Monday, November 28, 2011

What's the Problem?

Obama is not the problem.
Corporations are not the problem.
Government is not the problem.
The Republicans are not the problem.
The Occupy movement isn't the problem.
The Tea Party isn't the problem.

Homosexuals aren't the problem.
Fundamentalists aren't the problem.
Muslims aren't the problem.
Politicians aren't the problem.

Us caring more about ourselves than those in need is the problem.
Us expecting anyone other than ourselves to sacrifice is the problem.
Our greed and materialism, hatred and anger is the problem.

Jesus' love is the solution.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why I Am Not A Part of Occupy Anything

When I first heard about Occupy Wall Street, I thought it was pretty cool.  It was encouraging  public awareness of a great discrepency.  The numbers weren't totally right, but 5 percent of all Americans own about 2/3 of all the wealth in the U.S., so the principle was correct.  "I am the 99%" is a catchy slogan.  And it talked about real people's real lacks and how the system ultimately wasn't working.   I am for all that.  Creating awareness is great.

But as it went on, I became more uncomfortable with the movement.  It wasn't the internationallity of it.  That was fine.  It wasn't the protest nature of it-- I personally don't like participating in such protests, but I don't have problems of others protesting.  And massive protests can do some good.

Ultimately, my discomfort was the fact that it was just a huge blame game.  The purpose seemed to say that the 1 percent (which is really five percent) are bad people and "something should be done".  That "something" seemed to be blocking city streets and generally making a nuisance of oneself.   Again, I don't have a problem with protests or inconveniencing a few in order to benefit many more.  But the movement seemed to emphasize the negative, while not really unifying behind a positive action.

In the end, the protesters were excellent at attacking.  Of course, there's a lot of people we could blame.  The banks, corporations in general,  CEOs in particular, the government-- whichever branch you like, consumerism society, political parties, and on and on.  Lets face it, our society is broken.  The Occupy folks, just like the Tea Partiers before them, makes that clear.

But at least the Tea Partiers had a positive message-- "let's vote in the right people with the right values" seemed to be their main message.  That had a positive impact.  Perhaps many people don't like who was voted in, and perhaps the values didn't always make practical sense, but the movement did have an impact, an action.

The Occupy folks just seemed like a lot of whiners, really.  It seemed to boil down to rich people are bad and the government is bad for supporting the rich people and the cities are bad for trying to stop the Occupy people from possession public parks and streets.  In the end, everyone is bad.  It's all bad.

But if you want to make change, you don't tell people how bad they are, even if they are bad.  Instead, you show how they could do something more positive than they currently are.  I would have joined the protests if they would have recommended to the 1% (who is the 5%) that they create more jobs.  With health insurance. For the people who really need jobs now.  These guys have the wealth to create jobs, they just aren't working on it.  Why aren't they?  But more than that, why aren't the protesters speaking something positive into the arena?

I am not opposed to the Occupy folks.  In my heart of hearts, I agree with them.  But I hope that this movement can actively do something positive with their energy.  They lived on the street-- can they help the people who are stuck there permanently?  They caught the world's attention-- can they use that media outlet to bring positive change?  I hope and pray that they will.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

"Persecution" in Nigeria

In the last decade, there have been more than ten thousand deaths related to riots and slayings of a religious nature. Many of these have been Muslims killing Christians, as we have seen in many articles posted in the West.  The headlines are clear: "500 Christans killed by Muslims in Nigeria" or today's headline: "Muslim Radicals Kill 150 in Nigeria, Goal Sharia"

What these headlines completely neglect is that Christians are also killing Muslims in Nigeria.  This isn't a one-sided attack from one religious group to another.  This is what we call war.

To label this as "persecution of Christians" is misguided.  Yes, innocents are being killed, as they do in all wars. And this is a crime against all humanity.  But innocents of both Muslim and Christian beliefs are being killed by both Muslims and Christians.  And it is both the Muslims who are trying to control the law and Christians, in opposition to their religious and political enemies.

This isn't persecution, it is prejudice.  It is two sides refusing to listen to each other.

And worst, this is a large population, calling themselves "Christian" yet being very un-Christlike.  We need to pray for these Christians.  Not that they escape persecution, but that they learn to love their enemies.

Schleitheim, "Christians Killing Muslims"
Religious News Summary, Crosswalk, Nov. 9, 2011

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

What To Do With False Prophets?

From Religion Today Summaries:
Family Radio Stations, Inc., founder and chairman Harold Camping said he was wrong to predict Christ's return and confessed that, after decades of misleading his followers, he regrets his misdeeds, the Christian Post reports. Camping, 90, who falsely predicted the world would end Sept. 6, 1994, then May 21, 2011, then finally on Oct. 21, 2011, also said he was wrong to say that God had stopped saving people after May 21. Since 1992, Camping has claimed that he had discovered a special numerical system in the Bible that allowed him to calculate the exact dates of biblical events such as the flood, the crucifixion and the day of Jesus' return to earth. When Camping's final doomsday prediction failed to happen, Family Radio removed its teachings regarding both the purported May 21 and Oct. 21 rapture dates. According to a member of Camping's staff, he is no longer able to lead Family Radio or his ministry.

In an analysis of the NT, it spends a lot of time talking about false teachers.  What they act like, what their false teachings are and how they approach "ministry".  Some main passages include Matthew 7, Matthew 23, II Peter 2 and Revelation 2.

But what the NT doesn't say, with any of the detail we would appreciate, is how to deal with false prophets.  The Hebrew Scriptures are clear: stone them or curse them (Deuteronomy and Jeremiah).  Clear cut answers to a serious problem.

But in the NT, the issue isn't so clear.  If you've got a false prophet, you discern the truth and you don't let them teach, sure.  But what else do you do?  Do you kick them out of the church? Publicly rebuke them?  The NT doesn't say.

In fact, the only thing that is clear is that Jesus will be judging the false prophet Himself (see the letter to Thyratia in Revelation 2 and the end of Matthew 7).  And this judgment is extremely harsh.  But shouldn't the church get more involved, more than just not letting the person teach?

Not necessarily.  And this is because Jesus is just as concerned about the false prophet as He is about the rest of His followers.  He doesn't want to lose even a person who taught lies in His name.  Jesus has not come to judge the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.  This doesn't mean that He doesn't judge... but the church should always be ready to catch a fallen disciple.

We need to be clear about what is true and what is false.  But let's always be there to accept the fallen, to forgive them, to love them, even when they hurt the church.