Thursday, March 01, 2012

Casual or Caustic Christianity - A Personal Note from my time in India.

(This entry was a note to our local network of Organic Churches here in Phoenix, Arizona during a trip to South India to visit Edith Greet's Bethel Foundation in February, 2012)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

Thanks for your prayers for Debbie and myself during these days while we are in India. They are felt and we are blessed. On a lighter side, I feel like I have gained 4kgs (9 pounds)! We are constantly being fed and there is always more food available. We feel like Kings and Queens - the hospitaly of the Indian people is amazing and I know I am learning much from their generousity even when they have so little (2 Cor. 8). 

Much of our time these days is being spent listening to and interacting with Edith Greet (Debbie's Great Aunt) who has done a marvelous work here in South India and yet, she is mostly unknown according to local people.  This is excellent because it means she does not seek her own glory or status. This is sad because I believe the more widely known this work is, the more influence her work will have well beyond this area. 

It seems that I am able to peak a little closer into our own US culture now that I have been here in India for almost two weeks. This trip is much different than any other I have been on. It is a much slower paced trip with less teaching and more observation and learning. This slower pace has aloud me to ponder my own life and our US culture. The Lord has also had me reading Luke 9, 10 and 14 which deals much with discipleship and the cost of it all. I would encourage you to spend some time reading Luke 9,10 and 14 on your own, asking Jesus to share His heart for you concerning following Him. 

In my journal the other day I wrote a short paragraph regarding Luke 14:34-35. This is where Jesus calls us to be salt but if salt loses its taste, it will become useless. I thought about my friend Dezi Baker who says that Chistians need to be different enough to make a difference..we need to be salty. We need to give flavor and a sense of preservation to the world with which we interact. If we simply, 'blend in' with our culture, we offer no preservatives nor flavor. In essence, we become useless. So in my life, I am purposing to become more salty/different so that I can make a difference - add flavor and offer preservative qualities to the lives of people with which I interact. I want to be a strong follower of Jesus, not a strong preserver of my comfort. 

One more thought from my time here in India thus far. I am learning that Christianity should not be casual but should be caustic. What I mean by that is that when Christianity is casual, it will normally conform to the culture we find ourselves, we blend in. I am seeing this lived out here in India and I see it a bit more clearly in our own culture. Here in Cochi, India, the Christian topic seems to be mostly about people adorning themselves with jewlery etc. (2 Peter 3:3-6). There is no thought that the car you drive or the motorcyle or even the watch you wear (watches have funcion and are therefore not adornments...even if they happen to cost a lot of money - so the logic goes). To us, this may seem like a meaningless focus but we have many such controversies in western Christianity. We think we are being spiritual or pleasing to Jesus when we focus on such matters, however, it seems to take our attention away from the command of Jesus to be making disciples and of His sending us out into the midst of wolves as sheep. When we focus on our own minor issues, we often just fit into the world. We may be odd to the world (you mean you can't wear jewlerly) but we are not salty (offering life and hope to a very thirsty world). 

What I mean by caustic is that Christianity should be attacking the culture by offering it a better way of living which attacks the current way of living. By offering love not selfisness. By offering generousity not greed. By offering words of encouragement to build up others instead of shooting words of self-preservation that build ourselves up. The word caustic may sound harsh, but Jesus was caustic. When He states that if we want to follow Him we must hate (place behind our affection and commitment to Jesus) all of our close relations or we cannot be His follower, that is caustic. When Jesus states that unless we die to our current life by taking up the cross daily (everyday), we cannot be His follower, that attackes (is caustic) our souls. When Jesus says that we must let go of our possessions and trust Him with them or we cannot be His follower, these are caustic words. They attack our self-preservation perspectives and demand we be transformed by the Spirit of God. 

So, this is more of a short reading of my journal than a report on our activities here. This trip is more about my soul being challenged and about me learning than about me teaching. When I look at the sacrfice that Edith Greet* has made to make an impact on the orphan girls of Kerala, India, I can hardly put my life in the same category. I do not mean to compare my calling with Edith's but when I look at all she has endured, accomplished and passed on, I want to imitate that with my whole heart. We look forward to being home and sharing our experiences with you in person. Please feel free to write us back or to respond to what I have written about what I am learning. I pray this note is of some benefit to you.

*May I encourage you to send a short note or gift to Edith Greet?  You may contact her at grtvirginia@gmail.com