Thursday, September 26, 2013

Targeted Disdain For Sin

I have a question. Why can't we welcome gay Christians in church? I belong to a 12 step program for recovering alcoholics. All of us have suffered horribly in our disease and inflicted suffering on our fellows. We of all people should loathe drunkenness, yet when as often happens, someone shows up at our meetings drunk we encourage them to stay. Our attitude is what better place for a drunk than a place where he can hear that there is a solution.

And why should we be scandalized if we end up sitting next to openly gay people at church. I can assure you if you sit next to me at church you are in the presence of a sinner. Is there some sort of hierarchy where sin is ranked by degree of acceptability, where my sin is acceptable in church but theirs isn’t? Is church a country club for saints or a hospital for the broken?

Oh, gays are welcome here, some pastors say, just don’t expect me to water the Bible down for their sake, and it’s not love if I don’t call them out for the abominations their lifestyle leads them to become.

Ok, let’s look at that.

Paul tells us “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. ~ Galatians 5:19-21

Are you calling out with equal ferocity and frequency these sinners? ‘Cause if you aren’t you just might be a homophobe, not a truth teller.

I would not urge gays to attend a church that spews a targeted disdain for sin, simply because you’re supposed to be in church.  If how you are treated by your faith community does not lead to an abundant life, and that after all, is what Jesus promises, move on. Nor would I suggest attending an anything goes church because, well, not everything goes.

Instead, find a body of believers that acknowledges brokenness, that believes we are all better off if we wrestle with that brokenness together. That way we can come together over Christ, not our separate styles of sin. That is a body worth belonging to.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

John Doesn't Live There Anymore

Let’s repent together, and stop thinking that God hates us.

Cause honestly, I don’t need any more enemies...~Benjamin L. Corey

I had to stop living there. “There” being that place that insists I have to accept the explanations of creation put forth by writers from a scientifically primitive culture or be branded heretic. That any deviation from scriptural inerrancy is a slippery slope inevitably leading to all scripture is false.

“There” was a place that demanded I believe the wrong sexual orientation threatened the very fabric of marriage, while Christians were getting divorced at the same rate as secular society. A place that had allowed the idolatry of unbridled capitalism and American Exceptionalism to assume a place at the pulpit equal to that of Jesus.

“There” allowed no questions, had no room for dissent, and provided no safe haven for doubters.

“There” was rigid conformity, harsh condemnation of any criticism. If you lived “There” you had to buy the company line hook, line, and sinker. Any deviation was apostasy.

So I had to stop living “There”, and when I moved, I found a place of joy. “Here” I’ve renewed my love affair with the Bible, I no longer have to get into all sorts of weird contortions defending obviously silly pieces of scripture, instead I can say “Yes, that makes me cringe too, but here’s what the Bible is to me. It’s God’s chosen method of reconciling man to God. And a finite text cannot contain an infinite God.” 

So now I’ve got the biggest romance story of the ages back in my life, a book of mystery and unimaginable love.

“Here” I’ve learned to filter all of my faith through the lens of Jesus, and that changed everything for me.

“Here” there is no seemingly schizophrenic God, a God that hates me one moment and loves me the next. “Here” there is only Jesus, a Jesus that gathered ruffians and peasants, doubters and deniers, to Him and used them to change the world.

I like it “Here” a lot. I’ve found a renewed sense of purpose, a faith that doesn’t require me to hate on gays and Muslims, and a reason to hope that Christ will indeed triumph without having to slaughter folks who dress differently, and don’t toe the company line.

Yeah, I like it “Here” a lot. Pull up a chair and let’s visit for awhile.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Violence Visited On Innocents

Child: “God, why do you allow violence in schools?
God: “I’m not allowed in schools.”

This is an meme you see all the time, hopefully from Christians being dumb, not serious. It is so prevalent I thought I’d take a closer look at it ‘cause something about it just set’s my teeth on edge.

Would  God withdraw protection from children in public schools, many of whom are probably from Christian families, based on adults restricting the use of corporate Christian prayer in those schools? Can God’s very presence be kept from schools by human law? If our God is just, wouldn’t requiring the fair and equitable application of that justice be something He would demand of Himself? Would He really allow person “A”, in this a case little child, to be rendered into hamburger by a madman armed with a rapid fire weapon as punishment for the actions of person “B”?

God is all powerful we’re told, He can do whatever He wants.  Well sociopaths do that. Is that how you view your Creator? Does the fact that God has the power to do whatever He wants mean He would? Doesn’t God possess a moral and ethical framework within which He exercises that infinite power?

Now God’s purposes and designs are mysterious, not always understood in our lives. That I’ll grant you. But to ascribe petty vindictiveness to the same God who in love sent His Son to die for us, the God who’s fruits are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control”(Galations 5) is not a credible theology.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Can This Be? A Brown Miss America?

Spoiler alert, this is satire.

In a stunning turn of events it was revealed that Nina Davuluri, recently crowned Miss America, is brown. There must be a disturbance in the force.

Worse, it turns out she’s a Hindu of Indian decent. Yes, that’s Hindu, spelled M-U-S-L-I-M.  

So now we’ve got a brown skinned Hindu that everybody knows is secret for Mohammed loving terrorist, beating out a blonde, blue-eyed, tattooed, all American Midwesterner that hunts with a by God bow and arrow, a full blooded Kansan losing out to some jihadi who must’ve snuck in to the country via a terrorist operated deli in the Bronx? How can this be?

This would never have happened if “W” was still president. Things have just gone to hell in a handbasket since the DemSocialists imported the black dude from Kenya and ran him for president against the whitest ex-pow in the history of warfare, then ran him again against the closest thing to a Christian we could find that could even spell “lower taxes”.

She is hot though.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Enemy Of Witness

Pastors are exhorted to “contend for the faith” (which usually amounts to contending with other pastors, and damning all who disagree with them), and “the faith” is taken to be a set of timeless “doctrines” rather than any distinctive Christian way of living.~Vinoth Ramachandra

All too often doctrine becomes the enemy of witness. It’s not doctrines fault, it’s just the wrong place for it.  Doctrine is a function of the mind, not the language of the heart. It’s how we live out our doctrine that changes hearts, not the doctrine itself.

So if you must contend for the faith, contend with your Christian way of living. Does my life reflect the love of Jesus or the doctrine? Am I caring for the disadvantaged or just preaching at them? Does my life mirror the gentleness and humility of Jesus found in Mathew 11:29 or am I arrogant in my Christian superiority?  

Unbelievers prone to tuning out the cacophony of 30,000 denominational doctrines, can “hear” the heart of a simple follower of Christ.