Maybe I need some Helpful Understanding?
It seems to me that after deciding on becoming a follower of Jesus, one then enters a relationship with God Himself. This effectively changes the way that we are. This, I understand, is done by changing our minds by changing the way we think, which will in turn change our actions.
So; we should become the kind of people who love our enemies, do good to those who would seek to harm us, treat others as more important than ourselves, recognise that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore need to be respected and highly regarded. I would then expect us (that is-all Jesus followers) to be generous, to see neither male nor female, bond nor free, this nationality or that – in fact caring for one another however possible
So; I am not sure how to express my disappointment, and lack of understanding on several fronts. Recently, reading an American article, (and I don’t think what I am about to say only reflects only on the USA- it just happened to be an American writer whose article I was reading) the writer noted that in the restaurant industry in the USA it was difficult to get staff to do the Sunday shift. They surveyed widely to try and understand why this was so. Waiting staff are apparently not that well paid in America, and therefore tips become a very important part of staff income.
It appeared, after the results of the survey had been assessed, that staff did not like the Sunday shift as they said, that, “Sunday is the day that all the church people come in to eat – and they are the meanest and least generous of our customers”. Why is it like that?
Friends of mine, both in the journalistic as well as the political world, tell me that the most vitriolic letters and communications, the ones that are “the most condemning” and, in their words, “the most unkind” of all the correspondence they receive (and this is both in the USA and in the UK) comes from people who express in their letters, that they are Christians. Again why is this so?
I know it has always been a “secret evil” in society, but again; why is it that we keep seeing the misuse of children and the abuse of people of the opposite sex from selfish desires, so often by Christians who express themselves as leaders in the church or in church organisations. Why?
Have these people really met God? Do they really understand what it is to have been changed by their relationship with God? Or are they just “label” people? Are they hiding under the epithet “Christian” as a word that may seem to be a useful label to stick on their activities to cloak their dark activities?
Recently, I have stopped responding when people ask me, “Are you a Christian?”I wonder what that means. Usually my response is, “I am a follower of Jesus, and I want that to be more than just a label. I want it to be demonstrated in living lifestyle and action.”
Jesus said to his early followers; “This is how people will know that you are my disciples, in that you have love one for another”.
I reckon that is not just love for other disciples. I think it should be possible to demonstrate that in the wider world with all races, colours and creeds. To people who are created in the image of “the God who is there.”
What is it that I have not understood?
Never take notice of what people are saying until they have said, “BUT!” The “but” can change everything.
I liked the article that Benjamin Sledge wrote on “The Irrelevance of Christianity”. I even wish I had written it. I agree that we Jesus Followers should not be imposing our laws and values on others. We belong to another kingdom, and hold passports of another country. So we observe the laws, values and culture of that regime as top priority. BUT, Jesus did say he was putting us into THIS world and not taking us out of it. So we are here! I need to engage with this world and not put myself in a corner and become part of some ghetto.
That means to engage with the politics, the voting, the speaking and – if possible – pulling down handfuls of Kingdom into this time space world and persuading people to take on board Kingdom Values. Why? Because it’s good for all of us, both the followers of Jesus and everyone else on the planet.
So, I believe in a God of Love. He is one that loves all of humanity. This means that the laws of the Kingdom of God, the values of the Kingdom of God, The Morals of the Kingdom of God, must be for our good. It must be for our benefit. By that I mean the benefit of all humanity not just those who have discovered a relationship with the God who is there.
Logically then, if I know this God of love and His values, and understand that His way is the best way to live, of course, I will want to share His love and these values, not out of a sense of superiority, or one of condemning my fellow human beings, but because I want the best for the lives’ of others as well as my own. After all God does not make the sun to shine just on His followers, we all benefit from His goodness.
Now! That does not mean that, as Benjamin Sledge says, I hammer you with a book that you never read (i.e. The Bible). Looking at the history of Paul he did not do that. Of course, in His day he did not have the New Testament part of the Bible, he was still writing most of it.
What Paul did is very interesting. He wants good things for people. He wants people to get related to Jesus, the “risen from the dead” One. But he does not start there. In other words, what we might say is, he does not quote Bible to them, but rather he starts where people are. We should not – really – do anything else. So he starts on Mars Hill in Athens with that rather strange phrase, “Oh! I see you have an altar to the unknown God.” I know the unknown God. Let me introduce you to Him.
Paul does not quote the Bible to them. No! Not even the Old Testament Bible. Rather, he quotes their own poets and draws them from there to a better value system, a better way, a knowing of the unknown God.
It would have been quite difficult for Paul to get involved in the politics of Rome. It wasn’t a democracy. Although he gently tried at one point of time when he says in one of his trials before King Agrippa; “I know I am chained up, but what I have is still the best. Apart from these chains, I would want you all to have what I have got”.
Sure, people thought he was mad, but maybe what he had was so good that he wanted others to have that kind of life quality.
We live in a democracy. I am a follower of Jesus. I know that the value system that He gives, when applied gives a better life. Not always easy. Not always nice. Not always happy, but with a source of Joy and purpose. I guess I want to share that.
Surely I know that Morals can come from other sources. The Atheists are always telling me that. But what sort of morals? What sort of values? Are they the values of generosity? Of loving your enemies? Of doing good to those who are bad to you?
Lots would like me to be quiet and to keep my values to myself. But I care too much for the well-being of others to do that.
Jenny or Robert?
Brexit and Trump
I am writing this blog with questions to my Christian friends who are followers of Jesus. Now, I am sure that, in a democracy there are many who would agree that in the field of politics, the fact that we are followers of Jesus will not stop us from see us seeing things from different perspectives. I have many friends in all kinds of political parties who, I am sure, are followers of Jesus.
However to all of them, as well as you my reader, I would want to ask these questions, and hopefully find some kind of coherent answer.
Here we go…
- · As a follower of Jesus, why would I not want people to have health care, especially if they could not afford it?
- · As a follower of Jesus, am I not responsible to try my hardest to see that people have a home? Again I say, even if their economic ability does not give them the resource that allows them to buy their own? Why also would I not want to see them clothed and warm? If you are asked for a biblical foundation for this thought, Luke 6.29 come to mind: “Give him your shirt also”.
- · As a follower of Jesus, why would I want to support a policy that makes my nation and people more important than any other people? Matthew 25:38 comes to mind. Am I not a stranger in this world holding the citizenship of another place? And more: Should not my citizenship of the other place impact my outlook in this place?
- · Thinking historically, why would I want to push for Nationalism (as opposed to Patriotism), that says, “My Nation is Great. My nation comes first”? Would that make us think that we are superior to all others? Wouldn’t that make me feel that Mexicans, Polish, Syrians and “whoever” are somehow lesser that my own people and my own nation? Would that not make me feel, somehow, that I was looking forward to the “Master Race”, which … oops! Happens to be mine?
- · On the political side; wouldn’t you agree that the Right wing politics around the planet have, somehow, given us the Hitler’s and the Saddam Hussein’s of this world?
- · Again, on the political view of things: Why would I cheer at the demise of the EU? Do I really want to see the UK putting on the side things like worker’s rights, the Human Rights charter and other things like that. Some are actually cheering the fact that we may have managed to wreck the whole project by our withdrawal. I see nothing to be happy about there. I don’t want to see Europe become a collection of right wing nationalistic groups, with each country feeling that they are the superior one and that anyone who does not fit into their culture is unwelcome. May be those dissidents need to be got rid of. We all know where that leads too.
· On a positive note, I do think that as a follower of Jesus my EU brother or my Mexican brother is my responsibility. I should want the best for him or for Her.
· On a negative note I don’t think that the deprecation of women, disabilities, or other nationalities is in any way a positive force.
I understand the concern from my friends from the USA about the abortion issue. The problem is that exchange abortion death, death from no health care, no concern for refugees and other nasty’s raises possibly even worse scenarios. That is the problem with democracy and politics, its often having to choose the lesser of two evils – and the difficult choice of which one is the lesser along with the ensuing battle concerning which was the lesser evil and which wasn’t.
I understand the concerns of the jobless, and the need to blame someone, be it the EU, the last President, the governmental opposition, and, of course, never forget the immigrants. The problem is, however, that these are not the makers of joblessness, the closed mines, the loss of the textile industry, or even car manufacturing.
I was privileged, many years ago, to have a conducted tour around the British Leyland car factory, formally the Austin Motor Company, by my Aunt. She was not on the board of directors, but because of her financial nous they did not usually have a board meeting without her. In that day (the 1960’s) the factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, employed some 25,000 people. When the whistle blew for the end of shift it was a site to behold. There was a veritable river of humanity pouring out of the factory gates.
The same could be said of the coal mines in Wales and the textile factories in the North of England. It was probably true of Detroit too.
The thing is that in 1764 the UK went through similar labour throws, due to the invention of the Spinning Jenny. Workers broke into factories and smashed the machines. Why? Because one machine could produce together with a single worker, what hundreds of workers had previously been needed to achieve the same output. So, it wasn’t immigrants or politicians that caused the job loss, it was a little piece of machinery called “Jenny!”
Are we at that stage again? However, this time it’s not the “Spinning Jenny”. Maybe this time its Robert, as Nissan can run a car factory with 22 workers in Sunderland in the UK, and build 5,139 cars in its first year of production. Maybe it’s not the Mexicans, Polish, politicians, or whatever nationality you want to blame. Maybe its Robert’s fault! Eh! Sorry!
I am sure that the New President of the US will be able to create Jobs for things like roads, walls (better to have bridges), locks and canals, using tax dollars. Hitler was able to do that. I am still not sure that the UK will be able to replace the jobs that I believe we will lose, outside the EU mind you, even if the USA puts us at the front of the queue.
I am not sure how we created those new jobs that have been taken by the closure of mines, the use of robotics, as well as the outsourcing to cheaper labour economies. Even the supermarkets make us serve ourselves these days. Maybe we should invest in social care, hospitals, care for the elderly, social services, and maybe to do it taxes will have to go up?
So, 2017! Such new political policies. And are they really nice ones? Yes it’s the lesser of two evils. However, have we picked the lesser? Will we move backwards to where the poor get even poorer, where those who need health care can no longer get it because it is now too expensive, both in the UK and the USA.
I understand the arguments, particularly in the USA, but the UK too – where Christians feel that they have to not only agree with equality and fairness for people they disagree with, but they must no longer disagree.
They must, in fact, agree and change their opinions. The thought police are here these days, and we must now agree in thought action and word. Thinking like those we disagree with, but yet want them to have their say, and yes treat with respect and equality, even those we not agree with there view on marriage and whatever.
Could it be that this is where the “Thought Police” have overplayed their hand they have pushed those who don’t agree to use the ballot box to give us Trump and Brexit.
Maybe the evangelicals, so called, have also overplayed their hand, and we will now get injustice, robbery of the poor, a downer on women, and – hopefully not- but maybe, just maybe, we are back to Caesar.
Edited by K. Lannon
Saturday, 21 January 2017
What is this Freedom Anyway
Lots of talk on Face book and other Social Media about the Trump election and of course the Brexit out election, so I think this is a bit of a different take.
When I listen to my American friends, who voted Trump it’s all about abortion, and along with that an anti what they would call libertarian swing, when you listen to the Brexiters, it’s about freedom from the shackles of the EU, jobs, and the fact that the elite have ignored us and what we really are saying and wanting. There are so many similarities in the reasons in both countries.
I am sure that I will not be the first to say this or the last but is it a cry for freedom, freedom from the elite, the professional politicians, freedom to as they say in Brexit so that we can be in charge of our own destiny as a nation, (fat chance of that).
So what I will not be first in saying is I wonder if the libertarians have overplayed their hand. If I ask myself where I sat, I am sure many people would put me in the libertarian camp. I don’t think I have the right to tell other people how to live, act, sexual preferences, dress, even politics.
However I do object to being told that I must agree with what I don’t agree with, that I am not allowed to express views that are different to what has been deemed by the liberally lobby to be politically correct.
I do object to having to make cakes with slogans on that I don’t agree with. I do object to being told to be silent because that what I think , be it on sexuality, marriage, politics, education family or whatever is different to yours. That is where the hand has been overplayed.
Now I do want you to be able to express your opinion, even if I don’t agree with it, I want you to put forward your argument even if I think you are wrong, I don’t want you to make a cake expressing my opinion which you disagree with if you don’t want too. I even want you to be able to have platforms to speak on, I don’t want universities and the like banning speakers that they don’t agree with that is not grown up students studying that is childish. But that is where we have got to.
And so to the ballot box and now I have the chance to vote for what you don’t want and won’t like because that is my last chance to express a view that is different to yours.
Yes I know that ultimately it will hurt me, but I have been cornered. It is a bit like what happens in riots, we burn down the buildings that serve us, accommodate us, help us, not at all sensible but for a very brief moment it makes us feel better, even if long term it makes us worse off than where we started.
It all comes back to that freedom that we feel has been taken away, Socrates said in that first treaty on politics way back in 399 BC that democracy is about equality and freedom and we all want to be equal and freedom is that we can all do as we like.
We could argue about where that equality has got us to but let us look just at the freedom. We can all do as we like, the problem is that currently you can do what you like but I am not allowed to say I don’t agree with you!
It’s an old chestnut, but we do not understand freedom. We cannot do as we like there are rules, not just governmental rules, and Gods rules if you like, or you probably will call them rules of nature.
You can’t jump up in the air and keep going up; the law of gravity makes sure you come down. Saying you don’t believe in the law doesn’t not work, so if you jump of a tall building hoping to go up you might but not in the way you intended.
The same principal applies to governmental laws in certain situations, so in the UK the rule, law, of the Road is drive on the left, if you chose to ignore it and dive on the right, you will end up a mess pretty quickly.
Now tell me this, here are two inexperienced climbers, they both arrive at their chosen challenge, one says I am free to climb this mountain and I will do it by myself. The other say I am free to climb this mountain and he hires the best guide he can find, who ties him by rope to himself and they both climb together, and come down together. The free climber dies on the mountain side. Which was free to climb?
So are you free, well if that means you can do as you like I doubt it.
There is a time recorded in the Old Testament part of the Bible in Judges 18 and 21 which says ‘and every man did what was right in his own eyes’ actually it was chaotic and awful.
When we think that everything we want to do must be right, because we want to do it is very dangerous, to society but to us as an individual also; There are many things if you want to do it, I can’t really stop you, but please don’t make me agree with you, or silence me or stop me from saying something opposite to your opinion – when you do that what happens in a democracy is that there is a back lash and you get what we have in two recent elections.
Dylan says in one of his great songs, whoever you are you have got to serve somebody, and he is right. The Bible puts it a different way, but it’s really saying the same thing it say whoever commits sin is a servant of sin, (John 8:34.) I know sin is not a politically correct word, but there you go again, and I know many don’t believe that it exists, it just a different behaviour model.
Of course Jesus said something else about serving somebody He said to those who were following him, there to serve him, I no longer want to call you servant but rather friends because I want you to know what I am doing.(John 15.15)
Maybe being his friend we could climb that mountain.
Free, well just what is freedom?
Edited K. Lannon
24TH January 2017
The Death of Free Speech
There are lots of times when we do not like what other people say, particularly if they say stuff about us, our good friends, religion, work, politics, or what we believe about God.
I know it’s a bit later than George Orwell’s gloomy prediction, and 1984 has come and long gone, but are we moving to the point where, not only have we got to act right, but we must also speak right. I am referring to being right according to what is PC. But more than that, we have to think right too! So, it may be late by thirty plus years, but has the Orwellian “Big Brother” world finally arrived?
There is a growing trend that says if I don’t agree with some issue, or if my different opinion is not PC, or even if I just don’t like it, then I must not be allowed to say it. Our universities are stopping people speaking because they don’t like the view point of some of their students or staff. I probably agree that a lot of what is being said is horrible, and distasteful; but doesn’t that suggest that the next stage is to demand that not only is one not allowed to say what one thinks, but that one must not even think differently, and then, if things escalate to stage three, the echelons of power in universities would probably have to kill the Thinking person who indulged in the atrocity of disagreeing with them.
There are many countries where one is not allowed to speak about the current politicians if it is detrimental, the reigning monarchs of the state defiantly, and definitely not the religion or religious personalities or leaders – that would be “blasphemy” and one would end up in prison or dead.
I do think it somewhat strange that a god has to be defended by humans? I am very sure that God is quite able to look after Himself. He does not need me, or anybody else to defend Him. And of course, He said, when being crucified, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Of course, He was saying things that should not be said, at least to the leaders of religion, and/or religious views.
There are many things that in today’s world we are not allowed to say we disagree with. We are not allowed to disagree with same sex marriage. We are not allowed to disagree with homosexuality. And, we are not allowed to agree with people who are perceived to be “non PC.” Of course, I am sure that we should not be allowed to incite violence, or put people in danger, but does that mean I have to be seen to agree with them even if I don’t?
Many commentators are saying that what is happening in our “Free Speech” western democracy, where free speech is being limited, or in some places, not allowed at all, people are having to learn how to lie. Lie to the pollsters as to which way they will vote. Vote in such a way that, in the secrecy of the polling booth, they can express that which they were denied being able to say in the public forum.
My question is: If my arguments are so good in any particular area, does that mean that the only way my view cannot be presented is that I must be silenced – or even killed if necessary. That is not a nice world to live in. I am speaking from a position where people have written to me, telling me that if they had any power they would make sure my view was silenced .
I guess therefore my argument must be correct and the opposition so weak that the only way to win the argument or discussion is to silence any opposite view.
Edited by Keith Lannon
Help me why is it so?
Talking to my friends in the USA who know these things, and also to people in the UK parliament they tell me that the rudest letters, the most vitriolic complaints almost always come from those who say they are Christians. Why is that so?
Talking with a Christian Journalist friend, he tells me that the worst letters of complaint the most condemning and nastiest come to him from Christian readers, why is that so?
I know that when people find their way to Jesus, they are often not nice people, usually they know that and that is why they come to Christ for help, for change, for a new right life. I have often had people say to me you need to love me as I am God does, my often thought with such people is, that’s very hard because you are horrible, you are just not nice.
I do know that God loves us as we are, there would be no hope, or grace if He did not as a Muslim friend once said to me, if God does not show us Grace there is no hope for any of us. However it is very clear that the plan for those who follow Jesus is that we should not remain as we are ‘Horrible’ if you will, but the plan is to change us, make us more and more like Jesus. So his values become our values.
I constantly find that people who call themselves ‘Christians’ do not seem to haves the values of Jesus and although they claim to be following him their actions really give me a problem. Yet I find some who make no claim to be a follower of Jesus, having values, actions, grace and concern for others in a Christ like way. They may even call themselves atheists or people without faith.
Even Paul had those who were Asiarchs in Ephesus who did not share the ‘Jesus-bit’ but were ardent defenders of him even when their own future status and comforts were greatly under threat.
A friend of mine said ‘The tension comes when we view evangelicals as ‘brothers and sisters’. I don’t think my discernment is simply cultural – I think I discern it in the Spirit. But working together with a number of them is all-but impossible, or, there is a small uncomfortable area where we can work together. Then, with those who are not believers, I do not discern that bond, but find where they share the values of Jesus we can go a long way forward.’
Let me tell you a personal story, I was part of a church group, working with them I bought a house they provided the deposit however from then on I paid all cost mortgage, repairs everything. Then they fell out with me; silly me had put the whole property in the name of the group, it seemed spiritual at the time!
It did not seem so good when they issued an order ejecting me from the property, a life on the streets with wife and three young children did not seem a good idea. Fortunately God was there and I was able to buy back the property I had paid for, at a very inflated cost, my ‘brothers and sisters in Christ making a goodly profit out of my distress.
So reason for this story, well at the same time as all this happened I had entered into a seven year contract to rent a shop, we were about three years in. I read the contract carefully, should have done that when I signed it. I realised that I had signed away a lot and given the landlord great power over me. What to do,
I went to see them, one Muslim one Hindu owing the shop. I showed them my contract saying I realise you have lots of power to take me for everything. They both read it carefully, yes they said we have defiantly got you, however we are also in business, so we think we should be kind to you, you are released, and they ripped up the contract. I was happy but disappointed too; I was puzzle as to who was Christ like, who really were my brothers and sisters, who had the Jesus value.
So now can you help me understand? Maybe C.S. Lewis had it right in his last battle.
Emeth, one of Rishda’s men and a devout follower of Tash, insists on seeing his god. Rishda tries to dissuade him, but Emeth enters the stable, and the dead body of another soldier, who was stationed in the stable to murder the rebellious Narnians, is thrown out instead. Aslan invites him into His world, Emeth says he cannot come as he has never severed Aslan, always Tash, Aslan say all you did was for me even though you thought you were serving Tash.