Monthly Archives: May 2013

Why We’re Not So Popular Anymore

Christian-Hate

The Jubilee movement wasn’t a bless-me club; it wasn’t a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get on the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards and follow their convictions with actions. Making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.

~Bono, ON THE MOVE

It is sobering, though not surprising, to read how un-liked Christians are how even more un-liked are those who call themselves “evangelical” or “born again” Christians. I see it everyday on Facebook. Close friends and family of mine, so angry and those who call themselves Christians. The hate that seems to come from so many posts. Until I realize, that the hate is not one-sided. It should be, for sure, but it’s not. I see the articles quoted, some of the politicians statements or even pastor’s quotes and sit there with my mouth open. The hate is not just on one side.

Where ever ever ever in the Bible, which as Believers is our guide, did we see Jesus spew forth hate on a person or a people? Sure he told the woman caught (set-up) in an adulterous affair, “Go and sin no more.” This was after he stopped the crowd from stoning her to death, this was after he told her that he was not judging her (John 8:1-11).Yeah, he did tell her that obviously her actions were wrong and not to do it anymore. But it wasn’t a message of hate.

Sure, he turned over some tables, he was pissed. He even had a whip and I am quite sure though it doesn’t specifically state it, that he caught a few people with it, in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). In the holiest of holies where his own Father was to be worshipped, where people had turned this holy place into a scam, robbing people and taking advantage of those who wanted to come worship, to ask for forgiveness. He hated the actions. Not the people.

Rich made it pretty clear through the various forms of research that it is the actions, the “don’t” of Christians today that turn the world away from us and even more disheartening – away from the message, from the Good News. We are turning people away from the very thing they need, the Good, the Best thing they (we all) need.

Perception is reality.

I would find myself thinking, “No! Not right!” But as Rich so rightly stated, perception is indeed reality. And the reality is that those outside of the church think of these words when describing our faith:

  • Antihomosexual (91%)
  • Judgmental (87%)
  • Hypocritical (85%)
  • Old-fashioned (78%)
  • Too involved in politics (75%)
  • Out of touch with reality (72%)
  • And more

I can’t blame them based on the 2007 study that Rich quoted in this chapter which basically found that statistically and practically when you looked at the actions of those who claimed to be believers and those who claimed not to be, there is no difference. This study looked at actions (admitted actions) such as: looking at on-line pornography, physically fight or abuse someone, used an illegal/non-prescription drug, sad something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something they did, having an intimate sexual encounter with someone outside of marriage…

It is our actions that define who we are and what we stand for, not our words.

I was thinking about my Grandad this morning. He’s been gone for over three years but still a daily thought for me. He was a pastor for forty years. One thing he was known for – asking people to come to church. Another thing he was known for – loving on people in real and tangible ways. The same guys who turned down his invitation for Sunday church in the coffee shop every Saturday morning were the same guys he was having breakfast with in that same coffee shop. He was buying their coffee, laughing and joking and getting turned down! (Little did they know that he had already written in his plans for the funeral that those gentlemen were to be his pallbearers so that one day he would indeed get them to church to hear the gospel… and you know, every single one of them were there, carrying his casket, sitting in church, with tears that their friend was gone). He was at basketball, football, volleyball, baseball, soccer, track events cheering on the youth long long after his own children and grandchildren had graduated and left. He at the age of 76 with his heart working at 8% went out in the winter cold to visit a house he had been invited to and found himself kicked out by another family member. He wound up with pneumonia. He was okay with it because he responded to an invitation to come talk, to listen, to just be there for someone.

Action.

I was at a small dinner party with Ken Blanchard this past week and he ended up the evening by talking about Jesus and the example he is for our lives because,

After all, the world loves Jesus. It’s the Christians they hate.

So true. I can’t change the view of Christians, but I can change the view of my friends toward me. I can control what I can control and that is my actions, my words, the love I show for those without having a checklist to make sure they are worthy.

These are the examples I have been blessed to grow up seeing and still surround myself with today. Our label may not be popular anymore, but it’s not a hopeless cause, it begins with me.

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A Letter To The Church In America

faucet-185x185This is a short chapter, yet powerful. Based on the letter to the church of Laodicean in the book of Revelation, Rich Stearns has taken multiple verses from the Bible to compose what he calls the “Letter to the Church in America.” Now, side note, of course there are those appalled that he would take Biblical verses and string them together out of their original context. I get that argument, but he got the point across and he did it without perverting the meaning of the verses. So I’m giving it a thumbs up.

The church of Laodicea was extremely successful, extremely wealth – it “had a reputation for self-sufficiency and pride.” Sound familiar? I first thought of me. I then thought of the country that I love. So much in common. Rich says that, “they had deluded themselves into thinking God was pleased with them and that their prosperity was a sure sign of His favor.” Do we not do the same? We think when things are going well this equals God’s approval. When not, well why is He so upset? Wrong mentality.

You need to read it, point blank. It’s short. It’s powerful, it gets down to business and they aren’t Rich’s words, they’re God’s.  And because I can’t take credit for re-typing all of this out (because I didn’t want to), I found it on this website.

Read and enjoy. Anything bolded is what really stood out and touched me.

To the angel of the Church in America write:

These are the words of the One who holds the seven stars and walks among the golden lampstands. I know your deeds. You live in luxury and self-indulgence, and you have forsaken your first love. I hold this against you. Woe to those of you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left. Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants.

Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. Your wealth has rotted, and months have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded your wealth in the last days. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” Yet it is those who are poor in the eyes of the world that are rich in faith. I have chosen them to inherit the kingdom I have promised to those who love Me. Therefore, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Seek first My kingdom and my righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well. Remember, even I, the Lord Jesus Christ, though I was rich, for your sakes became poor, so that you, through My poverty, might become rich.

Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” but do not do what I say? Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says, for whoever obeys My commands–that is the one who loves Me.

What does the Lord require of you, you ask? To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. In fact, the entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

There will always be poor people in the land. I command you to be openhanded towards your brothers and towards the poor and needy in the land. Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed.

Now let’s talk about fasting. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? No, this is the fast that I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. It is to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

Even now, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Why spend money on what is not bread and labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Then you will call, and I will answer; you will cry for help, and I will say, “Here am I.” If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and the malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become as the noonday. I will guide you always; I will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Therefore, My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

–Jesus–

P.S. I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

So there it is.

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