Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who is Jesus and Who Are We? Who are We in Theology and in Practice? And Where Does that Path Lead in This World and in the World to Come?

What does God see? Does he see everything at every given moment? Oh yes, but even further God sees everything past, present, and future in one continuing intuitive glance. It is difficult to describe God is these human terms. In fact God does not really “know” which indicates a thinking process. God does not think, He knows, or more succinctly, God is knowledge. I know, we have waded in very deep waters.

But the point is that God is not sitting in America and looking out and seeing what is happening in the world. But so often the western evangelical church treats God like an honorary citizen of the United States, and although He cares about the world, His vantage point is somewhere in America. The Mormons have even taken it to another level suggesting the Garden of Eden was in Missouri and Jesus will come back to that same place. They even had to create a scenario where Jesus came to North America while He was on earth. That is how we have to make America so important top God.

But the truth is God is no respecter of persons, and God is not in any way an American nor dose He show the slightest favor toward America. And when people espouse a position where God favors America and even created it with His own hands, then immediately their view of Jesus suffers and the faith they espouse has been severely compromised. That phenomenon can be seen in the lives of millions of professing believers in America and in thousands of churches as well. Instead of wanderers and pilgrims whose home is in the heavens and whose very life is in Christ, we have become bound to this world and in particular this nation.

And nowhere is this more stark and crystallized than in how we assess the value of human life. It is quite a spectacle. Americans both subtly and overtly see American life as more valuable than any other life on the planet. We might expect that kind of evaluation from the American government, however it is rather disturbing when it emanates from the church and from professing believers. The church of Jesus Christ has become deeply Americanized and its members live, think, and act like Americans. Our minds have been altered to process everything through an American mindset and culture.

Just before Christmas 20 children were gunned down in Connecticut. It was a horror and it shocked the nation. All of us felt a pit in our stomachs. But allow me to expand our thought process for just a moment to include one of thousands of continuing events around the world that God knows about and cares about.

According to the latest UN reports, the United States carried out 447 drone attacks in 2012 in Afghanistan. And just in the two month period between Aug.1 and Oct.1 in 2012 at least 967 civilians were killed and 1590 others injured. Many of those killed were children. Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not hear about this with the same passion that we heard about the 20 children killed in Connecticut. Come to think about it, this is probably the first you have heard about it at all.

I use this to illustrate a greater principle. Americans care supremely about other Americans but the deaths of people elsewhere are sometimes little more than back page news items and benign statistics. And probably that is also the way other countries feel about their own. But other countries offered their condolences to America concerning the tragedy in Connecticut, but I heard nothing about the children killed in American drone attacks. You see, Afghan and Pakistani children deaths are unfortunate but necessary casualties, expendable because we are protecting American children. So in order to keep American children safe, other children must die. This is the way of the world and I get it.

But this is not the way of Jesus unless Jesus is helping to build and send and use these drones to bomb innocent children because He also desires to protect American children. And when an Afghan mother cradles her dead baby and weeps uncontrollably, Jesus must look the other way because He realizes the necessity of these deaths. And that is exactly what we are silently saying, but in order to protect our so called integrity we would never couch it in those terms. We desire to retain a form of compassion which ends at the triggering device in our bombs. When you actually think about it, it is all so insane and it reveals that the western church does not follow the Jesus of the Bible. We follow an American Jesus who lives and breaths the American way.

But that is not Jesus and is in fact a spirit of antichrist. And that false Jesus is what also ties together orthodox and liberal, Mormon and Baptist, McArthur and Bell, Sproul and Osteen, and this Jesus has created a religious mosh pit wherein almost every element which claims to be Christian can jump in and wallow. In fact, this pit welcomes all faiths if they claim to love America. Can there be anything more compromising? So Rob Bell questions the existence of hell and the evangelical church has a doctrinal tantrum, but that same church joins hands with the Mormon Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and even the Jewish faith in an American cause?

But God processes world events equally and without nationality or ethnicity. While we make our interests front page, the divine editor knows no favoritism. When a child in Darfur dies at its mother’s shriveled breast, God sees that as equal to when an American child dies. God hears the grief stricken wails in Connecticut just as He hears the wails coming from Afghanistan. You see this business of nationalism is far more convoluted and diabolical than the church realizes. It has wounded the heart of the church and it has severely compromised our view of Jesus and our understanding of what it means to be His follower. Yes, in essence nationalism has created another faith and called it Christian.

The situation is that dire and the spiritual compromise cannot be overstated. And even our exposés of heretics have inadvertently served to shroud our own deep heresy. Yes, nationalism is a great heresy and cannot be summarily dismissed just because the doctrinal Bourgeoisie engage in it. This kind of divided loyalty seeps into the way we think about everything. And as I illustrated, that includes how we view human life. We are disturbed over American abortions, but we know very little about abortions in other countries. Why? Because killing American children takes precedence over other children. And even some children that are running and playing today in Afghanistan and Pakistan might have their bodies blown to bits next month by an indiscriminate drone attack. Do we plant crosses on our church lawns for them?

Make no mistake, though, liberals and conservatives and Republicans as well as Democrats give tacit approval of such a continuing narrative. And President Obama himself has overseen the increased drone activity. But I say this to point out that we should be different as followers of Christ. It is so easy to think the way the world thinks and the way our earthly peers think and in so doing we do not have the mind of Christ. Can we be followers of Jesus and not have His mind? What kind of spiritual insanity are we attempting to pawn off on the world? This counterfeit Jesus represents corporations, giant financial gains, murder, violent takeovers, sectarianism, capitalism, and the interests of western civilization? Which Jesus is this?

And the question arises, or at least should, who are we? Throw out the man made labels that are catch all phrases which offer no real specifics. The word “Christian” stands for almost nothing and even the word “evangelical” is a broad brush which covers a multitude of Biblical errors. Who are we in practice as well as theology, and who do we say we follow and obey and even emulate? We have yet to really have a penetrating debate with ourselves or with each other concerning the spiritual particulars which should accurately define a person who believes in his heart and follows in his life the Lord Jesus Christ. But that is THE debate which can alone separate the goats from the sheep and cast an indictment over the sheep at large.

I say let the debate begin and continue in very small venues like this obscure little blog. And as we approach this subject, let us not throw out the possibility that the entire western construct called Christianity must be discarded since it does not reflect either the person of Christ nor His teachings at all. And it is not enough to identify what is not of Jesus, but we also must diligently and uncomfortably pursue what is of Jesus. Then and only then can we have the confidence that we are following the true Christ, if that matters today at all. Stop, pray, and let these words consume your mind and heart and propel you into a realm of reassessment and change and repentance:

Who is Jesus in essence and in teaching.
Who are we in theology and in practice.
And just where does that path lead in this present world and in the world to come.


michael said...

My son, a Spirit filled, born again Christian young man, married, no grandchildren, yet, cradled a dying Afghany baby during a flight to the Kandahar hospital some months ago. When he came home from deployment he and his bride came home to us ever so briefly and told us that story and many other stories.

This deployment he just flies the general and vips around.

His attitude has changed.

I suppose it has to do with the proximity to the cruel and unusual sufferings and death? This time, according to him, though the hours a day are longer and there isn't nearly the lull time between missions during his first deployment, he is happier.

I am rife with agony because of this dullness war has brought on his soul!

Albeit I still cannot walk away from what the Scriptures teach, here: "..Exo 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt."
Exo 13:18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. ...".

and here: "...1Sa 25:28 Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. ...2Sa 22:40 For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.
2Sa 22:41 You made my enemies turn their backs to me, those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
2Sa 22:42 They looked, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
2Sa 22:43 I beat them fine as the dust of the earth; I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.

I pray more voices for the Lord will be heard as this voice in here?

Our end is near.

Our Lord will indeed reign and must reign in every nation on earth until:

1Co 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

For this reason alone I pray and sing these Words:

1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!"
1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

Cherie c. said...

Oh, so Blessed by the teachings of this Blog. Can imagine just where I would be in my walk if the churches I attended really preached the Word of God and brought to my attention Spiritual issues like this.

I have so much to learn and relearn that my comment in nature is to reflect just how little I do know, but also to say how I look forward to learning more through this blog, from those who comment and the Scriptures they lead me to. Trusting the Spirit to direct in this, but my soul rejoices as the Jesus of the Bible is made manifest in truth, no matter how much it convicts, and it should, the truth sets you free. Amen Pastor Rick.

Please excuse me for not commenting on this as I search the Scriptures for the answers to the questions you set forth here. God Bless all those who comment on this issue, I hope to learn from them. So glad to be unchurched (out of the building). I can say however that this issue is a great place to start when the Word of God says to examine yourself. It is eye opening to say the least.

Cherie c. said...

"... let us not throw out the possibility that the entire western construct called Christianity must be discarded since it does not reflect either the person of Christ nor His teachings at all. And it is not enough to identify what is not of Jesus, but we also must diligently and uncomfortably pursue what is of Jesus. Then and only then can we have the confidence that we are following the true Christ, if that matters today at all. Stop, pray, and let these words consume your mind and heart and propel you into a realm of reassessment and change and repentance".... I just wanted to put that in a comment because it's worth reading again. Amen!

Julie Wilton said...

This really touched me, thank you. Our focus is only on America. How sad...