Monday, June 27, 2016

Jesus & The European Disunion

Before last Friday most Americans (say…85%) likely spent less than 15 minutes of their entire life thinking about the European Union. (I’m not counting the unfortunate folks who’ve subjected themselves to Left Behind movies and John Hagee charts.)

But now the EU and BREXIT are all the rage.

Will this eventually help Britain’s economy? What will be the economic impact on the world and America? Will other EU nations follow suit? Will Scotland secede from the United Kingdom? Will immigrants suddenly boycott Britain? What about Russian aggression? Can Britain’s Got Talent survive another season?

All of these are very good questions. At the time of this writing, we’re barely 24 hours in and already 2 million Brits have petitioned their government for another a referendum—a do-over, if you will.

So…we’ll see.

Presently, my thoughts traverse two tracks...

On the one hand, the libertarian in me applauds BREXIT. I prefer decentralization and small, non-intrusive government. In my opinion, in matters of governance, local and less is best.

But on the other hand, I’m very much aware of the 20th century horrors unleashed, in large part, by unbridled nationalism: 80-100 million human beings slaughtered in two World Wars.

Such atrocities, in the name of God and country, boggle the mind. Hence, history will not allow me to place my faith in nationalism.

Yet I cannot abide the utopian dreams of globalism either. This is to say, neither globalism nor nationalism holds the cure for what ails us. Again, we needn’t be seers of the future—just students of the past—to know this.

Even so, there remains another path; an alternate Way.

Identity (vainly sought in nationalism) and unity (falsely promised in globalism) are most truly and profoundly realized in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. He did not endorse Jerusalem (nationalism) or Rome (globalism). Rather, He preached the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps you’re thinking: His Way will never work in the “real” world. Oh? Which world do you imagine He came to save if not the “real” one?  

Dear reader, Jesus—not identity politics or globalist visions—is the answer to our personal brokenness and interpersonal alienation. He alone can heal our individual and corporate fragmentation.

So let us pursue, enjoy, and share life together in His kingdom. And may His holy fellowship spread throughout the world—as C.S. Lewis would say—like good infection.


Friday, June 17, 2016

The Blame Game

The blame game. It’s as old as Adam and Eve. The rules never change and we never tire of playing it. It’s as though it’s in our DNA. No matter the nature of the tragedy, mistake, reversal, or crisis we find something or someone to scapegoat.

Before the dead were even identified, the blame game began in earnest after the Orlando mass shooting. Islam and guns were the first to be blamed. After all, the murderer was a Muslim and a shooter.

Of course, now there are other targets…

Some blame President Obama. Others—setting their sights a tad higher—blame God. A handful of folks blame Christians. A few actually blame the victims. (I said the game is in our DNA…I didn’t say everybody is good at it.)

But here’s the thing: the blame game is easy to play but impossible to win (like a Facebook debate).

And because it takes very little thought, the blame game usually results in simplistic “solutions” to complex problems. Take guns. Build walls. Ban speech. Drop bombs. Kill infidels.  

The point is, in order to have rational, honest conversations resulting in true progress; we must stop playing blame games and start thinking at a level deeper than the emotional.

Jesus ran into the blame game.

As He and His disciples were walking, they came across a man who was blind from birth. Knowing that someone was to blame, His disciples asked Him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).

Jesus responded that the blindness had nothing to do with the sins of the man or his parents. Rather, God’s power would be revealed in him. In other words, Jesus ran into the blame game but wouldn’t play it. Instead, He worked a BIG miracle with a little mud and gave the man sight.

I am the light of the world,” He said.

As Christ-followers our greatest challenge and opportunity is to trust Jesus and His Way in every aspect of our lives. He reveals a different Way of thinking and behaving. He calls us to engage our culture in contemplative, insightful, and loving ways—no blame games, no quick fixes; but light and hope for a dark and discouraged world.  



Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Best Defense Is A Good God

The other day I was praying and meditating upon these words: “the LORD has been my defense” (Psalm 94:22). What a marvelous and comforting thought—that God Himself is our defense.

While it’s not likely that you and I face physical threats, it’s quite likely that we encounter emotional and spiritual ones. (Sadly, some of our attackers claim to follow Christ.)

How should we respond to folks who desire to wound us?

Jesus is quite clear. “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Hmmm…this is, shall we say, counterintuitive. Why and how can we love and pray for a person who lacks the common decency and good sense to like us?

The fact of the matter is, for a disciple of Jesus to begin thinking, acting, and feeling in ways which go against the grain of natural inclinations, he or she must consciously and continuously submit his or her will to the Spirit of God and thus be renewed in the attitude of his or her mind. As we present our bodies and minds to God, the Holy Spirit does His transformative work within us—remaking us into the image of Christ (see Romans 12).

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Yes, but doesn’t this make us more vulnerable to those who wish us harm?”

No, it doesn’t. And here’s why: God is our defense.

God is our defense and because He is we needn’t be defensive. This idea, I believe, has life altering potential.

Consider.

How easily are we defensive when we sense we are being challenged, rejected, slighted, or corrected? We can be so “touchy” when someone (perhaps even God) differs with us! We become defensive without so much as thinking about it. Hence, defensiveness is an unholy habit of mind.

It comes by way of pride. Know this: the way of pride always detours to wounded egos. It never leads to progress.

Jesus calls us to a better Way of thinking.

Does this mean we should never defend our thoughts or positions? No, but it does mean we don’t always have to be “right.” It means we can defend our ideas and beliefs without being defensive. It means we can be humble learners. 

Following Jesus…it’s not for the thin skinned.