Obey Rulers or God?

Daniel in the Lions Den - Briton Riviere - 1872

Daniel in the Lions Den – Briton Riviere – 1872

Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Daniel 6:13

Earthly princes deprive themselves of all authority when they rise up against God, yea, they are unworthy to be counted among the company of men. We ought rather to spit in their faces than to obey them when they… spoil God of his right.

John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Daniel

The worst thing Jesus can say to you?

hateWhat is the worst thing Jesus could ever say to you?  

That may seem like a weird question, especially if you’re used to only thinking of Jesus/God saying lovely, uplifting things to us.

One of the worst things Jesus ever said, to his brothers by the way, was when he said: “the world can not hate you…”  (John 7:7)  This is a devastating critique to his listeners.  And it may be just the very worst thing Jesus can ever say to someone.

Jesus was hated by the world because he critiqued it.  In fact, he did more than critique. He told the world (his culture) that its works were evil. (John 7:7).  The challenge was then thrust back upon his audience:  Are you living in enough opposition to the prevailing values that it would be possible for the world to hate you?  They weren’t.  The world can not hate them.

That same challenge is thrust upon us as well.  Are we, as Christians and followers of Jesus, living in such a way as to ruffle the feathers of the surrounding culture?  Is there anything that we could be hated for?

Notice carefully that being hated for its own sake has no inherent virtue.  Also note that being hated is not automatically a badge of honour – a Christian could be a jerk and be hated for that.  Being hated is contingent upon living contrary, and voicing objection to, what prevails around us.  It is the world that is to hate us as well, not our co-religionists.  Some Christians engage in feisty debate with other Christians and generate lots of heat.  They then claim that they’re doing it right.  They’re not.  It is the world around that we’re to find friction with, not the church we grew up in.

Greed, materialism, moral relativism, statism are all around us – do our lives as disciples ever challenge these?  Absolute freedom in sex is demanded by our culture; just try and challenge that sacred cow – do we ever get in the line of fire of that?  Do we live in such a way as to not consume as much as we can?  And do we ever challenge the consumerism around us?  Do we ever speak up for the most vulnerable among us – the unborn, the disabled, the refugee, the poor?

It is when we witness to a different story, with both ours lives and voices, that we find resistance.  A story where wealth and status are not worth what they’re thought to, when sexuality and gender are not ours to rearrange but sacred gifts to be received, where not human life is disposable or value-less. It’s here where we find ourselves even hated for what we believe and testify to.

Is there enough resistance to the world in our lives to be hated for it?  Would Jesus be able to say “the world cannot hate you”, to us?

Across the street… Sadness and some hope

Park I Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 9.33.36 AM

“A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.”  A great moral hero of the twentieth century once said that.

This is the scene across the street from The King’s Fellowship, or least the building where we gather to worship. Each pink or blue flag (100,000 of them) represents an aborted child in Canada.  The organization putting on the display was well represented in the park by a friendly, joyful handful of folks who stood ready to engage in conversation any who came by.

The presence of so many flags was an experience unto itself; somewhat like standing in front of a Rothko painting. I was struck with sadness at the number of human, unborn lives who will never get a chance to be born.  And I was also filled with hope that our collective conscience can be pricked and this could change.  Hope also because even if it does not change soon or even in my lifetime, there are those compassionate, courageous, and stubborn enough to not let this issue go forgotten.

Let’s pray for those least able to speak for themselves.
Let’s help to remove the burden of unwanted pregnancy.
Let’s help to foster a culture which values each and every human life.
Let’s care more about what is right, than we do about public opinion.
Let’s ask for mercy for our country.

The greatest destroyer of peace today…

mother theresaI feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta, 1995 National Prayer Breakfast

The loss of humanness in our age

Schaeffer01In the flood of the loss of humanness in our age – including the flow from abortion-on-demand to infanticide and on to euthanasia – the only thing that can stem this tide is the certainty of the absolute uniqueness and value of people.  And the only thing which gives us that is the knowledge that people are made in the image of God.  We have no other final protection.  And the only way we know that people are made in the image of God is through the Bible and in the incarnation of Christ, which we know from the Bible. 

If people are not made in the image of God, the pessimistic, realistic humanist is right: the human race is an abnormal wart on the smooth face of a silent and meaningless universe. In this setting, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia (including the killing of mentally deranged criminals, the severely handicapped, or the elderly who are an economic burden) are completely logical…  Without the Bible and without the revelation in Christ (which is only told to us in the Bible) there is nothing to stand between us and our children and the eventual acceptance of the monstrous inhumanities of the age.

Francis Schaeffer (with C Everett Koop), “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?”

 

 

What many Christians feel, and are concerned about, in light of same sex marriage issues

As a pastor, my first obligation is to care for the people that are under my care in the local church.  Everyone knows that the winds have changed and that societal views have changed in regards to marriage, sexuality, gender, and so on.  There can be a lot of commentary about this but what most average Christians feel, from my observations, is something like this:

They really love their friends, co-workers, family members and neighbours.  Whether they’re gay or straight, atheist or Muslim, living together before marriage or trying to adhere (like them) to a Christian sexual ethic.

They’re not especially put off by different life-styles, beliefs, or sexual orientations.  They want to respect differences and have good relationships with the people they live and work with.

They may be confused about how their Christian faith relates to the shift in our culture’s understanding about sex and marriage.  But they do still want to be faithful to God and what their Faith teaches them about such things.

They don’t want to judge anyone but they are concerned and are feeling pressure from the world around.  Messages coming to them from the culture and the media are labelling them ‘bigot’ or ‘intolerant’.  Many are concerned about what traditional/Biblical beliefs about marriage will mean for their careers and some of their relationships.

They don’t hate anyone.

But they don’t believe that same-sex marriage or homosexual activity is what God’s has in mind for his human creation.

They really love their gay friends and neighbours.

But they don’t know what is in store for the future.

They’d really prefer this wasn’t the issue that is pressing today.

 

This video is made by Roman Catholics but I think the sentiments would be the same for almost every Christian I personally know.