Category Archives: Disciple Making

Persecution…comes with the job?

“Being attacked either verbally or physically is part of being a true Christian in this world. It comes with the job.”

This is something I read this morning from a Facebook page called “The Christian Resistance”. And this is actually one of the things I’ve come to appreciate about social media: despite the differences of opinion, it enables me to dive into the text, to dive into my beliefs; it causes me to reevaluate my ‘position’ on a given topic and either move or affirm my understandings.

The full post says this:

Being attacked either verbally or physically is part of being a true Christian in this world. It comes with the job. If you preach sound doctrine and truth, you WILL be attacked and that is a guarantee. Don’t complain over it and don’t cry over it. When necessary/possible, counterattack and defend yourself, and no matter what give God glory and thanks because the marks of being a true Christian… the marks of belonging to God and not this world… ARE persecution in many various forms.

Several things in here got me thinking:

  • 1) How should we define “sound doctrine and truth”?
  • 2) Where is the mindset to “When possible, counterattack and defend yourself” affirmed through this sound doctrine and truth?
  • 3) “…the marks of being a true Christian…the marks of belonging to God and not this world…ARE persecution in many various forms.” Is this true, and represented in scripture?

Here’s my contribution to the debate, take them for what you will:

Re: question #1: How should we define “sound doctrine and truth”?

“Sound doctrine” is in the eye of the beholder, and truth ≠ certainty.

Everything we read, including scripture, is interpreted through the lens of a lifetime of experiences. In addition, even the numerous translations of scripture have given subtle differences to the meaning of words and phrases. And, to me, this is a good thing.

It invites conversation. It invites discussion and debate. It invites us to wrestle with the text. In fact, it’s a prerequisite. It invites us to put ourselves and our life experiences into the story. This is why it’s called the “Living Word”. (Why do you think Matthew, for instance, describes two donkeys in Jesus’s triumphal entrance? Who did you think the other one was for?)

Shouldn’t the mark of a true Christian be in our deferment to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in her many forms? And, that we “have ears to hear”?

Re: questions #2: Where is the mindset to “When possible, counterattack and defend yourself” affirmed through this sound doctrine and truth?

In Luke 6, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)

But who is Jesus speaking to? And, how does He conclude His teaching?

Jesus starts (vs. 20) by comforting the poor and hopeless, including those (thru vs. 22-23) who choose to follow Him. (John actually echoes a fair amount from Matthew 5, the Beatitudes.) Then (vs. 24) He shifts to admonishing those who are rich and powerful, providing contrast to His first thoughts and possibly addressing those who keep the ‘lessers’ poor and hopeless.

The key though, is in how He concludes His teaching (vs. 27 and on), “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you…”

In other words, you are blessed by those who persecute you because it’s an opportunity to show a radical kind of love in the face of such persecution. There’s no “counterattack and defend yourself”. Only blessing, prayer, and love.

Shouldn’t the mark of a true Christian be shown in our love? Benevolence? Mercy? And, grace?

Re question #3: “…the marks of being a true Christian…the marks of belonging to God and not this world…ARE persecution in many various forms.” Is this true, and represented in scripture?

“Persecution” has almost become a point of pride for American Christianity today. BUT…it hasn’t come through scriptural fulfillment, but more through our own stiff necks and arrogant stands (oh no he didn’t) on issues in which, quite frankly, we need to have an entirely different conversation.

For instance: Is homosexuality a sin? Wrong question! I believe the better question would be: Is there anyone not worth making a place at the table for? Is there anyone not worth inclusion in our churches, in our pews, in our lives? Would you make room for the destitute? The poor? Those of a differing nationality? Those of a differing faith? Say…I don’t know, a homeless, penniless, Middle-Eastern Jew?

There’s a verse in Nichole Nordeman’s song “Dear Me” that goes, “And you cannot imagine all the places you’ll see Jesus. But you’ll find Him everywhere you thought He wasn’t supposed to go. So, go….” Persecution should not be a badge of honor. Compassion however….

In John 15, Jesus also says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also…But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’.”

Who, exactly, is “the world” that Jesus is speaking of? Who is this “they”?

“If they persecuted me…”

“If I had not come and spoken to them…”

“But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled…”

Most often, we need look no further than within our own ranks to find persecution. Forget what “the world”, or “culture”, or other religions will do to us. We’ve become quite good at eating our own.

I listened to a podcast the other day featuring Jewish scholar, A.J. Levine, and one of the questions asked was, “What do you wish Christians could see, or take as an example, in the Jewish culture?” Her answer was immediate: “Oh, I wish you argued better! I just don’t see that in Christians. There’s no conversation, there’s no dialog. Debate is a hallmark of the Jewish culture and the thing is, no matter how heated the argument is between Jews, at the end of it, we both walk away still knowing we’re Jewish because that’s just engrained in our culture. It’s what we do and I just don’t see that with Christians. At all.”

It’s not what I see either.

Shouldn’t the mark of a true Christian be in our humility?

 

Why is there so much division in our country today?

Why are young people leaving the church at such alarming rates (70% at last poll)?

Why is the fastest growing religious affiliation in the U.S., “None”?

I believe it’s due to the pride and arrogance we Christian’s have shown within our so-called persecution, along with the fear of those who differ from us, culturally or religiously; those who look different, talk different, believe different, think different.

The apostle James says, “So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.  There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” (James 2:12-13)

As for me and my household, I prefer to stand before the throne of God being accused of having loved too much, having shown hypergrace, having set an extra seat at the banquet table even for my enemy, rather than to have closed the door, barring it shut from those who differ from myself, culturally and religiously, for fear of either persecution or infection.

I believe in a bigger God than that.

 

 

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Jesus Freaks & Donald Trump | Commonweal Magazine

This is an interesting article from Julia Marley, one that made me go, “Hmmm…”  Definitely fodder for some interesting conversation. I’d love thoughts from some of my readers.

“I first started thinking about this martyr complex in 2013, when I read a story on a then-college student at the University of Arizona who called himself Brother Dean. His “ministry” consisted of standing on the sidewalks of campus and preaching about the evils of extramarital sex, feminism, and homosexuality—all in a highly inflammatory way. He once followed around a Take Back the Night demonstration carrying a sign that said, “You deserve rape.” Reflecting on his approach in an interview, he seemed aware of the social cost of his shocking language, but he managed to justify it by appealing to the Bible. “When I decided to start preaching, I decided that I was willing to give up everything,” Brother Dean said. “The preaching puts someone into a wilderness, a wilderness of aloneness. If you decide to do what the Bible says, you will be alone most of the time.” In using this language, he was invoking Christ’s martyred forerunner, John the Baptist—and in a way that doesn’t sound all that different from DC Talk. Brother Dean’s rationale demonstrates how Christians can interpret John 15:18–19 to justify offensiveness for its own sake. Jesus’ words made people so angry that he got himself killed. If Christians inspire a similar level of rage, they must be imitating Christ. I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.”  ~ Click on the link to read the entire article:

Source: Jesus Freaks & Donald Trump | Commonweal Magazine

My Last Post as Spiritual Drift

This will be my last post as Spiritual Drift.

I can no longer find the words.

Since my last post, and given the current climate of our nation, both politically and spiritually, I simply can’t think of anything I can say that would make one tinker’s damn bit of difference. To anyone. To anywhere.

We’ve grown too busy shouting, too comfortably entrenched in our own dystopian universes to worry about the lost art of communication. We run around shouting that the sky is falling, never seeing that it isn’t our God who created that sky, it was us. We are being crushed by gods of our own making. We’ve grown fearful of every shadow because the light of the world has grown too dim if it hasn’t been totally extinguished, never recalling that we were supposed to be that light.

I weep for my country.

I weep that a statue stands at our shore and says, “”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I weep that our founding document includes the words, “all men are created equal”.

And I weep that no one cares.

I weep for my religion.

I weep that my scripture says, “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing. Therefore, show your love for the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
And says, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
And says, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

And I weep that no one cares.

I weep for the “less than”, for the oppressed, the alone, the wounded and weak, the disabled. I weep for people of color, and people of poverty.

I weep for the poor in spirit, and for those who mourn. I weep for the meek, and those who are hungry and thirst for righteousness. I weep for the merciful, the pure in heart, and for the peacemakers.

And I weep that no one cares.

No, I take that back.

A lot of people care. We just care more about being heard than about hearing. We seem to be caring more for our rights, for our liberties, for our needs, and for our selves.

We care more about the external than the eternal.

We care more for those things that moth and rust destroy, that thieves can break in and steal.

We equate acceptance with approval.

We equate immigrant with enemy.

We equate poverty with work ethic.

We equate disability with worthlessness.

We equate need with weakness.

We equate conservativism with oppression, and liberalism with anarchy.

We have lost the fine art of nuance, and we’ve forgotten that we live in a world of gray and not one of black and white.

And mostly I weep that there is no one to talk to. No one who will withhold judgment. No one who will simply listen. No one who will do the hard work of caring, and who will face the hard truth that we, yes WE dear Americans and dear Christians, are as much to blame for the state of our world as are our supposed enemies, and probably more.

I have no words.

I am at a loss.

And thus, this will be my last post as Spiritual Drift.

God help us all.

The “Bad News” in the Gospel

directions 2I’m doing some research into a possible third non-fiction title to come out somewhere down the road, and I have a couple questions.

Recently, in some small group curriculum that my wife and I participate in, there was this quote; “The Gospel consists of both good news and bad news. The gospel becomes active in a person’s life when there is a response to it.” Examples given were drawn from John 3:16 and Romans 6:23.  My questions is this: Is there really bad news in the “good news” of God through Christ? And further, should there be? Why, or why not?