Posts Tagged opinion
Last Thanksgiving was one to remember. Somewhere in-between the compliments on my mashed potatoes and questions about whether dessert should be both pumpkin and pecan pie, I was told by a fellow Christ follower that I was accursed and going to hell. The conversation had turned from culinary choices to Christian responsibility in discussion of things like same sex marriage, security at church, and evolution versus creation. I felt comfortable around my fellow believers to speak openly about the bible and how it is used in our modern churches. I think that may have been my mistake. Honestly it probably was one of the better thanksgiving meals I have had. It was enlightening.
The specifics of the conversation are less important but the overall context speaks volumes to how we understand God and how the world actually sees us. The modern church seems to have adopted a unique view of biblical understanding. We mash verses like James 1:5 explaining where we should seek wisdom together with Colossians 2:8 about reliance on Christ and not human acumen and we end up with the ability to blame the Holy Spirit for our willingness to argue with the world about what we don’t like. Do we really think that is honoring God?
It seems like our desire for expedience and frankly our fears that we might agree with something we shouldn’t causes us to jump to conclusions about things we probably should chew on and struggle with more. Paul preached in a town called Berea and their response in Acts 17 was to examine the scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true. The word used (anakrino) is one of active and diligent searching. We seem to have sacrificed that today with a rote memorization of lists of things we are suppose to oppose. One offers the ability to swim in the words of the Creator himself and see how they change us to be more like him. The other affords us the ability to regurgitate on command. How can this truly honor God?
This is not a dark plot to squelch the words of the Spirit or a plan to usurp the throne of God with a conservative agenda of monotone “churchspeak”, it is more realistically a direction adopted from society itself to ease the burden of actually performing anakrino. With the information superhighway linked to everyone’s phones and the focus of modern communication, we are inundated with so many factoids that the only possibility to absorb them is to respond with “like” or “dislike”. We have exchanged the idea of a well-rounded and thorough education with a strong web presence. This does not honor God.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is not to blame, it is just a tool. Our use of it though will determine our efficacy in preaching the true gospel. I met a young man who was pursuing an online theology degree through a major Christian University. He explained it was faster and would get him into ministry sooner with the same educational value. He had been studying for a while so I asked who his favorite theologians were and his answer was that he couldn’t remember the names but he was willing to let me review his textbooks. If the quality of theological education being pursued by ministers today reduces the need to understand the history that brought us where we are and replaces that need with the requirement to offer an opinion in a class discussion post then we are breeding future ministers that will have no real ability to speak for the God they serve. Frankly this dishonors God.
If the some total of biblical examination that we are fostering in our church bodies is to look at an abridged online commentary or for that matter listen to a person who has done that and accept their version of truth, than how are we actually pursuing the call that was given? We are no longer preaching the gospel. We are preaching modern “churchspeak”. One of the clearest directives given in the text is from the prophet Micah. He tells us to pursue justice and mercy and walk humbly before our God. Humility starts with recognizing that our words about God are steeped in the tension of the fact we are speaking about something we have no possibility of understanding fully. If we present it as if it is simple and can be verified through a checklist, if we address the world’s concerns as if they are either on that list or not and therefore some type of abomination, if we stop examining the scripture and just read it to find agreement with our preconceived notions, than our ability to honor God has left the building. I have a large concern that God will follow shortly.
The message of the modern church is being obscured by our own voice. We are reaching some people, but I have to wonder if we are doing justice to them or the ones we are not reaching if we are encouraging compliance instead of diligent scripture searching. This does open up doors for possible misunderstanding and even not addressing sins in peoples lives. I am just not certain that is a bad thing. If we are truly seeking to honor God, then the most important thing to remember is we cannot bind his power to work in people’s lives by the insecurities of our own beliefs. The alternative is simply not working and I fear is an offense to the one we serve.
When I was much younger I knew it all, or at least I thought I did. I took all the classes and read all the books I needed to form the most infamous weapon ever to be used against mankind, the opinion. It was like a logic puzzle, all I had to do was find the right ways to shape the right scriptures and support the right views to make myself feel right (read superior). There wasn’t a subject I wouldn’t tackle because I had all the information I needed in the bible. It was simply a matter of how I used it. I cant claim I was alone in doing this or even that I was the best. I was taught well by many before me but I was quite good at it. If an argument against God came my way it had to go through both barrels of my baseball bat theology (I know I mixed my metaphors but it made about as much sense and some of the arguments I would use). It is almost as if the book itself was a cacophony of magic spells that I just needed to decipher to defeat evil (read anyone who disagreed with me). The world was my battleground and all who disagreed with my God were my target, and frankly my soul has been paying the toll ever since.
This was how “witnessing” was taught and this is why it has become malodorous in today’s world. I am not owning that responsibility but I certainly played my role. So many years later and many miles wiser (hopefully) I am sickened when I see my younger self in people today. How can we ever believe we are honoring the Creator of the universe by dishonoring his creations so entirely? A persons voice or view is an extension of who they are. It may be right at times and wrong at times and somewhere in between at times but it is always part of who they are. Dishonoring that dishonors God.
This happened within the church as well as without and still happens unfortunately. It seems like the epitome of Christian growth is the ability to understand (read control) the text. That then leads to instructing (read control) others within the church body and directing (read control) the church body and where it focuses its attention. All of this happens under the umbrella of being lead by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately I have heard far too many things that he would he not take credit for and he shouldn’t be blamed for either.
The real problem is not so much that this makes us look like arrogant fools (which many times we deserve) but also effectively removes the ability to speak cogently on issues that are truly facing the world. Here is a perfect case in point. Ellen Page recently came out of the closet and announced to the world that she is gay. This brought almost immediate support from many celebrities and thankfully Christian groups have not said anything stupid yet. Here however is the concern. I watched her speech and was genuinely moved by her view and experience when dealing with gender and role expectations and the hypocrisy and atrocities associated with that. Of which the church has historically been part of and I feel the issues she raised are large value points we should address. She said “If we could take just 5 minutes to recognize each others beauty instead of attacking each other for our difference…..ultimately it would save lives”. I think that is brilliant and something the church should spearhead instead of attack. At the same time I couldn’t care less what gender Ellen Page wants to have sex with or couple with. I was never on the short list for that role so my opinion on the fact is irrelevant. (Ellen, if I was and I missed your calls, I have really screwed the pooch on this and am sorry) As a matter of fact, I don’t think anyones opinion on that is relevant beyond her and her partner. I think that this personal choice of hers should be private and not something that should be seen as a badge of courage for proclaiming. Why does sexual choice have anything to do with human rights. The two things are not linked unless we make them so.
Christians however have almost lost the ability to speak on this because we have been the major voice in linking these things. We have abused human rights because of our opinions and now we are seen as the villains instead of the voice of reason. People are far less willing to listen to a view if they don’t understand we respect them for listening and see the beauty in them that God created. Why do we think so negatively about people when God spent so much effort building them for positive things?
If we do not change out tactics, our message is going to be heard less and less and eventually maybe not at all. I am not a pessimist who believes the church will cease to exist, but I do think we are in danger of ceasing to be relevant on the most important topic ever. God loves us and wants us in relationship with him. How can we ever believe that any other message could be more important than that?
I saw an article about the Coca Cola add aired during the Super Bowl. It discussed how upset people were because it portrayed a representation of America as a multi cultural entity and summed it up by singing America the Beautiful in multiple languages. Honestly it did not decrease my estimation of that company much. Whether the message that it delivered was appropriate/accurate or not was not really Coca Cola’s concern. They just wanted to sell Coke to whoever would buy it. They have been contributing to obesity, diabetes, and who knows what else for so long that in comparison, this is minor. What struck me more was the hate speak that I saw in reaction to it. Many people commented on either side about how much the other side was wrong in a variety of hateful terms. Whether the goal was humor or angst, it was still fueled by hate. So is the real message that typifies our world that it is okay to hate in response to mistakes?
Christian Music singer Natalie Grant was nominated for two Grammy awards this year. She left the event early for personal reasons she did not clearly state. She alluded to not being comfortable with the event. My cynical side immediately has to question her for going in the first place. Did she not know ahead of time what music would be performed and the secular views that would be promoted? It is a secular event. Should we expect people who are not Christian to act Christian? With that said, the responses to her departure sparked nothing short of hate. They accused her of being homophobic, hate filled, and basically stupid for serving an ignorant and prejudicial God. Really? Hate speak is still hate speak even if you are claiming others have done something wrong. I don’t agree with her decision to leave and feel that God could have been glorified even more if she had stayed, but she never truly said why she left. The message to her was you are welcome here as long as you agree with us, or the fans will hate you. Once again, are we saying the choice to hate is okay if it is in response to mistakes?
Kirk Cameron assaulted the Grammy Awards on Facebook for what he called an “all out assault on the traditional family”. He then made reference to lines of separation and that the current world is not one he would want to have his kids grow up in. Responses came back negative and unkind at best. He then plugged his new movie and later deleted his post. I have to admit I am less than thrilled with his voice and feel that he should stand more for God and less for his personal ideals. Choosing to use a public event for self promotion may be effective but it is cheesy at best and in this case uneducated and irresponsible. With that said, nothing he said warrants hate. Are we really pushing a message that says it is ok to respond in hate if we just disagree with an opinion?
Katy Perry performed at that show and provided what she referred to as a spooky themed performance. Others made reference to it being satanic in nature and called her everything from a whore to a fool. Really? The performance was milder than many houses in my neighborhood during halloween. If it offends you, turn the station. A single button push will fix the problem. She was trying to make waves to sell music. Get over it and stop fanning the flames. That is what is done these days, it is not new. Are we really pushing a message that says it is ok to respond in hate if we just disagree with a performance? Are we really responding with hate and thinking that somehow this glorifies God?
When did hate become our go to tool? Is it just because our arguments are too weak to stand and need the extra fuel? I have heard hate from both sides on many issues and frankly, I should not be surprised when it comes from the secular world, not because they are bad people but because the bible clearly tells me to expect it. I should be very surprised however when it comes from the Christian world. For them, that is sin and contrary to Christ. The part that is honestly more distressing is that is shuts down our ability to be heard. I have never been a Katy Perry fan, her music is just not my thing. But to treat her or anyone else with anything less than human respect and the love that God intended is criminal.
If our eyes are filled with hate, how will we ever see where we are going. Why do we think we have that right? If we are so offended by a persons views that we feel hate, maybe the problem is with us. Wait, no, that is wrong. There is no maybe. The problem is with us. If hate is our response, we should lose the right to respond. If we can not disagree with each other without hating each other, we should probably stop speaking all together.