Monthly Archives: March 2012

Christians Vs. Homosexuals Part 2

stoning-hate

So we just concluded that Christians are not different than anyone else regarding their own righteousness. We are all sinners with a sinful nature, see part one for greater clarification on this issue. So the this begs the question, so now what? How should Christians respond going forward? Just to clarify a point regarding a difference between Christians and non Christians. Christians are righteous, just in case this point was missed. The thing we sometimes forget is that it is not our works or actions that makes us righteous but rather we have Christ’s righteousness. It says in 2Co 5:21  “For our sake he made him(that is Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It was on the cross when we switched places, he bore our sins and we took His perfection. It is because of this that we are called to a separate way of living that He gives us the ability to do. That is what we are going to talk about today.

Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners, I find that very interesting, I wonder if that would be said about me? That is because he wasn’t always hanging out in synagogues (churches) rapping with the Pharisees and Sadducees(Religious leaders of the day) discussing how great they were and how lowly the sinners were. No, he was hanging out with what the religious people would call the sinners. How often do we isolate ourselves in our churches with like minded people talking about the sinners of the world like we are so great and holy. It is very easy to get wrapped up in holy living and pointing out everyone’s sins and we begin to separate big sins from little sins. Homosexuality, Adultery, prostitution, whoa they’re the biggies. While hatred, gossiping, and slander, well they’re not so bad right? This  is our mind set in the churches these days. We put our arms around someone who is ruining there marriage cause there checking out porn on there computers and we say things like “I’ll pray with you brother”,but if he comes in and says I hooking up with another guy, we’ll just run to the hills, there is no help for him cause he is a sinner. This reminds me of a story in the Bible. It is found in John 8:3-11 and goes like this “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

When you read that story, whose side are you on the woman’s or the religious leaders? I am assuming you chose the woman’s, but why? she committed a big sin. She was caught in the  very act of adultery, ripped right out her bed and thrown into the streets.We deserve, no we demand justice, but instead  we see Jesus showing compassion and mercy for the woman. That is what wins us over in the story and it wins the woman too. He did not condemn her, rather He loved her, and had mercy on her. But when it comes to homosexuality how many times are we found standing with the rocks in our hands, arms cocked and ready to throw, wanting to condemn  instead of loving and showing compassion? And I love what Jesus says “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Now from the previous post we know that we are ALL sinners, but sometimes we forget that and we judge those we are not comfortable with.

Jesus spent His years in ministry almost doing the opposite of what we do. He went around loving sinners and condemning the religious leaders. While we go around condeming sinners and loving our religious leaders. In the book of Matthew after a long list of Woe to you’s that he directs to the religious leaders he says this in Matthew 23:25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
23:26  You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
23:27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
23:28  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness
”.

Again, it is easy to say” Yeah, you tell em’ Jesus” all the while we find ourselves to often in this same scenario. We must be careful not to appear righteous on the outside only. but in our hearts also. And lastly I wanted to point out that we are to love others. That is what is supposed to separate us from non Christians. Read these verses

Luk 6:31  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luk 6:32  “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luk 6:33  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Luk 6:34  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
Luk 6:35  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Luk 6:36  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luk 6:37  “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”
Mat 5:43  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
5:45  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.
5:46  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
5:47  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect
.

and Lastly in John 13:35  “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I know I am overwhelming you with verses and maybe you got tired of reading them, but Jesus had a lot to say about Love, mercy and forgiveness. Therefore that is where our hearts should also be. We need to come out of our comfort zone and and embrace those whom you feel are different from you and maybe you feel more righteous than. Maybe for you it is not the homosexual community you are uncomfortable with. For you it could be those with drug addictions or prostitution of inmates in prison. Whatever it is remember you are not greater than anyone, more self righteous than anyone but our righteousness comes from Christ. Let us show that instead of showing our bigotry and judgmental hearts

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Christian living, Religion

Christians Vs Homosexuals Part 1

a90_gay

I was watching this video from Frances Chan the other day and he was speaking of some time he spent in Europe. During this time he was brought to some historic churches and he shared some of their history that put Christianity on the wrong side of some social issues of the day. At the end of sharing this he poses a question. What is the modern church on the wrong side of currently? This is an open ended question that gave me pause and challenged me to reflect. You can watch the video here. The section I am referring to is between minute 3;15 to 5:15 if you want the short version.

Check out from 3:15 to 5:15

I am in no way reflecting the thoughts of Francis Chan, but this is my own personal opinion of what I believe the Church is failing on. I believe our actions toward the homosexual community is causing  damage and divisions in place of love and unity. I by no means have a complete understanding  of all the issues involved, but by the backlash from both camps I know enough to know we are missing something. This is going to be a little deeper than most of my posts so I apologize if I lose anyone here, but I will try to make my thoughts as concise as I can. I also know that this is a highly sensitive issue so I will try to treat it with the utmost respect. I wish to just open some dialogue for healthy lines of communication and understanding.

I am going to be using a book of Philippians in the bible as my main reference to make my first point.The letter was written by a guy named Paul. Paul was a highly ranking religious leader of his time. Kind of like a Cardinal in the Catholic church if we needed to make a modern day example of his position .So many would consider him a very holy person, and a godly man who was very righteous. Speaking to this he writes this in Philippians 3:4-6  “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
3:5  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
3:6  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

In other words he is saying if you think you are righteous, holy or godly, I am more than you. So if anyone is going to live a godly life it would be him, right…? Wrong. He writes in Rom 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Even though he is the holy roller, he cannot stop doing things he doesn’t want to do, and can’t do the things he wants to do. Why is that? Well, because he is a sinner. I know, you are thinking how can I call such a good man a sinner?

You see,we are not considered sinners because we have sinned, but rather we are sinners because we have a sinful nature. Therefore we cannot help ourselves but to sin. This is the whole reason for the law, it is not to try and uphold every law (commandment) given, rather it was given to expose our sin nature. To prove this point let’s look at when Moses was being given the 10 commandments. The first two being: Thou shalt not have any other gods before me, or make any carved image. These are the very first commandments, and while they were being given on top of Mt Sinai, the Israelites were at the bottom of the mountain making a golden calf to worship. God couldn’t even get  the words out before they already failed at it. Another verse that speaks of our sinful nature is this: Rom 3:10-12 as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

  Not even you, you righteous church goer lest you become self righteous and start thinking you are better than anyone else. Going back to Philippians, Paul doesn’t end his thought by giving us his wonderful resume of how awesome and godly he is, he continues with this.
Php 3:7 “ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
3:8  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

That word rubbish is translated into dung or crap. In other words all of those titles and positions he has he compares it to crap. Not only is he saying it is useless or worthless, he is saying it is actually repulsive and disgusting. This is where I think many of us are missing the boat. We think our crap doesn’t stink, and that we are somehow more holy, worthy, righteous and better than others, say homosexuals. I think Paul gets it, he understands that his high position means nothing. He knows he is a sinner by nature, he knows he is no different than anyone else when it comes to this. That is why he gives us his resume. In case someone thinks he is more godly than him. You are not going to outdo Paul in following the Law and he still says it is all crap. It is all crap that is, compared to the surpassing worth in Jesus Christ. He finishes his thought with this,

Php 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”   He understands that the only righteousness he has comes through faith in Christ Not by following the Law or commandments Therefore neither should we think ourselves righteous or better than anyone else no matter how good you think you are. Because our righteousness does not come from what we do, how good we think we are, because we are all sinners, Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”,  Last I checked all means all.

If our righteousness is not by our own doing, but only through Christ than what gives us the right to think we are better than or more righteous than anyone else. I think this is a big idea to wrap our heads around. You are no better than anyone, you are not holier than the worst sinner, you and I are the worst sinner. Again all means all, you are no different than the person you are judging, if you are a Christian the only difference is the righteousness of Christ in you. It is not until we see our goodness and self righteousness as crap, that we can only begin to judge others.

Part 2 will deal with how I believe the church should respond to and treat homosexuals in a biblical context.

13 Comments

Filed under Christian living

Busy Doing Nothing

man-in-hamster-wheel

I think I may be going through a mid-life crisis , and I started a blog during this period or maybe because of it. Either way, you may have to go through it with me. I have been thinking a lot lately about what I am doing and to what end I am doing it.  I feel like I am so busy doing things yet going nowhere at the same time, kind of like a hamster wheel of life. What is it about ourselves that causes us to live like this, being constantly busy, but achieving so little?

We fill our days with mundane tasks of mediocrity, tediously crossing off our checklists just to be rewritten next week.  We busy ourselves with running errands, taxing our kids from event to event, spending countless hours completing to-do lists around the house. We spend hours shaping our bodies in gyms, running on treadmills, riding our bikes in circles.  These are even considered the productive activities. But how much of our time do we spend watching T.V., or playing video games, or browsing the internet with no destination in mind? We just fill our time with nothingness.

Of course what I view as nothingness or worthless, you may give defense to. If I say working out is meaningless you may retort with all the benefits it has of how we will live longer, healthier lives, or by working harder at our jobs will give us greater success in life. But I guess my thought comes from a quote I read recently from Francis Chan. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but at succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” With all this stuff we do, what does it mean in the scheme of life as we know it? How are we adding to society, how are we creating our legacy? Do I want people to think of me as the guy who knew a lot of movie or T.V. quotes, or be remembered by my internet browsing prowess? For that matter, would it be better if I was remembered as being successful at my job and earned enough money to retire early and move to Florida and start a seashell collection?  Is the American dream really just that? Make a lot a money to live an easier life to fulfill self satisfying motives? Along the way to this dream we watch sports on T.V.,or  Dancing With the Stars, or Jersey Shore in the interim. We fill our lives with empty pursuits to achieve an empty goal.

In the Bible it says, in Mat 6:19 -20, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  I think we need to start living with eternity in mind with eternal goals. I am continually reminded of verses like Jas1:27,  “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Isa 58:7,  “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Isa 58:10, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

Mat 6:2-4,  “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

These are some examples of living with eternity in mind, creating eternal consequences. This, however, doesn’t mean some of the ordinary mundane tasks in life cannot incorporate these ideas. When you are the taxi driver for your children you can be using that time to build relationships with them and teach them. Deu 11:19, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” for example. So the nothingness can turn into something-ness if we live with a greater purpose in mind, and more intentionally. Don’t let life just pass you by filled with times of empty living, rather live extra-ordinary making an impact on those around you with eternal goals with eternal consequences and not temporary materialistic ones which will blow away like sand in the winds of time.

3 Comments

Filed under Daily living

Words Left Unsaid

istock_000003529316small

My grandmother (Nana) passed away earlier this year, leaving us, yet joining her loved ones in heaven. She is someone who you would say lived her life to the fullest, living one month shy of her ninetieth birthday. She  became ill approximately a month leading up to the time she passed away. This gave time for the family to come together, including my brother and his family from British Colombia, to traverse all the way to Pennsylvania to say our goodbyes. One of the sweetest moments in my life is when my dad,my brother and I sat around her  hospital bed one night. We spent this time letting her know how much we loved her, how much she meant to us and how blessed  our families were to have her in their lives. We then preceded  to pray with her as tears streamed down our faces, knowing this would be one of the last times we would spend with her this side of heaven. It was a sad but peaceful moment which brought closure to our hearts.

This was especially sweet to have this opportunity because earlier in the year, I had a friend pass away suddenly at the age of 51. I was  therefore robbed of telling him what he mean to me and what a special person he was in my life. At his funeral a microphone was passed around as person after person told their stories of how he affected their lives in amazing ways. They would tell how he would always make them feel special, and no matter what was going on he would always make time for you. One guy stood up and revealed that he had received a phone call from him the day before, but wasn’t able to answer it because he was in the middle of work. He mentioned how horrible he felt that he wasn’t there for him when he needed him and how he will never have that conversation with him.

The  passing of these two got me thinking of how precious life is and how important it is to tell people how you feel about them.  Why is it that many times we wait until after people die to tell them how much we love them and how important they are to us? I was fortunate with my Nana to know her time was coming to a close. But life doesn’t always work like this, and many times loved ones are taken from us in an instant, leaving us with words unsaid. I am sure that everyone reading this has lost a loved one that they were not able to tell them how much they meant in their lives, how they influenced you, made you better, or made you feel special in some way. During my grandmother’s funeral my Aunt had an idea to say our last words to those who didn’t have such an opportunity. During the funeral we were all handed a helium balloon and a permanent marker. We then wrote a message to her on the balloon conveying our goodbyes or penning some message that was special between us and her. We then went outside and let the balloon go to send her our goodbyes. I first thought this was a corny idea, because the realist side in me thought, “she is not going to really see this, what’s the point?” But as I looked around everyone was really enjoying it, and it seemed like a great cathartic tool to gain some closure if you had words left unsaid.

Let this be a call to action, let us not find ourselves in the predicament of regret of not  speaking our hearts to those around us who we find special. Take the time to tell them now what they mean to you, how the make you a better person, or how they could always make you smile or forget your worries no matter what was going on in your life. Don’t let them leave you with words left unsaid.

1 Comment

Filed under Daily living, Uncategorized