12 September 2013

Today's Eden

Today I brought in some flowers from my zinnia patch. I cannot quite describe the joy it brings me to cut flowers I grew myself, especially knowing that so many new flowers are ready to burst forth to take their place—weather permitting.

As small as it is, my little garden has brought me so much pleasure. I can't help wondering how Adam and Eve could be willing to risk the beauty and delight of Eden—the ultimate garden!—for a mere bite of fruit. How could they risk it all?

However, as soon as I start judging dear Adam and Eve, I hear the Holy Spirit remind me how much I risk—and for even less than a bite of fruit. I imagine the angels in Heaven looking at me in astonishment, as I fall for the Enemy's temptation, too. 

We often have a very poor perspective, don't we? We only consider how we feel, and what would make us feel better right nowWe're missing out on unspeakable joy and the riches of Heaven, for a temporary "fix." 

We will never have Eden again, but how much is our disobedience robbing from us today? 

04 September 2013

Preemptive Strike

I read an article yesterday by Todd Starnes entitled "Christian Bakery Closes After LGBT Threats, Protest." ARTICLE LINK  This article inspired more thoughts than could fit in my Facebook status, so I moved them to my blog.

To summarize for those who do not want to read the article, a Christian baker refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple's civil union. In retaliation, the lesbian couple rallied the LGBT community to boycott and protest this business, and any business that did business with them. They also made threats against the family. Consequently, and not surprisingly, the couple that own the business decided to close-up shop. 

There is a lot here that is very concerning. However, what I am most concerned about is how the Christian community is going to react. You see, too often Christians take these things and turn them into a rallying cry for defending our faith. 

Except, they aren't really defending our faith at all. 

I think we all remember the chicken sandwich brouhaha last year. Governor Mike Huckabee rallied Christians to show their support for a Christian business owner who was attacked by a handful of mayors for publicly speaking about his private beliefs. Christians said it was our duty to stand with our Brother in Christ by going to his restaurants. Nearly every Christian I know on Facebook had a status that day about chicken sandwiches. I watched it all and wondered how the cause of Christ was being advanced. How many souls were saved? How was God glorified? When was the love of Jesus shown to the unbeliever, the lost?

That's my first problem with this cake business. Once again, Christians are making a fuss about what has happened to a Christian business owner. Christians are shaking their fist at the injustice, and making a Christian cause out of what is really a Constitutional issue. Instead of supporting an American's right to do business with whomever they choose, Christians are sounding a rallying cry for Christian activism. How is this going to help anything? How is this going to advance the Kingdom of God, or broadcast the life-changing message of the gospel that sets the captives free?

Once again, we've got it all wrong.

Before everyone writes me off as a loon, or a heretic, I'd just like to ask:
If this Christian bakery is "taking a stand for Christ," as most Christians are all ready saying, by not baking a cake for a lesbian couple's civil union, then what are they doing when they make a wedding cake for the unsaved couple who have been living together? Or, the Christian couple who have been engaging in sexual intimacies, before their wedding? Or, how about the man who is leaving his wife to marry his mistress?
Do you see my problem?

If Christian business owners are going to refuse to serve homosexuals, as a stand for their beliefs, than I would hope they would also refuse to serve adulterers and fornicators—as a stand for their beliefs. I would hope they would believe the whole Bible, and not just the portions about poster sins (that's what the Saxophone Player calls them).

But, too often Christians just react. They don't stop and think about what's really going on. The media plays us like a ukulele. And, friends, some Christian organizations do the exact same thing. We've all gotten the emails, rousing us to action. How often have we heard or read, "If it had been a Muslim...." If a true injustice has been done, shouldn't we be just as outraged if it is done against a Muslim—or even an atheist?

When I was in college, every cause under the sun wanted my attention and activism. I participated in my share. They were mostly worthy and valid, and I loved it. Nothing's wrong with a little social activism. However, when I recommitted my life to the Lord I knew that just giving someone a place to live or food to eat was never going to be enough. Stopping nuclear armament wasn't going to bring true peace to anyone. If I was going to give myself to a cause, it had to be a Cause that would bring real change, lasting peace, and glory to God.

Still, I'm one of those people. I like to lend my support. If sharing a link can help, I'll do it. Read down my Facebook page, and you'll see. I care about a lot of stuff, which makes it easy to get sidetracked, easy to get caught-up in the flood of emotion that flows from roar of the crowd. My neighbor in incensed, and before I know it I've made signs and queued up in front of City Hall. 

If Jesus showed up in the middle of all of this, what do you think He'd be doing? Which cause would He be taking up? Which fight is truly in defense of our King?

Well, I really have wondered what the Lord's position is, because when I see the direction of the crowd, I don't see it heading towards love, peace, joy, or kindness. I don't see Christians turning the other cheek. The Bible really is full of verses that apply to situations like this, but there is one passage that comes first to mind: Luke 6:27-28.

This is pretty clear, but I like how it reads in the Amplified:

"But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred. Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God's blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and highhandedly misuse you]." Luke 6:27b, Amplified)
There can be no question here how Christ would have responded in this situation. Would He have baked the cake? I can't say. What really matters though, is not how He would respond, but how He expects me to respond. Knowing the animosity that exists right now between the homosexual community and the Christian community, it isn't hard to imagine that this couple intentionally chose a Christian baker, suspecting she would refuse to bake their cake. Doesn't this happen all the time? The world baits us. They want to draw us into a fight.

What would have happened if the baker had looked upon this couple with love, and chosen to do good to them, to bless them? Don't you wish we could have found out? I do, because I think it would have been fantastic! I think the power of Almighty God would have been life-changing, because it always is, when we allow Him into a situation.

I wonder if Christians have forgotten Christ's example. When He faced Pontious Pilot, He stood before His accuser silently. Passively. A Lamb to the slaughter. He did not defend Himself, yet Pilate became utterly convinced of His innocence. He did not fight the cross, yet He won the greatest victory of all time.  

It seems these days that Christians think they're too good for a cross. They shouldn't have to suffer. Or, be humbled. Or, stand falsely accused. This concerns me. I would be very happy to never suffer in any way ever again. I would like that very much. But, that is not what we have been promised. Instead, Christ assured us that we will face persecution. Christ said, "The world persecuted me, they will persecute you, too." (John 15:18-25)  He tells us that a time is coming when those who seek to kill us will believe they are doing God's will. (John 16:2)

He doesn't leave us with that, though. He doesn't say, "Tough luck, guys." No! He says, "In the world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)

He has all ready taken up our cause. Let us now take up His, and His alone.