Casual Causes and Christian Convictions

Proper 13 / August 3, 2014

 

rebels with a cause

 

Faith in Christ changes things. It changes everything – our views and values, our goals, our attitudes, our relationships, our investments, our history, our entire world – past, present and future. And we are thankful for it!

Here and there as we walk with Christ we will find ourselves caught up in pursuit of a cause that requests an investment of time, money, and/or talent to change something in society. Causes aren’t bad. They are good. I can think of a handful of causes that I am at least on the margin of and a few that I am smack dab in the middle of. You probably have the same experience. Causes help us focus our energy, generate unity and resources, and create a sense of direction for where we are going and what we are doing along the way. Sometimes we enter a cause because we feel pain or can’t ignore the injustice going on. Sometimes we join a cause because it is cool, trendy, or “everyone else is into it.”  

Regardless of reasons for joining a cause we are usually better for doing so and often have helped make the world better on some level. The real problem with most ‘causes’ is that we are not bound or tied to the cause beyond our level of interest or comfort. We can join at a cause anytime we feel like it. We can abandon the cause just as quickly if we feel unnoticed, underappreciated or unnecessary. It can happen just that fast. Thanks to social media we don’t even have to join or participate in causes any more. We can just “like” or “follow” them and we feel like we are making a difference without doing very much at all. We have come to believe that we can wear a t-shirt and change the world. Nothing else required. But when we join a cause without making a personal investment or sacrifice we are making very little difference and may be making it more difficult for the cause to actually move forward because we only given a faint interest that will soon be distracted by the next new, cool cause that gets in our way. We are CAUSE GAWKERS (Yep – I just coined that phrase) and we should be better than that.

Christianity is not a cause.

It is more than a cause and we can’t think of it as such. But that is what is going on in so many ways. Many people are interested in Christianity for the purpose of networking, positive messaging, personal gains, political platforms, and/or family traditions. Other people with a sincere faith simplify their entire Christian witness into Christian action and activity. However, as soon as someone senses that their cause or need is not being supported or met they flee the scene/cause.  Too often a cause has become the entire story of someone’s (or some congregations) faith journey and experience.

Christianity is not a cause.

We have causes that are important to Christians and there are causes that connected to Christian traditions or initiatives, but causes are not what make us or define us as Christians. At the core of our action is a conviction that Christ has redeemed us so that we might fulfill our creation purpose and glorify God daily in word, thought, and deed. Another way to say that is that once we were sinners, but God in His grace has saved us so that we may worship God and enjoy Him forever. From our core Christian convictions come compelling Christian causes that not only do good in our world, but connects the Christian story to the causes we have casually come upon. That story – God’s story, the gospel – is our compelling purpose for living, loving, and inviting others into our kingdom experience. Everything we are involved in should be rooted in that. Every dollar we give to a missionary, every back pack we collect for needy children, every meal we serve at the soup kitchen, every minute we give to mentor an emerging teenager, every single person we try to help in any way is not a new worthy cause to join, but a continuation of a story that changes the world. Christians have only one cause to care for. The cause of making Christ known in and through the way we live and the way we engage others. Our activities, initiatives, missions, etc., will flow out of that story and into a world in need of good news. Let that be the cause we care most about.

Christianity is not a cause.

5For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.  (Colossians 2)

—gdb2

 

Don’s PSA of the day  –  My favorite cause right now is a student led educational mentoring program in Houston reaching around the world to inspire kids in orphanages, foster care and centers of youth development (www.enrichingyoungminds.net.) Look them up, like them, and give to their cause. You  will be glad you did.

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