Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stumbling Over Things We See

Shooting these videos is a real grind on me. Between wondering whether the camera is rolling, am I on frame, the YouTube time limitation of ten minutes, and of course, do I have my thoughts in order.

Ultimately, it is the last of these -my thoughts, the unseen- which is of paramount importance in the entire process. Even then all these factors weigh and affect any would-be eloquence. Then, I am made mindful there is no question about my adequacy: I am not adequate, as the apostle Paul, declared for the task to which I and each one of us has been called lest we should boast.

As solid a sin track record as we have and given our inadequacies who would possibly commend us to task of reconciling men, women and children in the grip of sin.

God is He who has commended us to the task of reconciling men. It is He who has put himself to the test. He has not looked at our past and present tendencies to stumble and denied us or given us lesser or inferior a charge than that of ambassadors.

We are ambassadors, foreigners of the kingdom, serving in a world in which we have no citizenship.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The author of the book of Hebrews expressed what Jesus accomplished with these words: 
Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 2:15 and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The fear of death at one time held us in its grip before we came to the knowledge and obedience of Jesus, the Son of God, as Lord and Savior. The bravado which characterized our lives with its coarse and crude speech and acts could never break the shackles of fear. Fear has a way of making one say and do the most mindless things. Furthermore, that same fear has a way of gripping those who are weak who draw near. Their weakness in their understanding of those things they profess to believe prevents them from standing firmly against or walking away from the those driven by fear.

Never, in the pages of the New Testament, did the followers of Jesus who had been set free from the fear of death by the love of God feel compelled to destroy or desecrate Jewish synagogues. They did not engage in burning rallies to destroy the idols or places of worship of the pagans. Some of those pagans as they left behind their pagan ways burned and destroyed their idols of their will. It was not at the urging, instigation or encouragement of the apostles. The first century Christians did not "unite, stop being passive and selfish and stand up and fight for the truth." (as Terry Jones calls for Christians to do). Even when they were given up as lion food or garden torches in Caesar's palace they were not consumed by fear. They were consumed by the love of God.

Since my crucifixion in obedience to the gospel of Jesus as Lord 33 years ago I have claimed only to know Jesus and him crucified. This same message consumes me, not the politically correct or popular hot-bed issues that stir the passions of men.

I wonder: Are those so vocal and opposed to the construction of an Islamic Center near ground zero in New York raising their voices in opposition to an American-made (it's certainly not Christian) product of fear and hatred coming from the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida? However, those voices raised in that opposition are as Americans, not Christians.

The acts of Terry Jones are those of a man consumed in his own fear. In our own time we have seen the countless who accepted the mindless words and deeds of another Jones; Jim Jones in Guyana 1978. The undiscerning did not see him as one consumed by fear. We marveled and were amazed that so many should follow such a liar, were appalled by his mass murder/suicide of the 909 followers.

One who lives in the bondage of fear is one who does not know the power of God. Jesus said as much to the Sadducees when they painted for him the resurrection scenario of a woman who had multiple husband. Jesus prefaced his response by telling them Isn’t this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God? He concludes in a similar manner: You are therefore badly mistaken.”

Jones acts are unabashedly, in the words of the apostle Paul, those of a carnal man. His message is disguised as truth with just enough holy speech for the weak who draw near and become engulfed in the flames of fear and hatred. Now, they have returned to be subject to bondage, the bondage of the fear of death. A humbled, repentant and converted Saul of Tarsus,  as persecutor of the church has set an example for Terry Jones.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ground zero of the heart

The national fervor on the construction in New York City of an Islamic center (not a mosque) near ground zero is an ongoing revelation to America. What the fervor continues to reveal with every word spoken is an awkwardness? a fear? a hypocrisy? in the heart of Americans as well as Christians. While President Obama clarified he was talking about the right, not the wisdom, to build the center former Governor Palin and others have wondered about the wisdom to build the center at ground zero. Jesus reminded his disciples wisdom is vindicated by her children.

We Americans love to tout proudly the democratic foundation of our nation. Christians, too, have extolled the blessings of religious expression in worship. Suddenly, however Americans as well as Christians and vice verse are confronted in the ground zero convictions of their hearts. I daresay as political citizens, as Americans, we know without a doubt the ruling from our constitution on the matter of the center. It doesn't take a lawyer or the Supreme Court to help us understand. That's not to say we like it or heartily embrace it. Similarly, as aliens in America, on Earth, Christians know (for those who do not know the scriptures speak of Christians as being aliens in this world) without a doubt the guidance of scripture, the believer's constitution, on the same matter. That too is not to say we like it or heartily embrace it.

It is for this reason that in America, a land of law and order, we invoke the rule of law when otherwise awkwardness, fear and hypocrisy would rule the day. What many Americans and Christians have come to realize in this matter is they either do no know, forgot or have rejected what they professed as their conviction their entire lives. This realization is especially unsightly when Americans and Christians see the woeful shallowness of conviction of their professed national religious and political leaders and news media celebrities.

It is significant that neither Americans nor Christians who have weighed in on this subject have appealed to our constitution or the scriptures for their view on the construction of the center. It truly does result in awkwardness, fear and hypocrisy when people put aside, even if temporarily, their source of authority. They soon find they are unable to navigate their course without certainty or safety for themselves and others.

Jesus has a way of exposing the ground zero of the hearts of men. Jesus rebuked his disciples for their guised offense for the Samaritans rejection of Jesus. The hoped to rain the consuming fire of heaven on them. (Luke 9:54,55) The scripture, which is the word of the Holy Spirit, speaks on what might have been taken by some as Judas' concern for the poor as being greed in the heart of Judas (John 12:6).

What every disciple of Jesus has understood (even if at times some may forget) is that we by our own volition allowed that instrument of infamy and death on which our Savior was executed to be setup in the ground zero of our hearts. This is wisdom's vindication of her children.