Scarlett Johansson’s Movie “Lucy” and the Church

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 4.47.49 PMThat was just wrong!!! What a crock!

That was my sentiment walking out of the movie theater after watching Scarlett Johansson’s new movie “Lucy.”

All the trailers and commercials for the movie made it seem like it would be an action flick where Scarlett Johansson’s character kicks butt over bad guys. So when my wife and I went to the theater, that’s what we expected to see. That’s what we paid to see.

What we got, instead, is some new-age, badly spiritualized theory of evolution, sic-fi, psycho-babble.

They tricked us!

I wasn’t the only one. I heard others muttering similar sentiments as they were walking out of the theater.

False advertising. What a waste of my time…

As I have been thinking about this movie, I’ve been wondering about church.

The church is good at talking about how God changes everything…How much and what has the church really changed? How much impact has the church made in our world?

I can’t help but wonder if the church promises one thing and then when people show up they experience something totally different.

That’s just wrong! They tricked me! What a crock!

God, I don’t want to merely go through the motions of church. I want to experience the eternity changing, culture shaping, life altering, community impacting ministry of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. I don’t want to just read about all the great things you did in the past in some ancient book. I want to see the power of God lived out and lived through the church today!

God, I stand with the prophet Habakkuk who cried out, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known” (Habakkuk 3:2).

Stinky Church

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I am the farthest thing from a gardener. When God was passing out the talent for gardening, I must have been in another line.

Even though I am not the gardening type, I am fascinated by the idea of composting.

Instead of throwing away vegetable scraps, coffee grinds, grass clippings, leaves, etc., put it all together with dirt, and, Presto! Compost! When all this garbage is mixed with dirt, it is turned into a beautiful, raunchy, smelly dark stew that becomes the food for plants and soil to give it life.

Again, just to be sure, I’ve never done this. I’ve only seen it done and read about it. I wouldn’t want you to think I’ve turned into “Farmer Brown” or anything like that.

But still, I’m fascinated by how you can take garbage and dirt and transform it to this life-giving, life-generating, health-promoting, nutrient-rich soil that plants and shrubs go nuts over.

I can’t think of a better image for the church than the compost heap.

You see, the church is made up of people with all kinds of garbage and dirt. What the world calls garbage, junk, dirt, the church calls it the yummiest ingredients for transformation. In the midst of the pile of death and junk, death comes alive – breeding, simmering, cooking up a ripe soil of new life.

All this is possible because that’s the work of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So here’s the thing. The church may stink sometimes. But that’s good. That means we’ve got exactly the right ingredients to start the process of turning death to life. Christ is the Master of turning death to life.

Welcome to our stinky church!

Losing and Finding Jesus at the Temple

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Luke 2 records the story when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem.

I find it interesting that the place where they lost Jesus was at the Temple.

Mary and Joseph aren’t the only ones who’ve lost Jesus at church.

When the church focuses more on the color of the carpet or the drapery, whether people should be bringing in their Starbucks into the sanctuary, what kind of music is appropriate for worship, or anything else that isn’t the mission of Jesus Christ to go and make new disciples and make faithful disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), people will continue to lose Jesus at church.

It’s not that things like carpet, sanctuary decorum, music, etc., are not important. It’s just that these things are not the main thing. When we get overly caught up in discussions over secondary things, when we fail to demonstrate love, grace, hospitality, mutuality, submission, cooperation while disagreeing, that’s when people start losing faith in Jesus and his church.

But here’s the good news. Not only are people losing Jesus in church, but many are finding Jesus in church.

Mary and Joseph lost Jesus at the Temple, but that is also where they find Jesus.

When the church functions and behaves as the church of Jesus Christ – where truth and right teaching is accompanied by grace and love, where people are received for who they are so that everyone might become who God has created them to be – that’s where people find Jesus.

That’s our hope. That’s our purpose.

May we work towards becoming the church where people are re-discovering Jesus.