Monday, March 31, 2008

Extreme Measures






"Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, 'By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.' Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: 'Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.'

'When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.'"

- Luke 11: 14 - 23


Peace and blessings,

Last month I watched an episode of "Wife Swap" that was extremely hilarious and entertaining. I've watched episodes before and for the most part they too have been hilariously entertaining. This one, however, was particularly interesting because both of the families were Christian. Keeping true to the show's tradition, these families differed greatly in terms of some of their views on managing a household and raising children. One family was very liberal with the husband being a seminary graduate and being an at-home dad while his wife worked. They didn't appear to really instill Christian values to their children, but instead encouraged them to be individual thinkers. The other family was more "traditional" in that the husband was the provider and their children had to follow strict behavioral rules.

I don't really need to recap the rest of the show or explain the outcome to illustrate my point, which is that in my opinion, these two households represented (in one form or another) two major types of Christian thought prevalent throughout America. One type is the traditional Christian thought and the other is the more liberal/contemporary Christian thought. Once these types of thought are "hijacked" by the media, they take on an over-exaggerated form of their own. As a result, these ways of thought are put forth as extreme opposites of one another. What this episode of "Wife Swap" and the above scripture has showed me is that we must be careful to not be so quick to a) become so polarized in our own views that we neglect some of the essentials of the gospel (Matthew 28:18-19) and b) be so "open" with everything that we dilute some of the essentials of the gospel.

The question is not how do we choose between the traditional and the liberal, but how do we use elements of both to maximize the effectiveness and relevance of the gospel to a constantly changing, yet remarkably stable world. For instance, we are constantly evolving with regards to medical, technological, and scientific developments, and with regards to our understanding of how and why humans think, feel, and acts in the ways we do. At the same time, however, sins and vices such as murder, lust, greed, envy, jealousy, betrayal, pride and so forth has been around since the beginning of time, and is just as prevalent today. We must seek God for discernment regarding which aspects of our Christian faith and thought that could potentially be rethought and which aspects cannot. Reflecting on my personal experiences, I have been blessed to have great pastors who have given me tools to discern some of these differences. The deity and tri-unity of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is an accepted fact of the Christian faith and cannot be changed. How Christians should interact with others is something that has and continues to be revisited and changed when appropriate (e.g. slavery, anti-semitism, racial/gender discrimination, homophobia, economic exploitation). However, I would argue that anyone who practiced or practice hate with regards to any of these groups and claim to be doing so in the name of Christianity is not really following Christ in the first place.

What do you think? Do you think that certain areas of Christian thought or too polarized? God bless, take care and speekonit...

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