Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Dishonesty, Ignorance, and Evil in the Bible


Truth is a Man

noah-drunk One reason I find Christianity believable is the hypocrisy, stupidity, dishonesty, ignorance, and evil in the Bible.

Take, for instance, those remarkable individuals who made it into the spiritual “hall-of-fame” in Hebrews 11:4-38.  A list of some of the most important saints who ever lived; individuals God worked through to accomplish incredible things; individuals whose lives were built on faith.  Yet, every one of them were hypocrites–that is, their lives did not always match up to the values they cherished most.

Consider Noah, one of the only men to remain faithful to God in his lifetime–“humanities last hope”.  After the flood, whilst in the primordial stages of building a new civilization, he gets wasted and exposes himself to his sons (Genesis 9:20-23).  Or take Abraham, for example, who, out of fear, led a king to believe his wife was actually his sister; thus allowing the king to take his wife into his harem (see Genesis…

View original post 716 more words

Advertisements

Loving God but Hating His Image, or How Our Attitude Toward Illegal Immigrants is Reprehensible


childimmigrantpic

Photo Courtesy of Voice of America

This article is not about how the U.S. should handle the massive influx of children illegally crossing the boarder.  I do not pretend to understand all of the variables involved in this complex issue and it is not my intention to argue in favor of any particular form of legislation or promote any one solution.  In fact, I’m not interested in politics at all (at least within the context of what I’m about to say).  This article is about our attitude toward thousands of impoverished at-risk youth living in conditions so bad they’re willing to risk their lives just to make it to our boarder.  More specifically, it’s about Christians who allegedly love God yet make disparaging, heartless, and down right selfish comments about illegal immigrants.  It’s about those who claim to know the Lord but, through their actions (or lack thereof) and attitudes hate His divine image. 

Let us begin with a self examination.  Do you find yourself looking down on those who illegally cross our boarders?  Do you find them an inconvenience or a nuisance?  Do you resent them?  Do you find yourself indifferent to their plight?  Do you feel they are underserving of your charity?  Are you angry or embittered by their presence?  Do they annoy you?  Do you believe their plight is no business of yours? . . . If you answered yes to any of these questions it’s important for you to realize these feelings stand in complete opposition to the Gospel.  They are selfish, prideful, heartless feelings.  They are, in short, sinful attitudes unbefitting a follower of Christ (oh yes, I went there).

Let’s review three crucial points of theology to help us understand why:


 (1) Man Is Made in the Image of God

Christians believe every man, woman, and child has objective value, dignity, and worth because everyone–no matter their age, race, culture, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation–is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-28; Wisdom 2:23).

(2) We are Commanded to Love our Neighbor

Christ states that the first and greatest commandment is to Love God, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).  Interestingly, our Lord follows this by stating that the second commandment is like the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:39-40).  Why is loving our neighbor with all of our might like loving God with all of our being?  Because man is made in the image of God.  Therefore, anyone who truly loves God will truly love His image and likeness.  This is why Jesus also taught that to discard, belittle, or ignore those in need is to discard, belittle and ignore Him.

(3) If We Don’t Love our Neighbor, We Don’t Know God

The Bible teaches it is impossible to know God–to have saving faith or a personal relationship with Him–and harbor ill-will or hate in our heart toward our neighbor (I John 2: 9-11; 4: 20-21).  St. James, echoing the teaching of our Lord, states that a faith without love (i.e., works) is dead (Matt. 7:17-23; 25:31-46; James 2:14-26).


Take a moment and seriously dwell upon these truths.  In fact, take time to look up the passages I’ve cited and let them sink in.  Then, ask yourself if your attitude toward illegal immigrants (not the impersonal concept “illegal immigration” but the actual people: the helpless children, the father’s desperate to be with their families, the women fleeing sex traffickers . . . ) is truly a Christian one.  Forget your political affiliation, forget your nationality, forget your social status.  If you profess to be a Christian you claim, first and foremost, to be a citizen of the City of God; a part of the Kingdom of Heaven; a member of the Body of Christ.  Your deepest and truest loyalties transcend all worldly categories and all worldly affiliations.  Your chief duty is to love, to serve, and to lay down your life for your neighbor (including your enemies).  This is your chief duty precisely because the greatest commandment is to Love God; but it is impossible to truly love God and hate His image.

As I peruse Facebook statuses, read comments on news articles, and listen in on conversations, I grow disheartened.  I am appalled and embarrassed by the reprehensible attitudes of professed Christians toward illegal immigrants.  I feel disgusted by those who, in virtue of their attitudes, fail to empathize with or care for those suffering and in dire need of help; and I wonder how long we shall ignore the sound of their voices screaming for help?

My American brothers and sisters, please stop.  Stop speaking heartlessly; stop acting selfishly; stop worshiping your country; stop discriminating based on nationality; stop discarding, belittling, and ignoring your neighbors; stop your crummy attitudes.  My dear brothers and sisters, love your neighbor as you love yourself; for without love you are nothing.

 

 

Light Will Dawn in the Land of Darkness: A Call to Pray for Syria


Violence against Christians has grown increasingly fierce in Syria as reports about priests and pastors being kidnapped or killed by extremists and stories of churches, monasteries, and health clinics being ransacked or bombed abound.  Some instances of considerable note include the kidnap (and presumed murder) of two archbishops, the recent murder of a Franciscan friar, and the detonation of a bomb outside of a Greek Orthodox cathedral.  Reports of violence against Christians continue to pour in on a daily basis.

In view of this, I implore you to join me for the next three days (7/01/13-7/3/13) in a time of prayer and fasting.  We shall be praying for the following things:

  1. For the protection and safety of Christian leaders and their families (who have been especially targeted by the attackers) and lay people who continue to live and work in Syria.
  2. For an end to all violence in the region and for justice and peace to prevail.
  3. For the Lord to turn the hearts of the jihadists away from violence and to have mercy upon them.   

I’d like to draw special attention on the third item of prayer.  Many people will think I’ve lost my mind for adding this.  Why on earth should we pray for the evil men perpetrating these heinous crimes against humanity?  Shouldn’t we hope for their destruction?  Why would we care what happens to them?  . . . Because they are made in the image of God and it is God’s desire for them to repent from their evil deeds and to embrace the Way of peace and love.  Only the power of the gospel – the message of God’s love and sacrifice on behalf of His creation – can conquer the darkness which is sweeping over Syria.  Peace and life will be restored when the jihadists are transformed from messengers of hate and death into emissaries of God’s peace and love.  It’s only through our love as Christians, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that the light of Christ will outshine the blackness of mans hatred.

Our Lord set the perfect example for us – both in His teaching and in one of His last recorded acts on the cross.  In His famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught the unthinkable, He taught us to love even those who hate us:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.‘  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”  (Matt. 5:43-45).  

He exemplified this teaching as he hung, suffering an excruciating death on the cross, praying for the very people who were murdering Him:  “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23: 34).  

May we long for peace and justice but let our hearts not become hardened and filled with the same hate fueling the jihadists.  Let us join hands with the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives out of love and pray for salvation and life to flow into Syria.  Let the prophecy of Isaiah be fulfilled once again, as it was when Jesus first came, through the blood of the martyrs and the prayers of the saints:

“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and the shadow of death light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).  

The Bulldog Bullies or How to Share the Gospel of Hate Effectively or Jesus Loves You and Doesn’t Want You to Overheat


bulldog ministries equal bulldog bullies

When I was in Houston a group of militant Christian activists who went by the moniker “Bulldog Ministries” showed up at the annual Gay Pride parade on Montrose Blvd–right next to our church.  They held signs with nasty messages like, “Gay’s are an abomination!” and “Hell awaits you!”  As you can imagine, the participants in the parade did not react well to this.  The situation escalated quickly as an angry mob surrounded the street preachers in protestation.  Soon, around six or seven police officers entered the scene–forming a wall between the two opposing forces.  Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, someone from the crowd threw a punch at one of the sign holders.  Like any good Christian would do, the man with the sign punched his attacker back, yelled at him, and ran off.  The police reacted quickly, pushing both sides (who were working their way into a frenzy) away from each other.  Eventually the Bulldog Bullies called it a day, packed up there signs, rubbed their bruises, and headed home (it was never clear whether the police told them to leave or they simply left voluntarily).

The effect of this exercise in hate–done in the name of the gospel–was tragic.  That night, hundreds of people learned two things extremely well: (1) that God and his followers hated them and (2) that Christians were pretty much no different from the rest of the world.  We knew that something had to be done to rectify this horrible situation.

So, after Bulldog Ministries had cleared out and things calmed down we moved forward with our plan.  It was July, one of the hottest months in Texas, and everyone was dying from heat exhaustion.  Our plan was simple:  to hand out hundreds of bottles of free ice cold water as an act of love.  When people would ask us why we were handing out free bottles of water, our response was simple: “because Jesus loves you and doesn’t want you to get overheated.”  Armed with several large containers of iced water bottles, we embarked on our plan to reverse the damage caused by the Bulldog Bullies.

As people began to notice our motley crew handing out ice cold water we were quickly surrounded by hundreds of thirsty paraders–that’s when the miracles began to take place.  A lesbian couple, incredibly grateful for the rehydration, asked me: “Why are you giving this away for free?”  I responded with a simple statement about Jesus loving her and not wanting her to pass out with heat exhaustion.  After saying this, one of the young girls looked straight into my eyes and began to cry: “is that really why you are doing this?” she asked.  I nodded my head in affirmation and this young girl embraced me like I was her long lost brother.  “Thank you so much,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks.

This reaction was duplicated over and over again as we continued handing out water.  A tall muscular gay man bent down and gave my friend Pastor Rollyvic a huge hug and kissed him on the cheek saying: “thank you so much.”  I spoke for an hour with a young man wearing a rather beautiful dress–we spoke about Jesus, the Church, and true Religion.  He shared with me about his families distaste with his cross-dressing and I was probably the first Christian he had ever encountered who just listened.  Before long,  people in the crowd began to say to others passing by:  “these Christians are not like those other ones – they actually love people!”

That night hundreds of people learned one important thing: that Jesus loved them and cared about their well being in spite of the fact that they were living a lifestyle contrary to his design and purpose . . .

“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that i will give him will never be thirsty again.  That water that I will give him will become in him a spring ow water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” (John 4:13-15)   

If You Disagree With Me . . . You Hate Me


As you read this post please keep in mind that if you disagree with anything I have to say . . . you hate me.  In fact, if you disagree with the statement I just made, you are probably one of the most hateful people on the planet.  I’ll take it one step further:  if you think the statement I just made regarding my first statement is somehow wrong, you’re no different than the KKK.  I can think of nothing more spiteful, more degrading, and more uncivilized than disagreeing with someone.  The sheer audacity and arrogance it takes to suggest that somebody is wrong is just shameful.

It is because of my desire for peace, love, and harmony for all of mankind (and the rest of the animal kingdom) that I have dedicated my life to the fight against hate.  The first point I wish to make clear is that hate is wrong . . . well, not “wrong” wrong; but just, wrong.  Okay, okay, I wouldn’t say it’s wrong because that would be a hateful thing to do.  What I really mean to say is that hate is just not right . . . that is, I strongly disagree with people who hate.  Hold on a second, that’s not right.  Disagreeing with people is hateful, and I disagree with hate; so, I can’t disagree with people who hate because that would be hateful.  Wait a minute, I think I just disagreed with myself!  Oh my goodness!  I hate myself!

As you can see, hate is terribly destructive.  This is why it is important that we seek to include everyone; quite frankly, everyone’s opinion is valid and should be accepted.  After all, to say that someone is wrong, that someone’s opinion is invalid, is no different than saying that person is a worthless pile of dung.  This is why I have a dream!  I envision a society in which everyone is accepted for who they are and everyone is allowed to think or believe whatever they want without the fear of some arrogant bigot saying they are wrong.  In fact, the only people we would not accept in this harmonious society are those who disagree with us.  This society, like Boston, would be on the very cutting edge of inclusion.  I believe we could make this dream a reality—all we have to do is force, by law, everyone who disagrees with our inclusiveness to shut-up; and if they don’t shut up, we’ll just throw them in prison.

Don’t like what I have to say?  It’s because you, my friend, are a hater . . . oh, and please don’t leave any comments because I would consider any feedback about this article a hate crime.

Mystic Mondays: On Humility


Pride lies at the heart of nearly all of the devisions we find in the Church.  We Christians are often too quick to judge those who differ from us and place far to much stock in our own vain opinions.  We blatantly ignore the One who binds us together as one body, the creator and savior of the universe, our Lord, who commands us to be humble, and opt, instead, to cast a critical and unrelenting eye on anyone we meet whose theology deviates from our own in only the slightest degree.  Quite frankly, we Christians tend to think far more of ourselves, and of our own private interpretations and opinions, than we should.  We suffer from a deplorable, and often vehement, lack of humility–I invite you to mediate on the profound words of Thomas A Kempis in the eighth chapter of his master work The Imitation of Christ:

“Do not consider yourself better than others, for you may be worse in God’s sight.  Do not be proud of your good works, for often what pleases us displeases God, Whose judgments differ from the judgment of humans.  Whatever goodness or virtue is in you, believe that your neighbor has better qualities; in this way you will preserve humility.

It will not hurt you to consider yourself worse than others, even if this is not really so; bu it will hurt greatly if you prefer yourself above another, although that person might be a great sinner.  A humble person is a peaceful person; but the hearts of the proud are full of envy and resentment.”