In Part 1 I made the audacious claim that the privileged inherit most of the power and the powerful end up with most of the privileges. If power corrupts then privilege is blind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s something I call a “moral governor” that the privileged and powerful must acquire in order to benefit society.
I mentioned that there were two centurions in the New Testament that were equipped with the same moral governor that kept their power and privilege in check. You might have guessed that the second centurion was Cornelius, the one who Peter evangelized in Acts 10.
We’re told that Cornelius, who, like the other centurion, was “generous with those in need” and “respected by all the Jews.” When Peter entered his house, the mighty commander of soldiers “fell at his feet in reverence.” Far from your typical power hungry leader, this was a humane and humble-hearted man. Continue reading →
They say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.Isaiah 65:5
There’s a stench in the air. It’s the pungent smell of arrogance. I smell it in both American culture and the culture of the Church. It has trickled down from above, not from a heavenly above, but from the heads of churches and of state. Our country, our church, our ideology, our politics is better than yours! In fact, I’m better than you!
The Left is smarter than the Right and the Right is more moral than the Left. Social media and talk radio self-proclaimed pundits bolster their frail egos by preaching to the converted with bluster and conceit. Don’t forget folks, we’re better than them! If they disagree with us and our candidate or our theology they’re fools, idiots––stupid and depraved! Name-calling and slathering paint with the broadest brush possible is a favorite pastime.
In part 1 of “When is a Sword Not a Sword?” I talked about the danger of using the Sword of the Spirit as a weapon against pre-Christians. Peter was granted a sword and then used it to hurt a man instead of helping him. Some more along those lines…
Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.Proverbs 29:20
Peter was pretty much of a swing-first-and-ask-questions-later kind of guy, to say nothing of his swordsmanship. I’m guessing that he wasn’t aiming to surgically sever Malchus’ ear, but like a lot of Christians whose MO is to just let it fly, he was just swinging that thing at whatever he could hit! It’s the mantra called: Ready, fire, aim! This practice dates back to the Crusades where we slash whatever is in the path of our sword and blame it on Providence! Continue reading →
We’ve been talking about hysteria, hatred and vengeance as inappropriate reactions to the trauma of terrorism in our world. These play right into the hands of the psychopathic terrorizers and only make the circumstances worse. Now if we must be utilitarian about it, how do these reactions affect us? What does a hateful and inhospitable spirit do to us as people of God?
Hysteria and hatred hijack our abundance
“If love is the greatest virtue, then hatred is the greatest vice. We must work at least as hard at stemming our hatred as cultivating our love.”Scott A. Bessenecker
Unfettered anger and fear drive us to extremes and tempt us to make stupid decisions. Not only have I experienced this personally, it’s just as true on a national and international level. When anger turns to hate and fear to morphs into panic our judgment gets murky These emotions can be quite indiscriminate. They’re undiscerning and paint everything with a very wide brush. All of a sudden every person that we categorize a certain way is covered in the color that we slop all over them. Continue reading →
When he was a child, a friend of mine whose Jewish parents and he were on an elevator with an African-American man said, “Look Mommy, a Schvartzer!” which is a pejorative term, in the category of the “N word.” His mom shushed and rushed him off the elevator at the next floor. Kids don’t know any better. They name call all the time. They don’t understand the connotation of the derogatory. It’s we adults who should know better.
In an election year name-calling and propagandizing flies from mouths to ears to mouths and on to other ears like a flu virus sickening anyone willing to inhale it. No party or church is immune to this highly infectious airborne virus. To keep from being infected we have to be proactive and take defensive measures. We have to protect ourselves and others by breathing through the filter God’s Love Letter and strengthen our immune system with what it says about humans stamped with his image. Continue reading →
“Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”Herman Melville
I’ve never been mistaken for an expert practitioner of what we might call “balance,” but I believe it exists and that it is a quality to be desired for a healthy society and vibrant Christian community. My seldom and small glimpses of balance have convinced me that it is not only a desirable, but a beautiful quality.
Ugly at the edges…
“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”Proverbs 18:13
I heard a country preacher say, “God don’t like ugly!” He wasn’t talking about people with an unsightly appearance, but about those with ugly attitudes and mean-spirited mouths. It’s my opinion that most of the ugly out there is out there on the edges where edgy Christians abound. C.S. Lewis said, “Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst,” and like the Bible says, “Mean people suck!” (the Bumper Sticker Version) Continue reading →
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.C.S. Lewis
I once had an old dog that was so blind that she kept bumping into the furniture. It wasn’t that there wasn’t enough light, but she just didn’t see well. I wonder if we alleged believers keep running into things – some of the same old things – because we don’t see very well.
Jesus was fond of metaphors, some of which he was so fond that he repeatedly recycled them in his teaching and preaching. One of his favorites was the “lamp on a stand.” He employed it in three different contexts and in two different senses. I was a little confused by them so I put the passages next to each other and did a little comparing. To summarize my findings: He wants us to catch the light that he emits and then cast that same light so others can catch it. We can only cast as much light as we catch.Continue reading →