Monday, October 29, 2012

A Bomb For Jesus

For about 200 years, between 1069 and 1279, The Christian Church conducted violent, brutal and destructive campaigns across continental Europe and into the Middle East. These war-like events were intended to bring people into the faith and annihilate the unbelievers—mostly Muslims. As these campaigns progressed they became less about religion and more about gathering wealth and power. Nonetheless, it is a dark shadow on the face of Christianity, no doubt. 
On the other hand, Christians have also been persecuted, beginning on the Day of Pentecost and continuing through this very moment. Stephen, Peter and Paul are not the only purveyors of the faith that met a cruel demise. Millions of Jesus believers have died because of their convictions and this is not likely to change. 
But let’s examine this very moment. How often throughout the course of a typical week do we encounter reports of Christians strapping concealed bombs to their bodies, boarding a bus, walking into a crowded movie theater or strolling into a shopping mall? How many Christians learn how to fly large passenger jets for the sole purpose of crashing them into heavily populated skyscrapers? How many Christians storm foreign embassies and murder government employees from other countries? How many truly Christian regimes (if any exist) slaughter their citizens with the singular goal of absolute and unquestioned power? 
One may question the horrifying acts of Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Anders Breivik and the Ku Klux Klan—all of which claimed some variety of Christian motivation. Branding these individuals and this organization as examples of Christian terrorism would be justified but for the simple fact that most believers thoroughly reject the twisted interpretation of faith that caused them to act in such brutal ways. 
It is also logical and legitimate to question the moral rights of nations to engage in conflicts and all-out war against those deemed dangerous to global security. Focusing only on recent decades one could ask what justified the US (and its allies) to send troops into Iraq, bombs into Libya, drones into Afghanistan and warships into the waters of the Middle East. Many also challenge those that choose to express utter support for The State of Israel. I can understand this challenge intellectually but I surely cannot defend it when most of Israel’s neighbors have vowed to wipe her off the map. Which leads me to ask: what is the essence of that which we are fighting against? Is it a form of government with which we heartily disagree? Is it the collective brutality of a dictatorship? Is it a small faction of citizens we are trying to protect? Or, I ask boldly, is it a religion antithetical to Christian beliefs and values? 
Perhaps my thesis on this subject is sophomoric. To put it plainly, how many committed Christians with whom you may worship from week-to-week are likely to strap on a bomb and cause human havoc in the cause and name of Jesus? I would answer this question like this: none. The cause and the name of Jesus are about salvation, forgiveness, redemption, love and peace. The true gospel gives life and life more abundantly. The human havoc caused by an encounter with The Truth does not result in bloody destruction; it results in the beautiful transformation of a human soul.

Friday, October 26, 2012


My favorite contemporary theologian is A. W. Tozer. I say contemporary; he died in 1963. However, in the long arc of Christ’s Church he is as recent as William Coffin, Billy Graham, C. S. Lewis and many others. Tozer made this statement, “"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  
You may or may not agree but I find it to be an observation both profound and prophetic. What comes into your mind when you think about God? Do you imagine that ancient fellow with a long white beard and robe sitting on a throne? Or perhaps you conjure the image of a young Jewish man walking across dusty roads trying desperately to get the truth across. I suspect some in our midst reflect on the beautiful sanctuary of Woodmont Christian Church and others consider the gentleman standing on the corner selling newspapers. Do you see God in nature, science, music, art, intellect or human relationships? Far be it from me to judge your perceptions. 
However, I would like to share my own. When I measure the greatest blessings in my life, these top the list: being born into a loving family that included a devoted Christian mother; learning about and loving God at an early age; meeting, marrying and spending my life with Sarah and our shared joy in raising three lovely rascals. It is this last blessing I wish to lift up. 
Who knows what our children say about us in private conversations? “He’s mean, she asks too many questions, he’s a tightwad, she’s selfish or they’re the best parents that ever lived.” I will say this about myself as a father—it is impossible for me to imagine anything that I would not do for the betterment or protection of any of my children. That is not an arrogant comment; I believe every dad and mom reading this will agree. Would you spend every last cent you have (and more) to bring medical care for them when they are ill? Would you run onto an athletic field in the middle of a game when your child went down from an injury? Would you raise Cain with a teacher if he/she treated your child with disrespect? Would you sleep in their tiny bed all night to make sure that the fever didn’t get out of hand? Would you read to them, hug them, wipe their tears away, tie their ties, braid their hair, drive them to soccer practice and dance lessons, bake them birthday cakes, put a quarter under their pillow from the Tooth Ferry, buy them khakis, whisper that you love them for ever and always, hold them so close you think your heart will break, pray for their future and hope upon hope that their lives are good? Yes, I believe you have and you will and you will and you will… 
That is my idea of God…and I am His child…and you are, as well. 
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

Now That I'm a Racist

I am a white, conservative male in The United States of America, which, according to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and the-going-out-of-print Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, makes me a racist. 
I never wanted to be, acted as or knew I was a racist until this week. I am 60 years old; why did it take me so long to know this and why did it take two white guys about my age to point this out to me? I am humiliated. I really don’t want to be a racist; it’s an awful thing to be. I don’t want to be a murderer, a psychopath, a drug dealer, a child abuser, an alcoholic, a Satanist, a thief, the antichrist, an arms dealer, a pervert, a porn producer, a woman hater, a welfare basher or a living, breathing, walking, talking demon of hate. I am so sorry. 
Should I suggest that Mr. Matthews and Mr. Alter are arrogant, elitist, race-baiting, over-compensated, loud-mouthed, out-of-touch, politically incapable, incompetent, bile-spilling “journalists” I would also be deemed something worse, I suppose—a Republican. 
Well, these fellows can spew anything they wish. They are burying themselves in the Great Pit that buries all Liars and throwing the dirt upon themselves. The good news is that they are so impressed with their own minds and tongues that they have no concept of their ineptness. Their current perch upon The Throne of American Journalism will soon be toppled. 
Who are these so-called “men?” Was there not a bar of soap in their childhood homes that should’ve been shoved into their deceitful little mouths? Who raised them and why have they turned out to be so loud and so wrong? Yes, if they can accuse me and countless other guys like me, I can ask those questions! I am utterly offended by these across-the-board, generalized and ugly accusations. Why, because I’m a Republican, defensive racist? No, because I’m neither.