Friday, October 26, 2012

us f(or) them

I recently stepped out of 'professional' pastoral ministry... but that's another story for another time

during this 'post-pro-pastor' era I've been on an interesting journey, stories of which I'm sure you'll be subjected to if you continue reading this blog


I hadn't been able to pin-point exactly what had been bothering me in the months past...but then it came

I believe that as followers of Jesus we are called to be a blessing to others, to be about reconciliation, to bring hope, to be light, to be salt - not of ourselves, but as God works in and through us

but instead, so many are running around fear-mongering, perpetuating an 'us or them' mentality with little compassion - escapism, exclusivism, private-club-members-only-ism

Jesus looked on the crowds with sheep without a shepherd but sometimes I'd swear my 'brothers and sisters,' in their rhetoric are taking it upon themselves in condemning people to hell

my friends,

it's not us or them

it's us for them if God is calling to the world through us (an appeal if you will)

and what so many seem to be slinging is none too appealing


now I'm not suggesting we sugar-coat or water-down to make following Jesus easier BUT for crying out loud, let's at least try to act like Him.

we've been running around drawing far too many lines in the sand for far too long and the waves are about to crash down

may we be the salt and be the light...and may it truly be us for them



Anonymous said...

Why "us for them" when it could simply be "we are them, taking on the challenges of life on earth... together"?

It seems to me "us for them" does not eliminate the "us versus them" mentality. It only changes the label.


Tyson Liske said...

thanks for the comment.

that was initially one of my concerns with the concept to be honest...that there remains an unnecessary separation is not my intent.

what I may not have explained fully is the need for compassion and empathy for others. this ultimately, I believe, leads to inclusion, not exclusion.

however, there does remain a distinction for the people of God - Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 2: "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God"

but this distinction is not one of greater power or pride - rather I believe, it is the opposite - it becomes one of submission and humility.

Anonymous said...

"...but this distinction is not one of greater power or pride - rather I believe, it is the opposite - it becomes one of submission and humility."

Submission and humility to who or what? If only to God, does this not imply the "other" is lower on the totem pole and should submit to you? Can there be true "compassion and empathy for others" when it is extended in condescension?

Tyson Liske said...

quite the opposite. if one is in a posture of submission and humility before God then the only option is to serve the 'other' as greater than one's self.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves"

Jesus lived as a servant - thus, anyone who 'says' they follow Him should also strive to serve others

- thanks for the questions

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these responses. I don't mean to heckle, my questions are sincere. I'm curious to hear more of your thoughts.

Are you saying that proselytizing to the "other" should be replaced with serving in humility, considering the "other" to be better?

Jesus provides an example of living as a servant. But was not the Apostle Paul a great promoter of proselytizing far beyond the message of merely serving others? Is there not a discrepancy here?

Tyson Liske said...

not heckling at all - I appreciate the discourse.

in regards to proselytizing or lack there of, I take Jesus' example/ commands over others' words every time.

Jesus, living as a servant, also commands His followers to go and make disciples.

now, the interpretation of how one 'makes' a disciple is very broad.

I would submit that to make disciples, one must be willing to serve (as Jesus did)

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like you would adhere to some form of "Jesusism" (in contrast to "Paulism")?

Jesus is presented in different ways through the Biblical writings, and at times there appears to be discrepancies in his teachings.

Which version of Jesus would you say best represents the true Jesus, or at least the Jesus you follow?

For example, the Jesus of Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke) tends toward teaching that salvation is through good works and keeping the law, Matthew in particular: (Matt 5:20, Matt 12:37, Matt 16:27, Matt 19:17, Matt 25:41-46, Luke 10:26-28).

This contrasts with what appears to be a later teaching in the later addition to Mark and the Gospel of John which emphasize salvation through belief/faith in Christ (Mark 16:16, John 3:18,36)

The confusing part is writings attributed to Paul seem to go back and forth between these teachings at times supporting each perspective:

Salvation through belief/faith in Christ:

Romans 1:16-17, Romans 3:20, Romans 4:2, Gal 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5

Salvation through good works/keeping the law

Romans 2:6,13; 2 Cor 5:10,11:15; Phil 2:12,

And also other NT books:

James 2:14,2:17,2:21-25; 1 Peter 1:17, Revelation 2:23,20:12-13, 22:14

The evangelical church today appears to me to officially reject the teaching of salvation through good works/keeping the commandments (a more Jewish approach?) and embrace the teaching of salvation through belief in Christ.

On the other hand, in action many evangelicals appear to me to flip/flop between both teachings.

It seems to me the "us versus them" mentality among evangelicals is related to a "salvation through keeping the law attitude". However, this teaching is promoted by some representations of Jesus (and spoken against by Jesus at other times).

So it would seem to me that you support portrayals of Jesus that involve extending love and compassion to others as a servant, and reject portrayals of Jesus that do not fit this?

Tyson Liske said...

without being too coy - is it fair to say 'both/and'?

that I believe Jesus is above strict classification?

because of my faith in Jesus, I believe it is natural to follow him in obedience

to dissect good works from faith is impossible - they are irrevocably intertwined

I personally cannot escape the book of James which speaks very poignantly to this topic - James 2: 17 - "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

whether Jesusism or not - my faith is planted squarely on Jesus - the author and perfecter of my faith

Jesus, in John 15 (among other places) speaks to what loving Him looks like - obeying his commands.

thanks for the questions. I have by no means begun to answer them - but look forward to stumbling toward clarity together

where you do fall out in these areas? - if I may be so bold...