Friday, February 11, 2011

Jesus Shifts our Focus from Failure to New Life

Here’s an interesting news vignette from the Kentucky Post:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Catholic church has given its stamp of approval to an app helping the faithful confess their sins.

The application, created by Catholic priests, for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch isn't intended to replace the confessional. Instead, its designers hope it helps people keep track of what they need to atone for.

The app takes information from the user like age, gender and time elapsed since their last confession to create a personalised "examination of conscience". There is also a place for you to check which areas you have sinned using the 10 commandments as a guide.

Some church leaders see the app is also seen as a way of getting younger generations interested in church again.

This is a classic illustration of what is wrong with what I like to refer to as “Religious Christianity”, and why – in my opinion – The Church Traditional continues to fail miserably when it comes to this idea – it crops up in every era - of, “Getting younger generations interested…”

Believe me, Jesus is interesting enough. The problem is how we tend to build religion around Jesus, structures that effectively shield us - and the people Jesus charged us with the responsibility of reaching - from what is the most interesting. And what's most interesting is the Master's bold, challenging invitation to live.

The confession application’s designers, according to the report, developed their nifty gizmo in order to help more people - defined as sinners - “keep track of what they need to atone for…”

Hello! Hasn’t this approach to a meaningful relationship with the Almighty been tried a few times before? In Christianity we understand this proven bad idea as “The Old Testament,” "The Law", "Legalism" and "Salvation by works."

My best understanding of Jesus tells me he ushered in a New Covenant. Or, as the writer of Hebrews put it, “A new and living way.”

Here’s my word for the day: “LIVE”. By that I mean take a clue from Jesus and be proactive in terms of love. Or, as I stressed constantly when I worked in exceptional education, practice positive behaviors that are incompatible with negative behaviors. If the focus is on doing what is right, then it becomes unnecessary to worry all the time about doing what is wrong.

JESUS shifts our focus from failure to new life.

Pursue God, follow Jesus, allow our very substance to be infused with the Holy Spirit. We don’t need an iPhone app to point out where we’re falling short… what the world needs is a NEW AND LIVING WAY.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)

1 comment:

Jackie said...

As a member of the "younger generation," I find this rather disheartening. Youth need Jesus Christ. Period. We need His grace, His love, and His truth. You're not making Christianity any more appealing if you drown the very fundamentals of Jesus' teaching in legalism.

Paul discusses this in Philippians 3:4-9. "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more... But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ... I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

He also said "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).

Love himself gave His life that we may have new life. There's no App for that!