Beyond Me

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Archive for the tag “Christ”

The Lost Message in the Duck Dynasty debate

This week has been a tough one.  I can’t help but feel, after all the reading, discussing, and social media uproar that the only person that won this week was Satan.  It saddens me and leaves me somewhat broken inside.  Once again the enemy was able to drive a bigger wedge between the Body of Christ and the culture in which it resides.  We’ve seen this week intolerance and hypocrisy reign on both sides of the issue.  And, it seems, that both sides of the issue are missing the bigger point…We are all being used.

News seems to be breaking this morning via the Huffington Post and WSB-TV in Atlanta that Phil Robertson is to return to filming Duck Dynasty after the holidays.  The show will air in January and it will continue to film.  This is a tremendous victory for 1st amendment rights in the United States, but I don’t feel it is a victory for us as Christians.  I also do not believe canceling the show would have been a victory for the LGBT community.

To be clear, (because I don’t want to be accused of being a coward), I have a tremendous amount of respect of Phil Robertson and his family.  I wish, more than anything, I had the courage and ability to live life the way that he does.  I think he is living the Gospel in ways many Christians, and maybe some non-Christians, wish to live.  I also agree with his stance.  While I would have said it much differently (and wish he would have to) I believe in the heart of the message.  ALL in this world are sinful, disorder, people in need of the grace Jesus Christ gives freely to all and repentance and realization of our sin is needed.  I am one of these sinful people, and it is an everyday occurrence I need to die to myself and the sinful nature within me.  Did he cross a line with his anatomical description in the interview?  I believe so.  But is that all that he said?  No.  Did he completely single out one group of people?  No.  I challenge you to read the article in its entirety and come to another conclusion.  There needs to be room in this culture for differing points of view and we should all be allowed to express them calmly, rationally, and maintain our relationships.  As I’ve heard Newspring pastor Perry Noble say recently, “You can win the argument but lose the relationships.”  That blog covers much better than I ever could the overarching argument in this debate.  This leads me to the real reason I am writing.  The fact of the matter is that Christians and the LGBT community are in the same boat.

We are being used.  By the media, by companies, and especially by Washington, DC.  We are seen as consumer groups.  We are seen as voting blocs.  We are commodities to be won over.  This is highlighted in no greater way than with what looks like A&E’s decision to air episodes in January and return Phil to the airwaves.  They are not concerned with free speech, feelings, insensitivity, morality, or anything of great importance.  Most companies, especially in Hollywood, are not concerned with these things.  Their allegiance belongs to ratings and dollar signs.  They will support and do, not what is right, but what furthers their interests of increasing the bottom line.  If A&E were a true supporter of LGBT rights, they would stand by their decision regardless of the backlash.  If they were a true supporter of Duck Dynasty and Christianity they would have stood by Phil Robertson or at least protected him from such an interview.  But they do not care.  Many politicians do not care.  Many companies do not really care.  They have no convictions or compasses…Their guide is the almighty dollar.  The sooner BOTH groups realize that the better.

My heart breaks for both my faith community and my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.  There is so much more to a person and movement than their sexuality.  Gay and lesbian people are now, in this moment in time, only defined as such.  It’s like we don’t even realize there are people who deal with all of the other stuff we all deal with.  We’ve allowed the media to define this debate, and the media has ultimately dehumanized and manipulated it in such a way that makes for heated argumentation, rather than rational debate.  The media has defined the message.  It saddens me for the LGBT community, and I challenge you all to take back your message.

But now I want to speak to my fellow Christians.  We also have allowed the media to define our message. And there is SO MUCH MORE TO THE GOSPEL than sexuality.  It’s only a snap shot of what Jesus says and has to offer.  Is it important?  Yes!  Should we have convictions?  Absolutely!  But we cannot continue to allow the secular media (right and left) to be the voice and definition for what disciples of Jesus truly stand for.

I’m reminded of Louie Giglio’s predicament at the beginning of this year.  He was bestowed with the honor of praying at the Presidential Inauguration.  But, because of a sermon 20 years ago, people called him a bigot and demanded he not be allowed this privilege.  He could have screamed in front of every camera and mic about free speech, his rights, and demanded boycotts or petitions.  But his words rang loudly of grace as he respectfully withdrew his acceptance of the invitation.  He served a bigger purpose.  There is so much more to the Gospel than the issue of sexuality.  He wanted to serve that message and that Savior.  And he goes on about his life embodying the Gospel.

The truth is, our message and Gospel is not meant to be preached from the pulpit of Fox News or CNN.  It’s not meant for the masses.  That’s why, often times, when large crowds gathered to hear Jesus, he often said something that offended and made the mass majority not able to follow.  Disciples were made by those who saw him live, day in and day out, the truth of which he spoke (Read John 6).  We need to understand that our best tool Jesus gave us is community and relationships.  We can speak softly because we carry the biggest stick the enemy has ever seen…The power to love all, even those against us, and pursue community and relationships with them regardless of how they treat us.

A small movement of just over 100 people began a journey in this fashion.  It changed an entire empire.  The message lived out spoke louder than the message in words.  We need, no we must, rediscover this ability.

If we dare to take this challenge, if we begin to trust more in the Holy Spirit and our savior, this world and especially Satan’s reign in it do not stand even the slightest chance.

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Under/Overreaction

It’s been a week since the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  I have spent a week thinking, praying, and listening.  In the process I have noticed a tendency of our culture…we will both overreact and under react to situations.  I have heard both over the last week.  “We need to ban all guns forever,” or “Ain’t nobody taking my guns.”  How about, “Adam Lanza was just mentally ill” to “Adam Lanza was pure evil.”  Another thing I’ve heard, “This was just an unavoidable tragedy,” to “this was a government conspiracy.”  And then the overreaction of some Christians, “This is what happens when God isn’t in schools.”  These are just a few of the phrases that have been bantered about in conversation over the last week.

Now let’s take a step back.  There is probably a kernel of truth in many of these statements.  None is entirely untrue.  However, none are statements that I believe we should start forming policy or thought around.  Why?  Because they are all vast over or under reactions to a situation.  They are based on emotion…either the emotion that naturally comes with such a heart-breaking tragedy or the emotion to holding fast to things we have always heard, known, and never really thought through.  It is never, in any circumstance, to react and make decisions purely on emotion.  Jeremiah tells us that our hearts are deceitful and sick.  We cannot depend on it, because emotions can cloud our good judgement.  Emotion, reactions, however do serve a purpose…they give us a spectrum.

Each of these statements are not and should not be absolute solutions.  They should, however, give us a spectrum to work within.  The truth lies somewhere in between and we should work now to find those answers.  These kind of statements are great because they give us a starting point to begin meaningful dialogue that will grow us, challenge us, and we would hope to make us better.

I believe this practice is deeply biblical and we as followers of Christ should model it.  Why do I think this?  Because we are given the truth above that our hearts are deceitful and we are also given a tool…prayer.  Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5 to pray continually, or pray without ceasing.  He also says to take all proclamations, test them, hold on to what is good, get rid of what is not.  In all things we are to seek God, in all circumstances we are to ask God, and in all situations we are to use the tools God has given us.  Prayer keeps us from reacting and allows us to discern.  That’s what we need now, discernment not reaction.

So please, I ask all who read this, resist the temptation to react.  If you read this and aren’t a believer in Jesus, at the very least join in dialogue.  Don’t just react, don’t just stick to your thoughts.  Bring them to the table and let’s discern.  If you are a Christian, don’t boil this down to some simple answer that further pulls us away from the table in culture.  Let’s model this.  Let’s be on our knees, praying for the families and our country, but also praying that God would take our humanity and pride out of the equation and help us to discern how to move forward.  Let’s end the cycle of over and under reaction that only leads to further retreat and devolves into a hate debate.  Let’s test, pray, discuss, and discern.  And maybe, just maybe, we will find a way forward that will make our schools, our country, and our world a better place.

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