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It was Uncle Screwtape who wisely instructed his nephew in Chapter XXV, "What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in a state of mind I call 'Christianity And.'" You know—Christianity and _____. Fill in the blank. Christianity and my particular slice of theological emphasis? Christianity and our influential pastor? Christianity and a particular political stance? Christianity and a financial philosophy? Christianity and a health/dietary program? Christianity and …

The gospel of the kingdom is so fragile that even two of our strongest examples of Christian faith had a hard time holding it together. Peter ran away from his "circle" after personally witnessing the Lord (John 21:1-3). Paul seemed unable to maintain fellowship with Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 15:36-39). And Paul and Peter even struggled to remain reconciled to one another (Gal. 2:11-14), as it seemed Peter believed in Christianity AND "the works of the Law" (Gal. 2:16).

The challenge of risking around the gospel of Jesus (like the steps of reconciling integration in my diverse circle of men) is as old as Christianity. In the end, maybe we should be less suspicious of communities that exist in perpetual fragility and shift our suspicion to those that appear indisputably secure.

Lord Jesus, forgive us. Guide us. Help us.

Tony "The Beat Poet" Kriz is author in residence at Warner Pacific in Portland, Oregon. His most recent book is Neighbors and Wise Men: Sacred Encounters in a Portland Pub and Other Unexpected Places (Thomas Nelson, 2012). You can find Tony at tonykriz.com or on Twitter.

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Tony Kriz is a writer and church leader from Portland, Oregon, and Author in Residence at Warner Pacific College.

Posted: November 25, 2013

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Rick Dalbey

December 03, 2013  12:42pm

Tony, I’ve walked with the Lord for 43 years and learned a few things. Your idea of "Jesus plus nothing" is not what He intended. Some in Corinth were “Jesus Only” Christians. “Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” 1st Cor 1. But Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Jesus gave the great comission then gave the great “But Wait”. They were born again of the Spirit, but needed to be clothed with power from on high. That makes ALL the difference. I too can count the number of fallen from my early walk. I belonged to a tradition that got you saved, issued you a Bible and encouraged you to gut it out. Praying in the Spirit daily as Paul did builds up your faith. The Joy of the Lord is our strength. Those friends may be born again but leading defeated lives. They need the Holy Spirit.

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