Thursday, October 23, 2008

Take THAT!!!

I often wonder how and why those in Christendom have become so critical and, dare I say, hateful towards others. I’ve seen it so often over the years – be it in “back room meetings”, or with off-handed comments, or even with direct assaults from the pulpit – many Christians seem to take a perverse glee in the failure and short-comings of others. There is a condescending, smug, “I told you so” attitude….almost a sense of validation when an “enemy” falters. I remember three and a half years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans right in the mouth, there was a reaction in many Christian circles that was somewhat akin to rejoicing! This is perverse, un-Christian, and downright uncharitable.

Before someone indicates otherwise, I’m not trying to construct some straw-man so that I can attack and systematically tear apart some faceless stereotype. These wicked reactions are reactions that I’ve seen first-hand. Unfortunately, I see it with increasing regularity. I don’t wish to politicize this particular blog entry, but can you imagine what the “Christian” response would be should Barack Obama win the election and then have something tragic happen to him? The only reason there wouldn’t be dancing in the streets is because we don’t dance!

I heard of a situation recently where a small church had an “enemy” within the community leadership. When it was revealed that this community leader had done some illegal and unethical things, and had subsequently lost his job and was facing some legal repercussions, the reaction of the pastor and congregation in that church wasn’t exactly charitable. Rather than reaching out in love to this disgraced man, there was an announcement made in the church regarding the specifics of the situation. While there wasn’t “applause”, per se, there was laughter from the congregants and a peculiar smugness from the pulpit. Several words come to mind when I see and hear of this sort of behavior: Words like, reprehensible, disgraceful, wicked, fleshly……The only upside in this situation is that it occurred during a church service in which there weren’t any “non-regulars” in attendance.

So why have so many of us come to the place where we have forgotten one of the most basic concepts of Christianity – love? We don’t “love our enemies”, neither do we “bless those that seek our destruction”; instead, we hate them. We long for their destruction and we laugh at their calamity. Unfortunately, it gets even worse when those that fall into ruin (or just go a different way) happen to be some of the “good guys”.

A family leaves a local church because the church leadership has taken a hard line stance on something like music and the family finds that the stance of the church leadership is beyond the bounds of Scripture. Regardless of how “quietly” the family leaves, the first reaction of many is, “Well they weren’t really serious about serving the Lord anyway. They’ll learn in a few years when they lose their kids”.

A prominent Bible college closes and the first reaction of some Christians is, “Well if they hadn’t let their standards slip all those years ago…”

I wrote an article recently lamenting the fact that we just don’t seem to be involved in our communities….we don’t tend to make a difference. I think that maybe I’ve come to understand why. We aren’t involved and making a difference because we don’t care! It’s much easier to lob grenades and echo (in a more pious way) the words of the Pharisee, “Thank God that we’re not like them.” It’s hard to reach the world for Christ when we are too busy staring down our noses at it. We criticize those that are different and, quite frankly, we just watch them….waiting for them to fall. And as soon as they do, what’s the reaction? We pounce on them!

I’ll be honest, friends….I’m tired of the whole mess.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Who should I vote for?" or "Does it really matter?"

With Election Day only 3 weeks away, the rhetoric is soaring to new heights for this election cycle. Expect more mud slinging, more dirt, more snippets from the past of the all four individuals involved (as well as their families in some cases), more denial, more deflection, and more cries of "foul". In the end, someone will win their bid for the White House, and someone will lose. Democracy will win out once again, as the will of the American people is enacted.

Around the country there will be lots of sad people on November 5th. Many will complain about the winner and see it as an opportunity to proclaim that things are going to get worse than ever before. We will see a new crop of bumper stickers with the clever quip, “Don’t blame me…I voted for _____________” (whoever loses this one). But in this election – just like 2004 – there is no way that any of us actually wins. What we will end up with is a different manifestation of the same old crap: bigger government, more socialism enacted, and the continued demise of capitalism.

When it comes to this election and who to vote for, the question is, “which guy is not quite as unpalatable as the other guy?” Is it the guy who will hit us square between the eyes with a socialist agenda that is completely undisguised; or is it the guy who will let it creep in slower? Is it the guy who wants massively big government from day 1 and will mince no words about it; or is it the guy who says he wants smaller government while voting to expand governmental authority into an increasingly larger portion of the private sector? Is it the guy who favors all abortions; or is it the guy who favors only some abortions? Is it the young black guy with an old white guy at his side; or is it the old white guy with a young white girl at his side? Is it the guy who has questionable relationships with some shady characters in his past who were terrorists; or is it the guy who has questionable relationships with some shady characters in his past who defrauded tens of thousands of people out of their money? Is it the guy whose wife has said some very unfavorable things about the USA; or is it the guy who began dating his wife while he was married to another woman? Is it the guy who will say anything to get elected (I’m raising taxes, but nobody will actually be affected); or is it they guy who will do anything to get elected (Sarah Palin for VP???)? Will you vote for Barack Obama, or will you vote for John McCain?

The rhetoric swinging around Christian circles right now about which candidate to vote for is somewhat humorous to me. People (some good people, by the way) are actually contending that there is no way that a Christian can vote for Barack Obama and still maintain a right relationship with God! In other words, the only option for the Christian vote is the McCain / Palin ticket…..this is so laughable that I actually chuckled out loud when I typed it out! Now the logic goes something like this, “God certainly wouldn’t want a Christian to vote for Obama – he wants to make all abortions legal, for goodness sake! So we have to vote for McCain so that Obama doesn’t win.” Now the only issue I have with this “air tight logic” is that one is left with the notion that God would want us to vote for McCain – in other words, we have managed to put God in the position of endorsing John McCain and not Barack Obama – both wicked men with lies, deception, and half-truths carefully woven into the very fabric of their advertising campaigns and stump speeches. I think we’d better be careful before making assertions that a vote for Obama is essentially a mark of defiance toward God.

So the question of this blog entry is, “Can a Christian vote for Obama?” My short answer is….“Why not?” I for one am choosing not to vote for the Obama / Biden ticket. But I’m also not voting for the McCain / Palin ticket. I’ve got major quibbles with both of these choices. Frankly, I don’t know enough about any Third Party candidates to make an informed choice there, so I’ll be exercising my option to not vote at all this election. When it’s all said and done and all the smoke has cleared, we’re all going to wake up to a new President who can’t possibly make us any worse off than our current one has. The sun will still rise, we’ll still be able to go to church and preach the Gospel, and the politicians will all still be what they are. In the meantime, let’s not presume to be able to judge another’s spiritual condition by their vote this election.