Saturday, January 8, 2011

I ended last year, and began this one on a bus.

I ended last year, and began this one on a bus.

I had the beautiful opportunity to go to Passion in Atlanta, GA with my very good friend, Sierra:

I've always had my thoughts and doubts about the authenticity of pop Christianity's big productions. I wonder if the lights and stadiums really mean that much to God, if at all. After all, He speaks through the prophet Amos in one of my favorite verses, saying:  

I hate all your show and pretense—
      the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
 22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
      I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
 23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
      I will not listen to the music of your harps.
 24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
      an endless river of righteous living. (Amos 5:21-24)

Needless to say, I was simply curious as I rode on that bus through the new year.
Here I am now, on the other side of things, recollecting the impact that Passion 2011 had on me.

Simply stated, I think it was beautiful to see 22,000 people my age come together from all over the world, hoping to experience God in a new way, and then to try to express the surrender of their lives to Him. People my age need to be empowered. To be implored to use what we have been given for the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom isn't distant; it's here. And this conference, minus the big production, may have been a small glimpse of that.

In his article "Re-imagining Heaven" in Relevant Magazine, Jeff Cook says:
"When we choose mercy over indifference, when we choose action over apathy, when we choose self-restraint and chastity over a life given over to our many reckless desires, we choose to live now in the kingdom of heaven. When we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, house the homeless, and die to ourselves for the sake of another, we enjoy the life of the age to come. When we hear the voice of God telling us we are lived, that our many sins are forgiven, we experience now what we will experience forever. When we eat together, laugh together, sing together, serve together, take communion, love our enemies and cancel debts, we choose to live the best kind of life - the life of God's future connected to Hom and to one another."

One of the most incredible things I observed at Passion, was the way in which they married worship and justice. As demonstrated in the verse from Amos, this is the heart of God, and it's something that I've been looking for in the heart of those who follow Him for a long time.
They had set up a village, of sorts, in which people could come and learn about things that the majority of our world are up against; things that break the heart of God. Things like lack of clean water, hunger, human trafficking, HIV... It was amazingly informative and artistic, and provided people with a way to respond to what God was doing in their lives by investing money in organizations that are on the ground, working against these things. As I entered, my heart was in my throat. I'd been waiting to see something like this for a long time.

(Sorry some images are sideways - - ??)
Within 4 days, a stadium of broke college kids was able double the goal they were given, and raise over 1.1 MILLION dollars. 

The conflict within me lies here: I was talking to a girl from another group, and she said that they had encountered a homeless man on their way back to their hotel. He said that for 4 days, he had watched thousands upon thousands of college students pass him by, not even stopping to talk with him.
I thought.. Oh no. We have missed the point.
For God never told us to give our money to World Vision and let them care for the oppressed, sick, and poor. He told us to do that. And if donating money is an easy way out of our responsibilities that God has given us in His kingdom, an easy way to feel good about ourselves, and to justify going out and buying that $100 pair of jeans, then God forbid..
Still, I have to quiet the cynic in me, and believe the slogan that they displayed: That together we are a force for good. That when people are informed of the things that exist in this world, and given a tangible opportunity to be a force for good in that, in God's name, they will. And they will do twice as much as was expected of them.

I have a lot of thoughts for the year that has just arrived, and a lot of them have to do with this blog that I suspect nobody reads. I hope to get those up in the next day or so... if for nothing but my own personal satisfaction. 

More Africa journals are on the way too.

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