Archive for the ‘Practical Theology’ Category

Kosher Shoes

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I heard a really interesting interview on NPR this weekend. In their money segment on Sunday mornings they’re running a series on faith and money. This weekend they talked to a young Jewish couple who run a kosher food truck in LA and their Rabbi.

What stood out to me was the practical ways in which the young couple being interviewed applied their religious principles to their lives. These principles, by the way, are the same principles that Christ-followers should apply as well. We are all reading the same book after all.

A comment they made early in the interview was that as practicing Jews it was easy for them to determine what to buy at the grocery. Yet, it wasn’t so easy at Best Buy. That struck me as kind of funny. I had never thought about whether a TV could be kosher or not. I’m still not sure if it can, but that’s not the point. The point is that for them shopping involves intentionality. Shopping is and exercise in mindfulness. That’s the first lesson I drew from the interview.

Are you mindful when you shop? Do you consider the full implications of the purchase you’re making? Do you consider how this purchase affects other people? I wish I could say I do. But I don’t. You see, it’s not just about getting the best deal on the product you want to enhance your life. Every purchase we make is a moral choice.

There was a second point that they made. It has to do with the value of the service provided by the people selling the product. The young woman talked about making a shoe purchase. Very stereotypical I know, but it’s true. Anyway, virtually any shoe you can find in a shoe store can be found online.

If getting the best price on a pair of shoes were the only goal, then it would make sense to buy shoes online. Yet, shoes are very personal. You have to try them on before you buy them. There’s a simple solution of course. Go to the shoe store. Find the shoes you like. Try them on. Then go home and shop online to get the best deal.

Yet, what does that strategy communicate about the value of the person trying to sell you the shoes in the store? Do you see how dehumanizing that strategy is? You would be making that person work for free (shoe salespeople generally work on commission). That strategy communicates that the service of the salesperson is of know value. That strategy, moreover, violates God’s principles of caring for people. The service that people provides has value and they should be paid appropriately.

Every dollar we spend communicates something about the person we are and the person we are becoming. We need to shop intentionally and, to the best of our ability, spend our money in the most morally responsible way. We also must remember that every person is valuable and they deserve to be compensated for the work that they do. These two principles should affect how we spend money every day.

Do you have any stories of how you have shopped mindfully or made a point to value the work that someone has done for you?

The Fourth Place

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Recently the idea of the “third place” has become popular in ministry circles. I’ll try to give a quick definition of the concept here. In the US, we live in three places; home, work, and the third place. There are a variety of expression of the third place; the local coffee shop (think Friends), the corner bar (think Cheers), the local lodge (think The Flintstones). The third place is where people go to socialize. It’s the hub location for their “tribe.”

In ministry circles there have been a lot of conversation about how we should make the church the “third place.” This, theoretically, is a good idea. If people are spending their “third place” time at the church they can connect to the community and grow spiritually.

I’m a little leery of this idea. If I’m spending all my time at home, work, and church, when do I engage with people who aren’t Christ-followers? Yes, I know work is a good place to do that. The people there are stuck with me. I will also concede that the workplace is part of our “mission field.” But is it the most effective place to share Christ? I find the conversations that most often turn to spiritual things are not at work. They’re at third places with third place people. If the church were to become my third place then when would I have these conversations?

I think maybe the church should be the fourth place. We should carve time out of our schedules to engage at church and in church activities but not let it monopolize our time outside of work and home. Prioritize church but don’t make church your third place. Find a place where you can naturally build relationships with people who don’t know Christ and use that “third place” time as mission time. Here are a couple of examples:

• Coach soccer (or whatever)
• Study martial arts
• Join a book club

Don’t make church your third place. You’ll miss way too much of what God is doing outside the walls of the church building. Besides, if the church is people, can the church really be a third place or any place at all?

What are some other third places where you’ve been able to share Christ and see God working?

What is the gospel?

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you’ve seen several posts wrestling with the nature of the gospel and the polarization that is happening between the emerging and evangelical views. This is something that I’ve been working through for a while as I try to be true to God’s call and be more effective at communicating who Jesus is. There is a recent post on the Acts 29 blog by Tim Keller that addresses this. It is a very well thought out critique of the topic. If you’re at all interested in know more about the gospel or learning how to better communicate it to those around you, this post is a must read.

Aliens & Citizens by Jordan Hylden

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

If you haven’t been following Christianity Today’s “Christian Vision Project” you’ve been robbing yourself of some very good information and deep insight into how we can and should be the church in the 21st century. Yesterday I posted my review of Brian McLaren’s “Everything Must Change.” Today I read an article that helps to balance some of the imbalance I saw. You can read the article by Jordan Hylden here.
Hylden’s specific focus is on how we as followers of Jesus should interact with government. His approach is much more biblical than that espoused by McLaren. He emphasizes the fact that the Israelite exiles in Babylon were admonished to live in and pray for Babylon. As a matter of fact the heroes of Scripture from that time did just that. Think of Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther. He also points out the Paul’s view of the Roman government was that it was in place at the will of God.
For those that follow Jesus, it is important that we remember our citizenship and ultimate loyalty are not with whatever government issued our passport. It is with God’s kingdom. Yet, to truly live out the values of God’s kingdom, Jesus’ followers should be the best possible citizens of this planet and whatever government under which they live. This includes all moral and ethical issues like the rights of the unborn, responsible care of the environment, loving the poor, etc. These are not Democrat/Republican, Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative issues. These are human issues. Issues rooted in loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.