of Acts to remind us and demonstrate what His commission is about. Jesus elevated the role of women (I am with you there too) and made all the races and social classes into one equal family by virtue of His redemption. I just want to make sure I keep my priorities straight. I don’t think He has ever recalled our original commission.

alvin_tsf
June 16, 2009

sorry for the late post. but i just wanna say that i enjoyed reading your article very much. judging from the reactions that you got, i fear we christians are all too serious. sipping coffe and listening to great music is one of the benefits of our freedom in Christ. analyzing how we can make our Father's world a little better, greener and safer is a wonderful gift from Him as partakers of His divine nature. so pls continue to write articles such as these that challenge not our theology but our joy in Jesus. sorry no quotes from the New Testament here. just pure encouragement for you!<br><br>alvin

coolmom9
June 16, 2009

I do what I can to support our local famers, as my father was a farmer while I was growing up. I am conscious of my energy use, and have, for the first time, planted a garden with enough extra to either give away fresh or can and give away in times of need.<br><br>I am concerned, though, that in our zeal to be "green", we will unconsciously hurt those in other countries. <br><br>For example, about 10-15 years ago, it was popular among christians to want our gov't to remove the 'most favored nation' status of China because of its miserable human rights record. Then I met a missionary to China. When I mentioned this, he said that would be a very bad idea. <br>Aghast, I asked him why. He said all that would do is make it much more difficult for the christians in China to get jobs, obtain food, and take care of their children, as they would be the first ones to lose jobs, ect.<br><br>I have to wonder if our new, hip, "green" lifestyles may do the same in other countries that depend on our dollars?

coolmom9
June 16, 2009

Something else I'm thinking about: <br><br>What is better for people: to work in a "sweatshop for slave wages", or to starve to death because there is no "sweatshop for slave wages".<br><br>As mentioned in another article on this blog, different cultures see things differently.

Jhpot
June 17, 2009

You, coolmom9, have hit upon the fundamental economic questions for anyone striving to create a just world in our supposedly post-ideological world. <br><br>I'm encouraged that the social justice movement is now considered become hip, but it also worries me. As soon as something becomes hip people tend to ask fewer questions about it, and advertisers jump in to take advantage. <br><br>Think of Frito-Lay's ads across West Michigan stating they buy potatoes from local Michigan farmers. While it is true--they do buy /some/ potatoes from Michigan farmers--you'd be unwise to assume this mega-corporation is making all the chips in Michigan stores near the Grand Rapids farmer's market. <br><br>So it's good to ask questions, even when the subject is "going green." 'm certainly not accusing Bethany or anyone else here of not asking questions, but just to show how complex issues can be I think I'll expand on coolmom9's points:<br><br>Does punishing a country economically for its human rights record effective if it hurts the masses and not the regime? <br><br>Are sweatshops taking advantage of other cultures if they provide higher wages where than could otherwise be found (not to mention the infrastructure investment--often the companies will build roads, power lines and sewer systems municipalities can later benefit from.) <br><br>Does a push to buy local in rich countries hurt the typically agrarian poor countries by driving down demand for their goods?<br><br>Is fair trade really "fair", or does it simply create an elite class of farmers with access to the (limited) fair trade market? <br><br>In summary, there's nothing wrong with being hip so long as you keep asking questions and stay intellectually engaged with the problems you seek to solve.

Jhpot
June 17, 2009

rick: "It’s so easy (and a little Phariseeical) to criticize others of affluenza and use a perjorative term like Bourgeoisie."<br><br>I think what the song Bethany quoted, and Bethany herself, was trying to say is that we, the citizens of the Western world, the global elite rich enough to have computers, cars, televisions and running water, are the global bourgeois class at this point in history. In my understanding the use of the term was meant as self criticism for the purpose of reflection, not as a cheap shot. <br><br>The question I'd like to see us discuss is this: how do we, from our global position of privilege, go about building a more just world? And if some abstract notion of "hip" is a part of that, is it a bad thing?

Rick
June 17, 2009

Is that what you think the great comission is? Jesus gave us a unique job to do. He said it was to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and is baptized shall be saved. He who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” And if we are thick-headed and don’t understand His words, we can read the book of acts to see how the Paul put the great commission into action. <br><br>There are hundreds of government aid organizations, thousands of secular NGOs whose mission it is to aid the poor, give relief from disease and raise the standard of living foir the disadvantaged. However no Government organization or NGO has the unique mission of introducing people to eternal life. To divert attention and resources from that unique mission, to persuade Christians to spend their time and resources on building a more just world is a real shame. What if we manage to feed all the poor, enforce justice in foreign nations (good luck) and raise the standard of living for the entire world just so most of them can die and perish in a Christ-less hell? Compared to eternity, this life is a brief puff of smoke. Of course I believe in justice and materially aiding the poor and I will do my best to help. But this is not the gospel. We’ve dug in a field and uncovered the Pearl of Great Price. Let’s share it.<br>To get involved in class war, use Marxist analysis and promote concepts like the Bourgeoisie is a waste of time.<br><br>“God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Lets be ambassadors.

Jhpot
June 17, 2009

Part of being an ambassador is your action. China could send an ambassador to America with the looks of a movie star and rhetorical skills rivalling Obama's; we'd still know the people of Tibet are being killed in the streets. <br><br>If the core of Christianity is spreading Christianit our faith is little more than a theological chain letter. Part of spreading the truth of Christ is living up to the principals he taught. <br><br>The early church was renowned for it's love and its generosity. It's those qualities that caused it to spread so quickly at that critical time in history. Yes preaching helped, but without I'm not sure what your mental picture of preaching to the world is, but my reformed upbringing teaches me there's no one part of my life that's not connected to God's work. <br><br>From James 20: <br><br>"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.<br><br>"But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.'<br> <br>"Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." <br><br>If we're going to shine our light to the world, we need to back it up with actions. But acting without knowledge of the world is meaningless. That's why these seemingly abstract pursuits are worthwhile, and worth discussing here.

Bethanykj
June 17, 2009

I don't think the great commission says anything about ignoring all the other pages and pages of the bible that tell us to act justly, to help the poor and to heal the sick. If the great commission was all we needed, then we'd have dumped the Old Testament centuries ago. I'm not saying we need a marxist revolution (pretty sure I just posted on why I think we don't) or that we need to make everybody else play fair, but I DO think we need to be humbly careful about the injustices that we personally benefit from. And I think acting in a loving manner is a necessary part of preaching the gospel. If Christ's acts of forgiveness don't change the way you live your life, why would anybody listen to you talk about it anyway?

Rick
June 17, 2009

You’re right. I’m glad you brought that up. In the same passage of scripture where Jesus delivers the great commission, He says that these signs shall follow them that believe. They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. When John’s disciples asked Jesus if He was the Christ, His answer was “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” His commission to the 12 was to heal the sick and preach the gospel, His commission to the 70 was to heal the sick and preach the gospel. An his commission to us is the same. So often Christians excuse their responsibility by spiritualizing these passages so that healing is metaphorical or can mean anything from building hospitals to psychological counseling. Anything but what what is plainly seen in the Gospels. But that isn’t what Jesus was plainly talking about. Most of his time was spent laying his hands on thousands of the lame, crippled and diseased people. . Healing has been a significant factor in the explosive growth of the church in China, Africa and South America. And once again, the record of the apoostles, Paul, deacons like Phillip or the simple elders in the book of James is the the gospel also heals the human body through the laying on of hands. In no way are we free from our ethical responsibilities to be fair and just and support the poor. This is how we are to conduct our lives while we fulfill the great commission. And I agree acting in a loving manner is an essential part how we preach the Gospel. <br><br>And JHPot. I am agreeing with you up to a point. Don’t spiritualize preaching so much that it could be anything. Paul says, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? There is something unique and sacred about telling the story. Paul tells Timothy, preach the word in season and out of season.

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