Scripture is filled with references to what can be boiled down to the term “priorities” – whether it be prayer, faith, obedience, service, faithfulness, etc. Jesus made reference to priorities in His responses to young men who came asking about becoming followers. In Matthew 19 we can read of the rich young ruler who asked what he must do to obtain eternal life. Jesus’ reply was, in essence, to “keep the law” – but the heart of the matter, after the young ruler said he kept all those things – Jesus told him to sell everything and give it to the poor… Christ’s point was to rely on HIM, not all the wealth and property he had.
In Luke 9, we read (vs. 57-60) of two who would follow Jesus – the first is warned that “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” To the second, at the call to follow, had the excuse that he had to go and bury his father (nowhere does it say his father was actually dead). Jesus’ response: “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
And we certainly cannot leave out the words of Jesus in Luke 14:25-26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” While we know the LORD wasn’t espousing actual “hate” – He was putting an almost shocking (the term is “hyperbole”) illustrative point on His call to priorities – the love for Christ, the passion for following Him, should be such a high priority, that all else should fall well behind that.
Even the Apostle Paul had desires to visit churches and people that the LORD had not allowed him to enjoy because the priorities of God’s mission had to come first.
Priorities in our lives are put on display all the time. Whether it is the activities we engage in, the entertainment the indulge in, or the way we invest and use the time, skills, and resources (including talents) He has blessed us with.
Sadly, there has been a growing trend over the years of compartmentalizing our faith – “doing church” has become ever more a shrinking block on our busy schedules. An hour
or maybe two each week – or for the truly “faithful” -another hour in the middle of the week.
But then what happens? Life?
I once heard a deacon talk about how he would be in church Sunday morning if the mule didn’t end up in the ditch. He then went on to say – everyone (including God) understands when circumstances beyond our control prevent us from assembling together with the church on Sunday, the problem is when WE PUT THE MULE in the proverbial ditch! When it wasn’t “beyond our control”, but was our own doing that set up the barrier.
A friend who is also a minister at another church got himself in a bit of hot water a few years back. He opined on social media how he had passed a soccer complex on this way to morning services – and recognized quite a few vehicles parked with participants. His post was asking about the priority given to Sunday athletic competition over assembling together with the church.
Likewise, I found myself in similar trouble in my first pastorate when I posted a cartoon that brought an interesting question along the same lines: In the single-pane ‘toon, it depicts a family. In it, the child is asking the parents “why do they cancel church every time we have family to visit?”.
It gets back to priorities. If we as parents don’t demonstrate the priority of God on the day set aside for corporate worship, we shouldn’t be surprised when our children grow up to not have God as a priority in their life at all! If your job requires you to sometimes work on Sunday, that ought to put even more weight to the priority of being with your church family on the days you don’t have work! Further – not only do our children see our priorities in action, but so do our friends and families. If you have family that come to visit, do they see Sunday as a day to spend with you including corporate worship time at church, or have they learned that you will give up church time for them? What about friends? Do they know you by your dedication to the church and either won’t come to visit during church time on Sundays (or other ministry days), or come with the expectation of attending WITH you?
Absolutely nobody in their right mind begrudges a church member going on vacation, taking care of genuinely pressing/emergency circumstances. But do know that if you are a member of a local church (as all believers are called to be), you will be missed. Just as the Apostle Paul used the language of a physical body and it’s need for every part, so is the local church – indeed a convincing case against huge, numberless churches where people hide among the masses. We are built to come together and to serve and grow together. Our presence when we attend corporate ministry time is designed to edify others. When we miss, we leave a gap that no-one else really fills.
Let us also consider the stumbling block set in the path of our own children, families, and friends by our misplaced priorities when it comes to church attendance and participation, but the picture it paints to both fellow church members and to visitors who see your empty seat or pew.
From a pastoral perspective, I cannot help but be discouraged by those who seem to have a regular case of “mule in the ditch”. Further, when we see the far-reaching impact of being all-too-willing to set aside corporate worship, fellowship, and service for the world, it grieves me – and not just me, but your fellow church members.
Far too often, I have seen a willingness to miss corporate gatherings of the church grow to the false concept that one doesn’t “need” church at all – that they can commune with God, grow, and glorify Him and never step foot in a church building. Being a born-again, repentant, growing child of God involves active discipleship, accountability, corporate worship, and regular fellowship among the “saints” – indeed it implies such.
The writer of Hebrews laid it out as part of the picture of the “New Living Way” of those called from Death to Life:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25
Our priorities in life often speak far louder about our hearts and faith than any quantity of words. Our children see them, our family and friends see them, the local church sees it, and this lost world that is in need of a Greater Hope – sees it.
Where to our priorities come from? They come from our heart. Jesus laid out the most fundamental priority list of all when He spoke of the greatest command:
‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ Matthew 22:37
Be an active participant in your local church. Make assembling together a top priority. Yes, every once in a while, your mule can wind up in the ditch. Just be sure you aren’t the one who put him there!
I have made plenty of mistakes in my life, from economic to moral, from spiritual to physical. When I was a child, my parents tried to be selective in when and how they would “bail me out” of the consequences of my errors, all with the intent of guiding me to learn from my mistakes.
When I graduated high school, I was able to secure a band scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas, but I had to find funding for the rest of the expenses – from room and board, to books and additional fees. I was able to secure the old “PELL Grant” most years, but had to fill the gap with fairly sizable loans from a private fund for most semesters, and even a Federal Guaranteed Student Loan for a few semesters to make ends meet.
When I finally finished my extended undergraduate time and received my degree, I quickly learned that education loans, whether Government guaranteed, or privately-funded, remain one’s responsibility no matter your economic situation. They just don’t go away. It took several years on the relatively low income of a public school teacher to finally get those debts paid off. I often looked back at my fellow students who chose to work many long hours to pay for their education instead of taking out loans and thinking “that was what I should have done”. But at no point did I ask for or demand anyone else pay off my student loans for me. They were my responsibility.
Since then, I have been in several areas of work and ministry that have truly opened my eyes to how our national mentality has shifted from personal responsibility. Just listen for a minute to many candidates for the 2020 Presidential election who are promising to “wipe out” student debt. We hear cries of those being “crushed” under the weight of 6-figure debt for relief. But we hardly hear a peep about the fact that they all voluntarily entered in to said debt. We don’t see much published about the worthless diplomas being “earned” at such high cost.
But is this really so out-of-character for our culture?
Absolutely not! Every day, it seems we see yet another demand for something to be an entitled “right” – unlimited health care (at no cost to them), handouts, panhandling by people making more than the average employee – it really is startling if you take an honest look. I cannot find the article now, as it’s been several years ago, but a local media outlet did a bit of actual journalism and found a panhandler who admitted to taking in an average of $1,500 per week simply standing on a corner with a sign asking for money. Pretty lucrative when you consider there are no taxes being paid on that!
Have you ever taken someone grocery shopping who came looking for food help, only to get to the store and they don’t want any staples and components that would stretch the dollars available? Frozen meals, name-brand products, etc. And it all has to be “heat-and-eat”.
I must admit that I have become a bit jaded when it comes to people asking for help. If you come to me asking for $10 for gasoline – and you have a lit cigarette in your mouth and a pack of cigs in the car seat – I see gas money being smoked up. If you come asking for diapers or baby food because your kids are hungry – but I see beer cans and lottery tickets on your floorboard – it is you who deprived your child of those needs via your priorities.
A tough lesson in grace…
I say all of this precisely because I have allowed myself to grow jaded, pessimistic even, when it comes to those who come asking for help. How does one balance demonstrating grace while at the same time trying to not enable and encourage abuse and ongoing defective decision making and priorities? Grace.
This is why the church I pastor sponsors what we call a Micro Food Pantry we call “God’s Kitchen”. It is a box set up outside one of our doors that is “self-serve” with the mantra “take what you need, leave what you can”. No questions are asked. No criteria or paperwork necessary. If you take from it, that is between you and God.
At the same time, we really should look at the biblical example. We can rightly look at Jesus command to care for the widows, feed the hungry, give water to those who thirst, clothe the naked, etc., but we must balance that with the Old Testament warning about those who do not work (do not eat!), as well as the “filter” given in the New Testament regarding those like widows who have other means of support (like family). And from a moral persepectiv, if you have the means or are physically able and choose to take take handouts (or even demand them), you are taking resources from those who do not have the means or ability ot help themselves.
When we have means to discern real need – exercise it diligently. When we do not have such ability, then exercise grace. Be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And remember – it is still about personal accountability. If they take from you but don’t really need it or are abusing it – that will ultimately be between them and the LORD, if you are simply being faithful.
Don’t expect or demand that the government/taxpayers bail you out of holes you dig for yourself. Step up, make sacrifices, and take ownership of your situation. Stop digging holes you can never fill in. Get the help you REALLY need (and it might very well begin not with economic help, but spiritual help!). Find someone to help hold you accountable.
And if you really need help – don’t be afraid to ask for it – but with the request, commit to making the changes necessary to fix the problem at hand by making the changes in priority, habits, patterns, and decision making necessary.
Stop it… just stop!
What? Quit abusing Scripture to affirm your viewpoint and agenda – especially in the hot-button issue of immigration. I don’t care if your view point may very well be the “moral one” – if you are abusing Scripture to prove it – I can’t support you.
Here in the US, we have a problem – one that is growing in severity. A problem that has been rightly described as a crisis. One that side of the political isle claims is of recent manufacture (even thought their own party used the same terminology prior to our current President taking office). The problem is that of illegal immigration. You see – we hear often that America is a land of immigrants. There is some truth to that statement, and all but those who are Native Americans are at least descendants of immigrants, if not immigrants themselves. Indeed, in many ways, much of what has developed into this great “experiment” of a “melting pot” has been a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities coming together to build what was once called the ‘American Dream” – a former ideal that America was where one could come (through the proverbial front door), work hard, and become part of the culture.
But over the last several decades, an organized effort has been underway to literally stuff cities and towns with people who do not come in the “front door”, who choose to climb or cut fences, swim across waterways, risk their lives and the lives of children (in at least ⅓ of the cases, children not related to the adults they are apreheded with, many PURCHASED or abducted for the purpose– ie: human trafficking). A well-funded and organized campaign has been launched more recently by characters raging from George Soros, to state sponsors, and even a handful of US politicians – to train and equip migrants from Central America to cross the border illegally, and how to then play the system to delay deportation when caught (the word “asylum” is among the first words they teach them). These campaigns help fund busses and guides and provide aid along the way.
And as politicians from both political parties have talked big games regarding “fixing” the problem, neither seem all that willing to actually talk about it and to take real action. Those on the Left are primarily “Open borders”, no barriers, and give those who come here any way but the legal way a free pass to the front of the line, even before veterans and our own citizens who we are still falling short in helping with medical care, housing, and other needs. On the other side of the isle, we have politicians who want to build a wall along as much of the border as is possible, and to then re-build the immigration system to point all who want to come here through the front gate – like most past generations of immigrants from around the world were ushered through (think Ellis Island).
Sadly, these people – whether you see them as targets of social justice – people who should be able to come here to make a better life, or you see them in a far more nefarious light – have become political pawns. From the recruiting for the “caravans”, to the media-engineered “horror stories” of children dying in the wilderness or after being caught and detained. It is all being built up to divide, all while those who have the power to actually FIX the problem just sit back and use the issue as a weapon.
Real people, legally here or not, are suffering. Human beings – who every bit as much as I, are made in the Imago Dei – Image of God. And whether a person is here in direct violation of the law (which does make them a criminal – thus subject to criminal proceedings), or they are citizens, or they are legal immigrants – all people deserve to be treated like human beings.
That being said – there are many, especially professed Christians (or those who hate Christ, but try to use the Bible as a weapon against Christians) who are throwing Bible verses at this like a baseball bat. Sadly, they are abusing Scripture by doing so. The most common use is Leviticus 19:33-34
‘When a stranger resides with you in your land,you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.
There are many problem with applying this passage to the current immigration issue – in fact too numerous to post in a single blog post. But I will address the biggest ones:
- The context: This was a set of instructions given to the young NATION of Israel. This is not a blanket rule for the world.
- Definition: stranger -from the Hebrew word גֵּיר (gêyr) meaning most literally – “guest”. It is the same word used to describe the Hebrew people themselves when they were “sojourners” or strangers in a foreign land. This is a reference to their time in Egypt. Were they unwelcome immigrants? No – they were invited guests, by the hand of God’s Providence in placing Joseph in the highest position in the country (other than Pharoah). But in a practical application, the concept is – those who are visiting, those who are your guests (hosptiality was considered an understood trait), treat them with respect – treat them fairly, just as you would want to be treated – like your own. The point being – this passage was not about those who were not invited, those who were not welcomed guests. But there is one bit of phrase in verse 34 that DOES point to a Scriptural basis that DOES fit our situation today:
Love your neighbor…
Jesus said “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Luke 10:27)
This goes back to what I wrote near the beginning of this – Immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, should be treated humanely. At the same time, they are violating the law, and they are not “welcomed visitors” as the term in Leviticus refers to. But prisoners also are to be treated as human beings. But breaking the law, is breaking the law. Endangerding children by dragging them across harsh wilderness and in horrible conditions is not good parenting. In fact, a case can be made that this is abuse, especially when 1/3 of the children being drug through these conditions are not even related to the adults bringing them.
So – where does this leave us, at least those of us who professed Christ? Can we find biblical prohibitions against national borders or the expectation that those entering a nation do it through the civil law of that nation? No. Is it immoral or even sinful for Christians to insist that our national borders be enforced and that said immigrants be expected to enter a nation legally, and to follow the laws of the land? No.
We as Christians should seek the welfare of those apprehended until the day they are deported. WE should seek “humane” treatment, especially of the children who had no voice or choice in being brought here. But even more human would be to insist that the borders be protected and that the entire immigration system be overhauled in such a way that it encourages immigration through the legal channels, and empowers those who come legally to find their place in the “American Dream” as productive members of the society.
But please – STOP abusing Scripture in an effort to shame Christians who just want things done legally and in a way that doesn’t further promote and reward lawbreaking.
Have you ever stopped and noticed what really causes people to become outraged? I have posted previously on the subejct – particularly on things like #blacklivesmatter, where the message is ONLY certain colors of lives matter. But it would seem that the problem is only getting more dramatic.
Now – many of the issues that cause outrage are legitimately outrageous! When we see abject injustice – that should cause a response in us. When we see horrific acts of mankind – especially towards other human beings – we should be deeply distrubed. Indeed, there are many things that happen in this fallen world that should not just upset us, but stir us to action. This is absolutely biblical. It should spur us to help feed the hungry (Matthew 25:35-36) , to visit and look after the widow and the orphan (James 2:27), to comfort those grieving… to weep with those who weep…
The problem comes in when people’s outrage is aimed at some, often troubling issues, while playing off or even supporting other, far more evil and egregious actions. Let me give you a couple:
Obviously, in this case, “John” was outraged by something. To be truthful, the article he was responding to was a sad one. It was reported by local media that three kittens had been found dead in a small animal cage. It appears they had been neglected.
Yes, it bothers me when people treat animals badly. And to be totally honest, I have found that few people who treat animals badly, treat human being much better. Does this guarantee a “reserved seat” in Hell? I can’t find that in my Bible. Unfortunately, many of the same folks who will get completely upside down in their outrage over three kittens neglected to death, turn a blind eye (or worse) to the real-life horror storries going on all around us every day.
When a young man from Mexico in the US illegally, violently rapes a disabled, wheelchair-bound woman, is arrested, but because it is a sanctuary city, is released only to return and violently rape the SAME victim three days after the first rape, and in front of her 3 year old son? – that is grouns for outrage!
Why are we not, as a people, outraged that in Memphis, US Marshalls trying to serve a warrant on a VERY bad guy, saw him ram police vehicles, then jump out of the car he was trying to escape in – and draw weapons and try to shoot the officers? Why are we not outraged that an entire neighborhood began pouring into the streets as law enforement and paramedics were arriving, and started assaulting police officers? Are violent criminal’s lives more valuable that the officers sworn to protect you?
Or how about the outrage over a baker refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding”, yet the same people are unphased at pedophile “trans” queens stripping to near-nude and erotic dancing with 8-10 year olds who have been encouraged to dress in drag as well?
Or my own personal “favorite” – those who bemoan kitten deaths, or the mean hunters shooting deer… all while comlpetely and uabashedly supporting abortion from conception to post-birth. The utter absurdity of supporting the murder of human beings form the womb, while being utterly outraged (some to the point of near-militant behavior)
How about instead of walking around outraged at everything that even remotely disturbs you – how about we take a look at what causes God outrage – what draws the very wrath of God that will be revealed against what? all unrighteousness – all wickedness. Indeed, the wrath of God has already been demonstrated – most importantly when it was poured out on His only begotton Son, Jesus Christ – who endured the shame and agony to redeem a people from their sins, from their selective outrage.
And we who are redeemed by His blood, should be outraged, not by what hurts our feelings, but what offends God. It is when you are walking closely with God, immersing yourself in His Word, dwelling in His presence via the Bible and Prayer – that we find our own outrage towards trivial things to diminish – and we begin to see the world through HIS eyes. We begin to see the actual orphans and widows who need us. We see the physical needs around us that must be addressed. We desire to see truth over lies. And we are offended at genuine injustice. And because we are new creatures who, in our former selves despised true justice, loved sin, and were participants in the unrighteous deeds of the world, we now desire the things of God, the works of God – and the goodness of God.
Save the self-righteous “reserved place in Hell” for your time in the mirror, check your heart, and pursue righteousness, including the righteous indignation that comes from growing more Christlike every day.
RACE – a term that teeters on the edge of being classified as a “four-letter word” in many circles. A term that really doesn’t mean what it has been made out to mean. Just like so many other terms in human language (especially the English language) that have been adultuerated, redefined, and bent to fit political and sociological agendas, the term “race” simply is not what you may think.
And among all settings where “race”, regardless of how you define it, should matter the least – Christianity, the term is again blowing up people and churches. And yet again, it is because so many have a completely erronious udnerstanding of the term.
Se let us take a look at God’s Word. After all, as one who holds to Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone for basis of faith, doctrine, and theology).
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”Genesis 1:26-28 NASB
Let US make man in OUR image – Us being plural (the very first clear, inarguable statement of the Triune God) , yet a singular image. One image – and “make man” being a general term that actually applies to mankind – all of humanity. THE Image of God (Imago Dei). All of mankind, because the first man (and woman) were made in the image of God, is also made in the image of God. Further – how man different species of man did God make? Absurd question? Not at all – God made man and woman. Period. All of humanity in a single exemplar pair. Even modern science, with the advanced DNA sequencing and comparison ultimatley comes ot the same conclusion – all of mankind are of a single species – a single “kind”. What did Adam and Even look like? It is doubtful we will ever figure that out in this lifetime. But that is truly irrelevant – as we all come through/from that first couple (our family tree further returns to a single line through Noah as well!).
But let us return to the discussion at hand. There are several, some well-known, folks in the Christian/Evangelical circus who have begun abusing the whole “race” label. This goes beyond what the nefarious characters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton – two of the most famous race-baiting for agenda promoters of my lifetime. I’m referring to Thabiti Anyabwile (real name is Ron Burns), who formerly had my respect for writing some biblically-sound materials on church membership as well as several other encouraging and true resources. Yet Mr. Thabiti has chosen a different path – one of promoting division among races, who has attacked “multi-cultural” churches, not based necessarily on the doctrinal and theological issues often found is such churches, but for trying to make black church members into what many of his mindset refer to as “Oreos” – black on the outside, white on the inside. He has decried (along side others of similar broken and racist views), that white people have coopted Christianity and made it a “white man’s religion”. He has called out Christians to essentially throw away commentaries and theological works by White men and find Black theologians to follow and learn from. He has joined with such race-hustlers as Kyle J. Howard (a close friend of Beth Moore, who radically endorses him, by the way) who is a self-appointed Preacher, Bible Teacher, Racial Trauma Counselor, etc.. in calling for radical reparations for all of the Black race – and even saying that there can be no reconciliation between black and whites in “the church” until all White Evangelicals” take ownership of their complicity in the injustices against the black race and reparations are paid based.
But the problem isn’t just one-sided. For FAR too long, professed Christians, including many of the “Baptist” pursuasion HAVE held race as a component of their theology and doctrins. Lest we forget, those old family Bibles with all the beautiful paintings of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed “Jesus” or the similarly European-depicted David (or most all biblical characters). These images became the building blocks of race-based thought in churches. And divides have festered like gangreen in a jungle-wound. And the problem isn’t helped when people further attempt to swing the pendulum the other direction and claim (as the Black Hebrew Israelites do) that all authentic biblical characters (other than the bad guys) are of the dark-as-the-night “black race”. (*could this be a part of why God commanded His people to NOT make graven images of anything in Heaven, in Earth, or below the earth?)
And contrary to what I believe are well-intentioned movements to racially-integrate churches (the current multi-cultural church planting efforts), I see more damage being done to theology and doctrine in the scramble. And it all goes back to a broken concept of RACE.
You see, when the Bible makes use of the Greek term γένος, it isn’t referring to races – different kinds of people. It is a reference to ethnicity, nationality, family lines. There are not different kinds of human beings – because we are all – regardless of location of birth, quantity (or lack) of melanin in our skin, or the circumstances of our birth – we are all of ONE Race – the Human Race. And we know this, not only from the ceation account found in Genesis, but more imprtantly, from the New Testament statements on the matter, with Paul referencing thsoe who are regenerated and born-again as those Christians:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28 NASB
…but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.Romans 2:10-11 NASB
God is not a discriminator based on anything but the heart, not because of some spiritual blinders, but because HE created us – all of us, in HIS image, through Adam – all unique, yet all of one Human Race. Yes, He has allowed, even brought about, differences in skin color (all amazingly adapted to the areas He sent people after the tower of Babel rebellion.
Even with different languages (many of which have yet to even be discovered, much less have Jesus named), an amazing myriad of skin colors, and other physical attributes – we all remain linked by DNA – and by Jesus’ own label of NEIGHBOR!
In setting up Jesus’ parable of the so-called “Good Samaritan”, He was asked by a lawyer what was required to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ response was to go to the Law that this lawyer was so intimately aquainted with – law briefly summarized concludes with “love your neighbor as yourself”. The Lawyer’s question then was “who is my neighbor”. The answer would have been as startling today as it would be to both sides in the evil “race” battles:
The Samaritan – a man who, by cultural standards, was expected to HATE this Jewish man. They were like cats and dogs – both viewed each other as the scum of the earth (despite the fact there was little visual difference between them). They hated each other because they saw each other as different races, not of the single Human Race. Yet this particular Samaratin saw, not a “Jewish dog”, but a human being in need of help. He looked beyond any superficial ethnic difference to the man who needed saving.
If we want genuine “racial reconciliation” – it isn’t going to come because of some kind of reparations paid for evils that others may or may not have suffered. Reconcilliation will not happen by the continued pointing out of differences between “races” – as this simply perpetuates the myth of race. Genuine unity as the Human Race will only come when we truly understand God’s perspective – from the Greator who created us all in HIS Imago Dei – and realize – regardless of the color of our skin – we are all sinners who are desperately without hope – doomed to receive the due wrath of a Holy and perfectly-righteous God – who even HE sees beyond the exterior to see the needy humanity – and reaches down to save those He will by the power of Jesus’ blood – regenerating hearts, not based on ethnicity or any perceived qaulity in us – but by His perfect love, by His perfect Grace – and all for HIS glory alone!
We live in a time of people having greater concern for what is politically-correct than what is biblically correct. At the same time, many in what is labeled “Evangelicalism” (some bloggers are now using the term #BigEva (the evangelical business, as it has become), has been shouting that Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is not worthy of being respected as the Presdient of the United States, and that Evangeilical Christians are blind and possibly unregenerate, Hell-bound souls for supporting him in any way – based on his history of sexual immorality and profane speach.
Many of these #BigEva figures, like Thabiti Anyabwile (@ThabitiAnyabwil) of the (social) Gospel Coalition (his real name is Ron Burns – but he changed it in college to his current radical racist Muslim name), a frequent speaker calling police the enemy, who has decried “White Evangelicalism” and who has become amon the most outspoken in favor reparations, has also issued hate towards Trump and his supporters, all while still endorsed by, and supported by The Gospel Coalition.
But this brings us to the issue at hand (that Thabiti/Ron Burns is a part of). Popular writer and TGC sweetheart Jared Wilson opined yesterday regarding George Whitefield and whether or not he was actually a Christian. For those who don’t know who George Whitefield was – Whitefield remains as one of the “greats” of Christianity and evangelical proclamation. See THIS LINK for more details.
Jared Wilson’s basis for questioning the salvation of one of the greatest of gospel preachers in American history? He was a slave owner. Wilson and others (like Thabiti), in an effort to promote their growing drift into the radical cutlural marxism of the Social Justice (false) gospel, are now adrift, taking hosts at dead preachers based on their particular sin. N=ever mind that Sacred Writ clearly states that “all have sinned”. By Wilson’s measure, even the Apostle Paul would be unworthy of being labeled a Christain – as he even recognized in himself that he was, even late in life, still a sinner – who didn’t do what he should, and did what he should not.
Whitefield was, like so many in the day, a slave holder – who had a bent view of humanity. He engaged in the (at the time, culturally-accepted) practice – despite the reality that no born-again Christian of our day would view slavery as anything but evil and sinful. Jared Wilson questions Whitefield’s salvation (this is what is meant by asking if he was a Christian) – based on a single, sinful activity.
This is no different than most in the Social Justice cesspool – who, like Thabiti Anywabe, and now SBC President JD. Greear, say it’s sinful to vote for candidate A (the Republican Cndidate) because of _________ sin, but it IS ok to vote for Candidate B and we will ignore his/her most vile of sins. Thi sis #hypocricy at its finest.
During the 2016 election, Ron Burns (aka Thabiti) endorsed Hillary Clinton while attacking Donald Trump. His hate for Donald Trump was connected to his immorality and the media’s depiction of him as a racist. His endorsement of Hillary Clinton was mostly unexplained, but he refused to even acknoledge HIllary’s joyful and loud promotiom of the most vile sin of our day – abortion. #hypocricy.
So – lets take a bit of an adventure together:
Imagine if you will, a preacher who you have heard all your life about. You have a great deal of respect for him and his history-book accomplishments. He is elevated as a “saint”, with monuments erected to his visage. He has entire college courses both in secular and “christian” colleges dedicated to studying him. Indeed, most of the nation pays homage to him.
But bits and pieces begin to emerge. First, something as “innocuous” as plagairizing a major portion of his doctoral dissertation. While those in academic circles generally view plaigarism as a major offense (degree candidates have been expelled for lesser examples of plaigarism). And then there are rumors…
Years later, evidence is released including credible records that this man you have always believed to be a man of God and great example, was a serial adulterer (over 40 confirmed and documented cases of illicit adulterous sexual relationships, with both men and women, while he was engaged in his most public of ministries). You find out through eye-witness testimony and further documented evidence, that he was actively involved in human trafficing/prostitution, and that he was recorded (audio) in the room watching the rape of women by his associates. You would at least begin to question everything else you knew about the man, right?
But hey – he was a Christian – and a Baptist preacher at that, right? So it’s all ok. He was still saved. We should still honor him and lift him up as our example. But…
…then, when you find out that his theology had dramatically shifted over the years and he had essentially adopted Universalist/Unitarian doctrines – indeed, this man is today, more revered in Unitarian Universalist congregations than nearly any other, with his sermons beign utilized regularly. Even his wife admitted that her husband had seriously contemplated joining the Unitarian Universalist church. He had, by accounts of his day, rejected the Trinity, rejected eternal Hell, rejected the inerrancy of Scripture.
This preacher and much-celebrated man: Martin Luther King Jr. I do not bring this up to tear down the very real and incredible civil rights progress that Dr. King helped to usher in. I am as inspired as anyone when I listen to his “I Have A Dream” speech. I was recently introduced to his speech “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint”, which is an increidble (though not overtly biblical) speech of encouragement.
But I ask – was Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian? He professed Jesus, though his later life refelcted a faith in a Jesus Christ that didn’t match that of the gospel. His view of God and eternity can be described as nothing short of heretical. And his ongoing and rampant sinful behavior reflect a horribly corrupt heart. But his outward works and speeches still remain as great works, worthy of respect. Yet Jared Wilson refuses to even question MLKJr., but brazenly questions the Christianity of George Whitefield – who believed in a very orthodox gospel, who believed in the inerrancy of Scirpture, and who trusted in the fully-God, sufficient savior Jesus Christ to redeem His sinful soul.
Lets be honest. Let us be logical. Let us not be #hypocritical. The Southern Baptist Convention’s own ERLC, led by radical Social Gospel purveyor and Trump-hating Russell Moore, The Gospel Project, and several other modern powerhouses of the corporate evangelical machine, promote events like MLK50, and shame those who question the iodlatyry they promote, as they continue to push hate towards those who they deem worthy of attacking.
The reality is – this is all just a pile of symptoms of the underlying corruption that is American Evangelicalism. When churches have been selective regarding which sins they consider worthy of addressing and whih will be swept under the rug. Some churches have decried homosexuality while flatly ignoring adultery and divorce. Churches have wrapped themselves in the evils of alcohol while ignoring the abortion purveyor in their town. And then they wonder why they are rarely taken seriously – again #hypocricy. And it stems from a very low view of God and His Word. We have taken the functional position that what God has said is wrong and sinful is only that if it isn’t OUR sin. We have a lot of “thank God I’m not like THAT sinner, but failure to see the sinner staring back at us in the mirror. #hypocricy.