State, religion, hypocrisy and other Bricks on my mind

Here are some thoughts that came into my head over the weekend. These are the bricks on my mind. May the Spirit show you which ones build useful dialog. Here goes…

. . .

Jesus is not a culture warrior. He’s the answer to the most profound questions and needs of our soul. We often fail to present him this way though. But the Spirit of God helps us if we are humble enough to let him show us how.

. . .

One of the primary weaknesses of strict fundamentalist thought is the lack of nuance. There is no interpretation in regard to time and context which are essential to human meaning, whether it be day-to-day family matters or larger social issues.

. . .

When strict fundamentalists say they see chaos and sin in this everything-goes world, they are right. Sin abounds today. However, the imposition of religion is just as bad (or worse) as mercy gets tossed aside for strict enforcement of the law. This can morph into brutal oppression. Matthew chapter 23 shows clearly how much Jesus condemns religious hypocrisy. It’s no wonder that religious hypocrisy is exactly what condemned Jesus to death.

. . .

In the end, it’s all about the more powerful setting the rules and enforcing them through the abuse of power. This is diametrically opposed to all that is Christ.

. . .

For the Lord said, “I DESIRE MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE.”

. . .

Certainty in an uncertain world—where does the fundamentalist find this? In the Bible… but not in the Word incarnate. In a hyper-literal interpretation, there is no need for faith. You just look it up. But this is blind faith in a book rather than faith in the person of Jesus Christ. I prefer a faith of love, reason, and freedom in the Spirit.

. . .

Nothing surprises me anymore. Horrible events and actions are as old as time. Now it continues at a faster pace with new names and faces. Will collective awareness change the world… or do we need to ask God to amp up our individual goodness instead?

. . .

Oh no, they wouldn’t do THAT! They wouldn’t be THAT cruel, cold, and evil. Sadly, they would and are. And many times, we vote for those heavily influenced (controlled?) by modern-day tyrants and psychopaths behind-the-scenes. Sadly, the winner of the next US presidential election will continue along this course.

. . .

Atrocities happen today under the approval of those that govern us. It is a fact of life. In the US, we see complicit support for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen and border detention camp abuses. In China, it’s the brutal repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Call out sin, wherever it may appear. Big powers have big ways to hurt people.

. . .

Some will be called to fight tyranny directly, but you could end up six feet under. Maybe instead you are called to be incredibly good and generous to cancel out the horrifying deep selfish evil. This requires the sainthood of millions or even billions. But very few can be good enough on their own.

Only your faith can save you… and us.

. . .

Don’t think that religion is dying or dead. It’s just taking on new shapes and forms. The zealous progressive or Anti-fa is the new fundamentalist. The religion of hyper-nationalism is centuries old and continues to be alive and kicking (e.g. Alt-right patriot nationalist). Russia’s cathedral to the Armed Forces (this post’s featured image) is a striking example of the fusion of the worship of state + religion. Make no mistake, this misguided world view exists in the USA too. Religion is far from dead.

. . .

Jesus liked to hang out with the very people the church often looks down upon. The so-called lost, immoral ones. As a church, we often shut the door on them like the Pharisees of old. How much time and effort do we spend criticizing them? How much time and effort do we spend serving them like Jesus did?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  

Matthew 23:13

. . .

Did they come to Jesus because they thought that he would tell them they’re sinning? To simply confirm their sinful nature? No. They came to him yearning for compassion and mercy. Too often these days the voice of the church is a voice focused on condemnation. There is no hope, no love—only the threat of hell.

Ironically, although they may define hell in different ways, this happens in conservative and progressive religious circles.

. . .

Why does earthly power hate God? It’s the 1st commandment. “I am the Lord your God… you shall have no other god before Me.” These days, instead of an idol, we worship something else as god, and the Christian faith is like a Christmas ornament. All glitter, no substance. And when we fail to follow the 1st commandment, it’s much easier to NOT share with my neighbor since he/she is made in the image and likeness of God.

. . .

We must accept that Christian values are being challenged to their core. The biggest failure will be ours when we apply our convictions erroneously. Christ never calls anyone to him by force or through politics. Instead, it’s the promise of the impossible—almost overwhelming—reality of true, pure love. That’s why God sent a human, his Son. A list of rules or an ideology can never reveal this love.

But we can love and follow the example of the person of Christ.

. . .

O Lord, transform us into fertile earth. Let our roots grow deep and solid to receive your life-giving nutrients. And to produce and give life in return.

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