Categories
The Church

Justly, Mercifully, Humbly

When I was young, my mother always taught me that God loves every person the same, no matter what they look like or where they’re from. And I was so lucky to see both her and my dad live that out to the best of their ability throughout my childhood.

As the country enters what feels like another watershed moment in the history of racial justice in America, I am reminded of that lesson. I wonder why this is so hard for us humans to do?

I’ve seen a whole host of churches and Christians add their voices in solidarity with the protests going on around the world, and it makes me very happy and proud to see that. I see priests washing the eyes of the tear-gassed, I see pastors binding the wounded. I see Christ-followers of all stripes trying their best to be a source of healing and support for the hurting. I feel like the church in America is starting to get back on the right track in following the heart of God.

But I have also seen others use this opportunity to repeat the same old arguments, the same old yeahbuts, the same old whatabout-the-looters, the same old all-lives-matter-why-are-blacks-so-special…the same old things that do nothing to salve wounds or encourage unity or bring shalom.

And I guess those are the reasons why I wanted to write this article: 1) to express my solidarity with black Americans in seeking structural change and demanding that we live up to our ideals of equality under the law; and 2) to challenge those of you my fellow Christians who are not on that side, or are still wondering which side to be on.

Categories
The Church

Christians Are Today’s Pharisees, Coda

I want to tell you a personal story that illustrates why I get so angry that we’ve allowed ourselves to become known by the spirit of pride and condemnation.

Before I get there, I should recognize that I’m often critical of the church in my writings. People may get the impression I hate it. I don’t. I actually love the church. And like I said earlier, I recognize there are multitudes of us who quietly go about our lives being merciful, showing charity, and being a real light in this world—the whole world, not just our own little Christian circles. I’m fortunate to know lots and lots of you like that. My friends at Journey Church saved my belief in this.

But like James says, teachers are called to higher accountability, and when it comes to those who don’t follow Jesus, we are all the ones in the role of teacher. Most people in your life will form their opinion of Jesus not by logical, rational contemplation but by watching the news and watching you.

That’s quite a responsibility. And it leads into my next point:

I strongly believe that the most dangerous threat Christians in America face today is not not gay marriage or Democratic presidents. It’s the spirit of the Pharisee within.

Our greatest peril today isn’t them. It’s us.

Categories
The Church

Christians Are Today’s Pharisees, pt. 2

In America we Christians, fairly or not, have collectively become known to our culture to be like Pharisees. All of us, Catholics and Protestants alike, need to hear and learn from Jesus here:

“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Matt 9:13

Jesus calls to sinners. He doesn’t convict them. He gives hope, healing, and mercy to anyone. He loves furiously and he offers good news to bad people. And the sinners flocked to him by the thousands.

They still do today, by the billions.

Categories
The Church

Christians Are Today’s Pharisees

I love Matthew 23. It’s Jesus laying down a no-holds-barred smackdown on the self-righteous Pharisees. It blows the caricature of a flannelgraph, mild-mannered inoffensive Jesus out of the water.

Here’s the thing, though.

Today, he’s speaking those words to us.

We are today’s Pharisees.

Categories
Apologetics

OBJECTION! Christianity is a Straitjacket

Freedom is the ability to do what you want and define life on your own terms. Christianity takes both of those away.

This is a very American (and modern) objection to Christianity. After all, the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is in the Declaration of Independence. It’s in the very DNA of our country (I’m not going to get off track here and delve into politics and all that, but it’s my belief that this phrase is widely misinterpreted today and has become a selfish and superficial attitude rather than the ground-breaking statement of political freedom it was meant to be).

So when a person becomes a Christian, do they have to give up their freedom? Don’t you become a slave to one group’s view of morality? Do you have to give up your voice and become just another sheep in the crowd?

Categories
Miscellaneous

On the Death of an Evil Man

So Osama bin Laden has finally met the end promised to him almost 10 years ago, and it looks like he ran out of time to become an Apostle bin Laden.

As followers of Jesus, how should we view this momentous event? I think there are a few ways.

Categories
The Church

Can the Word ‘Christian’ Be Saved?

In my last post I talked about how God is into redeeming rather than destroying. Whether it’s a life or a situation, He is a master at weaving the black threads of life into a larger tapestry of grace and goodness.

But what about the word ‘Christian’—is that something we should work to reclaim? The word itself has become so overused and abused that it hardly holds any meaning whatsoever anymore. “Christian” is supposed to mean ‘follower of Christ,’ but it’s become like the word ‘love’ or ‘awesome’—used in so many different ways that it doesn’t really mean anything anymore. In fact, I think that when most non-Christians think of that word, they think of Bad Christians.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Thoughts From a ‘Needs Improvement’ Christian

The weekend of my wedding—it must have been at our rehearsal dinner—one of my family members on my father’s side made an odd suggestion. He said that I should drop our family name and take my wife’s surname instead.

This wasn’t because he disliked me and thought I wasn’t worthy of carrying the name. Rather, it was the opposite: he thought our family name wasn’t worth carrying on. I’m not sure how serious he was about this suggestion, but I know it wasn’t an idle joke. He was at least 50% serious when he made it.