Saturday, 28 June 2014

Praise the Wicked?

Credit: Stefano Corso, Flickr Creative Commons
Those who forsake the law [of God and man] praise the wicked, but those who keep the law [of God and man] contend with them.” (Proverbs 28:4; Amplified)

One of my semi-regular habits is to read through a chapter of Proverbs every morning. The chapter I read depends upon the day of the month, so with today being the 28th of June, I opened my Bible to the 28th chapter of Proverbs. Over the years I’ve meditated on a lot of nuggets that way.

This morning part of verse 4 caught my attention: “praise the wicked.”

What do you make of that? Have you ever “praised the wicked?” If I am reading this particular proverb correctly, it seems to be saying that we do just that (every time) we ignore God’s law. The amplification extends that to include man’s laws.

Briefly I caught myself thinking that’s Old Testament and has nothing to do with New Testament grace, however I quickly dismissed that notion. When it comes to a distinction between righteousness and wickedness, it seems to me that God’s ways (law, if you will) have remained unchanged since the beginning of time and will continue unchanged until the end of time. He even said, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Likewise James said of God, “who does not change” (James 1:17).

Maybe when I’m tempted to think otherwise I do so because I haven’t really understood the mind of God as much as I like to think I have. As Paul said, “Now we see but a poor reflection” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Personally I find it comforting to know that God doesn’t change; we never have to second-guess Him, as we most certainly would have to if He were to constantly change.

However, what I really began to see in this proverb was that there is no middle ground when it comes to God’s ways. We’re either with Him or we’re not, but we can never be indifferent. An attitude of indifference is actually worse than being outspokenly (is that a word?) against Him. The message to the church in Laodicea comes to mind.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3: 15-16; NIV).
While it’s easy to say that we should all be spiritually “hot,” could it be that God actually prefers the spiritually “cold” as opposed to the spiritually lukewarm? The preceding verse does seem to be saying that. What a horrible thought to be spit out of the mouth of God like some rotten apple we accidentally bit into!

Just as we wouldn’t stand in the middle of the road without risking getting run over by traffic from both directions, standing in the middle of the spiritual road is just as dangerous; you risk getting run over by the spiritually hot and the spiritually cold. I am seeing more and more that forsaking the law of God, regardless whatever else it may mean, is ultimately the same thing as not embracing Jesus. If I do not embrace Jesus, then it’s the same thing as praising and embracing wickedness.

Jesus said, “for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). It’s one or the other, but it’s never somewhere in the middle. We’re either among the righteous or we’re among the wicked, but we’re never on the fence between the two. We’ve either been saved or we’ve not been saved, but we’ve never been partly saved any more than a woman can be only partly pregnant.

Praising the wicked is such a bizarre concept. It is easy to think that only a deranged individual could actually do such a thing. However, I suspect that this proverb is no different than when Jesus said that a man who even looks at a woman the wrong way has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).

As the psalmist said, “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Maybe what it all comes down to is an attitude of the heart. Where are our hearts? Are they with Jesus? If so, then they must also be with the things that matter to God. What matters to God? John 3:16 is a biggie! Perhaps anything less than my striving for love and relationships with others for whom Christ also died, is not only accepting wickedness, it is actually praising it.

Anyways, that is where my musing took me today. Thanks for stopping by. Peace.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Christian Gossipers: Religious Soap Opera Stars?

I was meditating on the following verse this morning:

“He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9; Amplified)

As I thought on this verse some more, it occurred to me that this is precisely why I struggle so much with gossipers (especially those disguised under the pseudo-Christian pretense of “We need to pray for so-and-so because …”). Who hasn’t heard that kind of “prayer request?” It seems to me that some of us need to be reminded that we can pray for people without having to know all the gory details from the mouth of a third party. After all, it’s not like we’re going to inform God of something that He doesn’t already know.

Could it be that the real reason we like to mention the details is because we like the gore and mud in the lives of others?  Are we into religious soap operas? Fact is, despite outer appearances, gossipers are really loveless soap opera enthusiasts who are ultimately bent on destroying relationships. God is not into soap operas!

Sound harsh? Maybe, but sometimes you have to tell it like it is and stop white-washing everything by being politically correct and accepting everything. Having said that, I am preaching to myself here too. I too have been guilty of this evil, and an evil it is.

When relationships are destroyed and people are hurt through our loveless acts, that comes from nowhere other than the devil’s den, and is therefore nothing less than evil. Our God is a God of love, and the church is primarily about love and relationships. Anything that snubs that can only be from the devil.

My challenge to my Christian brothers and sisters (and to myself) is to refuse to entertain any discussion about another person behind their back unless it is edifying, uplifting, praiseworthy, and done in genuine and unpretentious love. If someone (even if they call themselves a Christian) comes with a negative word about another brother or sister, refuse to listen unless that other person is first present to hear the “story” too. Anything less is gossip, and possibly has the devil as its father.

Something to think about.

Photo Credit: Anais Gomez-C, Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday, 8 June 2014

No Sex at Church, Please. It's Against the Law!

Credit: Franco Folini, Flickr Creative Commons
I was skimming through some Facebook posts when something caught my attention. It was an article entitled "11 Bizarre Church Laws That Could Send You To Jail." Needless to say, I had to check it out.

The article claims that these eleven laws are apparently still on the books in various US states. What I found most amusing was the fact that they were ever put there in the first place. For example, according to the article, it is illegal to have sex in a churchyard in North Carolina. The fact that the law exists, would seem to suggest that sex in churchyards was a problem in that state, for why else create the law in the first place?

In my way of thinking, laws are only created to deal with problems in society. If nobody was ever guilty of driving too fast, there would never be laws to say that you can't speed. In the same way, there would be no laws making it illegal to steal if there were no thieves. Laws against having sex on church property? Hmm.

Anyways, enough of my rambling; here's some weird church laws to make your day. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

No Disassemble: The Theology of Johnny 5

Credit: USB, Flickr Creative Commons
We were looking through some old movies recently and I got to thinking about the 1986 movie Short Circuit. In one scene robot Johnny 5 squashes a grasshopper and then asks animal lover Stephanie to “re-assemble” it. He quickly learns that the reassembly of the grasshopper is impossible and that the grasshopper is now dead. Putting two and two together, Johnny 5 suddenly begins to see that his own imminent disassembly is the same as his death, and like the grasshopper, he too will not simply be reassembled again at whim.

It’s amazing where one finds biblical motifs.

For some reason I suddenly began to think about the term “Christian Assembly” and of how much of a misnomer that term often seems to be. In many ways, I would suggest that perhaps we have become more of a “Disassembly” than an “Assembly,” based upon the way we constantly segregate ourselves from others who have a slightly different theological take on a subject than we do. Denominationalism as well as church splits comes to mind.

Perhaps we missed the Johnny 5 cry that said, “No Disassemble!” But unlike the squashed grasshopper in Short Circuit, we still can be reassembled … if we want it. Do we really want to be an “Assembly” of Christians, or are we content to continue being a “Disassembly?”
“But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. For it has been made clear to me, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions and wrangling and factions among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you [either] says, I belong to Paul, or I belong to Apollos, or I belong to Cephas (Peter), or I belong to Christ. Is Christ (the Messiah) divided into parts? Was Paul crucified on behalf of you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Amplified).
Can we do it? Again, do we even want to do it? Someone said, "If your theology doesn't lead you to love people more, you should question your theology." Maybe the real problem with church "disassemblies" is that we still have not really learned to love one another. Perhaps if we really did love one another, we would never for a moment tolerate anything that would separate us from each other, even if it was a slightly different take on a theological position.

No disassemble!? Something to think about. Peace.