Bookshelf Christians: A Theology of the Book of Eli

I sat in my room the other night and viewed the Book of Eli, a film featuring Danzel Washington and Gary Oldman.  In this post-apocalyptic drama Eli (Washington) has been commissioned to preserve the Bible after an apparent world-wide attempt to destroy every copy of it.   In contrast, Carnegie (Oldman) wants to wrestle it away from Eli in order to put it to good use, like being able to control the weak and ignorant masses.   Albeit a mean and violent blind Samurai-like figure, Eli is the good guy presumably.  He is the opposite of  Carnegie and his henchmen who rule the wastelands on a policy of murder, rape, pillage, and plunder.  Eli saves the day and himself by taking the Bible west, which he has memorized, where it gets printed and put on a shelf.

Practical Christians want to change the world, even sometimes through the misguided means of coercion and violence.  We have been through this drama before: The Inquisition, the Salem Witch Hunts, the Crusades, and the wars and squabbles of religion of the past centuries.

Did these holy convulsions make the world a better place?  Nope.  A radical outcome once the sacred dust of contempt, violence, and discord settled was that the world as a whole and the powers that be no longer look up on the church for wisdom as to how to change the current mess we are in.  Correspondingly, many Christians have retreated to a form of quietism, a privatized secluded religion on the underground.  Bookshelf Christians I call them.  They happily contemplate their Bibles resting on a shelf and only casually if ever, entertain  the foggiest idea as to how, if ever, it is supposed to make the world a viable haven for humanity.  Bookshelf Christians domesticate Jesus and the Gospel by cutting off any input to the outside world.  They talk only to themselves in categories that only they can understand.  Like Eli, they are blind to the implications of the Bible towards the wider culture.   In the meanwhile, the God’s Holy Book continues to gather dust unabated.

The alternative is to have the righteous revolutionaries of Biblical morality launch a campaign of indignation with the aim of shoving Biblical principles down people’s throat. The Bible then becomes a tool for compelling  conformity.  It’s our way or the highway to hell. It doesn’t work.  It can’t work.  Jesus was a stranger to power politics. He didn’t attempt to Christianise the power structures of his day. He didn’t boycott sinners.  He didn’t practice censorship of the lost, the least, or the left-out.  His religion wasn’t about controlling the meek and the weak.  Religionistas Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and John Hagee want to fight their enemies and if necessary, kill or hurl them in prison, all in the name of defending the Bible, praise God.  Contrast that with God’s humble servant, the man Christ who sacrificed his life for his enemies instead of casually blasting them to pieces.

We need a hybrid Christian.  People with the passion of both Carnegie and Eli, but whose means and ends to achieve justice in the world are at the polar opposite of oppression and violence.  Passivity won’t cut it.  The Bible isn’t going to grow legs any time soon by sitting on a bookshelf.  Employing coercion to get people saved or at least have them conform outwardly to Biblical morality will usually backfire.  Without aiming for  a transformation of the heart, the best we can do is fashion prolific, self-righteous pharisees whose use (and abuse ) of religion will make people want to rebel and look down on their inferiors. The victims of holy-than-thou characters normally end up crucified.  Jesus would have none of this.  We need balance.  We need passion and purpose without wielding the piercing sword of judgmentalism and self-righteousness.  Religion as dogma can be a weapon  for manipulation.   We must have God’s religion of love and the Spirit in order to experience true liberation, beauty, and due justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Types of People You Should Never Marry

Considering marriage?  Certain species of human you want to avoid like leprosy because your peace of mind, your future, and your very life may be at high risk of unraveling.

I can’t possibly enlist all the configurations of crazy and instability and irresponsibility that exist.  You can know them when you see them.  But certain people exhibit clusters of traits that may not be in your best interest to pursue.  The following word pictures will exemplify what I am trying to convey:

Peter Pan.  The man or woman child who refuses to grow up.  Being stuck on perpetual childhood as in the proverbial “the best childhood lasts forever.”   Sometimes childhood translates (though it’s not necessary) into irresponsibility, capriciousness, ill decision-making, temper tantrums , or worse, being stuck on stupid.  If you are having to swap diapers for an oversized child whose idea of romance involves playing the let’s-be-babies game with no sign of let up, you need to make an easy choice and vacate their lives before the screams and soiled diapers take a chunk out of your sanity.  These individuals aren’t ready for Prime Time.  Marriage is about two responsible individuals cooperating, not about one individual having to oversee the other in an endless crib of misery.

Douche Bagstan.  Once upon a time there was this person named Douche, from the land of Bagstan who you thought was Prince George-ous  and whose kiss you believed would work wonders but he-she only managed to smear slime on your face.  Douche can be the worse piece of humanity, sometimes quite incorrigible.   Their personality and character traits are worse than merely depraved.  Douche have no regard for you.  They will worship at the altar of self-centeredness and will display an amazing and consistent pattern of insulting your intelligence, your values, and any sense of decency.  Douches are factory made for crudity and vulgarity and not giving a crap about your feelings or well being.  Douche is an expert at drilling holes into your self-esteem.

Frankenstein.  Beware of the Monster, Dr.!  He or she might be your creation.  Really.  Some people are in a relationship with a project, not a person.  You are trying to fix him/her, and/or fashion them into an image you have conjured up in your wicked or otherwise misguided imagination.  People are who they want to be.  However, why are you bent on engineering a disaster instead of seeking out a reliable, trustworthy partner for life?  If you are disordered yourself, most likely you are going to influence whoever you come into contact with in all the wrong ways.  Negativity can be contagious.  Your personal pathologies are fully transferable and it usually does not take long before your beau or Coquettish Ingenue picks up your cues and begins acting accordingly.   High five Doctor!  You are unstable and you are a genius.   The universe could not be more random than that.  It is not conducive of you to mate with your monster unless you are hell-bound to raising freaks of nature.  Please, if you are twisted and mad use your genius to fix yourself instead of running the risk of crafting a freak relationship doomed for ruin.

Dark Vader.  The heartless hate machine.  Neurotic, control freak, border line personality disorder.  Massively over reactive, violent, vengeful, lacking in sympathy.  The one-lane brain devoted to all things chaotic.  Dark Vader personality will think that they must destroy whole planets just to state their case and win the war against you.  Abandon hope.  It will be a long shot to win against such a formidable Force.  Don’t be fooled.  If you are in a relationship where your significant other is always trying to bully you or choking you into submission to their whims and fancies, you are in for the thrill hate ride of your life.  The best you will accomplish is losing a limb or the death of one or the two of you.  Better to go out on whimper than on a bang of pain and suffering.

Pin Head. AKA Hell Raiser. Good people open the gates of heaven for you, the not so good will escort you to the portals of the netherworld.  Welcome to hell!  When you get there you will not miss it because the pins will sting you.  Endless torture awaits you because your mate has zero notion of love and compassion and their rule book has horror and torture as the title.  Hell raiser will make sure hell stays as an ever present reality in your relationship and while at it will keep it hot as a bonus.  Nobody should have to suffer needlesly in a realtionship. If the suffering being perpetrated against you is willful, audacious, and purposeful, you need to make a dash away from it.

Anti-Christ.  The Christ-denier, God demolisher.  If you consider yourself a member of the elect people of God, why are you hanging out with the children of darkness?  You are merely asking for trouble.  Your name might very well end up in the 666 club, a foe of the Master.  Stay out.  Don’t go there.  Refuse any association with an unbeliever who attacks, downplays, or wants to steal you away from Christ and your confession of faith.  You think you can save him or her?  Good luck with that.  Last I knew, satan also wins converts.  You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the battle of good versus evil.

The moment of praxis is now!  Please marry right.

Frankenstein 

It’s not only mad scientists who create monsters.  We all potentially can engineer them out of the unresolved and pathological distortions of our lives.  It’s the Frankenstein effect and it can potentially happen to anyone. Lodged deep in the human persona lie a constellation of malevolent and benevolent forces. These forces are all endowed with possibilities, as ripples impacting space beyond the center.

A phenomenon of modernity is the supremacy of the individual.  As such we exalt in the gospel of personal sovereignty and infinite choices. Yet we can not escape the reality that our actions do affect others for good or ill.  The unintended consequences of our long reaching ignorance, maladies, prejudices, and biases are seen frequently in rogue politicians , dysfunctional children, oppressive  economic systems, and pathological love partners. We like to assign blame to these freaks and I have to admit , plenty of them are blameworthy . Yet somehow we helped create them.

Al-Queda and Isis arose out of the power vacuum created by the massively incompetent and misguided policy of regime change in Iraq.  Misinformed laws have kept petty drug users locked up in prison when they could otherwise benefit from treatment.  The failure to bring addicts back to health has only exacerbated their condition since as branded criminals they will be less likely to rehabilitate and hence will cause more harm and cost more money in the long haul.  By the same token penal institutions become schools of crime where the sole aim is to get tough and throw away the key.  People become worse when all hope for healing and restoration is taken away from them. Public schools churn out petulant and spoiled brats with a  grand sense of entitlement and a thin sense of responsibility and discipline.  Lovers who start out as gentle can and do turn abusive stemming from the negativity and relentless bullying of their partners.  Unstable persons prime others for the same ills they are guilty of.  Abuse begets abuse.  Hopeless and desperate societies have been known to spawn destructive demagogues ( Hitler is the classic example).  Bad parents who neglect and torment their kids are surprised when later in life their kids are a mirror image of themselves.

Hardly a human behavior leaps out of a vacuum . We are social, interconnected beings whose motives and drive to action stem from the deeply ingrained attributes of our forebears (genes) our from social input (learning) .  Before you ready your sword that will slay the monster, please do a bit of soul searching to figure out its origin. Perhaps we elected him (or her) out of insecurity and fear.  You are stuck with a deviant lover. Tough. Ask yourself if in fact you contributed to him or her becoming what they are or he/she is merely a product of your lust and poor judgment.

Please note.  I am not absolving the monsters from personal responsibility.  Insomuch as they posses conscious awareness they are responsible and as such they must be held to account. We made them. We have to deal with them. But  we must understand that our influence on others do play a role on what they turn out to be.  The bitterly cynical and angry teacher more than likely will have a class that reflects who he is, minus due respect.   Withhold love and appreciation and attention and be stunned to discover that your spouse has found it elsewhere to the detriment of your relationship.  If you are single, who you are will most likely determine who you attract rather than who you desire.  If you are a freak, guess who is going to hinge to you?  I’m talking in probability terms here.  Let’s no surrender to fatal inevitability. 

Mad genius isn’t a virtue.  The same brilliance that gave us vaccines and moon travel also created the atomic bomb and designer illicit drugs.  The evil we sow today will rise up its ugly head.  Karma has a long hand and long lasting memory.  Be nice. Be good and prayerful.  You might  never know how your character shapes your surroundings and your future. Are you like the dragon who summons  monsters out of the sea ( Revelation 13), or like the King who overcomes them? ( Revelation 19). Are you a source for goodness and healing in the world, or are you presently brewing the toxic chemicals that will hatch monsters?

 

 

 

Quit Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

“Accept Jesus into your heart so you can go to heaven when you die.”

First of all , if Jesus doesn’t invite you into his heart , no amount of asking him will do.  You will remain lost and bound to face the dangerous holiness of God in the upcoming eschatological judgment.  

No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” John 6:44

Second. In America today asking Jesus into one’s own heart has acquired almost the status of mantra or the Protestant equivalent of placing faith in crucifixes and holy water. 

Third. Ask Jesus into your heart is an expression foreign to the New Testament.   Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever preached that way. It is a misguided strategy since it ignores the heavy demands of Jesus to totally surrender to him, even to die.  Another thing.  Jesus not only wants to be in our hearts , but in our minds too. And reality is that many Christains are scarecrow believers, all emotions and no mind.  Christ is absent from their brain matter. These Christains could never begin to tell others about Jesus because they do not even understand nor care to know the ABC’s of the faith.  

Fourthly . And then there’s the matter of inviting Jesus into church (Revelation 3:20). Why is Jesus not invited to church?  Ask and look around and you will eventually discover that Jesus isn’t a member of some churches. He was either sacked or never invited over.  Christ-less churches is perhaps in keeping with the phenomenon of all the things we want lacking in our lives. Sugar-free, caffeine -free, gluten-free, preservative-free, hassle-free, religion-free, God-free.  Godless.  By all indications, godless is what some Chriatsians are because they invited Jesus into their hearts one time but Jesus never made it through inside.  He was locked out by a rebel heart and disposition.  And so it goes that these Christains have a reputation of being thieves,  liars, cheaters, homophobes, and racists and are still loved and accepted by congregations. In reality these folk are simply homophobes, racists, cheaters, liars , and thieves who think they are Christains.

Fiftly and last.  Going to heaven when you die is hardly the be-all,  end-all of the Christ Way.  This reductionism merely presents the faith in the lowest common denominator, namely to gain security, a form of buying fire insurance to forestall falling into that awful hot place .  What about the other things essential for a hard, painful , and sweaty path towards discipleship ?  Those directives of Jesus that ask us to follow him sacrifically are usually left out in evangelistic efforts, or rendered almost invisible by the tiny print at the bottom of a leaflet. Jesus is about everything, not just heaven and bliss.  If we profess Christ we have to question our motives to discover the real reasons we are drawn to Christ.  Possibilities might be that the Christ we profess is not the Christ we posses: 

Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith” 2 Corinthians 13:5

I never knew you. Depart from me” Matthew 7:21-23

Quit telling Jesus to come into your heart.  Pray to him instead that he allows you into his heart because in the end that’s the action of God which saves. 

The Guy Who Wouldn’t Stay Dead

HE IS RISEN.  Matthew 28:6

A man who dies and comes back alive is up to something.   

The riddle of all ages has been cracked.  The resurrection of the Son of God opens up brand new possibilities for life’s meaning now and the future.  His advent from deathland points to a loving God who made a universe of intricate beauty and boundless goodness and vows to heal and restore it (Romans 8).  Our existence is no mere laboratory for philosophical materialists.  Death is not final and total. Matter alone can’t be the supreme value where everything else hinges.  The Christ Way isn’t exclusively about pie in the sky for when we die: It’s about EVERYTHING.

Had Christ stayed dead we could have surmised he stood for religious ideas rather than immortality and bliss.  We have numerous religions, spiritualities , and figureheads.  Some of them defunct, some barely clinging to life, and others, like the Big Five ( Islam, Christianity, Hinduism , Buddism, and Judaism) claiming devotees by the millions.   Yet only one  arose from the conviction that its founder slew death itself and passed on the other side , alive.   Therefore all religions can not be equal.  Anybody can be born, but not everybody can rise from the death.  If Christ truly is alive , it follows that he unlike the others, negotiates a broader spectrum of reality and  resists the strait jacket of adhering to impersonal religious maxims that have no correspondence to real life. 

This Easter Sunday people will be in pews tuning in to preachers rant about how we can resuurect our finances, bring to life stray children hooked on drugs, resuurect  a new career and opportunities after a stint in the slammer, about twelve steps to jolt our marriage back from the death (if you can jerk your corpse spouse out of bed , don’t miss that one) , and about how we can revive a snuffed out romantic flame from the throes  of weeping and heart break. 

All good and dandy.  We have mastered the language of resurrection to fancy our individualism and egotism.  We have gained proficiency at exploiting Christ’s resurection to sooth our egos and promote our causes.  Nothing wrong with trying to make relevant the message of Scripture. The New Testament speaks broadly about the implications of  Easter for advancing hope in the world: curing AIDS, feeding starving children with bloated bellies, preventing war.  But we shouldn’t start with the human element. The resurrection of Christ is not primarily about us , mind you .  It is foremost about Christ and his upcoming project for all creation.   The resurection is not advice. It won’t teach you how to weave more colorful patterns on Easter eggs. It is a Royal announcement that someone immortal , yet like us, is in charge and intends to undo deviant hearts and rescue a lost world steadily spiraling into the jaws of sin and death.  

The World’s Most Dangerous Name

lambCredit: Google Images, 2016

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”  Revelation 6:12-17

 

Utter the name of Christ in a crowded room, among polite company, inside a business meeting.  Wait and watch the awkwardness, the tension, the sweaty palms, the raised eyebrows, the sneers.  What is it about that name?  Does it denote shame, anger, disgust, holier-than-thou self-righteous propaganda the speaker is trying to push on everyone else?

In the post Christian West, no less than in America, the name of Jesus Christ has become synonymous with cursing and cussing and blatant contempt either against real and imagined enemies, the system, politicians, the insane driver who cut us off, bad luck, uncongenial circumstances, bad weather, a cheating spouse, etc…. It is the grand intrigue of history that Christ’s influence in human affairs has extended to the domain of profanity.   Jesus has to posses something pretty darn remarkable about him in order for his name to be used as a term of derision millenia later.  Can anyone imagine the name of Buddha or Mohammed employed in  similar fashion?  In the case of Mohammed, expect your name to be added to a death list should you dare to cuss Islam’s prophet.

The name of Christ threatens us.   Christ’s name invokes accountability.  We know of Christ the Savior.  Many people are fed up with that already. We have turned salvation vocabulary into meaningless and sentimental platitudes and slogans on bumper stickers:  “I got saved from working overtime this weekend,” “I got saved from my demon husband by divorcing him,”  “I got saved from the IRS,” “DANGER: SAVED AND RAPTURE READY.”   We pay sufficient lip service to the notion of Christ the Savior and salvation from sin that we don’t believe it anymore because we are uncritical consumers of religion, not disciplined followers. Or we take Christ for granted.  Admitting that we need salvation implies we have a problem, a sin problem, and sin by all practical purposes, is regarded by the current intelligentsia as seriously passe, an old fashioned idea whose time and progress has rendered irrelevant in light of modern science, education, and overall human enlightenment.  So we think.

A nagging feeling persists about Jesus Christ.  The doubts and suspicion about him hasn’t stop public dialogue and debate. It is not going to stop anytime soon.  Jesus is disturbing.  He was dangerous to the social establishment of his time to the degree of being designated a threat to public order.  He wasn’t merely promoting a new form of religious experience (the Romans could careless about Jesus’ new private spirituality), he was creating a brand new platform of human existence affecting every area of life both private and public.  Little wonder he got himself executed. All that talk about him being the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  It sounds arrogantly exclusive and narrow minded and we can’t live with that. The ancients could not handle that claim either. We want our options open, our religions tolerant, our lifestyles free from religious constraints.

Jesus challenges all of that.  Jesus remains a danger, firm and final because he is in charge now and his moral compass guides the universe (Matthew 28:18).  If that were not so, anything goes.  Let’s lie, cheat and steal with no consequence. Let’s murder. Let’s engage in child rape and human sacrifice.  In the great scheme of things of an amoral universe, Hitler and Mother Theresa would be equals. But the boundaries have been drawn.  There are parameters to living in God’s creation.  Everything we say and do is of consequence.  The baby Jesus in the manger, the pet Jesus, the meek and mild One and feeder of thousands doesn’t present an imminent danger to our peace of mind and prospects for the future.  We treat him more as fire insurance than Lord.

It is rather the Christ of judgment, the wrathful Lamb, the Christ with the whips at the Temple in Jerusalem who is unsettling.  Christ as judge we find both uncomfortable and disturbing,  inglorious to a degree that make us squirmy, furious and indignant.   This is the Christ we find unbecoming, unpalatable, unwelcoming.  This is the Jesus Christ who pierces our ego and look upon as the great cosmic kill-joy, the disrupter of our show and status quo, the arbiter who won’t let us get away with our dreams of selfish ambitions and self- determination.  We don’t want to embrace him in the mode of judge and critic.  Until then, Christ will continue to resemble us modern self-designated civilized decent folk: Tame and tolerant and tenacious when it comes to getting our way in the world.   Human nature resists transformation and eschews insecurity and threats.  So long as Christ stays dangerous, we will hide from him at our own peril.  How then can we be saved?

Why Playing it Fair May Destroy Your Relationship

You have rooted for a relationship and you made it.  Congratulations! You are swinging high on the romance carousel.  The question now in your mind is this:  How am I going to go about maintaining this precious pearl of love so that neither time nor troll ever demolishes it?

“I am going to play it fair.”  Proposition 50-50.  We slice the cake half-and-half.  You give this much, I’ll give in proportion to your contribution.   Hmmm….. Seems like a deal hard arguing against, except that it might not work.  Insisting on fairness may end up undermining your love.

If we compare the idea of romantic love with a business partnership, then it would be reasonable to expect a return on investment. It is sheer madness not to expect it. Because I am committing to you, I demand to be loved back, to be cherished, and so on.  In this scenario  we treat love as a contract where the parties agree to fulfill their share of stipulations.  When love shifts to marriage the stakes rise higher as our roles acquire new dimensions and responsibilities.

Problem is, romantic love is not a business.  What if my inventory runs out and my resources depleted? Should I bail out and call off the relationship because he or she can’t comply with their part of the deal?   “He is not calling as much.”  “She doesn’t text first, anymore.”  “She forgets my birthdays.”  “He won’t initiate sex.” Let me be fair then: I won’t call as much, I am going to stop texting first, I am going to forget her birthdays.  And forget about me spreading my legs.

Now you are at a standoff.  Anger and resentment grows.  Your stance for fairness has morphed into payback.  Do you see where your little game of tit-for-tat is going?

Give it all or don’t get in. 

Seriously, why are you getting into a relationship in a half-baked attitude and a mediocre disposition?   Sure enough, nothing is ever certain in love and romance.  People enter into relationships in ambivalence all the time, not knowing what to expect.  We don’t have all the answers. No wonder that love is thought to be blind.  But it is only blind if you so designate it.  It doesn’t have to.

The misery in your relationship has to do with the failure to ask  the hard questions at the beginning and face up the difficult conversations that will define your relationship.  If you are married the reason you are not sexing  up regularly might have to do with failing to create the right kinds of intimacy in other areas.  It could be you don’t ask for sex and you don’t dare to initiate it on a regular basis or on special occasions.  You are afraid to talk about sex.  It is possible your notions of sex are totally rotten and distorted:  ” I will only give him sex if he deserves it.”  There you go champ!    Your righteous fairness has turned you into a manipulative hag of sorts and now the chickens are roasted for you to taste on a later date.  You are well on your way to engineering your own demise.

If you are a diligent lover and partner, you may want to set aside this mindset of fairness.  Sorry again, but 50-50 isn’t going to cut it. You might have to render 110 percent !  Genuine Christ ones give it all, as Christ gave his everything for the world.  He held nothing back and you shouldn’t either because the other party fails to deliver.  Geez dude, wouldn’t that invite abuse and turn me into a loser doormat of a man?  First of all, if you are in an abusive, manipulative relationship, how did you get in there in the first place?  If you are starting out on the dating circuit and getting acquainted, resist the urge to advance further if you see red flags of selfishness, malice, stalking behavior, insanity, and commitment phobia.  For your peace of mind and safety’s sake don’t ignore major character flaws in your potential beau.  You should never think of marrying someone detrimental to your well being.  Duck a bullet. Avoid bedding  the Devil with the intention later to convert her into an Angel.  Worst case scenario is that your tryst will hatch another Devil out of you too.   You may degenerate into playing by their rules and vice and thus perpetuate the madness. It is better to have a bitter end that endless bitterness. So cut yourself loose while you have the chance.  It is not worth risking your life or future with someone not worth your dignity and self-respect.

Fair does not work in relationships because we are dealing with flawed human nature.  You are not married to Jesus, for God’s sake.  If that were so he would ensure you obtain your fifty percent of the deal one hundred percent of the time. People get sick.  Mental incapacity sets in.  We are subject to lay offs and unemployment, emotional and intellectual maladies, and general sinfulness and frailty and death.  Humans falter.  People change.  If your spouse gets injured and becomes bed-ridden, are you going to resent him for not being there for you?  Christian duty summons you to love him sacrificially and unconditionally.  And even if he is not incapacitated, you don’t stop being courteous and generous because he on occasions forgets to or is careless. You never stop loving because he or she is falling behind or pulling back.   This side of existence one hundred percent commitment is not going to happen one hundred percent of the time.  It is not a fair proposition, I know.  But Christianity is not about fairness.  It is about grace and mercy to the undeserving.  If you regard these virtues as not palatable, then Christ isn’t for you.   Truth is there will come a time sooner or later where you will need  mercy and grace.  But if you insist on fairness, you may end up receiving neither.

 

 

Idolaters R US

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
    apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
    though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
    to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
    I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Isaiah 45:5-6

How odd is God.  Evidently incomparable given he is the invisible Entity who has left us  no unambiguous trace of his existence, except for a handful of written witnesses illustrating what he is up to.  Ask anyone who has struggled with the idea of God.  It would seem he casts himself as arbitrary and unapproachable.  We can warrant some level of critique regarding those notions. God hasn’t made his reality as slam dunk as mathematical proof.  Clues exist out there of some ultimate purpose, of mystery, of ultimate intelligence and goodness, all variably open to interpretation.  Are we missing out on something?  Shouldn’t God be visible and tangible?  Maybe that kind of God would be susceptible to manipulation and abuse, not unlike this past week’s baby dolphin craze.

http://mainenewsonline.com/content/16027043-video-shows-how-ignorance-led-killing-endangered-baby-dolphin

Image result for baby dolphin news

God let me take a selfie with you in it!   Wouldn’t we suffocate him in the attempt to rub shoulders, literally?    Where could we possible contain him should there be no boundaries between him and us ?    How we approach God demonstrate the extent of our deviance.  Should he be like us, compliant to our whims and lack of restraint, God would be subject to our domestication: have him wear a male bikini while shirtless and flexing muscles at the beach, have him sit  for an interview and queue him with a barrage of silly questions, Instagram him on 360 degree views, paparazzi him, invite him over for pizza and beer and request that he pull a few tricks off his sleeve, have him endorse and glamorize our favorite Sunday morning religion, endorse our fashion and fads, have him bless the wonderful purpose of our lives…..

Trouble is we humans tend to swing to the polar of depraved thinking and disposition.   For many the opposite of the Midas touch is norm, rather than the exception. We tend to destroy and harass what we touch.  Why, we want to franchise and take advantage of every golden opportunity, even when our understanding and intentions are misguided.  We want God to be our idol, not our Lord.  The tendency of mortals is to craft God in our image and likeness:  The God of my religion. The God of my ring-wing/left-wing politics. The God of my capitalist economy. The God of my flag. The God of my tribe.  The God of my romance. The God of ME.

The quest to subject  and acquire things represent relentless and coveted pursuits that keep achievers (and alas thieves!) awake at night.  The temptation to reach transcendence, Godhood, divinity, whatever, has not reasonable let up for those with ulterior ambitions. Granted the opportunity, some would seek to dethrone God (Isaiah 14:14; Genesis 3:6,22).  God resists that.  A line has to be traced, not just in religion, but in every aspect of living.  God won’t be confined. He can’t.  We expect kids to grow up and become adults, not the reverse.  God abhors walls of limitation and  vetoes down boxes of neat categorization that dictate what he ought and not to do (i.e. God should answer every prayer, stop every hurricane, grant me this job right now). We think we have God all figured out and safely tucked in our Bible on that sanctimonious two hour block weekend charade. Not so.  God is loose and dangerous. He doesn’t think he is us. The world constitutes God’s arena for the display of his power, not the circus ring where he juggles to our endless entertainment and pleasure, on demand. He is the Lion of the jungle, not the bird in the cage. The wholly Other God refuses to be our pet, the baby dolphin on the sun-drenched beach.  My proposal therefore is that to get our religion right, we ought to let God be God.

 

 

Why I believe in God

I believe in God because I want to.  It makes sense.  An extra intelligence other than ours human, is not only feasible, it’s probable.  If this universe of things and atoms contains mind and consciousness, could it be that such phenomenon lies outside the physical plane of existence as well?  This is no abstract, philosophical treatise for armchair theologians.  I am more interested in the personal God, the relational being who is named and who is called.  Beauty, truth, and goodness constitute not merely the catalogue of virtues we strive to attain, but they also point to the reality of another world.  Sure enough, God has not made his existence  obvious. He is the invisible God. The God we can not see or touch.   We have heard rumors and words.  We have clues in the oracles of prophets and priests and preachers of bygone eras who heard and wrote messages from this God.

The decisive evidence for me, however, is this guy named Jesus. Yes, Jesus Christ, the century first Jewish carpenter and intemperate trouble maker.  He says God is real.  More importantly, he says this God cares and in fact made everything for a purpose.  I believe in God because Jesus Christ has made him credible and compelling.  For me, Christ proves the existence of God.   Why, Christ is the human face of God, God as personal and loving, God as father and master and not merely a religious idea or an idol of our crafting.  If this God is living and personal, then he is worthy of adoration.  The alternative is to live in peril, in less than human terms.  To be truly human, we must know God and his Christ. Good news is, our work is cut out for us.  He has taken the initiative to make himself known.  What are we waiting for…….

If Only God Hand Picked a Mate For Me

  
If God hand picked a mate for you you might not be pleased with the outcome.  

Hosea 1:2-3

“Go and take for you and adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness because the land is guilty of adultery in the vilest form.”

No. That’s not a typo.  It’s not a misprint.   God did tell one guy one time to marry a hooker.  Weird , whacky, and wild , uh!  This story constitutes one of the most salacious dramas in the whole Bible, involving the respectable Man of God and his vice bride.  Think of it.  Hosea is single and well qualified, possessing a distinguished and impeccable prophetic resume.  But the air is about to be sucked out of his guts :  he is commanded to hinge with a virtual prostitute (Hosea 3:3).  How’s that as a an option to enhance his career and life ?  Can you picture the expression in his peers’ and parents ‘ face?

Wanna reconsider the single life again? 

I’m adamant about my stance that God refuses to micromanage anybody’s life.  But poor Hosea disproves my point , right , because God told him exactly who to marry.  Well in life there’s this thing called exemptions.  Not all is black or white out there.   Fifty shades of grey is more than a fictional novel .  God does draw outside the lines sometimes and unless we are dealing with the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, many things are simply not set in stone .  Even the six hundreds plus commandments of the Torah don’t cover every single aspect of living . We are supposed to fill in the blanks. We must employ our inner moral compass based on that which carries a proven track record for maximizing and enhancing life and happiness:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praise worthy, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). 

I take it that God expects us to avail ourselves of informed and sanctified common sense when making critical life choices such as whom to marry.  The rules are not loose and open for negotiation , however.  The parameters are firm and not in flux:

“Don’t be unequally joked with unbelievers ” ( 2 Corinthians 6:14).

Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons” 

Deuteronomy 7:3).  

Simple enough. If that guy or gal doesn’t love Christ and his Word, ditch them.  Fill in the rest.  God isn’t going to finish your homework.   If you are waiting on God to show you by happenstance, vision, dream, or prophetic oracle about the identity of the One, you might as well plan for perpetual bachelorhood .   Take initiative .  Quit being indecisive.  Go out and meet people where people gather.  No not the bar. Not the whore house.  Stay out of the Devil’s Den.   Butterflies don’t hang out in swamps and bat infested dark caves.  They will suck out your blood.  Try the flower fields.   Not all churches are necessarily virtue clubs, but if you find singles there , chances are they aren’t there to be cured of a hangover or needing exorcism.  So I suggest you try the church house and strike out the Penthouse or Big House.  

Desist in having God as your personal life coach.  If God were to give you everything you asked, at your whims and preferences, who would be God?   The difference between God and us is that God doesn’t think he is us.    Give it up .  Get a life.  Make some tough choices.  Take a risk for love. If romance isn’t for you get a puppy , a hobby , a job and go on a quest to conquer the world .  The world is in need of fighters , not wimps and consumers.   

If God has a larger , more strategic purpose for your life, then he might well ask you to marry a shady character, an ex con, a single parent or whatever .  But that isn’t going to happen unless your ears are tuned in and adjusted to hear from God.   You and God have got to be aligned on the same wavelength so that you can discover his will.   And although the Hosea saga may be a one of a kind event , never -to-be-repeated occurrence,  you never will understand what the Lord in his wisdom has laid out for you unless you care to follow orders and be faithful .  

It’s not as complicated as it seems.  

Why doesn’t God do anything about my predicament ?  You gotta be kidding me .  Why don’t you?   You have two healthy legs, start walking !    Ten fingers can accomplish a lot , have you tried them lately?   The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.   Try work . Rumor has it it leads to results. God won’t assume responsibility for all all your choices.   Are you prepared if he pulled a Hosea out his sleeve?  I’m using faulty logic here ( and who uses logic anymore?).   It doesn’t follow that because you surrender will power that God is going to assume control .   No. You are in control .   You are simply misguided.   You are at the wheel.  But not without a reliable guide .   The plan is already published .  Don’t be doing the lame thing of conjuring up your own plan and expecting God to endorse it.   You get aligned with what God is doing.   The path isn’t farther than those 1400 pages of holy Writ.  That’s a good place to start.