Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What About Love 2

What we (Christians) care about is patterns of life that hurt or dehumanize. Again, God desires mercy and justice, not religious observance. In short, the conversations that occupy the Christian are not religious but focus upon the human predicament. This human predicament involves the understanding of love and relationship; the understanding of the obligations to the Sovereign God; the understanding of purpose and reason for our very existence; it is a question of Who we are and How we are to be; and in this process of understanding, to be human and dignified as a person uniquely created by a Holy God. The plight of man is 'universal', we have been created to question and answer; to seek and to find; to know; because God in His wisdom desires people to worship Him for the sake of Who He is. It is in this aspect that Christianity requires the interjection of religious thought into the mainstream of life. We have been created to experience the wholeness and fullness of life and that life lived with flaws and failures. As Christians we are to have an active role in the conversation of how that wholeness and fullness is to be worked out in life.

It is often overstated that Christians "hate the sin, but love the sinner" and as any astute observer will realize this does not always translate into clear and precise action as clearly as the words imply. We understand an implied mandate to resist evil and fight wickedness and in that it appears and is sometimes a consequence that victims are made of those who continually and blatantly practice those things which the Bible declares to be abominations and perversions. This is referred to as collateral damage and is not the anticipated or strived for result of Christian intent. We are simply men and women living life with the goal of surviving, nurturing others, examining our lives and dealing with the hypocrisies that exist, attempting to explain and reveal through the frailty of example, a 'good life'.

It is easy in the context of declaring 'right' and 'wrong' to view Christianity as a corruption of God's love; a facetious judging of the 'pure' intents of men and women seeking to live a good life, meaning and doing essentially 'no harm' in terms of their impact on the greater society by their life-style choices. As they look at the censure imposed upon them by the Christian community and come under the glare of that judgement they see only the narrow-mindedness of a people professing love, but seemingly supplying the seeds of disapproval. This places Christianity in a tenuous position in the eyes of the world. This may be at odds with the mandate of Christianity and religion.

Being religious, being a Christian is not a "I am right, you are wrong"; "I'm going to Heaven, you're going to Hell" agenda. Being a Christian more accurately is about relating to the world around us; it is about being visible as a resolute and viable alternative reality to the other life-style choices being made. It is about making clear in the minds of all those with whom we have contact that a decision was made that has had an infinite and clear impact on our lives and subsequent to that decision our paths have remained fixed on an objective or goal from which we will not turn aside. It is about communicating through our actions, deeds and words the commitment and sacrifice we feel obligated to give as a result of that decision. It is not about the things that are historically, politically, morally, intellectually and culturally significant. Proposition 8 was an opportunity for an elective voice to be heard with regard to a extraordinary request made of the law-makers of the State and that elective voice denied that request; this was in part a moral statement, a cultural statement, and a political statement made by a majority of people irregardless of their personal political or religious affiliation. I believe it is somewhat unfair to assume that a majority decision was reached solely upon the backs of a Christian vote. I believe the Christian vote had a significant effect on the outcome, but not enough to carry the day. This vote was more probably a reflection on how all of society currently relates to the aspect of gay-marriage being an institution recognized by the law of the land.

The Christian voice in this is blurred by the intense emotions surrounding this event, and I realize how easy it is to be misunderstood in relating the Biblical position on marriage and expressing God's view to those who are unaware of that view. It is difficult to be convincing in a parlay between opposing viewpoints, when both sides see the others position as totally dysfunctional. This sounds redundant. I may be trying to express a thought or idea that in reality does not exist in relating to conflicting views, but a thought that lies at the heart of the Christian message, in that love requires intercession when the 'good' of all is at stake; when there is harm being done to the whole; and an apology is due if God is portrayed as an intolerant bully by the actions of Christians in affirming their beliefs.

The role of Christianity is not the division of people into groups, distinct from each other by their behavior, religion or life choices, but the esteeming of the value and dignity of the personhood of each individual. Religion and religious thought seeks to divide and create distinction. Christianity, on the contrary, is to be about the business of being non-religious. In this we walk a tight-rope, offending those we most desire to help because the judgement of God rests upon our shoulders even as we profess God's love to a sinful world. We condemn by our presence and yet it is only by our presence that God's love can be expressed. We accept persecution because of the mantel of God's justice upon us and extol His mercy by persevering in the persecution. We are equated with intolerance and yet we are to move in every circle and community of life exhibiting the qualities of God in the representation of God's love exemplified in His Son, Jesus Christ. Matthew 9:11-13, ..."Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." We are to be a source of healing in the world, a vision of health, being vocal about the unhealthy is part and parcel of that. John 3:19-21, "...and this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

I really like the following quote, although I have not figured out its full implications for my life:

"[Religious man] must therefore live in the godless world, without attempting to gloss over or explain its ungodliness in some religious way or other. He must live a "secular" life, and thereby share in God's sufferings. He may live a "secular" life (as one who has been freed from false religious obligations and inhibitions). To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man--not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life."

Christians being vocal about the effects of laws, attempting to change public opinion about the cultural disputes of our time is not necessarily about an attack on the purveyors of alternate life styles, but about the protection of the others who will be affected by those decisions. It is fine to say 'what goes on in my home is my own business', but, that is an untrue statement. Whatever happens anywhere has a subsequent repercussion felt by the whole world. Luke 12:3, "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." This is the real 'Butterfly Effect".

Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

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