Tag Archives: book of romans

World Vision, Hobby Lobby, NOAH, and the desire to remain silent.

I know, I know, I’ve been rather silent these last couple weeks and, as a Christian, it’s been a rather interesting time to remain silent. But here’s the thing: I’ve read A LOT of rhetoric on both sides of the fence regarding several of these hotbutton issues and I’ve come to one conclusion:

I have nothing to add to the conversation…on either side.

Or maybe, more accurately, as Jen Hatmaker put it:

“Every article, regardless of its position for or against, is the same. The support arguments; same. The rebuttals; same. The circular thinking; same. The responses are fully expended, (and in the end) we discover we are at the same impasse.”

Or even as T.E. Hanna wrote regarding the World Vision backlash:

“It is a sad day in Christendom, no matter where you stand on the issue…I am not suggesting that we abandon what we hold as ethics, or that we celebrate something that we disagree with. However, I remind the people of God that the enemy works through distraction, by leading us to fixate on things which rob us of our ability to be effective for the Kingdom of God. And this past week, it was a very successful tactic.”

Regardless of where you stand on the World Vision debacle, on contraception and the ACA, on the biblical foundation or abandonment of a Hollywood movie, the true question we all need to ask ourselves is this:

Are we being distracted from keeping the main thing the main thing?

And even more so… Continue reading World Vision, Hobby Lobby, NOAH, and the desire to remain silent.

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What the Master Mechanic Taught Me of Unity

photo (c) courtesy Getty images
photo (c) courtesy Getty images

It seems everything I read lately of a spiritual/scriptural nature has to do with “unity”.

Romans 12:For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1Corinthians 12: 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

…and it’s just been a real source of conviction for me lately, especially in light of the great article I read over the weekend by T.E. Hanna over at Of Dust & Kings (see yesterday’s post).

Like Hanna, I believe the metaphor of the master mechanic restoring a classic car and inviting his 5-year-old son to help is a perfect example of our relationship with our Father.

If we are honest, there is very little that child has to offer to the mechanic in the form of aid. In fact, it is far more likely that the son of the mechanic will mess things up than it is he will prove an asset. He grabs the wrong tools, bangs on the wrong parts, and gets distracted by the idea of playing in the street — which then forces the mechanic to stop everything he is doing in order to chase after him…Of course, the child’s assistance was never the point. The point was that, through a shared goal and communal mission, the father and son fostered their relationship and grew closer together as a result.

I see our actions as followers of Christ very similar to the actions of this five-year-old boy. And it really resonates with me as I take it the next step and imagine if the boy had a friend over who also was “invited” to help the master mechanic. Think of it from the mechanic/father’s point of view as he listens to his son tell his young friend all about the tools, the workings of the car, what to do, what not to do, and why…as if the five-year-old truly had any authority or knowledge of the father’s work at all.

What we’re invited into is not to take over and do the work of the Father, as if he needs our help. That’s not our job. That’s not the point. The tools, the car, the repair, was never the point. The time spent, the communal togetherness, the relationship that’s built—both with the mechanic/father and with each other—that’s the point. The feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, simply by being in proximity to the father—learning but never mastering, participating but never replacing—that’s the point.

It breaks my heart when I overhear my son talking to his friends of things he has no idea, and is totally misrepresenting, simply to give the appearance of knowledge or superiority of a given subject. Why would I think my Father is any different when he listens to me espouse my beliefs, or the laws and tenets of my faith, onto an unsaved world as if I have any knowledge or superiority. That’s not the point. That’s not my job.

If my friend is interested in cars, wouldn’t it be enough to introduce him to my father who happens to be a master mechanic? He can ask his own questions. He can learn about the tools, the cars, the repairs, at his own pace. He doesn’t need me. What he wants, what he needs, is to spend time with my father. And I should, too—with my eyes and ears a little more open, and my mouth a little more shut. Maybe I’ll learn something.

Why Hope and Vapid Optimism Are Not The Same Thing

One of our pastor’s used excerpts from this blog post from Nadia Bolz Weber within his sermon this past weekend. I thought there were some very good, insightful points in here:

Hope

…suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us

-Romans 5

 As many of you know, I have a regular spiritual practice of warning people that I will disappoint them.  A couple times a year we host a Welcome to House for All Sinners and Saints brunch for newcomers. Everyone goes around the room saying what drew them to this community or what keeps them here.  They usually say it’s a comfortable place where they can just be who they are or they love the singing or the community. One time someone said that their mom was Catholic and their Dad was atheist and that this church kinda felt like a combo of the two.  And while I wasn’t entirely sure I knew what that meant, I thought it was awesome. Well, I usually am the last to speak at these events and when I do and I always say how great it is to hear all of that but That I need them to hear something. And that is that this church will disappoint you. Or I will fail to meet your expectations or I’ll say something stupid and hurt your feelings. It’s not a matter of if it’s when. Welcome to House for All Sinners and Saints.  We will disappoint you. Continue reading Why Hope and Vapid Optimism Are Not The Same Thing

A Whole New Can o’ Worms Based on “Hate the Sin”

There’s been a lot of good dialog over the past few weeks based off of a couple posts I ran entitled, “Quote ~ On ‘Hate the Sin’”, and “Further Thoughts on ‘Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin’”.

One person in particular, my good friend Maryann took me to task on a couple different points throughout our commentary banter.  She has a huge heart and a vast knowledge of scripture, and she made some excellent points within her responses.

In fact, her last response has prompted me to answer her within a whole ‘nuther post which furthers our discussion of “Hate the Sin” and hopefully sparks more welcome comments and discussions.  For full context, I encourage you to take some time and read both of my earlier posts as well as the resulting commentary from Maryann, myself, and others.  But for now, from “Further Thoughts on ‘Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin’” she writes:

Having a hard time equating the hating of sin in this world to being labeled as an unloving Christian who is out to condemn, or just trying to feel comfortable.   There is an increasing spiritual sickness in our society stemming from “acceptance” of MANY behaviors that have been forbidden by God.  Over the years we have become so “accepting” of sinful behavior that if you interview high school students, most of them no longer know the definition of the words “Chastity” or “Virtue”.   There is a vast difference between the abhorrence of the sin itself and the person who is struggling with the sin. Perhaps if those societies who have destroyed themselves through moral decay had kept a clear recognition and abhorrence for sin, they would not have sunk into oblivion. It was certainly not enough for them that ONLY God hated the sin. To state that people who use the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” do so to “allay their own feelings about a particular person” suggests that you have the ability to read minds and hearts. Throughout all of this discussion and the many interesting comments, I have seen no one “lump” people together with their sin.

Maryann, I can see that you’re passionate about your love of humanity—of all us ‘sinners’—as well as your hatred of sin and evil.  I commend that, and essentially I think you and I are saying the same things to each other, just in different ways.

When you say, “Having a hard time equating the hating of sin in this world to being labeled as an unloving Christian who is out to condemn, or just trying to feel comfortable.   There is an increasing spiritual sickness in our society stemming from “acceptance” of MANY behaviors that have been forbidden by God.”, I get that and agree, but please don’t misunderstand, either in my posts or within my comments, when I advocate looking beyond the sin of someone in order to establish a real base of relationship.  Please don’t equate this with ‘acceptance’ of that sin.

Here’s where I feel we agree: as you’ve stated in a prior comment, “One of the most powerful doctrines of Satan today is his misuse of the words tolerance and acceptance. Those who stand for truth and righteousness are labeled as
intolerant or ‘haters’.
”  I couldn’t agree more, yet that is a double-edged sword: Those who speak out for love, for gentleness, for bridging the chasm between the children of God and a fallen world, are labeled as ‘accepting’ or ‘tolerant’ of the sin involved in those people’s lives.  This mindset is just as wrong as the other.

Did Jesus speak out with intolerance and nonacceptance   Of course; but look to whom he was most often speaking to: The very religious hierarchy who ‘Biblically’ determined right and wrong for the people they were charged with shepherding.  Why did He call them out?  They didn’t even have their own house clean. (Matthew 23)

Where I tend to step out on a limb in espousing my faith and belief is that, for me personally, I don’t see the recognition or acknowledgment of “sin” as a necessary component of the conversation at all: Or at least not until the invitation is extended by the other person.  Is this philosophy Biblical?  I couldn’t tell you; but in my heart it’s the right thing to do.  In addition, I think it’s cold comfort for someone to say, “Well, we’re all guilty of sin and all sin is the same in the eyes of God.”  This is both true and Biblical; however, at least in this regard, our (Christians) actions speak volumes louder than our words to a fallen world.   And no, I don’t think that I can read hearts or minds; but I can read societal trends and the op/ed pages of various media.  This isn’t divination or rocket-science; it’s simple compassion and empathy.  It was something that Jesus was hung on a tree for.  Sure, He had compassion and empathy, just for the ‘wrong’ people; at least according to the religious leaders.

How do I feel about my own sin?  I hate it. I hate how it has suppressed my relationship with God and others.  I hate how it has robbed me of self-esteem for pretty much my whole life.  But that’s MY sin.

How do I feel about your sin?  I don’t know, because I don’t know your sin.  Furthermore, I don’t have the right to know or feel anything about your sin until I am invited into your life by you and asked to speak to that sin, to you; i.e. speaking the truth in love.  Just because one person’s sin may be more readily apparent than another person’s does not give us the automatic right to speak out on that sin.  That’s not speaking the truth in love, that’s judgment.  Both Christ and His brother James were very specific on judgment.  (Matthew 7:1-2; James 5:7-9), and that is where I tend to step very warily if at all.

Now, in summation, let me be very clear:

  • Does this mean we don’t take a stand on certain relevant societal issues?  No, that’s not what I’m saying.  What I’m saying is that there will probably come a time when a Christian will be faced with a choice: to make a stand, or to make disciples.  Just how important is that stand? will be the relevant question.
  • I am also not saying that Christians who hate sin and evil, who speak out publicly on various sin habits, or who even have opinions on those habits, are inevitably being ‘haters’, intolerant, or judgmental.  However, not being judgmental and not being seen as judgmental are two very different things.

In my humble opinion, being seen as judgmental will rob not only the Christian, but potentially all Christians, from being able to speak into the lives of a fallen world about what is truly important; about Jesus, about God, about sin, about evil, about anything eternal.  Or, as Justin Lee puts it in his fine article, “4 Ways Christians Are Getting the Gay Debate Wrong”: “If we Christians can’t show more love and willingness to listen, it won’t change one person from gay to straight, but it will turn a lot of people against Christianity.”

And that would be a sin.

Related Articles:
Quote ~ On ‘Hate the Sin
Further Thoughts on Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin
4 Ways Christians Are Getting the Gay Debate Wrong
When Christians Are Christianity’s Worst Enemy