well on a monday morning where I should be talking about a beloved lady who passed away last week (norma hendren - wife of Everett, one of Eastview’s charter members); or about the dozens of greeters and volunteers that met for breakfast on Saturday in preparation for a great fall (I devoted that before the Feeding of the 5,000, there was the seating of the 5,000 - and how important the disciple’s task of seating, serving and cleaning up was to the process); or about the Fuel ministry on the campus of ISU last night with a great service; I’m compelled to talk about a heresy that is creeping into church language in many pop books.
I’ll just blurt it out - Brian McClaren is a heretic. He is a great author and he has some great things to say, however, he is missing the mark when it comes to understanding the Christian position. In his book “finding our way again” (please do me and you a favor and don’t read it!), he makes the following statement: “And during his lifetime, Abraham, like Moses and Jesus and Muhammad - had an encounter with God that distinguished him from his contemporaries…” Say what?! Muhammad had an encounter with God? How can he say that when the “encounter with God” birthed a religion that wholeheartedly rejects Jesus as Savior (something which he thought was pretty important).
Here’s the deal that happening in our culture. We have been convinced that we as Christians have been the oppressors and that we should apologize and be nice to other world religions. First of all, there have been some bad things happen in the name of Christianity, but we certainly don’t have a corner on the market of evil things. And I would contend that those names done in the name of Christ were not truly motivated by the Christian faith. Second, although it’s true that both Judaism and Islam were birthed from our spiritual ancestor Abraham - they certainly are not part of the Abrahamic covenant now. How can I so assuredly say this? Because Abraham was about Jesus and both Judaism and Islam reject Jesus as Lord and fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise.
Listen, we had better wake up Christians and stop swallowing all the stuff even Christian writers like McClaren are passing off as Christian responses. No matter how good it feels to kind of make everyone feel welcome and tolerated, it can never be Christian to accept any other worldview of Jesus except that he is the savior of the world. He said as much. So deny Christ if you want, but don’t think he you can sneak him neatly in to the world’s belief systems. He simply isn’t o.k. with that.
Be careful as you read that the author proclaim Christ as the way, the only way…nothing more, nothing less. A good book to stick with is the Bible. As for this book, I only made it through five chapters and I had to stop. Oh well, there are other books on my shelf to be read.
Yesterday was a flash back in time for me. Drew and Joel gave me the opportunity to preach in Oasis, our teen worship service. It was really cool. Some of you don’t know that I came from a youth organization in Missouri in 1995 to become the youth pastor at Eastview Christian Church. Oasis was a two year old program at that time. I’d always said at that point that I was a preacher trapped in a youth minister’s body; so the idea of preaching every Sunday to a bunch of students was compelling. I loved it there. I love the energy, the loud music, the casual dress, the potential that sits in every chair.
In the old days I preached in Oasis with bleached hair, earrings, jeans, and vans. Yesterday, I wore dress shorts with a Tommy Bahama shirt (yes I looked old - or I looked my age anyway).
In the old days hundreds of high schoolers and junior highers packed into a dingy old gym on towanda ave. Yesterday, we met in a brand new facility (still a gym) with great lights, sound, and stage.
In the old days, Caleb my youngest was a four year old kid running around being spoiled by the teens. Yesterday, he was a 6′5″ junior giving the communion meditation after my sermon.
In the old days, God allowed me to preach the Word in a way that teens could related to. Yesterday, the Word of God did it’s job again - they were actually listening to what I said about Jesus and obedience!
In the old days, I hoped that these kids would find a spiritual hero in me their youth pastor. Yesterday, I prayed that they would find a spiritual hero in their sr. pastor.
In the old days, Lynne Sugai was there worshipping and loving teens like crazy. Yesterday, Lynne was still there doing the same thing.
In the old days, I believed that a church were teens could serve, lead and learn in a community of their peers would be a pretty cool place to do church. Yesterday I believed it all over again.
In the old days, I believed that God had great purpose for students if they would give their lives to Him. I still believe that and pray that Oasis will be the place they can find God and live for him.
In the old days, I felt young and cool when I walked into that gym. Yesterday, I felt old and cool (even though I know they didn’t think that…that I was cool i mean)
In the old days, I loved preaching to students. Some things never change.
Mike is the Senior Pastor of Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL. Mike posts weekly about what God is teaching him in his spiritual journey as a pastor to a growing church, husband to his best friend and wife of 28 years, Sara and father of a twenty five year old, super talented tattoo artist (Michael II) and his favorite young preacher (22 year old, Caleb).