Finding the Common Ground

It is plainly evident that our country is not headed towards, but already engaged in Culture War. Many will use the words “Liberal vs. Conservative” or “Tolerant vs. Intolerant” and even “Loving vs. Hateful”…. But none of these are correct… Not really.

Can we just call it what it is?

Good vs. Evil? No …

Right vs. Wrong? No…

It’s Human vs.Human… Here is why.

With  the onslaught of so-called “Human Rights Issues” at the center of this war, one view or belief opposed to another  are the grounds for battle and words are the weapons of choice (for the time being anyway). One group believes one doctrine or philosophy, while the other believes differently and by and large the conflict, no matter how large an convoluted it has become really boils down to one single point of focus –

Conform to my way or you are  “_____________________”

Agree with me or you are “__________________”

If you believe “_________________” then it means “____________________”

You fill in these blanks with whatever misdefined words you’d like, they all fit – Bigot , Intolerant , Hateful or my personal all time fave is when you take the beginning of any word to indicate behavior of a person and then just add “phobic ” to the end of it to imply that in some way I am terrified of this person or the implications of what accepting this behavior would mean.

(I began to type “childish” next, but I don’t want to insult innocent children.)

Ridiculous. This term is more fitting. It is absolutely ridiculous that we reduce human beings down to a label by using a word  targeted to  affect them and essentially  provoke the reaction. A ridiculous part of that formula is that fact that in almost every case these words are used incorrectly when doing so!

Example – “Bigot”

big·ot
ˈbiɡət/
noun  –   a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions
So, if logic is applied  – wouldn’t a person labeling another this for having a different view or belief than his own also be guilty? 
 
Example – “Intolerant”
in·tol·er·ant
ˌinˈtäl(ə)rənt/
adjective  –   not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.
So again, if logic is applied  – wouldn’t a person labeling another this for having a different view or belief than his own also be guilty?
One more..
Example – “_________phobic”
phobic – See phobia
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.
Again, apply logic…. Would one who vehemently names some as phobic not also be guilty of being phobic to the view of the other?
Surely, you see my point.
For every misuse of these misdefined words(and so many others not listed) , we perpetuate war that will ONLY PUSH US FARTHER from the “so-called ” goal that is touted by both sides in this-
UNITY will NEVER be reached.
PEACE will NEVER be attained.
HUMANITY will be LOST and NOT GAINED.
 
You see, we are failing to see the common-ground we all share, and prefer to use it for a battle-ground – We are all human.
Each of us are human and whether you are like me , a believer in God as creator and lover of the creation or a devout Atheist that believes the opposite  – the one thing neither of us can escape is the common ground we both possess – We are BOTH human and both valuable.
The point of this article is not to try to convert you to my beliefs. While that is what I will always do for someone who is searching  , I can also recognize that  many are NOT searching and no matter how much my heart may ache for you, I can not and should not force MY faith on YOU. Doing so negates free will and the very premise on which I act and believe.
However, believing something differently than me doesn’t require me to hate you.
 
No, truthfully  – If I really care like my beliefs teach that I should , hating you would be counter productive.
However  – not approving of your actions is completely acceptable and by fair contrast – also acceptable for you to not approve of mine! The mind-blowing part of it all, is that neither of us has to hate each other for it!
Whoa – what a concept!
The freedom that this country grants us in part is the freedom to believe what we choose. For me  – my standard is the Bible because I believe it is God’s word and therefore, I want to follow it through and through.
You may not.
So rather than label you, provoke you, or malign you  – I will recognize that you are human and prone to error – just as I am and maybe someday, some way – we can meet in the common ground of humanity and have an intelligent conversation about our differences and behave like … Well, HUMANs.
I’ll be praying for us all.2015-06-05-bigot6
Photo credit – Adam4d.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

Love – What it is ,and what it isn’t .

Hate

“Love is love”.

I would be willing to bet you (if I were a betting man) that if I have heard that phrase once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.

” Love is love and you can’t help who you love”. However saying something over and over, no matter the volume, no matter the repetition, no matter what century it is  – DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE…  And NO, time doesn’t change it either. For every time I have heard “It’s the 21 century, get with the times”  , I can only think to myself that if something is pure, if something is eternal and everlasting as true love is supposed to be by definition – then it is unchangeable by culture no matter what century it is . Right and wrong, as well as truth and fiction, are principles that are built upon unchanging standards. It has never been right to murder someone (Genesis 4) nor has a lie ever become truth (Romans 1:25) and love is no different.

I believe without fail that the bible is the ultimate standard because it is the infallible word of God and because God can not lie due to his nature, every single word of it is true. The further culture moves from this standard, the more things like truth, right and wrong and love become subject to human standards. As humans, a creation of God, God gave us the ability to reason and to choose as we were created in his image (Genesis 1:26). Given the ability to choose and not making us as unthinking robots,that means we also have the capacity to not choose him – but our own way.

Proverbs 14:12 deals with this in saying “ There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

Just as children need the guidance of their parents to grow up well and to  make good decisions – we too are like children that need guidance  and that guidance is given by a perfect source and is absolute, so that it can be trusted . It is everlasting and most importantly – UNCHANGING.  A changing standard is unsure, unsafe and ultimately flawed because it can not be trusted. IF one day something is acceptable and the next day it’s not – How can someone stay true or on the right path.  I mean  2+2 still = 4 correct? OF course!Because it is based on an unchanging truth that can be tested and still be trusted when proven true.

So how is it that love is any different?

ITs not. 

First we must define love by its source. 

1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

So love, is from God because God IS love, and the fact that we are able to love, is because God first loved us and so we are commanded to love one another because love is from God and when we love  , then we abide with him and know him.

So then , If in fact I am not the standard of love and where it comes from and God is , can I love just any way I choose to and it still be love? Let me put it like this – can I drive as fast as I choose to and still claim to be driving safetly? Well, despite my opinion of how well I drive, my opinion doesn’t override the law in place that regulates my speed . In fact , driving the way I choose  with no regard to boundaries set by an authority or standard  will  have consequences.  You see – we don’t get to rewrite the speed laws or change the meaning of speeding  – nor do we get to rewrite the meaning of love.

Now that we know the source of love and the author of it (notice the title author inherently carries with it the concept of authority)  , lets look at its definition.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.

What this first section takes note that no matter what I do,no matter how well I may do it without love it is worthless and in a word  – noise…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This is the section that Hallmark makes their living on. But ,notice a few things here  –

It is patient and kind. I can say for sure ,that many of the people I have engaged with over the legality of same-sex marriage who scream vehemently that “Love is love” and neither been patient nor kind to me…Lets continue –

It doesn’t envy or boast.Also untrue concerning my experiences this year.

It is not arrogant or rude. This has been a big one. In almost every occasion , I have been talked to like a lesser human being who is considered to be “less than intelligent” according to the opposing views standard of intelligence. I have been insulted and derided and in some cases threatened . Again – I’m failing to see the love here that you are screaming into my face about.

It doesn’t insist on its own way and it is not irritable nor resentful. See the earlier comments.

It does not rejoice at wrong doing ,but rejoices with the truth.

Ok – this is the big one.

If love by definition doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing but the truth – then you can not call what you are doing love. Repeat  – If love by definition doesnt rejoice in wrongdoing but the truth – then you can not call what you are doing love. The same standard that defines love also defines right and wrong ,  truth and lies and ultimately sin what it is and what it isnt … Just like love. To rejoice in something that is opposed to God whether it be ANY type of sexual immorality , murdering , or lying or stealing ,cheating etc – is NOT rejoicing in what God has called good or true  – but evil or sinful.

But  – notice the last section –

Love bears ,believes,hopes and endures all things. This section is what solidifies love as sacrificial ! It bears the struggles of others when they need help , It believes the best about others when doubts arise , it hopes because without hope we have nothing to live for and it ENDURES with those who I may be at odds with because if I love the way I say I do – then I want the same salvation for you that God has extended ALL people

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Love is eternal and as other things pass away  , it wont .. So grow up and be mature. Face what you know is right and make the right decision. Stop being selfish and be selfless.. 

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The greatest is love because is gives and doesn’t take.  ITs the greatest because it is not selfish , but selfless. It is the greatest because it is from God  , and it is GOD.

You can’t redefine what is not yours to redefine . Nor can you change what is eternal . It is what it is , no matter how loud you scream at me , no matter how much you repeat it and now matter how much you hate me for my stance about it – I will still love you.

Yes, I will.

I will still love you , because God still loves you – and thats the difference.

Love doesnt always suit me ,nor should anyone expect it to. When we adopt a human standard as greater than God’s , what is to keep me from hating you rather than love you? Whats to keep me from stretching out my fist to hurt you rather than offer my hand to help you?

When we replace God’s standard for ours , we accept a flawed and moving target rather than trusted and solid one. If the truth depends on me – we are doomed to fail .

And yes – I know all to  well that there are plenty of people who call themselves Christians who have been equally or even moreso hateful on the other side of this issue. They wrong for the same reasons I have listed from the definition of love as the ones who have hated me.

Simply calling themselves Christians and doing things “in the name of” doesnt  make any of what they say true nor them a representative of the God they claim they serve.

After all words are words and they mean what they mean and none of us can change that – Out actions however , are another story all together.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins -1 Peter 4:8

The Prodigal Son speaks….

Of the hundreds of people told of in the bible that I would love to talk to , to me  – one of the  most intriguing might be The Prodigal Son. His story is told in The Gospel of Luke 15:11-32 and although he isn’t named in the Bible , I’m sure that he would have had one – but  that’s kind of the point  , isn’t  it?

It’s not his name that  remember  ,but rather his story…

I imagine it might have gone something like this..

Question #1: Why did you leave your Father’s house in the first place?

It was all about the desire for freedom—the freedom to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I was ready to live it up—to have some fun, and in my case, that included a lot of time with harlots.

Question #2: What was it like out in the far country?

Not even close to what I thought it would be. I wanted to be free, but I ended up in the confines of a pig pen. I wanted to be free, but I became a slave—a slave to this so-called “free lifestyle,” a slave to those harlots who took all my money.

And I’ll tell you something else about the far country—it’s hard to find true friends in that place. When I was at my lowest point, at the point when I needed help the most, no one helped me; no one was there to give me what I needed the most. What I’m trying to tell you is that love, in its highest form, does not exist in the far country. You can find it in my Father’s house, but you won’t find it there.

Question #3: Why did you decide to go back to your Father’s house?

I finally came to my senses. I realized that the folks back in my Father’s house were a whole lot better off than me, that the life I once had was much, much better than I ever thought. I thought the far country had a lot to offer, but it was really just an illusion. There’s nothing real about it; it doesn’t last, and it leaves you feeling empty. If anyone understands the phrase, “the passing pleasures of sin,” it’s me!

People tell you, “If you really want to live, go to the far country.” That’s a lie. It’s more like, “If you really want to die, go to the far country.” Because that’s what happened to me—I died, not physically of course, but in all the ways that matter the most. My soul, the only part of me that will endure, was just as dead as it could be. I returned to my Father because I wanted to live again. I returned to my Father because I was lost and needed to be found—by someone who truly cared.

Question #4: What kind of reception did you get when you returned to your Father’s house?

Better than I deserved, I can tell you that. I squandered all my money—my Father’s money—on sinful living, yet when I went back and humbly confessed my sins, my Father received me with open arms. And let me just tell you, I’ve never seen such rejoicing in all my life. Now I know what true freedom feels like.

I too have experienced that kind of rejoicing… There is no comparison to anything this world offers …  The Joy of the Lord is perfect and complete….  –  If you haven’t , maybe it’s time you come home too.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a RIGHTEOUS person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

(Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

Thanks to Bryan Gibson for the inspiration!

Running on Empty

It is staggering to think about , but it’s everywhere… The amount we ,  as a people  , consume on a daily basis. I’m not just relegating this to food ,although it certainly lends itself to that and Americas obesity issues – but just in general , we as a people can’t seem to find contentment until we are literally busting at the seams…and to our dismay – still unfulfilled.

My first reaction, like most would be , is disgust…this graduates to irritation and then the most common reaction – Apathy , the unwillingness to care…But with apathy also comes  silence , and in that silence I hear something else…however faint , I hear a cry for SOMETHING.. So my apathy changes to sympathy , and then to interest… This then graduates to caring and now I AM ALL IN..

So I listen harder…

In the feeding of our over active appetite to fill ourselves , we completely ignore that real problem – We just can’t seem to ever be really FULL – … But why ?… Why can’t we be filled by all this stuff? Why do we constantly crave and consume MORE and still wind up EMPTY?

Why?

…and THAT’S what I hear.. I silent cry of “why?”.. “Why do I have everything my heart desires and yet I am STILL so unhappy”..

Maybe , your heart is desiring the wrong things? Maybe , YOUR conscience is trying to tell you something that YOU don’t want to hear? Maybe , just maybe  … you KNOW what is right,but are not willing to do it because of what it will COST you????

Speaking from personal experience – NOTHING will cost you MORE in your life than SELFISHNESS.. I can’t think of ONE good thing that the sin of selfishness EVER brought me – not ONE thing…

Don’t allow another moment to be stolen from you – break the cycle…

Empty yourself of YOURSELF …and fill it with the ONLY thing that wont leave you EMPTY.. ,but still desiring MORE of it –
The LOVE of GOD..

Mathew 5:6 says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” …

Only in Christ will you ever be full…Only in Christ will you ever be satisfied… –  Because only in Christ can you be truly Justified  and Sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11)

The Lord beckons you all to come and be filled … won’t you?

If not , WHY NOT?

The invitation to study the bible is still open.. 😉

read Hebrews 13:1-19