Language is a many splendored thing

If you’ve at all noticed how often I blog, you can see that I’ve lost a lot of my "mojo" for blogging.  One reason is that I have too much to say!  I just can’t sit down and get all my thoughts out easily.  It takes enough energy that even though I’m excited by something enough that I want to express it, the expression itself matters enough to me that I tend to see it as a mountain that I just don’t have time to climb at the moment.

Anyway, this morning, I was listening to a teaching, as usual, while washing the dishes and I figured, that if I just started typing, I could get some of my excitement out before I thought about how big a task it is! (I’m trying to trick myself! Smile with tongue out )

I was listening to a series of teachings/discussions by a guy named Skip Moen on the book of Matthew.  Skip is a theologian/Bible scholar who, while still teaching various theological courses at a university level, is also endeavoring to reach a broader circle of Christians with the message of what a Hebrew/Old Testament contextualization of the New Testament does to help us better understand Jesus, God, His Kingdom, etc.  I learned about Skip Moen because Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, CA mentioned him in a sermon about 6 months ago or so. 

The plug from Bill interested me because he made reference to some word/concept in scripture and then what the Hebrew behind all that really means and it really brought it to life.  I’ve experienced that before when I’ve discovered the original language meaning and cultural context of something in the Bible – typically something I thought I already knew/understood.  I’ve also experienced that in a more modern context by simply living in another country where another language is spoken – even though there is no disconnect in the temporal context. 

Language and cultural context are enormous!  I don’t know how I can stress that enough – other than to say that I understand as well that it really has to be experienced to be fully understood (which is, itself a concept taken from a Hebraic world view!) These recordings of this study of Matthew are interesting because you can hear the discussion and the questions of the people in the discussion on the recording.  When he presents something that creates a cognitive dissonance in them that I don’t personally feel, I realize just how far God has brought me these last dozen years or so outside of the American and English context – and how valuable that journey has been.

So, all that to say go have a listen yourself and expand your dimensions of understanding and knowing God and His plan for us and His Creation.

https://skipmoen.com/category/matthew/

Harbinger Remix

In September, Sid Roth had Jonathan Cahn as his guest for a 2-part appearance on his “It’s Supernatural!” show.  If you know Sid Roth, you know that he has a certain, shall we say, “style”…and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he does have a good knack for getting some good guests on his show.  The bottom line being that regardless of how interesting or engaging the guest is, the “signal to noise ratio” is pretty low It’s Supernatural! (which also has a lot of peddling of offers to clutter up the time) So, I took it upon myself to edit these two shows and strip out as much of the “noise” as I could so that Cahn’s message, which is quite intriguing, might have a better chance of being heard.  There’s still some Sid in there, God bless him, but only as much as is necessary.

The original parts 1 and 2 can be found here for those who are interested:

https://www.sidroth.org/site/News2?abbr=tv_&page=NewsArticle&id=10457

https://www.sidroth.org/site/News2?abbr=tv_&page=NewsArticle&id=10494

Harbinger?

I called this “Harbinger Remix” because Cahn titles his message, drawn from Isaiah 9:10, “The Harbinger” and if you search for Jonathan Cahn or The Harbinger, you’ll find plenty of references, sites, videos, etc.  I think this particular 30-minute mix does pretty good justice to the message that he’s trying to get across, which is that America’s crises from 9/11 to the current economic woes parallel a series of increasingly severe judgments that a defiant ancient Israel faced.  The Harbingers are 9 warnings or omens that Israel faced that, according to Cahn, America is also facing.

I certainly find the parallels compelling and, I too, believe that there are things that the Lord is not pleased with regarding America.  In this particular instance, I would say that I’m in general agreement with Cahn, but do I have two concerns. 

First, this sort of prophetic perspective usually adds weight to the “gloom, doom and judgment” perspective of prophecy that flies in the face of the emphasis on the goodness of God, which I believe is probably more crucial in this hour (all hours?) than dire warnings.  Judgment has its proper place in the character of God and redemptive history, past, present and future.  However, focusing on it and/or not understanding God’s heart/motivation behind it (as Mike Bickle likes to say, “God judges to remove everything that hinders love.”) can, I think, end up twisting our image of who God is, for us, for others, for His Creation.  Unfortunately, while I’m sure Sid means well, his “style” does more, in my opinion, to stir up this unbalanced perspective of God and of prophecy.

Second, while I think what Cahn has received is from God and his conclusions about the need to repent, in general are correct, I still see the same glaringly myopic perspective of what to repent of that comes out of the mouths of most American Christians: abortion, homosexuality, pornography, etc.  Granted these things need repentance, and, in my opinion they have received a notable quantity in the last 30 years or so.  Consequently, I find it curious that the two specific judgments that are mentioned in Cahn’s message, 9/11 and the financial crisis, don’t directly point the finger at this traditional triple whammy of sexual sins.  Rather, in my view, they point the finger at the two things that most (right-leaning Christian) Americans don’t notice as sin and yet they are the two things that the entire rest of the world sees as America’s most glaring offenses:

  • Unrelenting empire building/maintaining
  • Capitalism in its most predatory guises

The two are quite linked, of course, and the spirit of empire and the spirit of mammon and the predator/victim spirit all swirl together in evil glee to work with one another to steal, kill and destroy as much as possible.  Part of the reason that Americans don’t “get this” is that America is a land where individualism and independence is highly valued but these two sins are at their most destructive (and yet most elusive) in their institutional and corporate forms.  The sins become systemic and one can’t easily point the finger at an individual and say, “Repent!”  Americans don’t yet know how to see American governmental and corporate impact on the world stage and rightly point the finger at themselves and say, “Repent!”  Nowhere is this more evident than in the hyper-polarized political scene in America where pointing the finger elsewhere sinks to new amazing lows with every passing day.  I would wager that the one place where Americans are comfortable grouping people together and focusing on a “corporate entity” is when we label someone “Republican” or “Democrat”.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) the Lord looks at both individuals and corporate entities and they both have roles and responsibilities in God’s Kingdom.

So, to me, 9/11 is a wake up call about our imperialistic/neo-colonial swagger in the world and the economic meltdown is about our predatory capitalistic appetite in the world…and in those two areas is perhaps where we need to focus most of our repentance energies at the moment.

So, with that rambling preamble, on with the show!

There and back again – a hospitalization tale

I had gall bladder surgery this month.  It’s been a trying ordeal to say the least!

It was scheduled surgery to remove my gall bladder on Tuesday, August 6, 2011 because of obvious gall stones found in an ultrasound which matched my pain symptoms (a growing burning pain in my side and various other apparently related pains across the bottom of my rib cage.)  Angela had hers out some 15-20 years ago and it’s been no big deal over the years for her.  The doctor said that I’d arrive early on the morning of the surgery and leave the hospital the next day if all went well.

All did not go well, as you might have guessed.Annoyed

I was not afraid of the surgery, but I certainly can’t say that I was relaxed and the surgery prep, while not really "trying" is certainly not relaxing either – more like annoying!  My experience with the French health care system to date had included plenty of visits to our general practitioner, plus two endoscopies (I really hate those) to look into my stomach to see if there were ulcers, etc., plus some heart tests a few years ago when trying to diagnose various pains that in the end seem to be completely digestive in nature. This, however would be my first hospital stay and first surgery.  I wondered if, when waking up from the anesthesia whether I’d be able to understand and/or speak French.  That, thankfully, ended up being a non-issue.  I’ve not had general anesthesia often (3 times?) but I don’t like waking up from it.  No exception here, but not as big a deal as I had remembered.  I was certainly glad however, when they took me out of the recovery room (with bright lights, noise and plenty of other patients all waking up) back to my room.

The stones that were in my gall bladder!!!The doctor came by that evening and let me know that I’d not be leaving Wednesday but Thursday.  Apparently the gall bladder was quite infected (it seems there is the same kind of danger as an infected appendix…so I’m glad it’s gone) and had somehow become covered by the liver so that its extraction was not as straight-forward as would have been hoped.  So that was my first bummer of the experience…but not my last! Sick smile

Getting home on Thursday evening was so nice.  I was so glad to be home and Angela was such a good nurse.  Friday I was already feeling better.  Saturday I felt kind of blah…less perky.

Saturday night, in the middle of the night (of course), I started getting a pain under my sternum…sort of a burning, dull pain that just kept growing.  At one point, the pain made me nauseous but I only had dry heaves…nothing to get rid of.  Finally it was a question of getting help, but boy did I NOT want to go back to the hospital.  There wasn’t much choice though.  The hospital of the surgery was in Colmar, a half an hour drive that Angela did NOT feel confident making.  There is a local hospital in Guebwiller but even then, in the middle of the night, Angela preferred that we call an ambulance.  So we did.  Then in the ambulance, they asked me which hospital I wanted to go to.  I said Colmar simply because I knew there was a chance that this was related to the surgery and I’d end up back there anyway.  They were going to honor that when their superiors said that I should go to Guebwiller to get an electrocardiogram as soon as possible to rule out heart issues, so to Guebwiller I went.

Thus began 12 hours of nearly pure agony and 5 difficult days (total) in 2 hospitals with 2 ambulance rides (the billing for which still remains a significant questionEye rolling smile). The pain came and went twice and then it pretty much stayed…sort of migrating around my chest and abdomen and left shoulder.  No pain killers were making a significant dent.  Finally, somewhere Sunday afternoon, they either found a good pain killer or it subsided pretty much for good.  By this time I’d been in 2 different emergency rooms, had lots of blood drawn, had full chest x-rays, was given an MRI (or some kind of really fancy scan) and of course couldn’t eat or drink diddly squat! (one of the BIG issues with digestive medicine!) The time in the emergency rooms was particularly annoying as my pain was acute, but sufficiently vague that no one could give me good answers to my questions (and I imagine they felt the same about me!) and due to the recent operation and the narrow emergency room "beds", I certainly wasn’t comfortable in any sense of the word.

Once the pain was gone, I was moved to the standard post-operative ward where I was basically under observation.  This meant that I got the standard nurse and nurses’ aide visits, plus blood tests, plus a second MRI, but not much in the way of contact with doctors who could tell me what was going on.  What’s more, the doctor who operated on me, who would normally have been "in charge" of me upon my reentry into the hospital, had gone on vacation just after I was released from the hospital the first time.  So I felt somewhat abandoned in the whole process.  With being passed from doctor to doctor, there were certainly lapses in communication.  I could tell 10 different personnel that I was not in pain, which answered their question for their purposes, but somehow that didn’t get back to the doctor such that when I asked if I could have anything to drink, she said that as long as I was in pain I couldn’t!  Confused smile

Because the pain had been so significant, I wanted to know what it was…what had caused it.  When I tried to have a conversation about it with a doctor, she literally interrupted me twice with "Stop!" and wouldn’t let me finish my question as I tried to find out what caused my pain.  Apparently there are too many things that could have been the source of my pain.  I finally, after thinking about it and trying to forgive the doctor over and over in my heart, I came to the conclusion that once the pain is determined to not be life threatening (they rule out certain things with tests) and once it’s been dealt with, the pain is no longer so important to the doctor; merely a trigger that got me back into the medical care system and indicated that something was not quite right.  At this point, they operate more based on their tests to determine the cause of the problem than to search back and find a reason why there was acute pain.   I think part of this, of course, is that all the personnel seem to be very busy and juggling many different patients at once.

Certainly one of the great frustrations that I had was the fact that often I was told that something would happen at a certain time or someone would come at a certain time and invariably it was much later, if at all, that it happened.  I think in the end, as the stay in the hospital really began to wear on me, this became the most frustrating thing.

Were there any bright spots in all of this?

Yes!

  • The brightest spot by far was Angela.  Rolling on the floor laughing Her visits and phone calls were pure life to me when I felt alone, scared, frustrated, bored.  She even found her way all by herself to the hospital finally.  It was big trial for her as well, seeing her husband suffer (she saw some of the worst of it), be the communication channel for those asking about me, run the home, etc.  Incredibly precious for me and incredibly draining on her.  Even as I’m still getting over those two weeks, she is too.
  • I also had a visit by my pastor and his wife who are very dear to us.  Their brief visit and prayers meant a lot to me.
  • The prayers of so many people.  I knew I was supported.  Very powerful.
  • I re-read the Hobbit (hence the significance of this blog post’s title) and almost finished re-reading the Fellowship of the Ring. This was my sole weapon against boredom when I had begun to feel better but still had to stay in the hospital.

Conclusions:

  • He who finds a wife finds a good thing!Red heart
  • Hospitals are made for abnormal interventions in the health of your body and not for long stays
  • If hospital food is bad in general, the digestive surgery ward must be the lowest point!Sick smile
  • I’m not wired to care for people in this way – the untiring dedication of the staff that I saw who deal continually with people in the range of health from sick-to-just-getting-better is amazing!
  • The French health care system is good – understaffed and overworked but full of dedicated and talented and, for the most part, friendly people (mostly the nurses) – even under stress
  • The relationship between a doctor and his patient, especially in the hospital, is really complex!  I was, in general, pretty frustrated with the doctors in the hospitals and the sort of "condescending" manner in which I was engaged.  I can see with the steady stream (flood!) of patients that they see and treat how it would be very easy to focus on the problem-solving or the science or the technology of what they’re doing, but one can’t escape (especially the patient can’t) that they are dealing with a person, not simply a piece of biological life. I certainly didn’t feel that they were majoring on me, as a person, but on my liver and how I was functioning as an organism.  Not that they were forgetting about me as a person, but it did not seem to be the priority.  To their credit, they have an incredibly difficult job, and I wouldn’t want it!
  • I don’t think I got enough post-operative counsel as to what I could expect and I’d certainly tell people who have abdominal surgery about the possibility of diverse, intense reactions.
  • Emotionally, I’m not that strong and I don’t suffer well – both of which I’m not very proud of. That realization, along with the intensity of the physical pain I had have both left a mark on me that I’m currently working on with the Lord.  I’m reading a lot of Psalms right now simply to cleanse my heart from fear and deep disappointment.

Mind the gap! The difficult path to “both and”

Well, it’s the eve of the US mid-term elections and here in France…well…no one cares I think. No, it’s All Saint’s Day (Toussaint) here and they’re mostly at the local cemetery putting chrysanthemum’s on grave stones. Tomorrow is “All Souls Day” where one prays for the deceased in Purgatory. Add to that the US import of Halloween last night and the ever important VE Day celebrations on November 11th where the French gather in every town’s war memorial (they call them “monuments to the dead”) and there’s a whole lotta’ “death” being celebrated over here!

The recent strikes and riots and fuel shortages have not helped either. The sense of “division/divisiveness”, at least for me, has a consonant ring with the “spirit of death”. To surmise that this period of time on the calendar and this period of time with respect to political events in the US and in France, is fraught with activity in the spiritual realm would not take a genius. The stakes are high and the tempers are too…prime territory for enemy seed to be sown in hearts. Kind of scares me that we cast important votes in such a climate!

What seems to be trumpeted around so often in American politics and, I see in French politics too, is that you have two real choices…no more…no less. One must fall on one side or the other and responsible engagement in the political process (aside from the ubiquitous call from all fronts to simply “VOTE!”) requires fighting for one side or against the other. As I’ve mentioned in other posts this sort of default engagement by the Body of Christ does no one any favors as we abdicate our priestly role to steward the land in which God has put us.

How do we get out of these deep ruts? Well, as one for whom concepts are primordial to shape certain kinds of behavior, I think we need to better understand what it looks like when the Kingdom of God is advancing…i.e. when God is King. What it looks like typically flies in the face of “either or” dualistic views of the social and political landscapes. Jesus bridges the gap and takes a path that doesn’t necessarily align with either right or left-winged expectations (no matter how hard we try to put Him in such “one-sided boxes.”

Recently, Duke University Divinity School held their Convocation and Pastor’s School where they had 3 outstanding speakers: NT Wright, Andy Crouch and Rob Bell. Each of these speakers, in different but complementary ways, outlined both concepts and practical application of how we “mind the gap”; how we, as the Body of Christ can and must embrace the tension of the “both and” and reject the easy slipping into left or right-wing ruts. I don’t do their excellent talks justice at all in this short blurb of publicity, but I’m much better at pointing you toward excellent source materiel than I am at summarizing it! So, I highly encourage a listen to these speakers. If you have iTunes and want to use the iTunes U. service, you can simply use the links here. If you, as I do, rather despise iTunes, feel free to take advantage of my efforts to extract these free mp3 resources from Apple’s grip and download them/stream them directly from here:

NT Wright Part 1

NT Wright Part 2

Andy Crouch

Rob Bell

iTune out!

I really like NT Wright audio teachings. He stimulates and provokes and challenges and bridges many a theological gap. I found on the NT Wright page (https://ntwrightpage.com) recently a link to some lectures he did at Duke University’s 2010 Convocation and Pastor’s School. I happily went to download the free audio teachings and I couldn’t get past a page that said that iTunes was not found on my computer. Well duh! Of course it’s not found on my computer. I wish it could stay that way!

I detest iTunes and I detest Apple’s practice of creating “monopolistic” and “invasive” software. I’m duly convinced that much of what Apple creates in terms of hardware is really good and from a design standpoint is laudable (if stupidly expensive!). However, their handful of offerings that make it to the Windows world are hugely annoying! They’re probably just trying to stick to Microsoft for their clunky Mac offerings. Of course the losers in this war are the end-users, not the big corporations.

Having had experience in getting other streaming protocols to finally cough up a standard URL of a standard media file via circuitous editing of a series of downloaded files, I did various “view sources” and tried playing my results in different capable, non-invasive media players and tried changing the protocol from itms to http, etc. None of this worked. So I started out looking for specific freeware players capable of playing/downloading itms files. I failed…

Apple has started this thing (I hesitate to use the word “service” as it does us only a dis-service!) called iTunes U. iTunes U is a corner of the iTunes Music Store universe dedicated to more educational media files. They must make it pretty attractive to participate in. Personally, I find it reprehensible that Duke University would, in essence, force people to download Apple software to play a free academic mp3 lecture. I can’t imagine that the bandwidth hit or storage space is any kind of real problem for the university that they just couldn’t put their mp3 files up on their own servers somewhere where anyone could easily download them.

Anyway, I didn’t succeed in circumventing iTunes completely, but I did find this tutorial on how to install iTunes in a less invasive way: The unofficial guide to installing iTunes 10 without bloatware on the zdnet site. I highly recommend doing things this way if you simply need iTunes for some unique capability it offers and you don’t want it to be so invasive or huge. I would add however, this final step: Fire up autoruns after doing the install steps and do a search on Apple. Then you can delete autostarted tasks/services that you don’t want.

Praying while I work

In the latest Online Update Newsletter from Church Production Magazine the question is asked, “Should techs stop and pray during services?” My first reaction to this is along the lines of, “Oh brother! Can we not waste our time on pointless discussions please!?” I know that there are sincere people on the other end, but this rationalistic/dualistic way of “doing church (services)” is so far removed from my reality that I struggle to even wade into the conversation. I read the article however (hoping to find a place where I could fire off my “eye-rolling” comments). Thankfully this article wasn’t up for discussion on their site…and thankfully I have my own (barely visited) site where I can comment away.

My philosophical/theological stance on all this is we need to be praying all the time and our definition of prayer needs to expand as well. Consequently a discussion of whether this circumstance or that circumstance should/should not include “prayer” is difficult for me to engage with (other than my judgmental eye-rolling!).

But, I read the article and I think they treated the sincere question well and with much more grace than I would have. For me, personally, I find that my time at the mixing board during a service is ideal time to intercede for the worship and whatever else is going on in front of me. For example, we have a couple of youth worship teams, and I love to intercede for them while they do their thing. They’re taking risks and learning how to lead people in worship at an age where I was simply goofy…nothing more! It’s stimulating to pick one of them out up on stage and call for more of the anointing to flow through them!

However, this still leaves me with a personal dilemma/question: How do I pray constantly (without ceasing) in other areas? It’s all well and good to think “correctly” that I should…it’s a whole other thing to actually do it .

This is a constant struggle with me because my work (computers) is cerebral in nature. There are times when I can interject worship and prayer and declaration, etc. into what I’m doing and there are times when I need to focus on something simply to understand it. I don’t have a problem with the idea that my focus time is “prayer/worship”; that I’m honoring the Lord in my work. What is difficult is coming out of that deep focus and consciously bringing Jesus into it. I’ve no problem with the idea that Jesus wants to be in it and that He has great solution ideas for me and that we can commune with each other in my technology work…I just have a hard time doing it consistently; a hard time remembering that He’s closer than my skin and desiring that intimacy with me…and not always to the exclusion of my work, but actually in my work!

I like to think back to the Brother Lawrence’s example of Practicing the Presence of God where he does the dishes with God (and for God as an act of worship). I think that’s great and, in fact I love that example because I already do the dishes with God. Literally, that’s where I listen to teachings or pray or ruminate on some scripture. That kind of routine, manual work is such an opportunity for me because of what I can and have gotten out of it. Now, if I could just add that next level of connection in the realm of cerebral work! Help Lord!

Groping in the culture

Recently I posted an article for the Daywatch blog. I’m posting it here and adding the French translation which was done for me by Samuel Rhein for inclusion in his regular French-language prophetic bulletin.

This month’s post is bit of a departure perhaps to what you’ve become accustomed to in Nightwatch/Daywatch materiel. First off, to set the stage, I’m an American living in Europe, which has afforded me some rich fodder for cultural perspective. As an adopted son of Europe, my “identity” as a European is not a “given” that runs as an undercurrent, woven into all thought and practice. No, for me, it has been a subject of ardent seeking, joy, consternation, purposeful reflection, frustration, etc. Add to that a call to intercession and I’m reminded of Paul’s discourse to the Athenians (Europeans), that God has carefully placed us at a specific time/space intersection in order that we might “grope” to find Him (Acts 17:26-27). The realities and implications of my adoptive cultural identity have often left me groping for God to assure myself that He’s still with me and to actively bring Him into my circumstances. Additionally, a bit of distance from the States also gives me new perspectives on the land where I spent the first 38 years of my life.

Consequently, I’ve come to think that there is perhaps a pseudo-command in the Athenian discourse with respect to our cultures…be they adoptive or native.

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us

The culture and society in which we find ourselves is not simply to be a “given” in our lives to which we give little to no reflection, as if we were on a raft drifting inexorably with the current of a slow-moving but powerful river. According to this passage, its particularities should provoke us in some way so that we engage more deeply in our seeking (and finding) of God…who apparently is just waiting for us to start asking important, critical questions about our historical and geographical context.

Speaking of Jesus, Paul says in Col 1:18-20:

He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Speaking of us, Paul says in 2 Cor 5:18-19:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

I like to re-phrase “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” as “appointed us to administer His reconciliation.” I think that shakes some of the religious baggage off the verse and gives us a scope that, in my opinion, is more in line with Paul’s intention and Jesus’ call.

When you put these passages together, you see that God has established our lives in an historical and geographical context (which equates, in fact, to a culture) so that we would find Him in it, and once having found Him would administer the reconciliation of all things to Himself in that context.

As intercessors working to pull the Church in Europe through to her destiny, I believe that we need to call out to the Church, in the Spirit, to:

  • Actively grope” for God in this particular historical/geographical context. This is in sharp contrast to living in our native cultures, simply assuming that all our societal interactions are “normal.” Rather to actively bring things to God’s Throne and seek His perspective.
  • Meditate on the intersection of our earthly and heavenly citizenships; again asking God what His perspective is and “actively groping” to understand the goal of this intersection in the administration of reconciliation. We see that Paul is neither ignorant nor indifferent to both his citizenships.

To bring this home, and spill the beans a bit more on my particular situation, I want to give an example. In French language school, our professor (a Christian) told us that whenever there is a problem in a French person’s life, one of the first reactions is to look to a government-supplied solution. According to him, this was the general reaction amongst Christians as well. Certainly this would be a broad generalization, but there is certainly some truth to it. This is an example of the French Church drifting on the cultural stream instead of hoisting the sail to see what the Wind of the Spirit might be saying. Certainly there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the government providing solutions to problems and certainly God can and does provide using many different agencies. There is something wrong, however, with the Body of Christ (individually or corporately) assuming that the government is their first-stop solution for challenges they face. A similar trap for the Body of Christ exists in the States with respect to tax-exempt status for charitable organizations. And in Canada for example, Christian Schools enjoyed government subsidies for a period. When the subsidies ended, a large percentage of those schools failed.

Our collusion with culture is extremely subtle but also extremely powerful. Now is the time for the Church to begin to earnestly ask the Lord for light to reveal where we are colluding and grace to walk a different path.


Tout d’abord, pour poser le décor, je suis un Américain vivant en Europe, ce qui a alimenté richement ma perspective de la culture. En tant que fils adopté de l’Europe, mon «identité» européenne n’est pas un “don” qui fonctionne comme une évidence, tissé dans la pensée et la pratique. Non, pour moi, cela a été un sujet de recherche ardent, de joies, de consternation, de réflexion utile, de frustrations, etc. Ajoutez à cela un appel à l’intercession et je me rappelle le discours de Paul aux Athéniens (les Européens), montrant que Dieu a pris soin de nous placer à une intersection de l’espace-temps, afin que nous puissions Le trouver en “tâtonnant” (Actes 17:26-27). Les réalités et les implications de mon identité culturelle d’adoption m’ont souvent laissé tâtonner en cherchant Dieu afin de m’assurer qu’il st toujours avec moi et de Lui faire une place active dans mes circonstances. En outre, un peu de distance avec les États-Unis, me donne également de nouvelles perspectives sur la terre où j’ai passé les premiers 38 ans de ma vie.

Par conséquent, je suis arrivé à penser qu’il y a peut-être une instruction cachée dans le discours d’Athènes à l’égard de nos cultures … qu’elles soient natives ou adoptives.

« Il a fait d’un seul sang toutes les races des hommes pour habiter sur toute la face de la terre, ayant déterminé les temps ordonnés et les bornes de leur habitation, pour qu’ils cherchent Dieu, s’ils pourraient en quelque sorte le toucher en tâtonnant et le trouver, quoiqu’il ne soit pas loin de chacun de nous. »

La culture et la société dans laquelle nous nous trouvons n’est pas simplement “don” dans notre vie auquel nous accordons peu ou pas d’intérêt, comme si nous étions sur un radeau dérivant inexorablement sur le cours lent mais puissant d’une rivière. Selon ce passage, ses particularités doivent provoquer en nous d’une façon ou d’une autre un engagement plus profond de notre recherche de Dieu (Le chercher et Le trouver) … qui est apparemment en attente en nous et qui commence par se poser des questions importantes et critiques sur notre contexte historique et géographique.

Parlant de Jésus, Paul dit en Col 1:18-20 :

« Il est la tête du corps de l’Eglise ; il est le commencement, le premier-né d’entre les morts, afin d’être en tout le premier. Car Dieu a voulu que toute plénitude habitât en lui ; il a voulu par lui réconcilier tout avec lui-même, tant ce qui est sur la terre que ce qui est dans les cieux, en faisant la paix par lui, par le sang de sa croix. »

En parlant de nous, Paul dit dans 2 Cor 5:18-19 :

« Et tout cela vient de Dieu, qui nous a réconciliés avec lui par Christ, et qui nous a donné le ministère de la réconciliation. Car Dieu était en Christ, réconciliant le monde avec lui-même, en n’imputant point aux hommes leurs offenses, et il a mis en nous la parole de la réconciliation. Nous faisons donc les fonctions d’ambassadeurs pour Christ, comme si Dieu exhortait par nous ; nous vous en supplions au nom de Christ : Soyez réconciliés avec Dieu ! »

J’aime réécrire la phrase « nous a donné le ministère de la réconciliation » comme ceci : « nous a désigné pour administrer Sa réconciliation ». Je pense que cela débarrasse le verset de son bagage religieux et nous donne un champ d’application qui, à mon avis, est plus conforme à l’intention de Paul et de l’appel de Jésus.

Lorsque vous mettez ensemble ces passages, vous voyez que Dieu a créé nos vies dans un contexte historique et géographique (ce qui équivaut, en fait, à une culture), afin que nous Le rencontrions, et que L’ayant trouvé nous administrions la réconciliation de toutes choses à lui-même dans ce contexte.

Comme intercesseurs qui travaillent pour tirer l’Église en Europe vers sa destinée, je crois que nous avons besoin d’appeler l’Eglise, dans l’Esprit, à :

  • « tâtonner activement » pour chercher Dieu, dans une tel contexte d’histoire / de géographie. Ceci est en frappant contraste avec le fait de se laisser vivre dans la culture où nous sommes nés, en supposant simplement que l’ensemble de nos interactions sociales sont «normales». Travaillons plutôt activement à amener les choses au Trône de Dieu et à chercher son point de vue.
  • Méditer sur l’intersection de la citoyenneté de la terre et du ciel ; demandant à Dieu ce qu’est Sa perspective et « tâtonnant activement » pour comprendre l’objectif de cette intersection dans l’administration de la réconciliation. Nous voyons que Paul n’est ni ignorant ni indifférent à ces deux citoyennetés.

Pour s’approprier cette réalité, et ‘secouer le cocotier’ un peu plus dans ma situation, je veux donner un exemple personnel. En école de langue française, notre professeur (un chrétien) nous a dit que chaque fois qu’il y a un problème dans la vie d’un français, l’une des premières réactions est de se tourner vers une solution fournie par le gouvernement. Selon lui, cela a été la réaction générale parmi les chrétiens aussi. Certes, ce serait une généralisation trop hâtive, mais il y a certainement une part de vérité à cela. Ceci est un exemple de l’Eglise de France se laissant aller à la dérive sur le courant culturel au lieu de hisser la voile pour voir ce que le vent de l’Esprit peut dire. Certes, il n’y a rien d’intrinsèquement mauvais avec un gouvernement qui fournit des solutions à des problèmes et certainement Dieu peut utiliser et apporter l’aide au travers de nombreux organismes. Il y a cependant quelque chose de mal si le Corps du Christ (individuellement ou collectivement) présuppose que le gouvernement est le premier guichet, l’unique solution pour les défis auxquels il est confronté. Un piège équivalent pour le Corps de Christ existe aux USA en matière d’exonération fiscale pour des organisations caritatives. Au Canada par exemple, les écoles chrétiennes bénéficient de subventions publiques pour une période. Lorsque les subventions s’arrêtent, la plupart de ces écoles ferment.

Notre collusion avec la culture est extrêmement subtile, mais aussi très puissante. Il est maintenant temps pour l’Eglise de commencer sérieusement à demander au Seigneur de la lumière pour révéler l’endroit où nous sommes en collusion et la grâce de marcher sur une voie différente.