Sunday, June 28, 2015

5 Things Jesus Would Say to the Evangelical Community

I've seen this article being linked to called "5 Things Jesus Would Say to the Gay Community."  (You can read it here.)  I thought it was a bit patronizing and I didn't really agree with the writer that that's how Jesus would respond.  But that's ok.  As brothers and sisters, we are going to disagree.  And, I also think it's ok to respond to each other when we disagree - as long as it's not hateful or prideful.  This list of 5 things Jesus would say inspired me to come up with my own list of 5 things Jesus would say to the evangelical community.  I assume the original piece was written in response to the recent Supreme Court decision which said it was unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage.  So my response is to the evangelical community, who seemed to be leading the charge to fight such a decision.  I tried to keep love and humility as my intent.  I totally get the irony of my telling people they should worry about the log in their own eye, while at the same time having a giant timber of my own sticking out for all to see.  But, at the same time, I also wanted to make it a provocative alternative view of what Jesus might think about this much too long-fought battle.  Definitely MHO (my humble opinion, boomers).

5 Things Jesus Would Say to the Evangelical Community

1. Thank goodness this stupid fight is finally over (PLEASE tell me it’s really over)! Now you can use all that time, energy, money, and passion to do the things I told you to do and not spend another minute worrying about something that I never spent a lick of time worrying about while I was there.

2.  I never called you to be the rulemasters. You know the kid at recess who feels the need to point out every time some real or perceived rule is being broken? Nobody likes that kid. Quit being that kid. We lived in the Roman Empire, which was far from a God-fearing nation. Yet you never saw my followers or me working to litigate or legislate so my rules would be followed. Waste of time. Follow our example. Touch people’s hearts and minds and let my Father worry about whether or not other people are following the rules. You have your hands full making sure YOU are following the rules. The other day I did a Google search and I typed in “Christians are.” The top answer that appeared was “annoying.” That is NOT what I called you to be - yet that is how you are being perceived by those who are lost and need me most. My son, Phillip Yancey, once said, “When I ask people, “What is a Christian?” they don’t usually respond with words like love, compassion, grace; usually they describe a person who’s anti-something. Jesus was not primarily known for what he was against. He was known for serving people who had needs. . . If we, the church, were known primarily for that, then we could cut through so many divisions.” What he said.

3.  Each year, 2.6 million children die as a result of hunger-related causes. That’s something I actually asked you to take care of for me. Maybe you could work on that.  (Matthew 25:35-45, Luke 3:11, Luke 12:33)

4. My two greatest commandments to you were to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Until you’ve got those two things under control - the all time number one expectations I have for you - you have what I call a log in your eye. (And don’t tell me you’ve got those two things under control - nobody likes that kid either.) I know I don’t have to remind you about the logs and specks thing.

5. I love you, but I have a better plan for you. You may enjoy the life you live right now even if it disagrees with my guidelines. But trust that I know what is best. Put all the fighting and condemning and hand-wringing aside. Be the light of world for me. (Matthew 5:14)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thursday Three-fer: My Sister's Place

Just spent a few days at my sister's house in Minnesota.  That visit inspired today's Thursday Three-fer.  My oldest sister is about 12 years older than me, so she left home when I was just six years old.  When she got married a few years after that, I would often go spend the night at her and Dave's place.  One of my favorite things to do on those visits was to go through her record collection.  Of course the album covers were fascinating in themselves, but one of my favorite parts of the albums were when the lyrics were written out and you could listen to the music and follow along with every song, even the ones you didn't know well.  I did a lot of singing along with those albums.  Here are three songs that remind me most of those days.

1. Maxwell's Silver Hammer - Abbey Road (Beatles)
I spent many days listening to and looking at Abbey Road.  Phenomenal.  Although this song is not my favorite from the album, I think it's the one that most intrigued me as a kids.  Both silly and light, yet dark and disturbing.  I appreciated that tension.  I don't really understand this song, but it brings back a lot of memories.

2. So Far Away - Tapestry (Carole King)
I wasn't yet a woman and I knew nothing of the heartache she sings about in this song.  But this album and song gave me some real insight into what it would all be like.  She was right.  Great stuff.

3.  Candle in the Wind - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
I remember liking most every song on this very long album.  I'm hesitant to choose this one because it seems to have been overdone - remade for Princess Diana and way overplayed.  But this song version was so simple and beautiful and heartfelt and personal.  I didn't know much about Marilyn, so many of the things I do know about her came from this song.  Even at my young age, I really got this song.

How Does the Church Love - Even When We Don't Have All the Answers?

 Imagine, if you will, it's summer break and this teacher, although busy with a lot of items on her to-do list, has a little more free time than she does during the school year.  She would be reading new books, pursuing hobbies, relaxing at the pool, right?  Nope.  This girl spent the morning watching a gay video.  Not what you're thinking.  I came across a video that shows a debate between two gay men who are both Christians.  I know, lots of you have turned and run at this point.  PLEASE stay.  I promise, it will be so good.  It makes no difference what your views are on homosexuality or gay marriage.  Both of these things exist and we need to learn how to handle them as a church.  So, in a debate there are two sides.  In this debate, one man believes that gay marriage is acceptable in the sight of God and one does not.  Both give the reasons for their conclusions, and although it may not sound like it, it is riveting.

Facebook is such a funny place.  Most of my fb friends are people that I don't know well enough or see often enough to have deep, philosophical conversations with.  But, by seeing what they post on Facebook and seeing which of my posts they "like", I have a pretty good feel for where most of my friends stand on many issues.  I have some friends who will "like" almost everything I post, but when I post about that one certain issue, never a like from them.  It's kind of fascinating.  I am here to tell you today, whether you like any of the posts or links I've put on Facebook about homosexuality, this video should be required viewing for every member of the church.  You can walk away having the same beliefs you have now and that's fine.  But you will not walk away unchanged, I promise you.  And that goes for people on both sides of the gay marriage issue.

This debate between Justin Lee and Wesley Hill is the best example of disagreeing in love that I have ever seen.  What if all Christians approached their disagreements in such a loving and thoughtful way?  The world would definitely view us differently.  And they go beyond just the issue of gay marriage.  If the church decides that it's wrong, does that mean any nonsexual but romantic same-sex relationship is wrong too?  After all, the bible never addresses this specifically.  Christians believe that sex before marriage is wrong, but we don't believe that romance outside of marriage is wrong.  Can this be true for gay couples as well?  Or are they destined to spend their lives without romance?  Is it wrong for two men who are romantically attracted to each other to hold hands?  If so, why?  How does the church help gay members who are struggling with these issues?  Such a fascinating conversation - things I know I had never really thought of before.

If I could tie up every Christian in the world and force them to sit down and watch this video, I would.  I believe this issue is so important and the way the church is dealing with it is to just say no.  That's about as helpful here as it was with drugs in the 80's.  It's so much more complex than that.  I am not out to change anyone's mind - just to show that it's more complicated than most of us straight folks ever imagined.  Easy for us to say it's wrong, and our lives go on.  But it is a life sentence for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  How do we help and support them?

I can't tie you up and force you to watch.  I can only beg and promise that you will be challenged and moved.  It is two hours long, and even I realize that that is a bit of a time commitment.  About the same as watching a movie, but there are no car chases or shirtless Bradley Cooper's to make the time pass quickly.  So, I will make a couple of suggestions.  At the beginning is an introduction and a lot of blah, blah, blah, (that I actually found interesting) that could be skipped - although it does set up the context of the debate.  The debate starts with Wesley Hill making his arguments against gay marriage.  He has 10 minutes (but I think he goes a little over that).  It is interesting, but most of us have heard these arguments before so if you want to skip over that part, it's understandable.  If you want to hear Justin Lee's arguments in support of gay marriage, skip ahead to about 40 minutes in.  This is single-handedly the most powerful argument I've ever heard in support of accepting homosexuality in the church.  He goes a little under 10 minutes.  Again, you don't have to agree with him, but whenever you take a stance I think it is so important to listen to, and really hear, the other side.  Then share your disagreements in love.  The best part of the whole video starts at about 53 minutes.  This is when the two sit down and talk about what they agree on and what they disagree about and ask questions of each other.  Wow!

Now, stop what you're doing, and go to the link below.  Let's get this thing right, church.  Let's talk about how to do that.