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29 December 2011

Perspective Matters

I listened to an older podcast from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California this morning. Francis Chan was the teacher and the title of his message was "How To Respond When Bad Things Happen."

I have to admit that when I scrolled to the title and clicked the play button, I assumed it meant "How To Respond When Bad Things Happen To You." When I began to listen I found that Chan was talking about "How To Respond When Bad Things Happen To Other People." The sermon was delivered immediately following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He wasn't talking about bad things happening to me; he was talking about bad things happening to people to whom I could show compassion and give help.

With that realization I was ashamed. Ideas had already flipped through my mind about what would be talked about in the message -- how to react when I lose my job, when my marriage is on the rocks, when people despise me for no apparent reason, when I've made a stupid mistake, etc. I've heard sermons on all these things. But all of those ideas had me as the subject and God as the One who would lift me up out of my bad place, or at worst, God the Omnipotent Genie who would fix all my problems.

I'm one of those who has said, "If the Church had been following its mandate through history we wouldn't see such rampant poverty, hunger, and crime throughout the world. We wouldn't expect for our government to take care of needy families," and similar things that have made me feel pretty sure God's been impressed with my pious wisdom. In the meantime, I wonder if I've been the hands or feet of Christ and have been encouraging the Church to go together into the world to meet those needs.

My assumption this morning about the context of Chan's message reveals more about me than I'd like to admit, and is very likely the perspective of most in America who call themselves followers of Christ or Christians. It's "me and Jesus" -- how can God help me through my pet trial? How can I show my perspective to the Church and the world?

May God correct our perspective.


Steve Finnell said...

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Anonymous said...

Dean... I have to admit that when I read the title of Chan's podcast, I had the same thought as you. Maybe Dean will list some things Chan said to help me when bad things happen... to me. Humbling, to say the least.


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