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Spirit and Sensibility

February 13th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 12: 8 (NLT)

 8 A sensible person wins admiration,
      but a warped mind is despised.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Growing up, I often heard the expression “too heavenly minded for any earthly good” used to describe people with seemingly unrealistic ideologies.  This is the kind of person who is offended if no devotion is given when a group of Christians get together to play board games.  This mindset sometimes uses the faith excuse to dodge certain issues that simply need to be addressed directly.  Help you with the trash?   Uh, I’ll have to get back with you on that one . . . need to pray first.

The biggest issue that comes across my path as a minister is the definition of that mysterious point in life at which faith and the realistic world in which we live collide.  In other words, when do I take action because of what I believe and when do I act out of what is necessary . . . the questions are complicated.  

We face them when situations arise at the workplace where within honesty is not the most prioritized goal.  Do we sound the alarm and thump our Bibles in protest each time an employer cuts a corner to make a profit?  Is this what Jesus would do?  Or do we shame the name of Christ when we self-righteously go to war over issues that seem to do little else than eliminate any positive influence that we might have had?  Doesn’t the Bible say to live quiet lives among the world and demonstrate His love by our own actions?

Where is mystical point of reconciliation between two diametrically opposed positions? How can we be Christians and also be humans?

As individuals who either possess some level or faith or are at least exploring the possibilities of such an experience, this is the middle ground upon which we traipse every day.  The challenge to live an authentically transformed life in a very untransformed world is a whirlwind adventure to say the least.

Modern forms of Christianity seem to address these issues more directly than traditional viewpoints.  There have been points in Twentieth Century protestant Christendom in which any amount of make-up was considered excessive and sinful.  Organized sports were considered worldly and movies were denounced altogether.  In historical terms, these days weren’t that long ago.

Fast forward a few decades and what you find is both a dichotomy and a cross-pollination of these ideas.  The dichotomy is found in the striking differences between church cultures found within the cultures of certain communities.  One church is playing Michael Jackson cover songs in their choir to relate to their community.  Just across the street, another church is still singing a song written in the 1650’s.  Their style of preaching is different and the two methodologies are seemingly polar opposites; but at the end of both presentations, both churches will invite attendees to make commitments to the same Jesus.  

Is this possible?

The cross-pollination model is probably more the norm among the average American church.  The attempt is to not let any one methodology be the defining factor.  Some new songs; some old songs.  Relevant communication that will speak to the saints as well as the skeptics.  Heritage and relevance in harmony.  Sensible faith . . . and “a sensible person wins admiration . . .”

All in all, this passage illuminates the value of “sensibility.”  Being sensible is a valued attribute that we should strive for.  It’s difficult, but the living truth within us will simultaneously set us apart from the world and reach out to it at the same time . . . only those willing to walk sensibly with their spirituality will find this elusive place of influence.  Not selling out.  Not watering down.  Not cramming faith down throats, yet not backing down.  Knowing when to speak and when to keep silent.  

When we fashion completely separate religious environments complete with culturally-foreign dialects, customs, and programs that are completely alien to the world around us, our thought-processes are viewed as “warped” and nonsensical . . . thus we are “despised” not as much for the truths we ascribe to, but more so for our inability or unwillingness to speak the language of the society in which we live.

Spirituality seasoned with sensibility will open doors of “admiration” where within faith can be shared in authentic and realistic relationships.  The transformation of knowing Jesus should make us different, but it shouldn’t be because we cease to be relevant to our culture . . . it should be because of an other-worldly love coupled with a life-altering energy to change.  Something that can’t be explained, but can’t be explained away.

Just makes “sense.”



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