Friday, July 8, 2011

Just living

As I have re-familiarized myself with the religious landscape of Jacksonville, I have engaged in numerous conversations with church-goers of different denominations and affiliations. One such conversation occurred shortly after I returned to Jax. I was introduced to a woman who attends a local church, and I asked her about the congregation's involvement in social justice in the community. "What are some of the ways your congregation is meeting to the social needs of those in the community?", I naively asked. I guess I assumed that because the church was well-endowed with resources and people and was located in the center of downtown, this would be the beginning of a lengthy conversation. I was wrong. She gave me a puzzled look and responded, "We don't really do social ministry. We are more concerned with winning souls for Christ." The end. (Can I just say...awkward moment?)

I really believe that this is one of the biggest disconnects that many people today experience with the Church and with Christianity in general. We have somehow acted on a misguided belief that life is somehow lived in compartments - the physical, spiritual, emotional are separate and are to be addressed separately. One consequence of this way of thinking is fragmented living. Instead of guiding people into understanding ways to follow Christ in their day to day lives, we make Christianity about a place we go to enhance our spiritual lives - and, often there is no connection to the day to day challenges and choices that permeate our living.

I was excited to run across this video on TheOOZE.TV promoting Julie Clawson's book, Practicing Everyday Justice. She talks in the video about just living as a deeply spiritual discipline that is grounded in our desire to holistically live out the gospel in practical ways. Following Christ through just practices will impact our choices and should cause us to think about all of life in a new way (including where we shop and what we eat). Truthfully, this is much more challenging than showing up at church on Sundays for a spiritual "fix", but it certainly seems like a more true expression of our claim to be resurrection people. I'm reluctantly ordering my copy this week...

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