Injustice – Who’s the problem and whose problem is it?

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charlotte-1

Unless you’re living in a bubble or just don’t care, the events that have owned the headlines this year, other than the most ridiculous presidential race in history, probably have you wondering how this comes to an end. The racial tension primarily being manifested between young black men and police is demonstrating a systemic issue that’s obviously unresolved and is not going away. I’m sure we can all agree that pointing blame and accusing others will not bring peace to the turmoil that we’re experiencing in our culture.

But, why does it seem that racial division, injustice, and oppression can’t come to end? Why can’t we experience healing and unity in our nation?

May I suggest that a large part of the problem is that we’re looking for others to fix the issue and we’re placing expectations upon people, governments, and movements that they simply are incapable of living up to. Why is this true? For two reasons:

First, no government, movement, or authority truly understands the problem. Because of that, they expect to resolve the issue by asking other people to change. To them, the reason oppression exists is always someone else’s fault. The feminist and homosexual movements think the problem is the masculine male, the black lives movement thinks it racist cops, the socialist movement thinks the problem is rich people, the liberal movement thinks it’s capitalism, and the religious movement things the problem is behavior. They’re all wrong.

The problem is us – all of us. The reason oppression exists is because living on planet earth are a lot of broken people. We’re all broken. The problem is sin and no one’s sin on earth is worse than mine.

The reason no government, movement, or authority can fix the problem is because their only solution is that someone else needs to change.

This is easy to see as the tragedies that consume the headlines result almost exclusively with the pointing of fingers. Social media feeds are inundated with blame: “he should have complied,” or “he shouldn’t have been committing the crime,”or “he was innocent and only minding his own business,” or “they should not have used excessive force!” Divisive rhetoric that has a language of “us and them,” will never help.

Here’s a truth that we all need to settle upon:


If a black man is killed by a police officer, whether guilty or innocent, we should grieve! If a police officer is killed in the line of duty we should grieve! In no case, whether we believe the young black man was a criminal or if we believe the cop is a bigot should we ever cheer. We all should and need to grieve! Until there are tears running down enough cheeks we will not see change.


The truth is that we all need to change.

Secondly, no government, movement, or authority has the means to fix the problem. Let me explain this in a way I think will resonate: why is it that even though we have America’s first black president it seems that racial tensions are worse than ever? Why hasn’t our president fixed this? The answer is simple.

We’re expecting him to do something he simply cannot do.

The division, oppression, and hurt we see in our nation will never end because a president, white or black, stands at a lectern and tells people they need to behave differently. The problem can’t be fixed by resdistribution of wealth, it can’t be solved by more government aid, and it will never be resovled by congress. These people and programs simply do not have the means.

So, how can it change? How can oppression end?

When Jesus came on the scene, he came to cross every boundary of oppression, injustice, racism, and hate which people were either not willing or unable to cross. Jesus was the first. He demonstrated by his actions that the divisions of gender, race, or socioeconomic  difference can be crossed if someone is willing. Of course, he was willing but it also cost him big-time. Maybe that’s why it’s so difficult. We’re willing to see change as long as someone else is paying the price.

We’re willing to see change as long as someone else is willing to do the changing.

That, however, brings us to the truth of the only way that oppression, injustice, and hate will ever decrease. It will only happen through sacrifice. It will only happen through the people who are equipped to make a difference in something that no one else seems to be able to solve. If governments, movements, and authorities can’t do it, who can?

The church.

What I mean by “church” are people who believe and follow Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of the church and has given his people a promise – a new heart. It’s only through this heart that we will see grief become sacrifice. Sacrifice is the only way oppression ends. If you want to see what that looks like, look at the cross.

The church is the only institution in the world equip to bring an end to oppression, injustice, and hate. There is no other!

It’s time Christians stop expecting someone else to fix the problem. We must reach, we must go, we must span the gap!

This is where the conversation must begin but it will take more than talk. Someone needs to change – and it’s us.

 

Jesus the idol

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Jesus

The above photo is a somewhat typical rendering of what some hold to be the image of Jesus. Honestly, it’s the typical none realistic “white Jesus” that has, in my opinion, given many an inaccurate view of what Jesus was really like. I’m convinced Jesus looked nothing like this, as many others are too. (By the way, I’m not picking on the source of this picture by using it–but simply want to use it to get you thinking with me).

What is that point? It’s the unfortunate truth that by many who consider themselves to be Christians, Jesus, at times, is merely an idol. I know, that’s a huge accusation but let me take a  few lines to break down what an idol is.

A good definition of an idol, especially for those who consider themselves Christians is this: anything that takes the place of God is my life for comfort, provision, security, hope, peace, or any other need that I may have. Christians should, and can, rely on God alone for these things. Anything we look to other than God for any need is simply an idol.

But, there’s a another important definition of idol that, unfortunately, is something that Jesus has become in many Christian’s lives today. I can describe an idol by how an idol is treated by it’s worshippers and thus reach another definition.

In  all of the history of the idols of the world, idols are treated in a very distinct way by their worshippers. How are idols treated? The worshippers only come to them when they need something.

You see, there are all kinds of idols. Idols that are worshiped for the hope of raising healthy, plentiful crops. Idols that are worshiped in hopes the god will give rain instead of drought. Idols that are looked to for fertility so babies will come for those who want them. And, when these needs are plentiful worship is ascribed to the tiny, mute, inept gods.

In times when the seeds are sown, the cisterns run low, and the pregnancy hasn’t come the idol is prayed to, appeased, and given sacrifices in the hopes the god will respond and bless. But, when the crops are harvested in plenty, the cisterns are full and babies are born, worship to the corresponding idol ceases. The idol is placed on the shelf for safe keeping until another need arises. Idols are only as good as the need. Of course, idols really have no value at all.

Unfortunately, many people who claim to know Jesus and call themselves followers of Him will set Him on the shelf this Lord’s Day for something far less–practically treating Him as an idol. By the way, anything in comparison to Jesus is just that–far less.

Here’s the truth: Jesus is not an idol. Profound, right?

But, all across American Christianity this Sunday, Jesus the idol will be placed on the shelf. It will happen in most, if not all churches including the church I pastor just as it happened last weekend. All across America people will place Jesus to the side while they pursue something “less” and miss the fact that He’s called them to something more.

Every person who calls themselves a Christian has been called to worship, serve and give Jesus Christ the honor He is due this Sunday–on the Lord’s Day. Every person who calls themselves a Christian is called to this in the context of the local gathering of believers into which that believer has been placed. Every Christian is called to follow Jesus exclusively, not simply because of what He may provide but because of who He is.  Every Christian is called to worship Jesus faithfully, in the local context of faith family (church) to which He’s called you; not when it’s convenient, not when you feel like it, and not when you have nothing else to do. Jesus is not an idol. Are you planning to treat Him like one?

Is Jesus an idol sitting on the shelf, or is He everlasting God who loves you and has called you to greater life in Him and only Him? If he’s the latter, He is worthy of the devotion of your worship. Not because or when it’s convenient. Not when you have nothing else to do, but because “in Him [is] life and the life [is] the light of men.” John 1:4

Search you heart. If Jesus is an idol–make Him God in your life. That’s who He is in truth. 

Photo cred: http://s952.photobucket.com/user/jessikinha_123_2009/media/Jesus.jpg.html

HB2 – How should a Christian deal with the controversy?

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House Bill 2

It goes without saying that the House Bill 2 in North Carolina, also known as the bathroom bill, is causing more than it’s fair share of controversy. As you probably know this is a legislation that is being presented in many states in one form or the other. And, the controversy is no less in any of those states either.

It seems also that the mainstream media has found tremendous ratings fodder by broadcasting and  stirring more controversy into the topic which has set the social media world into it’s normal inferno of argument. So, before you weigh in with your responses on your friend’s or some strangers post, Here’s a couple of encouragements I have for you:

  1. Be informed. Unfortunately, as with any controversial issue these days, most of the war is fought in the court of public opinion which is carried out widely on social media. The problem is this: so many weigh into the argument without being the least bit informed. So, before you decide to speak, you should probably read the bill (insert sarcasm here). Here’s a link to House Bill 2 so you can be informed: HB2. Here’s a link to another article that may also be helpful. HB2 Article.
  2. Ask the right question. No matter what side of the conversation you land on, there’s a pivotal and very important question that needs to be asked: what is the purpose of this law? I believe I know the answer to this question but before you can come to a conclusion about it yourself, you must answer this question too. Have you?
  3. Don’t say things that aren’t helpful. I believe this is pivotal for those on both sides of the issue, but I want to speak specifically to those who call themselves Christians. We have an opportunity. We can either use that opportunity to divide or to reach. Unfortunately I see Christians, and even pastors, speaking in ways that are not helpful. So, to publicly ask, “what wrong with America? why are we even having to have this conversation?” as a vitriol toward the LGBT community is not helpful. And, by the way, the answer is the same thing that’s always been wrong–we live in a fallen world made up of broken people.

What should the Christian do? Love. Does that sound crazy? Well, here’s some of what Jesus said we should do:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43–44) I’m not saying that the LGBT community is an enemy. They’re people. Though we do indeed believe very differently about sexuality and how sexuality should be lived out, they’re not my enemy. But I hope you get the gist of what I’m saying. If Jesus taught we should love our enemy, certainly within that He intimated that we should love those with whom we disagree even if that disagreement is intense.

Did you know that you can take a position on an important and controversial topic and still do it in love? I hope I’m demonstrating in this post that we can have a conversation without being unnecessarily controversial or unloving.

In case you were wondering, do I think that all multiple occupancy public bathrooms should be made unisex? No. But my position on this is not a discriminatory position. And, I’m pretty sure that’s not the purpose of the Law. If you don’t agree with my position please don’t decide indiscriminately that I hold it to discriminate. (See what I did there.) So, before you believe that the law was created simply to discriminate against the LGBT community simply because that’s what the mainstream media wants you to believe, think. Then, if you must speak, speak in love and in ways that are helpful. Then, when it’s time, vote your conscience.

Past Exhilaration

Forgetting Forward

Roller Coaster

I can still remember the day that I got through the fear. I remember it well. I was in the eighth grade and my parents took me and my brother to Disney World. The drive to get there from our home just outside of Washington DC seemed like it took forever, which is one of the things that helped me get over my fear. I told myself, “I’m not traveling all the way down to Disney World and not riding these awesome roller coasters everyone’s talking about, just because I’m afraid!”

So, there I was standing with my brother outside of the coaster I heard about the most: Space Mountain.

After the ride was over I realized a couple of things: one, I was still alive, and second, that was actually exhilarating! Like, I want to ride that again! I think we rode that crazy roller coaster eight times strait!

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In the Beginning, God… An approach to the New Year

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in-the-beginning

In the beginning, God… These words probably seem familiar because they are the beginning of the Bible. And, what great words they are–of beginnings. I can think of no better place to begin reading on the first day of the year than Genesis 1:1.


That’s what I love about celebrating the New Year, it’s a beginning. The beginning of something new.


Beginnings are great, especially if you understand why there is a beginning at all. The best way to understand the beginning of your New Year is by looking at the beginning of the beginnings. In the beginning, God…

  • Beginnings are deliberate.

If they weren’t they wouldn’t begin. In the beginning when God created, he created with and on purpose–deliberately. He began because He wanted to produce.

You have an opportunity to begin in many ways new, but this new beginning will not happen by accident. Beginnings never do. So, as you look at the beginning of a new year, what in this year would you want to see happen in your life? As you answer that question know this: your answer will never happen unless you’re deliberate in doing it.

Want to begin a new job? Want to begin a new hobby? Want to learn another language? Whatever it is, it will not happen unless you work at it on purpose.

Be deliberate.

  • Beginnings have a clean page.

In the beginning of beginnings it all began with a clean page on which God could begin His narrative. “The earth was without form and void,” was the beginning with which God was working. He could make it whatever He wanted to make it.

This may not be as true for us, since we are not God, but we do begin the New Year with a clean page. A page on which to write your story this year. More on what to write later, but the only opportunity squandered is an opportunity missed. So, don’t miss a great opportunity that comes with a beginning, the ability to write your story.

It doesn’t matter what happen last year. You cannot live this year on last year’s successes, nor are you confined this year to last year’s failures. You are free from that past. That is why Philippians 3:13-14 mean so much to me:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14, ESV)

Start Fresh.

  • Beginnings have a plan.

God began with a clean page but not an empty mind. He had a plan for that which He would create. He didn’t lay out the plan for His creation to see before hand but we can clearly see, through the intricacy of what He created, that He certainly had a plan. And God fulfilled the plan He had. Earth, Heaven, the sun, the moon and stars, fish and animals, and yes, even you and me are a result of that plan.

To adapt a statement from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I’d rather try something and fail then try nothing and succeed. The best way to see your new beginning produce something deliberate is by having and working a plan. Without a plan you only have a dream. But, with a plan you ensure that you will always be doing something instead of nothing and something always produces…well…something.

Make a plan.

  • After beginning comes rest.

God gave a very necessary example to us when He finished working His initial plan. He rested. Hopefully you’re thinking something like, “The infinite God of all creation cannot get exhausted like me, so He had no reason to rest.” And, you’d be right. He wasn’t tired. But, He did “deliberately” gives us an example.

This example that God gave became part of the Mosaic Law. We are not under that Law, something for which we should all be thankful, but we do have permission–permission to rest. And, we also have a need to rest. As I’m writing this I’m writing it to me: make sure you take time to rest so you will have the energy it takes to continue to work the plan. Give yourself permission to rest!

Rest.


One more thing:

What story should I be writing and what should be my plan? The answer to this question goes back to the beginning; back to the beginning of beginnings. “In the beginning, God…”

Know that when God began deliberately, and with a clean slate, and with a plan, He had you in His plan. The best way to see success in your plans are to make sure they match His plans for you.

How do you know His plan for you? Well, let’s begin right here:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, ESV)

God’s primary purpose for you is that you live and reflect His image. He created you for that. Here’s one more:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… (Romans 8:29, ESV)

As you deliberately write a plan on the clean page of your life this year, begin  at the beginning  God has given you, to reflect the glory of God the Son. Make sure your plans merge with God’s plan and live the New Year in a great way for Him. As Dr. Henry Cloud wrote: “God did not put us on the earth to fail to reflect His likeness.” Succeed in that and succeed in your New Year.

Be deliberate, start fresh, make a plan, and rest.

Happy New Year!

 

The Great Divide

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SkyCycle

Unless you’re living in a vacuum, I’m sure you’ve noticed that on many major issues of our time, the people of our society are greatly divided. This division in thinking and ideology seems to be widening by the minute these days. But why?

At times, we seem to have the same chance of closing the gap between sharply contested topics like homosexual marriage and abortion as Evel Knievel had jumping the Snake River Canyon in his Skycycle X-2. (If you weren’t around in 1974, Evel Knievel didn’t come close to making it.) There are a lot of good people trying to have conversations to close the gap, of which I’m in favor, but the canyon between us seems to be widening ever further.

Why?

The differences of opinions and reasoning behind stances on such hot topics like same-sex marriage can become complicated quickly, but the reason for the chasm between the opinions of such an issue is actually quite simple:

The source of our information. Our starting point.

So much of the gap between the sides of the conversation, or at times the debate, is because we are working through completely different lenses of thinking. If the foundation and framework of our thinking is different, our conclusions can never be the same.

It’s seems so much of the debate ends up with the calling of people with opposing views evil or to have ill-intent. I don’t think that’s the case. At least, not all the time.

So, can we bridge the gap, or, at least bridge it enough to have a conversation? 

Since the audience of my writing is primarily Christian, I think it’s a good idea that I begin with us.

Do I think Christians should change the framework of our thinking? Heavens no! But, it may be that we need to change the way we have the conversation. (Before you come to some conclusion that I’m going to suggest we water down truth keep reading).

You see, so many engaged in public debate over these issues seem to think yelling the position they hold louder, or in a more provocative or inflammatory way, will win the argument. But, that’s actually not possible. It only widens the gap between us. Christians on street corners holding signs and screaming that marriage should be between and man and woman or that abortion is murder, isn’t going to change the minds of those who don’t view marriage or abortion the way Christians do.

How do I know? Because all the picketing and yelling about people’s rights to marriage or the woman’s right to choose does absolutely nothing to change my mind. My thinking is resolute.

So, where do we begin?

First, let’s talk about the best place to not begin. With everyone’s feelings.

If we can’t speak objectively, we can never come to a conclusion worth having. We have to have some kind of source for truth and my feelings or your feelings are not a reliable foundation for that. They never can be. They’re subjective.

Christian, if you and I are going to have a conversation worth having with those who may not believe the way we do, we can’t begin with our feelings either. We must begin with the objective truth as it’s been given. And, it has been given!

When it comes to any conversation of truth or seeking truth, the Apostle Paul gives some incite on where we should begin; at our foundation:

that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7)

Tim Keller does a great job in explaining that the “secret” wisdom that Paul is speaking about is not something that’s kept from man.

In the Bible, this word is used to mean not some esoteric knowledge known only to insiders but rather some wondrous, unlooked-for truth that God is revealing through his Spirit.

My conclusions on these difficult topics do not come from how I feel or whether or not I want someone to be able to live out their rights. It comes from questions like these:

Why are we here? Were we created? Do we have purpose? In searching within the truth for these answers we find the foundations that answer so many more questions.

Christian, don’t just know what you believe, know why. Search the truth of the Word and let God, through the wisdom of His Word, found and shape your thinking. It will be through Christians knowing why, that the chasm between the sacred and the secular will narrow through real, profitable conversation.

What to remember on 9/11

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9-11

As I remember September 11, 2001 I remember it vividly, as you probably do too. Like so many others I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. I also remember how I felt. The thought of all those people who just went to work, another day like so many they’ve worked before. Then, out of nowhere a horrible tragedy  occurs that’s difficult to put into words.

As I reflect today, I sense the need to remember that day in some other ways too.

Jesus told a story in Luke 11 of some people who lost their lives in very tragic ways. Some by way of murder and others by way of accident. He told the story to make a point which was this: the people who perished didn’t do so because they were somehow worse people than those who didn’t. They perished because they were the ones who happened to be there.

He goes on to say, in a statement that can been difficult to hear, that the same thing could happen to us. It could happen to anyone. So, the most important thing we need to know today is that we’re in right relationship with God, through Christ.

As you remember 9/11 remember this:

Remember to live today ready to meet Jesus.

The Apostle Paul spoke of not being ashamed of His coming. That is, live everyday expecting Him, living your life with such a heart-attitude that you’ll be glad to see Him. Would you be happy to see Him today or ashamed?

Remember to make God the source of all your satisfaction and sufficiency.

He really is the only way to live a satisfied life. Work can’t do it, physical fitness can’t do it, the right boyfriend or girlfriend can’t do it; only Christ.

And, Remember the countless men and women who through the years gave their lives so what we’d be free to speak and write like this.

We all must remember today that freedom is not free. It wasn’t free for our nation and it wasn’t free for our soul. Every time I contemplate the cross of Christ I remember. And, every time I think of 9/11, I remember.

I still have that feeling when I think of 9/11. The fear, tragedy and horror. I remember all the pictures of the missing people posted on walls and light poles in New York. I also remember that I’m not guaranteed tomorrow when I live on this earth. I remember that God has used this tragedy at least for one thing good, to remind us…of our need for Him. 

Remember.

Religious Liberty – American Christian’s Most Important Pursuit?

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Punch

I’ve had a lot of response from my post about Kim Davis and my opinion about what she’s doing. I thought it may be beneficial if I share the underlying truth that drives me to my conclusion. This especially since the topic brings much debate and because some Christians may struggle to understand why I said what I said. (If you haven’t read that post you may want to take time to read it by clicking here).

Several years ago I read a book titled, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes. To say I was impacted by the book would be an understatement. If you’ve read it (and you should if you haven’t) I’m sure you were as impacted as I was. The lingering question in my mind after reading that book was, where was the church during the rise of Nazism? Why were the German Christians seemingly silent during one of the worst human atrocities in history?

The reason the church was silenced in Nazi Germany wasn’t because they failed to rise up against the regime and fight for their rights. The reason the church was marginalized and silenced was because they had long before stopped relying on the Gospel and living for it. The church in Germany forgot the mission of the Gospel and therefore they were silent.

As I look now at the landscape of Christianity in America, like you, I see a movement to remove religious liberty from the fabric of our nation. I’m not comparing what’s happening in the U.S. to what went on in Nazi Germany, but, I am comparing how the church as a whole views their purpose. So many Christians seem to think that the most pressing issue for Christians today is ensuring we don’t lose our religious liberty.

This is a major problem.

Look through the book of Acts and look through the New Testament epistles; can you find anywhere that Jesus, Paul, Peter or any other New Testament writers covered the Christians pursuit of religious liberty? No. Not once. Why?

You can also read through The Book of Martyrs by John Fox. You also will not find, anywhere, Christians fighting for their religious liberty much less their freedom or any other rights. To the contrary, they were willing to die for their faith with no thought of what we call human rights today. Why?

They knew that when they began to follow Jesus Christ they were giving up their rights. More than that, they were completely giving up even worrying about their rights, liberties and freedoms because they were consumed with the person of Jesus Christ and what He called them to do. Simply, live the Gospel.

When I look at the history of the church I come to this conclusion: God is not obligated in any way to preserve our religious freedom. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for Him to do so, but the answer could be “no.” Are you okay with that?

So, why are American Christians so consumed with religious liberty? What should be the paramount work of the person who follows Christ? It is to make sure we don’t lose our religious rights in America?

I now watch this panic rise up in Christians and you can see the fear all over what they’re saying. Christians in America are afraid of losing the religious liberty. But why? Do you think that the only way you and I can truly be Christians is through religious liberty? What I see in history, when the church flourished the most, is it doing so without religious freedom. Actually, the church has flourished most during times of persecution.

The reason the church flourished was because the Christ follower’s greatest concern was the Gospel and nothing else. Christians today seem to be more worried about their religious freedom than to their calling to the Gospel.

If you didn’t know, the church in America has been on a long, slow decline for a long time. Churches are closing at a rapid rate and many are walking away from the faith. All that began during a time of religious liberty. So, if you want to argue that we need religious liberty for the Gospel to survive in America, you’re not looking at history nor do you see the Gospel right.

So, why am I critical about the way the Kim Davis case has been handled? Why does seeing and hearing all the Christians jump on that band-wagon bother me? Because it seems that we’ve set aside our purpose of the Gospel and replaced it with a purpose of religious liberty. And that’s not our calling!

The reason there is such division between Christianity and secularism in America is simply because the church has lost it’s voice. It’s lost it’s voice because Christians are ever so ready to use their freedom of speech to speak in ways that are not filled with truth and grace. Many Christians seem to be more concerned about their rights than they are about the Gospel.

Don’t forget, when you said you’d follow Christ you said you would “deny [yourself], take up your cross and follow [Him].” If you didn’t say that, you’re not following Him. This is a path that leads to death, not rights.

Here’s the point: Everything that we’re doing and saying as Christians should be about the mission of the Gospel. Not our rights.

If we get that wrong, we’ll continue to lose our voice to this generation and lose our ability to live out our calling in the Gospel.

Kim Davis — Kentucky Clerk — Martyr? Really?

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Kim Davis

With social media all a buzz about Kim Davis, the clerk from Kentucky, and so many Christians ready to make her the next Christian hero, I’m finding myself not so ready to do that. By the way, I am a Christian. By that I mean that I am a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. But, my take on Kim Davis may be a little different from yours.

It seems that many Christians in the social media world are ready to make Kim Davis a poster child of the Christian’s plight in America. Is this person someone who Christians should be deeming a hero of their faith?

Take a couple of minutes and think this through with me:

Is what Kim Davis is doing actually a biblical response?

When Kim Davis ran for public office, she actually, by choice, placed herself under the authority of the government. That means she placed herself in the position to submit to that authority as long as she holds the office.

Paul wrote of the Christian response to government authority in Romans 13:1-6. By the way, the Christians to whom he was writing lived under the rule of a government that wasn’t overly friendly to their faith. I won’t quote the entire text, but here are the headlines of what Paul was saying:

  1. Every Christian should be subject to the governing authorities.
  2. To resist the authority is ultimately to resist God.
  3. The ruling authorities are not a “terror” to us unless we’re doing something wrong.

Though this text doesn’t cover everything in regard to Kim Davis’ case, I don’t think anyone can truly make a biblical case for what they’re doing without dealing with these pivotal New Testament verses and how they apply to us today. Kim Davis deliberately put herself in the position to submit to the government authority.

Peter also wrote about our attitude toward the ruling authority over us to people who were being persecuted for their faith:

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV)

The truth is, the government can’t make me marry someone else who is my gender. I can live my life under this government as a Christian without being forced to live a way that compromises my faith. So can Kim Davis.

I don’t like the fact that through one court decision the Supreme Court of the United States changed the law about marriage any more than many of you. I don’t like that for a lot of reasons that go beyond the decision they made. That’s not what the Supreme Court is supposed to be doing per our nations constitution. But, that, tragically, is the way it is!

That means that Kim Davis, as long as she’s a county clerk in Kentucky, must live under that law and the oath she made when she took the office. In case you’re wondering, I don’t think that Kim Davis should just simply “do her job” as so many on the blogosphere seem to think. I think she should quit her job.

I’ve also read where some Christians want to equate her to Daniel, and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (That’s their Jewish names) They weren’t elected officials, they were disposed captives and had no choice but to do as they were told to do. That’s a big difference from someone who purposely ran for a public office. Daniel and his friends would have gladly resigned their posts to live faithfully set apart for God’s work. They were forced to make hard choices as the way things were. So is Kim Davis.

Secondly, they were told that they were not allowed to live their faith, at all. That’s not happening with Kim Davis in Kentucky.

The office she holds is not one that brings change to law or policy, it follows it. If she wants to bring change to the law of the land, she needs to run for a different type of office. As a Christian in America, she still has the right to do that.

Is what Kim Davis is doing really some kind of martyrdom?

The Kentucky clerk worked for the state and in taking that job, like everyone else in the world, agreed to work the requirements of that job. Here’s the thing: she’s been filling an office for the state that has never been in agreement with her faith. This is nothing new.

But, it seems, now, that many Christians want to make her a martyr. To put her on the level of someone who’s been dragged out of her house in the middle of the night in India and beat to death in the street, or the people in North Korea meeting in secret and fear just to read the one Bible the group has hoping to worship together without being caught and arrested, is ridiculous.

She’s not being prosecuted or persecuted for her faith. She’s being prosecuted for being a government official, by her own choice, then not doing what the government for whom she works tells her to do. To call that some kind of martyrdom is an insult to true martyrs.

This is also not the same thing as a government official walking into a church demanding a pastor to officiate a marriage that He doesn’t believe is biblical. Not even close.

If she wanted to make a statement about her faith, she should have resigned the day she learned she would be required to issue marriage licenses she believes to be un-biblical.

Do I want Kim Davis representing me?

I preached a sermon series back in the spring called “Word.” During one sermon in that series I spoke of how the church has lost it’s voice in the American culture. One of the ways the church loses it’s voice is the when Christians speak in ways that are not gracious and loving. That’s being done more than I’d like to admit in the discussion of homosexual marriage. (By the way, I’m writing and about to begin a series that will discuss marriage and homosexual relationship and marriage in-depth; biblically).

Just so you know, I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay marriage. But, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with the way all people who call themselves Christians talk about it or act about it.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s not a good idea for anyone or everyone who claims to be a Christian to be the spokesperson for our beliefs. Kim Davis is not my spokesperson for two reasons:

  1. She’s only been a Christian for four years. She’s not ready to be my spokesperson, or any other Christian’s either. There’s a reason Paul told Timothy that people seeking leadership in the church should first be proven. She’s not qualified to lead.
  2. I don’t espouse to her theology. Believe it or not, not all Christian theologies are equal. I can’t fly the banner of Kim Davis any more than I could ever do so with the Duggars. Though in some ways different, they both hold to a legalistic, works based evaluation of holiness and godliness. They believe the Christian must change their behavior, when the New Testament clearly teaches holiness and godliness comes when God changes our thinking and the heart of our thinking through “the renewing of [our] mind(s).”

I’m not looking for a hero in her, the Duggars or anyone else. By the way, I’m not trying to retract the Duggar flag now in light of the Ashley Madison scandal either. Because I never flew it.

Here’s my advice: before you make statements calling Kim Davis a hero, use vitriolic voice to speak about what’s happening in our nation, or share information on social media that others are saying, stop and think. Think about who they are and what they’re really saying and doing. Think about how that really works out, biblically.

Not every Christian who speaks or acts, is representing Christ well.

Christians are so busy looking for a celebrity for the cause; looking for a hero. Why? We’ve always had one. His name is Jesus. If you’re looking for a banner to fly let it be Him. That way, we can reflect who He is, as He is, “full of grace and truth.”

Past Exhilaration

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Roller Coaster

I can still remember the day that I got through the fear. I remember it well. I was in the eighth grade and my parents took me and my brother to Disney World. The drive to get there from our home just outside of Washington DC seemed like it took forever, which is one of the things that helped me get over my fear. I told myself, “I’m not traveling all the way down to Disney World and not riding these awesome roller coasters everyone’s talking about, just because I’m afraid!”

So, there I was standing with my brother outside of the coaster I heard about the most: Space Mountain.

After the ride was over I realized a couple of things: one, I was still alive, and second, that was actually exhilarating! Like, I want to ride that again! I think we rode that crazy roller coaster eight times strait!

This opened the world of roller coasters to me. That summer when we went as a family to a theme park close to our home I was riding everything they had. And, I’ve never stopped. When my daughter was six years old, I had her on every adult ride she was tall enough to climb on; and she loved it too.

But, I realized something after years of riding the same rides that used to be so exciting to me. After riding a roller coaster 50 times, it loses much of it’s exhilaration. It’s just not as exciting anymore.

You know, so many people walk into churches and they’re looking for something. And they should be! Everyone who walks into a church is looking for what they’re looking for. What I mean is they know what kind of music they like, and what they don’t, what kind of church “feel” they like, and what they don’t, what kind of preaching they like…You get the point.

When they come into church and it’s what they like, it’s exhilarating. I often have conversations with folks about that. They’ll say, “the worship is fantastic,” “the sermons are just what I need” or “the people are so friendly I feel like I’m at home.” Just so you know, to be a pastor and hear these things is definitely a win!

Inevitably, however, after a while the church can become like my experience with roller coasters. What was once so exhilarating is now, because of familiarity, no longer that big of a deal. And, it becomes easy to drift. What happens? The same thing with so many Christians in America. They stay for a while at a church, it loses it’s exhilaration, then off to the next. So many American Christians are bouncing from church to church because the excitement and newness wears off after while.

What’s the answer?

1. Remember what church is really all about.

If you’re looking for a church you should find one that makes you glad you were there. There’s nothing worse than boring church. As a matter of fact, it’s a tragedy when worship of our great God and His Word are made boring—because there’s nothing boring about them!

But, church is not about being excited all the time. It’s actually about Jesus and following Him. If you didn’t know this, following Him is not always easy and He never promised it would be.

2. Remember that Jesus brought you to His church on purpose. 

You are a part of the whole and that matters more than you may know. Paul uses the metaphor of a “body” for the local church. And a great metaphor it is. A body only functions correctly when all it’s parts are in place and healthy.

Paul Tripp explains it this way:

Autonomous Christianity never works, because our spiritual life was designed by God to be a community project.

It’s good that you loved what you saw and experienced when you first went to your church but make sure your love for Jesus and understanding why He calls the church together become important to you too. Then, you’ll become a part of the church’s mission:

Reach people with the Gospel—make disciples—change the world.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing more exhilarating than being a part of the church that way!

3. Church doesn’t exist for Christian consumption.

If Christians are always just looking to be exhilarated, the work of the church will actually never be done. And, that work is the only thing going on in this world that’s actually of eternal impact. That’s pretty important.

Thom Rainer states this very well in his book I Am A Church Member.

Rainer states that Jesus,

placed us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give, and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the Gospel.

In other words, Christ brought us together for so much more than a fleeting feeling of exhilaration.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in church, I’m sure it’s been for you like roller coasters became for me when I was a teenager—exhilarating at first but not so much with more familiarity. Just know, that for you to see the church as more than that, is incredibly important. It won’t always be so exhilarating, the sermon won’t always be exactly what you want to hear, and the song choice won’t always be the one you like the most.

But, the purpose and eternal impact of the church will never be less than Jesus gave His life for it to be. And that’s a huge calling, purpose and impact that needs to include you.

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