The Necessity of Turned Upside Down Lives

I have been buried in books. As I’ve been reviewing my assigned readings in preparation for finals next week, I am realizing how much good stuff I have learned this last quarter. Specifically, The Gospel/Acts class taught by Tommy Givens has been immensely challenging. Not challenging in its demands to keep up (although that’s been no cake walk either), but in that uncomfortable zone of conviction that requires some serious adjustment to truth.

As you know, if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, I live with a measure of discontent about the current state of the Church. {When I speak about the Church, I’m not speaking about a church known by any specific name–I’m talking about all of us who claim to be following Jesus. Whether we do that by participating in the community life of Christ as baptists, presbyterians, or whatever-other-name you might find on your church sign.} I worry about where we are as a Church and how well we are actually following Jesus. Sometimes I think our actions are very un-Jesus like. When I just read the Gospels and I leave behind everything that everyone has imposed on the texts in the course of my life, I see Jesus calling for a very different kind of life than most of us “American Christians” are living. It’s this gap that keeps me awake at night…seriously, I often lay awake at night wondering how we I got to where we am..and what would be the first, more necessary step out of this mess of churchianity that so many of us have confused as Christianity.

I was reading today in Stanley Hauerwas’ Commentary on Matthew and was really provoked by his words on Matthew 16. How do these excerpts impact you?

“For many the demand to follow Jesus, to be a disciple is too burdensome.

“So the Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus to show them a sign from that might prove he is favored by God. They want a conclusive demonstration of his status…That they wish to test Jesus is their way of calling into question the authority he exercises. Jesus suggests that they would not be able to read a sign from heaven even if such a sign were given… They are adulterous…They are adulterous because though they pretend to be married to the law, their lives betray what they say they believe.

“Jesus has previously criticized the Pharisees for their failure to do what they profess…Jesus demands lives of integrity. To see the truth, to recognize the signs of the kingdom, requires that we be rightly formed by the virtues acquired by following Jesus. To know the truth requires the acquisition of the habits of  truthfulness. Knowledge and virtue are inseparable.

“Jesus’ refusal to give the Pharisees and Sadducees a sign has profound implications for how Christians understand truth. We believe that the truth of the gospel cannot be separated from the kind of lives required for the recognition of that truth. Because we are aware of the inadequacy of our faithfulness to Christ, we are tempted to separate the truth of what we believe from the way we live. But Jesus refuses to allow us to abstract our knowing from our living. The gospel is not information; it is a way of life.

We [too] want a sign that can be recognized without the necessity of our lives being turned upside down. 

(Commentary of Matthew, Stanley Hauerwas, 2006)

It’s that all too familiar gap we find in all of our lives, isn’t it?  Why are we all so afraid to let our lives be turned upside down? How frequently are we stalling our belief or obedience on the condition of a sign?

I’m curious about your thoughts. What do you see as the most necessary step to shortening the gap between what Jesus says disciples are to be and what the American Church we you and me  have settled for?

2 thoughts on “The Necessity of Turned Upside Down Lives

  1. Pingback: Living Faithfully in the {Disrupted} Everyday | Once Upon a Truth

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