For Christ’s Sake

WARNING: this post deals with issues of Christian faith. If you’re not interested in my opinion on the matter, you might want to skip this one.

This Post is brought to you by the bumper sticker: Jesus Called. He wants His religion back.

Learned yesterday that Nate Phelps was one of the speakers at a recent Atheists Convention. If you don’t know, Nate is the son of that paragon of Christian compassion, Fred Phelps, Pastor of Westboro Baptist Church.

If the story is accurate, Nate left home at the stroke of midnight on his 18th birthday to exercise his Free Moral Agency and declare his non-belief.*
My first thought? Good for him.

I mean seriously, anyone with the common sense of a houseplant would reject that notion of God and Christianity. Wouldn’t you?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” – Matt. 23:23

I love this sign. I think it’s great. In fact, I want to buy lunch for whoever thought of it.

This post is an appeal to all decent, thoughtful, people out there.

Fact is, there are stupid folks on every continent, in every walk of life, in every group. I know the contradiction is more shocking in church, but God loves everyone at whatever stage of life and maturity they’re at. Literally anyone is welcome. I’ll let Him separate the wheat and the chaff Himself.

As a Christian, I’m painfully aware of contrasts between Jesus and his representatives, currently and historically. (I include my flawed-self in that number, btw.) I became a full-time missionary in Nova Scotia just as the Jim Baker/Jim Swaggart scandals broke. Think that effected people’s perception of an American missionary knocking on their door? I’ve lost count over the last 26 years of the number of vapid emotional song services I’ve endured, followed by sermons so stunningly ignorant their obtuseness was only matched by their irrelevance.

Confession: There was a time I was so fed up, almost choking on my frustration, I nearly registered the domain name “Stupid Christians.com” (just checked – already registered.)

What kept me from doing that, and from washing my hands of my entire American evangelical experience, was I couldn’t dismiss Jesus. He is too large, too gracious, too radical to ignore.Twenty-six years ago, He made himself real to me and forgave me. I’ve been trying to honor that ever since.

Read the Gospels yourself and you’ll discover Jesus is nothing like Rev. Phelps, or (insert whatever poor example kicked your own faith in the stomach.) Stealing from C.S.Lewis here: Jesus is not safe, but He is good.

You see, trying to restore our relationship with our Creator, attempting to repair the brokenness in our own lives – let alone make a difference in our world – on our own, is like trying to swim across the Pacific. You may get much farther than many of your peers, but you’ll never get anywhere near Japan. And the thing is, even an idiot will cling to a life preserver; it’s the good, decent folk who think they don’t need one and try to make it on their own. The distance between our flawed, foibled humanity and God’s perfection is even greater than an ocean, and Jesus Christ came and died and rose again to bridge that gap, however much you need.

Listen, you’re honest enough look around, look inside and know what I’m talking about. So I’m begging you; be reconciled to God. Ask Jesus to forgive your flaws, defiance, self-sabotage, then to reveal Himself to you personally. Believe me, God wants you. His Kingdom needs you. Don’t let Heaven be populated by stupid people. Please.

For Christ’s Sake.

*I understand N.P. has become a vocal advocate on Child-Abuse and GLBT issues since then.

****

Figured this might happen, so I need to clarify… This isn’t pro/anti GLBT at all. I’m trying to transcend single-issues here.

It’s very clear in the Old and New Testament that sexual immorality of any stripe is a symptom of our brokenness and sin nature, and needs to be repented of. (turned away from) I don’t see any rankings for particular sinful conduct – we’re all sinners who need a savior. We can be forgiven, regardless.

Disagreement doesn’t equate to hatred. I’m going to look for the human being in people, regardless of their choices.

13 Comments on “For Christ’s Sake

  1. In the past few years we’ve struggled a great deal with issues of church politics, etc.

    Friends who aren’t Christians often ask why we don’t give up and join them in atheist, agnostic, pagan beliefs.

    My answer is always the same. I follow Jesus. Lord knows I am not perfect and never will be this side of heaven. But salvation is from God through Jesus Christ.

    I’m not a Christian because I fear hell. I’m not a Christian because I want to live forever. I am a Christian because God has loved me unconditionally. God paid the price for me.

    To leave Christianity because other Christians are disappointing would be like divorcing my husband because other men cheat on their wives.

  2. Good for you! Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. Needless to say, this premise is being widely debated among evangelicals today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

    It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. In light of the post above and since I happen to speak and write on this very topic, I thought you might find some of these posts of particular interest and relevance. I would particularly recommend the following:

    “Genesis 19: What Were the Real Sins of Sodom?
    “Leviticus 18: What Was the Abomination?”
    “Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?”
    “Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch”
    “Genesis 1: Turning the Creation Story into an Anti-Gay Treatise”
    “Why No One in the Biblical World Had a Word for Homosexuality”
    “Exegesis: Not For the Faint in Heart”

    (Links to these and more may be found by simply clicking the link below and then selecting the “Archives” page.)

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for commenting on my post. I think you’re reading something into it that isn’t there, however. Even your opening comment “good for you!” implies I just won a prize or sorted out a knotty math problem. This isn’t pro/anti GLBT at all. I’m trying to transcend single-issues here.

      It’s very clear in the Old and New Testament that sexual immorality of any stripe is a symptom of our brokenness and sin nature, and needs to be repented of. (turned away from) I don’t see any rankings for particular sinful conduct – we’re all sinners who need a savior. We can be forgiven, regardless.

      Disagreement doesn’t equate to hatred. I’m going to look for the human being in people, regardless of their choices.

      I’ll stop here lest you think I’m trying to argue. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

      Best Regards,
      Patrick T.

      • Why does everyone assume that Christianity is just about gay people?

        Alex, I have a true heart for homosexuals, transgendered, bisexuals and others who do not identify as cis.

        But what you say here makes it seem as though Christianity is just about an individual’s response to sexual identity issues of others.

        You’re looking at a banquet and focusing only on the pepper pot.

  3. Alex,

    As I mentioned earlier, this post has very little to do with the GLBT debate. You were the one who brought it to the table, almost as if you saw the picture of Rev Fred and missed the intent of the original post.

    Christianity is about God’s offer of redemption to sinful humanity through the person of Jesus Christ. Gay people happen to be included in that number.

  4. Greg,

    Christianity is indeed about God’s offer of redemption to sinful humanity through the person of Jesus Christ. And yes, indeed, gay people happen to be included in that number. But my original point was that the reason there even is such a thing as what you term the gay or GLBT “debate” is because it rarely occurs to us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. Hence, we don’t apply the established rules of biblical exegesis and read things into the text that simply are not there.

    -Alex Haiken
    http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com

  5. Alex,

    The debate exists on all fronts – not simply on GLBT issues – because people don’t want to see themselves as “sinners”, or certain conduct as “sin.” So, there’s a deluge of tactics designed to deny or delay conviction and repentance. Everyone wants to be excused as a special case.

    Over the centuries, there have been all manner of theological gymnastics deployed in the attempt to excuse everything from killing members of other religions/denominations, to owning slaves, killing jews, or committing sexual immorality.

    Reading them is like listening to the guys from Enron insist what they did technically wasn’t “stealing” because they didn’t snatch anyone’s purse or committ B & E’s on neighbors’ houses.

    Flawed arguments don’t hold any water when measured against clear, specific Scriptures and the character of God. It’s a shill, and I’m not buying.

    Take Care

  6. The notion that we have to embrace natural inclinations or ‘orientations’ toward any behavior that’s clearly and specifically contrary to God’s character and Scripture is plainly wrong. The Gospel teaches exactly the opposite: we are to deny ourselves, take up our Cross and follow Christ.

    The denial doesn’t refer to our uniqueness as individuals but to the base desires all broken people have in a broken world. That they manifest themselves in various ways is obvious, but I would no sooner excuse the inclination to lie, to steal, or to hate any more than I would those toward sexual immorality.

    The Gospel is a message of Transformation as well as Forgiveness. The good news is we don’t have to stay bitter little trolls lurking in our own darkness.

    You’re forwarding an old excuse, one that’s currently being used in favor of homosexuality, as well as the vitriolic singling-out of homosexuality as a peculiar evil. For example, 1 Cor 6:9,10 lists it along with a number of other obvious sins, that according to 1 Cor. 6:11 we can be free from. I don’t buy into the specious arguments of either extreme.

    There’s no “getting up to speed” here; it’s called picking up your Cross.

  7. Anybody can call themselves a Christian; but that doesn’t mean they are one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: