Aug 222017
 

1. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34–39 ESV)

There was a day when I thought the only application of this passage was that believers and non believers would be set against one another, even inside the family structure.

Today, I believe that further application can be made to believer against believer where competing versions of Jesus shaped by political ideology rip even the closest of relational structures apart.

I do not recognize the Jesus that many worship, nor would I worship a god like him.

They do not recognize the One I know, nor would they worship Him if they did…at least not now when their god seems to have grasped political power and given it to them.

Why does the church seem to be so diminished?

Because we no longer worship the same God together in spirit and truth.

We have taken His name in vain and then applied that name to a multiplicity of idols that suit us and we sing their praises on Sunday morning and on social media..

We will share in the historic fate of all other idolaters who have left the kingdom of God for the kingdoms of men.

2. Still, there will always be a remnant. May God find us worthy.

3. Our expectations of life in the kingdom will rarely match our experience of living in the kingdom. Suffering always surprises us. It should never surprise us…

4. The eclipse was a portent of nothing eschatologically. Will anyone who said it was repent? Of course not…being an end times wonk means never having to say you’re sorry…

5. If you don’t believe that the Beatitudes apply to the church, the church is bereft of the true foundation of discipleship. I will not hear you any more…

6. Real fellowship in Christ always begins with the mutual display of scars…

7. If you only love those who agree with you, you don’t love anything but the reflection of your self in them…

8. If you only love people to convert them and reject them when they refuse…see #7…

9. I do not scorn those who seek signs and wonders…I do scorn those who think there is a formula to produce them…

10. My only hope is that God’s grace is much broader, deeper, and freely available than I’m willing to give myself and others…

 

  68 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. “Because we no longer worship the same God together in spirit and truth.”

    I have been saying this for the past 10 yrs on this blog and it has had nothing to do with politics.
    I have used this as my reason not to worship and commune with others and all I get is “you are a hater” or “are you saying I am not a Christian?” and people huff and walk off.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction to your claim in this same area.

  2. MLD,

    I might have been wrong…but politics is the latest division and in my mind the greatest one in terms of its effect.

  3. Number 4 – no they won’t repent because they always leave a way out for themselves – “of course if nothing does happen during the eclipse, the lesson remains the same…” they all say. Even Anne Graham Lotz said this about the eclipse!

  4. 7 and 1 seem to stand in stark contrast to one another.

  5. That may be the point

  6. Michael,

    I agree with what you’ve written, but I also agree with MLD’s observation at #1.

    Different theologies (especially Christology, Soteriology and Eschatology) produce vastly different worldviews. When it spills outside the church building, then some folks take notice and think the effects are great. But, that is only because we’ve traditionally been taught that theology is mostly a private matter and not actually very important at all in terms of brotherly relations. However, now we are seeing the opposite, and the truly awful fruit that some theologies can produce.

  7. Jean…that’s something I need to think on…are these radically different theologies actually different faiths or different expressions of one faith?

    I have to go finish working on Linkathon…

  8. Michael,

    Your own article seems to answer the question in stronger language than I did:

    “I do not recognize the Jesus that many worship, nor would I worship a god like him.
    They do not recognize the One I know, nor would they worship Him if they did…at least not now when their god seems to have grasped political power and given it to them.”

    That’s tough stuff!

  9. Jean,

    I’m still quite ecumenical in terms of theological differences.

    My problem is that I see the character and attributes of Christ being radically remodeled by more than a few…and that is deeply troubling to me.

  10. Michael,

    I agree. There are many issues, but one important question for all of us is:

    Is Jesus Lord or simply a sacrifice of atonement?

  11. Personally I have never been a fan of “I don’t care what our theological differences are so we can still worship and commune together – but … vote for the wrong guy and you are dead to me!!”

  12. Why don’t you guys stop beating around the bush and tell us who is in and who is out?

  13. point 7 – that is the crux of the whole problem… actually when backed into a corner, that is probably the salient observation of the whole of humankind…
    but for the Church, Revelation 2 – 3 weren’t recorded just in case…

    “… I see the character and attributes of Christ being radically remodeled…” that is a very intriguing observation… who? where? how? 🙂

  14. Josh,

    I only hope I’m in…it’s way above my pay grade to determine who is out.

    I’ve had a number of folks assure me that I’m out over the last few days…

  15. Michael

    What is your fear concerning the Neo-Moral Majority in power?

    On a side note, Ben Shapiro made an observation last night that nearly everyone surrounding Trump, save Pence, was until very recently a Democrat or was top military brass – I think Generals specifically.

  16. I visited the black Baptists across the street Sunday. It would be hard to find a Christian gathering more different than my own Eastern Orthodoxy. I don’t agree with a lot of Baptist theology and I prefer Liturgy to the shouting and stomping I observed Sunday. But these were genuine Christian people. Personally, I could not get by with just emotionalism instead of the Sacraments but God is in the business of saving people and I am glad He is saving those people and I am glad He is saving me, too.

  17. Xenia, that was grace in action – God’s grace, IMHO 🙂
    i am struck by the variety of people that He chose for apostleship 2,000 years ago… and how He prepared one man to go to the gentile nations specifically? Did He see that the other Jewish apostles wouldn’t know how to reach us? dunno

  18. i only have one data point on which to judge another’s faith… when the subject comes up does their face light up with love and joy? granted there are times of stress and depression, but if one wants to talk about the Savior, most of the time it shouldn’t bring out hostility or like emotions in a fellow Believer

  19. Descended,

    I have grave problems with anyone reaching for temporal power in the name of Christ.

    His name always ends up in the mud.

    Morality in both parties is extremely selective…

  20. #1 is just a real bummer for me.

  21. Josh,

    No more so than it’s a bummer for me.
    I have a huge sadness over the state of things in Christianity in this country today…so much so that I’m seriously considering shutting down all my social media and simply concentrating on being what I believe to the best of my ability in the local community.

    I have lost faith in our ability to even communicate decently with each other as a group.

    Pretending that these divisions don’t exist and that they are not huge is like knowing you have cancer and pretending it’s a cold.

  22. Here is a good statement on racism, if anyone is looking for content or Scriptural authority.

    https://www.lcms.org/social-issues/racism?erid=14088211&trid=798aa8fa-0655-4485-87d5-c3327f119e1c

  23. There seems to be a huge leap between saying divisions don’t exist and saying “those guys worship a different Jesus”.

  24. Josh,

    Did Jesus pal around with Antipas?

    I don’t ask the question to draw any moral parallels between Antipas and Trump, but only to contrast a relationship to temporal authority.

    The Christian serves no other God than the Triune God.

    Jesus is Lord over temporal lords.

    A pastor, as pastor, speaks on behalf of the Lord, to any man.

    A pastor’s vocation is not to tickle man’s ears or stroke his ego, but to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

  25. Jean, you won’t find me defending Trump. Ever.

    But, I also won’t condemn those who disagree with my political views. Its seems a very small and narrow point of view for something so vast and eternal as the Kingdom of God.

  26. Josh,

    I do not find a nationalistic, militaristic, xenophobic, Jesus in the book.
    Nor do I find this libertine Christ who excuses all things in the name of redefined love.

    I find the suffering Savior who is Lord of all commanding me to pick up a cross and follow Him…

  27. Michael, me too. And I bet most individuals would agree with those statements even if they are carrying them out imperfectly in their lives.

  28. Michael – I don’t find the ‘soldier’ Jesus in scripture either … so??

    Actually you would be making a great case for the Christian ignoring politics all together.

    I am pretty A Political – I just spend all my time mocking those who think it does make a difference.

  29. “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity…”

    I think we have come to a place in which it has become difficult to agree on what is “essential”. We have also abandoned the idea that our opinions – in politics, liturgy, lifestyle, etc. – are truly “non-essential”, so we are unable to permit liberty in such matters. Finally, “charity” is too often reserved only for those of our tribe.

    (As a footnote, the quote is often attributed to Augustine or Wesley. In fact it was coined by a 17th century Lutheran theologian, Rupertus Meldenius.)

  30. Duane – yep.

  31. ya, i don’t recognize the jesus of the leftists/liberals/democrats whose political party facilitates, protects, endorses and furthers the murdering of millions of innocent unborn babies. by far the greatest evil of our time, yet your political side is the perpetrator.

  32. if you democrat ‘christians’ can’t influence your own party to stop murdering millions of innocent unborn children, then what good are you?

    focus on fixing the planet-sized log in your political parties eye, then come talk to me about the republicans. you guys murder babies and call it ‘choice’

  33. It’s the “your team/ our team” crap that sucks the worst. We are all here on this same ball of dust. We make up these divisions simply because we get bored.

  34. it’s a pretty clear choice.

    the leftists/liberals/democrats promote homosexuality as ‘not sin’ and acceptable, they promote transgender as ‘normal’ and lead young people astray, they play the race card ad infinitum bearing false witness against their brothers as ‘racists’ and ‘nazis’ for disagreeing with the leftist agenda, they champion and protect and push abortion, the greatest evil of our time, a literal holocaust against unborn children who are ‘the least of these’. and there’s a lot more, that’s just the highlights of the evilness.

    you liberal/democrat ‘christians’ better check yourselves. if that’s your ‘jesus’ you are in serious error. if that’s your party, then you suck at being salt and light.

  35. Ah yes. This is the kind of exchange the world needs more of.

  36. Alex,

    You are arguing against a straw man by applying the conservative, Jerry Falwell, Jr. brand of evangelicalism church/state paradigm to other Christians who don’t conflate the two kingdoms.

    You won’t find a more theologically conservative form of Christianity than LCMS Lutheran, who are socially conservative as well, who stand publicly against racism and who don’t and wouldn’t be associated with a spiritual advisory board, nor would it’s leaders make excuses for the President’s wicked remarks over the years and recently.

  37. Sigh…

    I’ve heard this all many times in the last few days…both to my face and in the media.

    I don’t identify with any political party, though the weight of all the issues usually finds me on one side.

    I’ve never supported abortion.
    I’ve never suggested that Jesus favors Democrats.
    I’ve never suggested that He hates Republicans.

    My primary identification is as a Christian, not with any political party.

    Alex, you are not the first to put my faith in air quotes…but I’ll keep seeking Him anyway.

  38. #36 Jean

    Oh no, you named “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”… Now we’re in trouble!

  39. Jean – you were doing fine @ 36 and blew it all with the last phrase.

  40. don’t most of the candidates consider the Christian voter block of importance in winning?
    mostly they lie to us…
    if a person running for the Presidency came to you and said, “what can we do, if elected, to promote the things you consider of prime importance?”… should the answer be, “I am a Christian and nothing you can do will promote what I believe to be of importance!” … dunno

    we’re instructed to be wise and harmless… but i think if a president came to me and said, “Granny, i need your Christian wisdom and your prayer” – and this was after the election… i think he’d get it (and i’d probably be over-impressed with myself 🙂 )

    now i’m wondering if i should have been praying for these poor big shot evangelicals …? …

    Michael always prompts me to think on things, but, perhaps, not always in the direction he hopes it will go…

  41. MLD/Jean

    President Harrison of the LCMS sounds pretty close to Jean’s sentiments…
    https://blogs.lcms.org/2017/a-prayer-for-peace-in-our-nation

  42. Alex

    Everything you’ve said about Democrats/leftists can be generally applied to Republicans/conservatives. I agree abortion is the greatest evil of our time. Their blood is on all our hands. God forgive us and may you see beyond the logs. If anyone could have something it would have been the Republicans and yet they ignored it.
    Please don’t fall into the trap of reviling, of gnawing on a bitter root. So common today and so easy. Though everyone’s faith can be questioned with good cause, only God knows.

  43. Odd way too end a prayer

    “Lord, have mercy. Amen.
    Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison”
    President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod — 🙂

  44. Michael, the Church Catholic needs your voice–I would hate to see your withdrawal from the dialog you invite and foster. At the same time, I think I have a small picture of why it may be necessary and will support your decision whichever way you go.

    Perhaps I have been in the wars long enough that I have adopted Joseph Nez Pierce’s philosophy: “I will fight no more forever.” I have come to the conclusion that the magnificence of Christ’s love is share with the many, not the few, and the many have a wide variety of political expression. I tend to be contrarian regarding politics–my trust and hope is in none of them, so I am neither dismayed or ecstatic at whatever political wind is blowing. I hate that political winds divide us–I feel that is sin. We have to find a way to identify with the Jesus who embraced the tax collector and the zealot–and somehow affirm the gift of humanit that God gave to all of us regardless of how repugnant we find one’s political beliefs.

    Jesus is Lord, not the state. We do need to get smaller, I think–quit trying to convert government to our vision of Jesus, and quit looking for Jesus in some version of government. It is too small a vision. Welcome the ongoing conversion of ourselves to look and sound in truth like Jesus. Look for Jesus in our neighbors and coworkers. Stop looking for Him in places of earthly power–Jesus did not seem interested in the earthly governmental power structures of the day. Ask ourselves why are we so bothered that we would separate ourselves from those who name His name in truth over such a trivial matter as government.

    Build community that will endure the shifting winds of political favor–it’s what the early Church seemed particularly successful at.

  45. Sorry for the typos–meant humanity not humanit; I wonder sometimes why conversation and conversion share so many letters. Conversation confers value to others; we must speak with each other and listen without demanding that they adopt our point of view to extend the conversation. The church faced Nero–we will probably see worse before the end of the age.

  46. It’s funny. Those who actually DO worship a false god (i.e. “other religion” and Jewish), and those who declare themselves atheists, voted for Hillary Clinton by (get this) 66% to 26% for Trump. (3rd parties splitting the rest)

    The antichrist religions and atheists are a combined 26% of the VOTING electorate (probably because so many Christians refuse to vote saving their political efforts for blog commentary on elections they ignore).

    66%…to only 26% A FORTY point difference

    I wonder why the antichrists and atheists are so one-sided?? Why is that??

    (I suggest that list Alex posted above as the reason why.)

    So, one could join with the false worshippers and atheists and vote Hillary, one could vote Trump, or stay home (voting 3rd party effectively staying home).

    But my 9th grade civics teacher angrily lectured us back in 1981 (he probably hated Reagan who was in his first year) – don’t ever bitch about the President if you refuse to vote. I never forgot it. Your mileage may vary. Free speech and all….

    Trump could have been stopped in the primaries, easily. However, the same folk who complain and complain were also complaining about Cruz, Rubio, or any other of the competitive Republicans – simply because they are Republicans.

    But one of those guys was going to face Hillary (since as we know from wikileaks, the DNC had the fix in for her from the start. Poor Bernie never had a chance and he was the only one who did not heed the memo to clear the field for Hillary)

  47. Duane, Harrison does represent the sentiment very well – even to the point that he does not slap Trump on the way out the door like Jean did.

    The last phrase read “nor would it’s leaders make excuses for the President’s wicked remarks over the years and recently.”

    saying ‘the President’s remarks’ would have been sufficient.

  48. Good to see Steve Wright back. Hey Steve – Go Blue! 🙂

  49. ‘Go Blue!’

    los foyers are en fuego.

    god loves the dodgers. at least so far this season. hopefully he still loves them in the playoffs lol

  50. doyers not foyers dang autocorrect lol

  51. Alex, No World series win = failed season

  52. Go Dodgers! (And Chase Utley!)

    There, Alex, I auto-corrected for you. 🙂

  53. Kevin H – the Phillies need a guy like Chase Utley — 🙂

  54. They need about 25 of them. 😉

  55. The issue for John the Baptist was never whether Antipas was better or more moral than his father, Herod the Great.

    The issue for Nathan was never whether David was better or more moral than Saul.

    A Christian pastor or “spiritual adviser” (if such a vocation even exists in the Christian religion) speaks God’s Word, and His Word is not subservient to human power, is not morally ambiguous, and he certainly would not speak for Christ where Christ himself has not spoken in His written Word.

    All the BS about Obama, Hilary, smoking, abortion, left wing (or what have you), is all smoke to redirect readers away from the point of Michael’s article.

  56. #47 MLD

    Jean just put a name to the actions… but Harrison made it clear enough. I fail to understand how and/or why someone who honors Christ would defend/promote/praise the actions and/or words of someone who lacks even a moral compass, much less a tangible or evident faith perspective.

  57. Duane, I have not defended anyone (if you can find where I ever defended Trump and his moral conduct, I will look at it.) – I pointed out that Jean’s comment would have had standing if he had not interjected “wicked” into his statement.
    As I had pointed out he could have just said ‘the President’s remarks’

  58. #57 MLD

    Yes, it is a value judgement on the remarks… sometimes, perhaps, adjectives are needed.

  59. The president is either wicked and/or demented. Which is worse, I wonder.

  60. Xenia, are you saying that our President is not presidential? 🙂 many people don’t think he’ll last 4 years, one way or another…
    i pray for this administration (there are some good folk with integrity in the bunch) for the sake of this nation as we’re way overextended and seem to have promoted mediocrity and incompetence for a long time now… our navy seems to be relying on children to command and those ships are very expensive toys… all up and down the line we’re headed for a day of reckoning without divine intervention…
    but i know everyone here is praying… hope there are lots of pray-ers out there now

  61. Back when I was in the industry I worked with a Crisis Pregnancy center, most of it was grunt work and giving money. They were nice folks and I worked very hard and admired what they did. I also worked at the state facility and one part I worked with was babies born with horrible developmental disabilities, I can’t get rid of the memories, I did ask for prayer for that one time but well. Won’t do that again. I am not for abortion just asking a question the cost of care for these children was extremely expensive and we fought for funding on a monthly basis. I would bring this up at church, another mistake I will never make again. I mean it could be over 100K a year for basic care that was back in the 90’s. I am not putting a price on it I am not an abortion apologist etc. Things I was accused of. I’m just asking, churches cannot absorb this type of cost, they just can’t. As our medical skills increase it is a question we need to ask as a society. Not everyone is independently super wealthy, I understand we all should be but we are not. I loved working with these young children and as they grew working with them, I loved being part of their lives. Every life has great value.

    I took care of a child for well most of his life because his mother could not, I was not his father and I would do it again. In some ways, I have which is one reason I am in the economic mess I am in now. I never had a child myself, never got a woman pregnant etc. I think if I did I would have gotten more grace from the faith community, to be honest.

  62. brian, the “faith community” has a lot of opportunists and posers… like Job’s, real faith will be tested by the enemy
    God sees… your compassion hasn’t gone unnoticed – our perspective is much smaller than His… He will repay and Eternity is a long, long time…

    sounds platitudinous, i know … but it’s true, God keep

  63. Brian

    You seem disenchanted with the faith community. I can empathize. I have worked with the developmentally disabled for the last twenty years. My old CC put my wife and I in the charge of a special needs ministry. To your point about the cost and labor involved I can tell you that that ministry only lasted about 5 years. The severity of the needs scared people off from volunteering in special needs ministry (we had some extremely low functioning, aggressive kids. For 2 of those 5 years we did not attend Sunday service save 2 or 3 times. The church pastor and elders nary darkened the doorway of our room save about 5 times in 5 years between them – they needed a short cut to the foyer.

    That said, hurt feelings, distrust and suspicions aside (because, really, who cares? We are unprofitable servants) I think the major conclusion I came to is that God is sovereign and we, are faithless. I know, Duh! Right? Micah 4:6 IMO is a literal and spiritual promise to those whom God has afflicted. I find this passage interesting and have often wondered if it applies to developmental disabilities or congenital mental illness:

    Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.16“I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

          19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 21[“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]

    This was after the Transfiguration, and Jesus had not accidentally gone up to the mountain for 8 days to pray ( according to Luke) before casting this demon out. “This kind” … I wonder what that means? Did he know they wouldn’t understand the condition of this child and so labeled his behavior as “This kind”?

    At any rate, whatever you have suffered in the care and ministering to those children you can count as joy, I believe. Just imagine what they will say to you in Heaven☺

  64. Micah 4:5 Though all the peoples walk
                Each in the name of his god,
                As for us, we will walk
                In the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.

          6“In that day,” declares the LORD,
                “I will assemble the lame
                And gather the outcasts,
                Even those whom I have afflicted.

          7“I will make the lame a remnant
                And the outcasts a strong nation,
                And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion
                From now on and forever.

  65. Michaels #10 combined with Xenia’s comment at 16 just about covers my theology. God didn’t die to save just a few “real Christians”. If some are getting it wrong we should have compassion toward them as there is no rest for them (I’m telling this t myself, too). I get it wrong all the time. My only hope is a God that saves despite my errors about Christianity and sin.

  66. When I listen in on conversations between members of the church, I usually feel like I am listening to a typical political news show from a major network. If it is between two people of different political convictions, I hear the usual talking points from both sides. If things are going well, there won’t be yelling, but I hear, honestly, very little creative thought. I am pretty disengaged, honestly, because I simply cannot accept that political differences are worth sacrificing fellowship or friendship over. I hear talking points and conventional wisdom, I do not have a sense that I am hearing Jesus. I do not hear words that are pure, peaceable, full of wisdom and easy to accept.

    I once had very strong political convictions, probably in some sense I still do, I just have abandoned hope that my political convictions, if they become triumphant, will not offer invitation and grace, but an imperative compulsion. An imperative compulsion that will alienate half of the population and not be centered in reconciliation and grace. This community is very dear to me, it has been a refuge for me during the past few years of some intense out-and-inworking through difficult times. There is no one here I would not sit down and break bread with–though I would probably direct the conversation away from the political sphere. I do not have the answers, but I think somewhere in the community of the Church Catholic there are some voices that together may sound more like Jesus in this desperately ill political climate of ours. I hope these voices become more audible soon.

  67. I have some definite syntax problems–I will count on the intelligence of this community to sort them out. Best to all of you…

  68. Some American Christians have sacrificed their allegiance to the Savior for the worldy kingdom that is expressly under satanic rule. If Jeaus wanted a worldly kingdom I suppose He would have chosen all of them as Satan offered. We must separate ourselves from worldly politics to be true ambassadors of the heavenly one. Abraham modeled this. We are in the world but not of it. We have no “land”.

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