It would be interesting to see what Christianity, indeed our world, would be like had there never been a diaspora in the early church, but there was. In fact, there were two.Read the rest of this entry »
I want to lay out a few things before we start. Read the rest of this entry »
An abridged history of the Christian church from its founding. This series will look into the history, not of the Christian faith but of the Christian church, starting from before its inception.Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 11:2-6 (RSV) Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”
Yesterday’s violent protests in Washington DC is the worst violence I have seen here since the Vietnam “peace” protests. I am actually ashamed to be an American.
Trump carries the majority of the blame for this, because he is the acting President, and his tweets about voting fraud (not validated by his SCOTUS) and not accepting the results (certified by the process). However, he does not bear full responsibility.
Next in line is the left, specifically those who call themselves Progressives, for doing 4 years ago what was done yesterday – refusing to accept the election results that put Trump into office. The situation has been escalating since the left started protesting every time they lose an election – going back to the Regan era, continuing with the Bush’s (especially GWB), and culminating with the Trump election. Up to this point the right has accepted the results when they lost, though there had to come a time when things would explode.
Finally, Obama, Pelosi and the Democratic Party has to accept responsibility for their part in all of this.
Obama for his governance by implementing nearly everything by executive fiat, and for bypassing Congress at every step instead of working through the process. Most especially with the illegally implemented Affordable Care Act. Politicians are, by nature, arrogant, but Obama’s arrogance was over the line, and fostered the anger we saw explode yesterday. He cannot shirk his responsibility in what happened.
Pelosi for her “leadership” in the Democratic Party refusing to participate in their Congressional duties during Trump’s first three years. During those years the Democratic “leadership”, especially Pelosi, refused to do their part in the passing/creating of new bills and legislation meant to help the American public. Acting like children in the Terrible Threes by stomping their feet, shouting, and crying because their party didn’t win – legally.
All of this has built up over the decades, leading to the inevitable explosion we saw yesterday. Everyone, on both sides, bear responsibility, including the Republicans (including those from my state, Pennsylvania) who joined in on refusing to accept the election results. Were there problems with the election? Yes. Would they have changed the final results? Probably not.
Here in Pennsylvania the Democratic Party, and the Democratic judges on our Supreme Court, bear responsibility. This is what happens when you load the courts with judges who ignore law and simply vote party line. I’m not sure if their banning of the Green Party candidate would have changed the election results here in Pa., though the numbers from the Obama election do bear that out. The DNC worked hard to keep the Green Party off of the ballots in a number of states, here they succeeded. This is election by fraud.
Both parties also bear responsibility for forcing a two-party system on America, preventing those who do not agree with either side, from having a voice in the American government. We refuse to allow such systems in other countries that we “liberate”, but here we insist on it being the only way things can be done.
What do I see for America’s future? Unless a major change of attitude occurs (with Progressives in charge I don’t see it happening) within the country, especially within the “political elite”, more of the same. Each side needs to go back to accepting that they will not get everything they want, but accept what they can get – it’s called compromise, and it’s something neither side is good at. Lack of compromise started with the abortion debate, where everyone agreed on “rape and life of the mother” as acceptable conditions. But, the Progressive Left refused to stop there, believing they should get everything they want – damn what the other side wants. This has continued with everything the PL wants – get a little now and push for more later. The problem is that the other side didn’t like not having their values considered important. Eventually this had to, and did, lead to the explosion we saw yesterday. People whose beliefs and values have long been walked over finally said, “This is enough, we’ve had it”, but in a violence rarely seen here.
The question is: have we learned anything? Will Biden, Pelosi, and the PL realize that there are other voices in this country, just as important as theirs. Or will they do as Obama did and ignore the needs/desires of the other side and just push/force their agenda on the rest of the country? I hope not, but I see little hope from their rhetoric. With one party now in control of the entire government I see nothing but further escalation of violence in our future.
I weep for America.
Justification, or being Justified, is one of those terms that has, sadly, taken on a Holier than Thou meaning, when it really shouldn’t. We’ve come to think that only those who lead a saintly life will be truly Justified before God. But is that true? Is God only looking for the Saints (with a capital “S”)? If so, what about the rest of us who just go through our daily lives doing the best that we can in a harsh (sometime anti-religious) world?
Once again English, and time, have done us an injustice when it comes to Justification. English because it’s a very poor language to translate other languages into. English typically has only one word for a given thought (such as “love”) and requires an adjective to fully describe it (“puppy love”) while other languages, such as Greek, have multiple words, each chosen to express a particular thought (eros, agapos).
Time because how we use an word in English, and what it means, changes through time. Love was once used to describe a tight affection between two people, now it means affection, sex, or how we feel about tonight’s television show.
Justification, or Justified, is the same. It can mean anything from how we stand before God to the spacing in this blog. Even in the first case it’s meaning has changed over the centuries. If you look it up in a modern dictionary it will likely describe it as being “righteous in the site of God” (righteous is a topic for a whole other blog) and so gives us a feeling that it is something only a few can obtain, while the rest of us wonder/fear how we will fare before the Almighty.
In a word, Justified has made God unreachable. Jesus would shudder at such a thought.
The Greek and Hebrew words for Justified (δίκαιος and צדק, respectively) have a much simpler meaning – to be as God intended you to be, or, to be true to yourself, and to others.
- A judge who passes judgement fairly, without malice or prejudice.
- A landlord who treats their tenants as if they were family. Keeping the property in good repair, charging a fair price, opening their home to everyone equally.
- A tenant who keeps the home they rent as if they owned it. Not defacing it, fixing what they break, understanding that the landlord has problems as well, and is not perfect.
- A shop owner who is open to everyone, regardless of race, creed, nationality, or any other marker used to discriminate.
- And the individual, who looks at everyone as a brother/sister, and treats them with love and kindness, even if they are not treated the same way.
In other words, and far more eloquently that I am capable of:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Justification isn’t all that hard to achieve, and isn’t only for the Saintly. Simply treat everyone you meet with love and courtesy, just as you would want to be treated, regardless of who they are, or how they treat you.
God created us all: Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist. Whether they are black, white, straight, or homosexual, male or female, conservative or liberal, or any other way you choose to categorize someone, they are all children of God. Made with love and through love, and deserving of your love. Do this, and you will be Justified before our loving God.
What better time to address hypocrisy than during the elections? Politics is rife with hypocrisy, from both sides (and then some).
Biden, after 40 years in the Senate, now claims that he has a plan to save Social Security, and that it is so bad that Trump will wipe it out in less than two years. Social Security has been in trouble since I got my first job back in the 70’s. Where was his plan during all these years? Face it, he has no plan, he won’t save Social Security. Why? Because it is the #1 tool to frighten voters with, “Social Security it broken, the other guy will devastate it, but I have a plan to save it. Vote for me!” Now, to be honest, Trump is saying the same thing, but at least he hasn’t been at it for 40 years.
Trump is not innocent in hypocrisy either. He has promised for four years now to “fix” the problems with the Affordable Care Act, while he has done nothing other than direct Congress to address it, knowing Congress will do nothing because they don’t want to be the ones tagged as taking healthcare away from people. And, no one really wants to fix the problems with the ACA. Why? See the above reasons for SS, they’re the same. For the next 40 years we will hear how the ACA is broken, the other guy wants to dismantle it, but I have a plan to fix it. Vote for me!
Jesus dealt with hypocrisy many times in his talks to the people. He pointed out the hypocrisy that existed in the religious political system of the time – the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were just as bad as the politicians of today:
(RSV) Matt 6:2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men.
(RSV) Matt 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men.
(RSV) Matt 6:16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men.
Matthew 23:13 (RSV) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.
In your dealings with other people do you show hypocrisy? Jesus told us how to treat each other:
Mark 12:28-31 (RSV) “Which commandment is the greatest of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
John 13:34-35 (RSV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Matthew 5:43-45 (RSV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;
Who, you may ask, is my neighbor? Jesus provided a long answer to this one:
Luke 10:30-37 (RSV) “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Who do you consider your enemy? Trump? Muslims? Liberals? Blacks? Whites? Cops? How do you treat them? With love or disdain? Do you call them names? Slander them to your friends? Spray paint message? Destroy/loot their businesses? Do as Jesus told us to do, show them love and kindness, for they are children of God no less than you.
Matthew 5:43-48 (RSV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
If your person losses the election remember also what Paul tells us:
Romans 13:1-3 (RSV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
Love and forgiveness does not come easy, but I would like to share a story with you from someone who definitely gets it.
In a month Americans will gather together for their quadrennial trek to the poling place in a lackluster drove, a tradition that has occurred every four years since 1788. Sadly, American’s interest in this groundbreaking event is sadly not what it should be. In the nation that created the modern concept of voting for a country’s leader we have rarely even topped 45% voter turnout. Afterwards we are more than happy to top 50% in people dissatisfied with the results. Lately one party has consistently sat out participation in the 4-year term when their party doesn’t win, denying acceptance of the official outcome, sour grapes in an event in which they did not participate. I would like to request that this election season we vote like Christians, and, yes, there is something we can glean from the New Testament on this topic.
First, we are not going to get into whether Jesus would be a Democrat or Republican – IMO, neither. Jesus was apolitical, not getting involved in the Roman political system, or even the Jewish political system of the time.
Now, into it. Voting is not a religious duty or obligation, it is the most secular event event in America. Turning it into a WWJD event is a travesty. In Jesus’ time elections did not occur, but he did address the secular world and its intrusion into the lives of Jews – taxes.
Luke 20:22-25 (RSV) Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a coin. Whose likeness and inscription has it?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Voting is Caesar’s law, not God’s. Vote your conscience, but don’t drag God into the debate.
If you lose remember that it is not the end of the world. Conservatives have had to live through Clinton/Obama, and they have survived. Liberals have had to live through Bush/Trump, and they have survived. Whomever wins is the President, and is due all the honor and respect of the office, regardless of how you feel about the person. Going around yelling, “He’s not our President, we do not support him” it about as childish as you can get, like a 3-year-old stomping around upset because he can’t have ice cream because he didn’t eat his veggies. Remember what Paul teaches us about worldly authority.
Romans 13:1-2 (RSV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
And this was in a time when defying authority could, and did, cost the lives of Christians. If your party loses, at least you will not lose your life. So, give the winner the respect, honor, and obedience that God asks of us.
Finally, remember: politicians lie. It’s a fact. Groups that run ads for politicians lie, whether the candidate approves of the message or not (approval doesn’t mean they guarantee there are no lies in it). And regardless of what they promise, they rarely deliver. If they did, what would they run on next time? Politicians have been promising to fix Social Security since they wrecked it in the beginning, no one has lifted a finger to solve the problem (other than cutting benefits), no one will so long as they can use it as a bargaining chip for votes. Our healthcare system is a mess, and it always has been – I’ve been under private, Obamacare, and Medicare, they all suck. If you think any politician will fix it then ask them one question – will they give up their coverage and go under what they are proposing? No one has, no one will. Get over it, live peacefully with the results.
So, vote like a Christian – vote your conscience and live peacefully with the results. Let the secular world deal with it. Don’t look at your brother with hatred for his view that differs from your own, instead try to see what he sees, why his view is different from your own, for from his view he is just as valid as you.
Matthew 6:34 – 7:5 (RSV) Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Religion is not the same as faith, religion does not require faith, and faith does not need religion. Sound strange? Read on. Read the rest of this entry »