Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Praying for Your Enemies?

    When was the last time you prayed for your enemies? When was the last time you felt compelled to pray for a person who wished to persecute you or harm you? We are called to pray for these people in by Jesus Himself (Matthew 5:44). But yet it isn't a practice we often follow in our churches, as a result I believe it isn't practiced by the followers of Christ either.  
     As I sit and reflect, our prayer requests at church are often dominated by prayer for our members, our leaders, our friends, and our church. In other words our prayer is often directed towards things that we find near and dear to us. We pray about things that affect us, things that often have a direct impact on our lives. In a way it is selfish, but at the same time it isn't, because often our minds are focused on things that go on in our lives. It's the way of us, it's the way of humanity. People and things that impact us are the things that we spend a majority of time thinking about. This does not make us bad people, it makes us human. In fact, we should pray for our friends, our families, our church, and ourselves, it's a good thing to do. It shows we care enough to take those people and ourselves to our Master, our Savior, the One in which we base our faith in. It shows that we value these people as much as God values them!
     That being said, God values us all, He values those who have wandered astray as much as He values those who are already members of His Kingdom.  If He didn't, He wouldn't have valued me at one time and He wouldn't have valued you at one time either. "For while we were still sinners," God showed us his ultimate love through Christ's death (Romans 5:8). God loved us so much that He was willing to sit and wait for our return, He was willing to leave the flock and find us, He was willing to search nook and cranny for us as if we were all that He had, He was willing to die for us on a cross. All this He did while we were His enemies. He valued us before we ever valued Him! 
     So what about our enemies? God was after us while we were enemies! So why can't we in the church seem to actively pray for our enemies, or in other words, those whom God is after? Why can't we pray for those who seek our harm, both personally and just in general? It's hard, I won't lie. I mean pray for someone who wants me to fail, pray for someone who wants to blow me up, it's inconceivable! Why would I want to do something like that? We do it because we value them, we understand who they are deep down, despite the fact that they fail to realize who they are. We u derstand that they too are God's creation. A creation of God's, a creation that God desires to have a relationship with, just as He has with us. We ought to pray for them, because we believe in the power of prayer, we believe that it is answered by God, and we believe that it can turn people towards God who have turned away from Him. We pray for them because we want them to have what we have! We pray for them because to only love and wish for the well being of our friends is something even the pagans do (Matthew 5:47). We pray for them because it is impossible to hate someone whom you pray for. Finally do remember hatred of another is akin to murdering another (Matthew 5:21). But praying for our enemies is something we do because we follow Christ, and Christ states that we ought to. In the end it is not just for their sake, but for our sake too. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Would Be

First off, I work a ton of hours now, so posts will be far and few in between, only when I feel them to be necessary as something has been laid upon me. Quite frankly, during this election season, I have become depressed with the way many Christians are portraying themselves on Facebook, it is rather disheartening. A recent person I know just posted something rather small against a person in the opposing party but has refused to call out horrendous shortcomings of his own party. Therefore I think this post is in order, it may be long, and it may anger many of you, especially if you pledge to be of one party or the other. But the fact is, we are first and foremost to be followers of Christ not a follower of a political animal. So sit back, enjoy or get angry,but hopefully you will be enlightened. 

                                                                      I Would Be...

. . . a Democrat if . . .
They could protect the least of these. If they moved to limit abortions and allow the most vulnerable innocent lives to actually be given the opportunity of life. But they fail to allow such a thing to happen. Instead they are willing to allow their children to die in the wombs of their mothers, those people who should be willing to protect their children at all costs, rather than destroy them out of mere inconveniences. There are alternatives to abortion if the mother is unable to raise the child due to economic, physiological, or even physical concerns. However, the murdering of the innocent is not to be accepted.

They could find ways to help those who needed help actually help themselves as opposed to being dependent upon others. Face it, programs that help the poor, the down trodden, and yes, even the lazy are needed. But not at the expense of crippling those who are willing to be productive in society but who are unable to be productive. But the fact is we live in a system that allows the downtrodden to trod on those who are productive and this too, is not to be accepted.

They would find ways to include the gospel and the teachings of Jesus into their official platforms. Just this year the inclusion of God into their platform resulted in a chorus of boos from many (not all of, not even sure if most of could be used, but some or many). Fact is, Democrats so fear losing the votes of those against God that they completely ignore Him in government. This too, is not to be accepted.

. . . a Republican if . . .
They were willing to protect more than just the lives of the most innocent. If they were willing to be neighbors and turn the other cheek, such as the teachings of their Savior and God insist we do. But rather they wish to inflate the budget through adding more money into the military, despite the fact that our military is the best funded in the world and blows any other country out of the water in terms of financial investment. And as a result they are not willing to insert the same amount of money into our government that would extend healthcare to those who are unable to purchase it on their own. Fact is God wishes us to love our enemies, not torture, shoot, or bomb them as well as be a neighbor to those around us. This is not to be accepted.

They were willing to understand in some situations abortion is necessary. I can't even imagine the situation of a woman who has been forced to carry a child when she did not make the decision to have sex. In other words, I could not imagine myself as a woman who is pregnant due to rape. I could not imagine myself in the situation of having to choose between my life and the life of another that I have been entrusted with, if one of the above mentioned lives must come at the cost of the other. Yet some Republicans insist that all abortions are wrong, no matter the circumstances (ironically these have been males as of late, see Akin and Mourdock). And many Republicans have been slow to condemn these comments or have done so in a weak manner. Of course we could just outlaw abortion altogether and then have women going to back room clinics and thus endanger both their lives along the lives of their unborn children too. This too, is not to be accepted.

They would stop viewing those who need help as lazy, unmotivated people. Yes, many of them are. There are many who take advantage of the system. But the fact is there are also a lot of them who need help because they have fallen upon hard times. But to end up pulling the safety net from beneath them because of the actions of some is ridiculous. Sometimes people need help, as as our neighbors, we need to offer them help, no matter the cost. This too, is not to be accepted.

They stopped worshiping the market as if it was some kind of Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent deity; these are attributes which are normally ascribed to God. They believe that the market fixes everything, that all will be fine and dandy, and that the invisible hand will move everything to make sure that the best interests of all people are attained. This is easy to say when we look at the market in America, I mean most of us are rich by world standards but much of our wealth comes at the expense of other nations, where our corporations move and hire foreign workers at slave wages. It can also be seen where resources from other nations are taken, and those places are left with nothing, and when said resources are gone they move on. This too, is not to be accepted.

. . . either if . . .

Both sides could actually sit down and have a civil discussion. That they could actually put the needs of the nation's people, as well as those in other nations, ahead of corporations that donate large sums of money to their political campaigns. Both the Republican and Democratic parties seem to have forgotten what constitutes both civility and what it means to have the people in their best interests. 

A Call For Christ.

Fact is, I have been called a conservative and a liberal. I have been seen by women as being incompatible because I am not conservative enough and because I am not liberal enough. I therefore must be doing something right. I am in the middle, I intend to be a peacemaker, I desire that both parties get back to the negotiating table to make this a better nation, rather than go back to their news channels to campaign 24/7/365 the day after an election. And until such time I will be neither a Republican nor a Democrat. Instead of promoting Republican or Democratic causes and rather than pointing fingers at one side or the other, I will instead do this: I will promote the cause of Christ, that we love our neighbors as ourselves, that we do no harm to others, both inside of and outside of the womb, when they have done no harm, or have even done harm to us. I will help them no matter the cost, even if it causes me to sacrifice something of myself. Also, I will point out the wrongs of both parties, I will not be a shill, I will not promote one side because they are red or blue, an elephant or a donkey, a liberal or a conservative. Being morally wrong or right is universal whether one flaunts a tea bag or lives in tents during their protests. In short, it's time for the church to be followers of Christ instead of followers of political institutions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent Week 4: John's Gospel

John's gospel, like Mark, fails to have a distinct advent story. In fact, John differs greatly from any gospel in the aspect that this godpel fails to really anticipate the coming of the Christ. Rather John is more concerned with saying something like this,"Hey, this Jesus Guy, He has been around all along, He has existed since the beginning, He was around before your father's father, and he will be around long after your kid's kids." 

It does however make sense that John begins differently, seeing as he was writing a book that was heavily influenced by Greek thought or at the very least written to people that were influenced heavily by Greek thought. And one of the things Greek thought  abhorred was new things. A bad advertising strategy to get Greek thinkers to buy your product back then would have been, "hey buy this item it is new and improved." Rather a better strategy may have been, "try the same old comfortable thing, it's the same as it was 2,000 years ago!" Sounds like some of our churches, so the concept shouldn't be too hard to grasp.

 But I digress, John really wanted to say, hey this Jesus guy has been around, and guess what, He is a light to the dark world, and he can't be overcome! Which is true, because as one preacher pointed out, dark and light never can compete against each other, because light will always shine in the darkness, and darkness can never exist once light becomes present. Now the question remains is this, where does Jesus shine? Where does His light exists? Well it is supposed to exist in His followers, after all His followers are a light that is not to be extinguished, and they are to be a great city on a hill. 

So what can we learn from this gospel in the season of advent? It's that yes we can wait for the Christ to come again in bodily form, but it is also that we need to live as Christ is still present as He has been from the beginning, and that we are to be the bearers of His light. So don't let advent be a time where we stop being a light because we are so focused on waiting for the light to re-enter the world. Rather, remember that Christ is still present  (as he has always been) and that He calls us to be His light, or do His will.