Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor

Our town has a beautiful nativity scene on the front lawn of the courthouse. It truly is impressive. As I walked up closer, I sort of chuckled and commented on the blonde-haired blue-eyed Jesus in the manger. No, the Bible doesn't describe Jesus' outward appearance so we can't say for sure what He looked like. However, most would agree that He was more likely to appear Arab rather than a blonde-haired blue-eyed European.
Later as I was thinking about our day, I thought to myself, “How fitting and poignant. A baby Jesus made in our own image.”
We love to make Jesus into our own image. He hates the same things we do, dresses the way we do, has the same political beliefs, and has the same enemies. He hates it when the local Wal-Mart cashier wishes us “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” at this time of year. He smiles down fondly at us as we make laws against other people's sins, while He hands out unlimited grace for our own sins of choice.
No, we have no problem following this Jesus that we've made into our own image.
But the Jesus Who was born in a manger over 2000 years ago is much more difficult to follow.
The Jesus of the Manger, Who was born into scandal and scorn from the religious folks. He was born homeless. An outcast. The King of Kings entered this world via a dirty, feces-covered stable. And of all the people God could've chosen to announce His Son's arrival to, whom did He choose? Shepherds. Some of the lowest of the low in Jewish society. They lived with their sheep year-round in the fields, so they stank of sheep and their own filth. Outcasts. And then there were the magi. They were not kings, as the old hymn portrays. They were magi. Mystics. Pagans. Traveling from a foreign land to follow the star that their prophecy foretold would light the way to the Son of God. Pagans. Immigrants. Outcasts.
The Jesus of the Manger is the Savior of the homeless and the immigrant. He is the Savior of the poor, the cold and the underfed. He is the Savior of the prisoner and the tortured. The tax collector and the prostitute. The drug addict and the thief. The outcasts.
The Jesus of the Manger is the radical Lord of the upside down Kingdom of God, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Where those who make peace are above those who wage war. Where enemies are loved and the poor are blessed. Where the wisdom of this world is foolishness.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” - Luke 4:18

Junia Mark

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Do Violence to No Man

In the long and bloody history of the United States of America we’ve seen all manner of evil. From the slaughter and ethnic cleansing of the natural inhabitants of this country to the ghastly evils of Slavery. Recently, a Senate investigation released details of the torture programs used by the government during the so-called “War on Terror”. Countless “terror suspects” were tortured, some to death, by means which are surely illegal under the rule of law, but were justified to “keep us safe”.

Many of us were disgusted by the revelations of brutal, cruel and inhumane treatment of the “terror suspects,” but some were not. The meme below was posted by a person who claims Christ as their savior.

As many stupid and disgusting things as I have seen in this world, I was still greatly disturbed by this. This is the most vile and reprehensible justification of the wicked behavior of the government I’ve come across, and to be posted by a supposed “Christian?” What part of the Bible did they use to justify torture?

Would it be:

Mat 5:43-47: Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Or this:

Rom 12:17-21: Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

What does the picture show? A soldier hugging a victim of terrorism? What terror attack? Who are the terrorists? All we really know about the “terror attacks” are what the government tells us. Given their track record for truth we would be quite foolish to take their word for it, to base our support for ungodly behavior upon what they tell us. Perhaps that is why the Lord tells us to not repay evil with evil, to do good to those who hate us? Surely torture cannot in any way be called good, can it?

Since this and many other evils are the policy of the government, and the wars they start are based upon lies, a Christian should have nothing to do with serving in the military. When the lies are all stripped away you’ll find that the soldier isn’t defending freedom, or their families, or neighbors, but committing violence, including murder, yes murder, all based upon the lies the government tells them.

Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

A Christian cannot look to the world for their moral compass. They cannot judge good and evil based upon what the world does, but that is the case with many professing Christians. The Word of God must be our moral authority. The Bible tells us to not be conformed to the world, but most churches are, therefore so are the people who go to them. That is why the Bible tells us to come out of the wicked world institutions, including the conformed to the world “Church” (Rev 18:4), and remain unchanged by it (James 1:27).