Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Christian if necessary, but not ... ???

REPORTER (to Hall of Fame goalie Gump Worsley, when Gump was playing for the New York Rangers): Gump, which team gives you the most trouble?
WORSLEY: The Rangers.

That may not be as relevant in this context as it could be, I suppose, but that exchange flashed through my mind looking at an email thread involving a good friend of mine and a couple of friends of his.

I'm not sure how it developed, but by the time I got dropped into the mix, they were talking about this third person's use of the word "fool" in describing President Obama. "Prince of Fools", I think was the way he put it.

Then my friend suggested it was inappropriate to call someone a fool just because their ideology was foolish ... and that's about where I stepped in.

The edited version goes like this:

... it doesn't matter whether the person you are calling a fool is the President of the United States of America or the people who put him there -- you, a child of God, are still calling another child of God a "fool", and Jesus -- the One we follow, remember? -- tells us that's the same as murder. >

OR (here's an idea) ... if you want to attack those you disagree with by > name-calling and other ad hominems, don't profess to be Christian. That would make the evangelists' job a lot easier, because then they wouldn't have to go to pains to make the distinction between Christians and "religious people".

Then we can win more souls for the Kingdom, and more people would, as they draw closer to God, see the error of their ways: the folly of drug abuse, the evil of abortion and all the other things that we've been battling.

Paul, approaching Mars' Hill, was confronted with the evil that beset Athens and its people. He could have railed against it, ranted and pointed fingers of accusation at the people who promoted the various religions ... instead, he looked for ways to promote Jesus.

Nowhere in Scripture have I seen that he launched a personal attack on anyone at Mars' Hill -- he made the case for the Truth rather than against the lies.

And so it should be: if you disagree with someone or something, yes -- make your case; yes -- stand for your principles ... but to descend to the level of discourse that I've seen and heard non-stop since Obama first emerged as a possible candidate is to walk right away from the way we've been taught to live -- and only drives away people we should be trying to reach.

And pray for those in authority: Paul's exhortation does not come with conditions as to party affiliation or ideology. If the one in authority is misguided, it'll only be our prayers that will bring revelation from God as to what the proper way to go should be.

And as we pray, God might -- just might -- show us that we're the ones who are misguided. But at the end of the day, His will be done.

Well, that appeared to touch a nerve the size of Minnesota, because I got this response back a few hours later ...

Your point might have relevance if we were living in a monastery… but we are not. I am a faithful Christian who lives in this world and I feel comfortable that the quote that started this was not “out of bounds” or inappropriate in normal dialogue or conversation. If you wish to find a more appropriate word than “fools” to apply in this context, by all means go ahead… but spare me your suggestion that using the word “fool” to describe people who embraced a charlatan is the same as murder. What would we say about the Germans who acquiesced to Hitler’s rise to power. Were they na├»ve, foolish, or just cowards? I would say to you Drew or any Christian that we can learn more about avoiding failure in politics by reading Machiavelli than by reading the Bible. Similarly, we can also learn more about economics by reading Adam Smith than by reading the Bible. Scripture reveals the path to have the most personal relationship with the Lord.

Indeed? Hmm ... this is where the interview with Gump Worsley comes to mind: sometimes, the ones who give Christians the hardest time are other Christians.

I'm afraid I don't agree. The problem with our world stems from the fact that we do read more Macchiavelli and more Adam Smith than the Bible. Also more Che Guevara, Appolonius of Tyrana, the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey ... and look where it's got us.

Do we put our complete faith in God, or is there a point at which we say, "sorry Big Sir - You're not capable of handling this"?

That doesn't mean inaction is an option: it means the only action that gets us anywhere is the action taken after we pray for direction and square up our actions with Scripture.

I don't live in a monastery, and I've been doing nothing but trust in the Lord for the past 8 years after 46 years of trying to do it my way. This included an incredibly dark period where I lost my job 3 times in just over 2 years (in broadcasting, that's actually not "bad luck" -- that's "job security") ... and He has prospered me far more in worldly terms, spiritual terms, relationships, my Ministry ... than I ever could have imagined.

The wisdom of man has let us down at every turn.

The wisdom of God never fails.

Every so often, I get brought up short by the revelation that there are Christians who'll only trust God "so far" and then grab the wheel and insist on driving the bus. Former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan once described himself as a "practical Christian". What the heck is that? Christian if necessary, but not necessarily Christian? The trouble with that is, at the end of the day, we consider our wisdom to be far superior to God's, and I'll never buy that one. Our point of view is only relative: what seems to be "good" is only "good" according to what we can see at a particular point in time. When things are "not good" according to what we can see, we have a choice: we can assume that things are going "badly" and therefore have to be fixed in order to make them go "good" in our eyes; or we can assume that God is up to something.

I prefer the latter. Why? Because when I impose my own definition of "going good" on a situation -- or my own image of "success" in an endeavour, I'm setting myself up for major disappointment. But when I walk in God's ways no matter whether they're going well or not for me, I learn to see His hand and the end result is far greater and more satisfying than anything I could have defined with my own puny intellect.

As for my correspondent's comments about taking Macchiavelli over the Bible for political savvy and Adam Smith over the Bible when it comes to economics ... I don't think there's any substitute for "bring your tithes to the storehouse and prove Me withal, that I do not open the windows of heaven ...." (Malachi 3) ... or "... supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made ... for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (I Tim 2:1-2).

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