I was talking with some friends the other day about nutrition, and the correlation between physical and spiritual health. Somehow the topic turned to how much I always enjoyed gardening, probably because of my Italian heritage DNA! As a kid, I’d spend hours on spring and summer weekends working in our rather large vegetable garden which was tended by my grandfather, uncle, father, brother and me.
I have never felt more at peace than sitting in the dirt on a sunny summer day planting tomatoes, cucumbers, squash…etc. To me, there seems to be a palpable spiritual connection to the earth. I think God built that into us, and I think Scripture underscores that connection.
The Psalmist declares that the heavens reveal the glory of the Lord. Paul, in Romans, reminds us that God’s handiwork is evident in nature, and points to a Creator. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus alludes to God’s care of His creation in the way He adorns the flowers of the field more beautifully than Solomon was ever attired or provides food for the birds. Jesus says this is a picture of how much more His Father cares for His children who would simply trust Him. Yes, there is an undeniable link between the God of the universe and the universe itself.
So what’s all this have to do with political correctness or understanding our culture?
If creation is a canvas on which the Creator reveals His presence, then the less of nature and the natural world, the less there is that speak of God’s existence. As such, the Christian should be the most ardent of all conservationists for to remove elements of creation is to remove something that bears witness of God Himself.
So, does it make sense that when we surround ourselves with less of God’s creation (less clean air, trees, grass, creatures of His creation) God’s presence is lessened? I’ve come to believe that this is one of the reasons why there seems to be more chaos and stress in cities–why crime abounds, why there is less peace, and why Godless thinking is more prevalent. Yes, you heard me. The reason city living seems to be more stressful and more embracing of Godless principles is because a vestige of God’s presence has been removed from the environment.
It may not be simply that cities have a greater percentage of people and that contributes to more opportunity for crime and Godlessness. Instead, it may be that the environment has been so stripped of the presence of God that we have lost sight of Him and His place in our lives. And THAT leads to the stress and chaos.
I really believe that the trend toward urban gardening is an example of an inner spiritual yearning for people to find the presence and peace of God in the midst of urban culture that sucks life from our spirits.
So, if you’re feeling far from God, take a trip to the country and be still. Better yet, put on some old clothes, go sit in the dirt and plant some tomatoes. Then, listen to the voice of God in the wind as it speaks to you; feel His warmth toward you in the warmth of the sun. Appreciate the stillness and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
I bet you’ll feel a lot better at the end of the day.
OK…I saw an article tucked away in the back pages of a newspaper recently and decided to make it the focus of this week’s blog. Liberty, MO, a suburb of Kansas City, held a community concert series recently and invited a certain group to perform. That group, Sidewalk Prophets, is a band whose members are Christians. They’ve won a Dove Award, plus their songs appear regularly on the CCM charts.
But, wait. The plot thickens. Seems like a local ACLU group representing the Kansas and Western Missouri Foundation region decided to issue a complaint to the city government citing the violation of the nebulous First Amendment prohibition against government endorsed “religion.”
In reading the actual letter sent by the ACLU (it’s available on-line), it states that their opposition is based on the fact that the group is identified as a “contemporary Christian music group”, and that their agreement allows “three-to-five minutes at each performance in support of American Bible Society’s “She’s My Sister” campaign on behalf of Congolese Women.”
Oh, the other problem was that Prophets asked that attendees bring a can of non-perishable food to benefit a local food pantry run by a local church.
Nowhere in their complaint does it state that anyone from the ACLU actually attended the concert and heard what was being sung, or said from the stage, and it appears that they did not receive a complaint from anyone.
Now, the ACLU has been helpful in a number of cases where someone’s civil rights were actually violated and have held people and organizations accountable for their actions. All good.
But, it seems that this is another case of the ACLU’s angst against any possible Christian expression in the public square (if indeed it even happened in this case), which is clearly not the intent of the First Amendment’s establishment’s of religion edict. Of course, many Americans actually think that a separation of church and state clause is IN the Constitution. In case you are one of them, it is not. Never was. The history of how that came into being is the topic of another discussion.
From what I can tell by reading the ACLU’s letter to the city, the problem seems to be that the ACLU decided to issue the complaint simply because the members of Sidewalk Prophets actually call themselves Christians and are defined as a contemporary Christian band. Much like all bands are defined by their style of music, whether it’s rock, jazz, country, you name it. Contemporary Christian has become a style of music, and by the way, even a non-Christian can play a contemporary Christian song. Many songs are not specifically about “religion”, but issues and ideals that deal with spiritual themes or human rights situations that should be addressed from a moral perspective.
So, should the Prophets not have been invited by the town of Liberty because the band members are Christians or because of how their music is defined? Would the ACLU have a problem with U2 playing in a community concert series if they were asked because Bono and The Edge claim to be Christians and often will sing songs that deal with spiritual and political issues?
And this is where the political correctness issue seems absurd. The problem wasn’t that the ACLU received a complaint from anyone about the Prophets performance, or that they even have any information that Prophets used their platform to evangelize. No, they were there to sing their songs like any artist. Should they be penalized for their style of music?
Do their songs promote spiritual themes? Maybe. Is it “religious” to promote loving your neighbor by encouraging concert attendees to bring food for the local food pantry, even if it’s run by a church? Or promote the “She’s My Sister” campaign to bring attention to the human rights violations committed against women and children in the Congo as a result of war? These were the things that the ACLU stated as being problematic in their letter to the governing body of Liberty. Really?
It seems like the issue here is that Prophets is being singled out BECAUSE of their faith…not because they did anything to step over that vague line of separation of church and state. The town of Liberty chose to ask this group to perform, not to evangelize on the town’s dime, but because they were good enough to be asked. If this group were avowed atheists, would the ACLU have objected as strongly? Why even mention in the complaint the issue about the local food pantry and trying to help women struggling to survive in the Congo. I doubt if the person receiving that food from the pantry cares that Prophets is a Christian band. I wonder if the ACLU in that region ever gave food to that pantry.
Maybe the ACLU in this case might consider what’s in their purview, and not worry about scenarios that never took place or so fear that the town of Liberty had the audacity or ignorance or both to book a band with Christian roots to perform in a free community concert series.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The golden rule. Everyone can quote it.
Unfortunately, this long revered maxim of civility seems to have fallen on deaf ears of late. Looking out for the best interest of the “others” has suffered as a result of money-making schemes by brand name banks and investment firms, personal investment counselors, and members of Congress.
So, what’s all this have to do with political correctness?
Maybe nothing. But a closer look behind the curtain might reveal an aspect of political correctness that has contributed to this erosion of personal and corporate responsibility. Specifically, political correctness has no room for accountability to a personal God in its worldview. And, when you remove God from the public square, ethical conduct in that sphere diminishes.
Biblical truth is thrown out the window, and God’s laws are ignored and even ridiculed. Self-sacrifice is soon replaced by self-aggrandizement. And that spirit of self-aggrandizement begins to infect our culture, both corporately and personally.
Much like Moses’ experience at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 32), people begin to look elsewhere for their significance and security when God’s presence leaves the camp. Without leadership based on God’s moral law, many of us will clamor for gods fashioned to fit our lifestyles and cravings. We now worship the idols we’ve created to give us meaning to life.
We’ve replaced the golden rule for golden calves.
We now lust for things that titillate, and crave the things that make us comfortable and wealthy. Greed sets in, and we strip the land of all its worth. Today, the “lands” we plunder are our businesses, our institutions and even our relationships.
This “plunder the land” mentality burns bridges rather then builds them. Ultimately, with no moral constraint or concern for others, chaos ensues. And society crumbles under the weight of its sin.
When Moses came down the mountain, he saw the madness and lawlessness as a result of worshipping the golden calf. He had to literally throw the Word of God at the situation to stop the madness. We may need the same thing to happen today.
Our modern day Aarons are supposed to be watching the camp, but they are swayed by the sultry voices of the craftsmen and artisans of delusion, whether they are found on Wall Street or Main Street. They know us well, and play to our desire for gold plated gods of money, security, celebrity, consumerism, power and false religion. They have cleverly crafted these golden calves around which we revel and worship to our heart’s content.
So, look around you. Are you living out the golden rule, or dancing around the golden calf? God may not be politically correct in the public square. But, without Him, that square soon fills up with people dancing around idols of their own creation. King David has something to say about those types of people in the Psalms…that those who create God in their own image, made out of stone and wood, will ultimately be like them. Hollow. Hard. Unbending.
Ultimately, we wind up worshipping ourselves. That’s a scary thought. I don’t know about you, but I would make a terrible idol.
Get ready. We’re coming to that time of the year when political correctness is heavy in the air. That’s right…I’m talking about “the holidays.”
Specifically, the Christmas season.
Won’t be long before the pc police experience their perennial angst about the symbols of Christmas and will not rest until all vestige of the reason for the season is expunged from the marketplace. Somehow, we’ve allowed these self appointed gatekeepers of American traditions scare us into renaming Christmas, the Christmas tree, our greetings to each other, and who knows what else. And don’t forget about the crèche…that terribly offensive display that arouses so much ire among some groups that they take city governments to court to have those displays removed from the pubic square.
So what’s all this have to do with Jesus?
Well, to answer that, it might be helpful first to provide some background information on political correctness. Most people are not aware of the Marxist roots of political correctness that started in Europe in the 1920’s as a subtle way to redefine language and symbols of culture in Marxist terms. This new ideology took hold in Europe and eventually was exported to America. Initially, the idea was to pit the working class against the ruling class, which did not take very much effort back in the early 20th century given the conditions in Europe after the first World War.
Under the guise of equality and tolerance, the true intent was to create an us vs. them mentality by pitting people against each other–rich against poor, make against female, victims against their oppressors. The idea was to create artificial rifts between groups, and paranoia about things no one need fear.
The pc goal was and is to identify certain minority groups (not necessarily ethnic, but the poor and oppressed at first) who would be the good guys because they were kept at bay by the ruling classes (the bad guys), which were primarily white and wealthy in Europe. Since many of the proponents of this new ideology were atheists, they had to include religion, particularly Christianity, as another one of the antagonists in the class struggle since religion was seen as tool of the wealthy, ruling class. Judeo-
Christian thought was particularly singled out for deconstruction because its symbols and theology were so antithetical to Marxist thinking.
Of course, we all know where Marxist thinking took us in the 20th Century…to Stalinist Russia, Communist China, and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.
Eventually, that ideology came to America where the fertile ground of the 60’s provided the right conditions to fuel the growth of the pc movement in America.
Now, this blog is not about political activism or political topics, as I want to focus on the faith perspective issues concerning political correctness. But a little background was necessary because it’s a long leap from Marxism to why we now say “happy holidays” and renamed Christmas trees to holiday trees. Now let me be very clear to say that many well meaning people have a politically correct mind-set, and they are no more Marxist than me.
The real faith issue is this—that Jesus asked us to render unto Caesar what was his and to God what is His. That quote was in the context of the Pharisees trying to corner Jesus into the politically incorrect answer of suggesting that His followers should not pay taxes.
That is still the battle today. PC needs good guys and bad guys to pit against each other, but Jesus comes along and says that the state is not our enemy and neither is the ruling class, another group of people, the wealthy, the poor, etc. He obliterates the “us versus them” mentality that is part of the politically correct agenda.
God is bigger than the state, which exists only by God’s grace and design. Its power is limited. It cannot rule over the things of the spirit that cry out for freedom. Did you ever wonder where the idea behind “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” comes from? Not from the Communist Manifesto.
Simply, PC cannot tolerate the notion of God in the pubic square because it is scared of God.
When the state or some other group seeks to control what we think, what we say, and creates fear to say what is on our minds and to question authority, and attempts to usurp the role of God in our lives, that is the beginning of totalitarianism. When we cower to those forces in our culture that tell us to rename our symbols because someone might be “insulted” because they do not believe similarly, they are creating fear and division. Not tolerance. I’d like to tell you a story to illustrate this.
When my daughter was young…maybe five or six, we were driving by our town hall where a crèche, a menorah, and Santa were exhibited. Of course, PC would prefer to have us remove the crèche and menorah. Fortunately, that did not happen.
As a Christian, the crèche was familiar to my daughter. As was Santa, of course. But not the menorah. So my daughter asked me what the menorah was. I then had the privilege of using that symbol as a teaching opportunity to explain the story of the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil lasted for eight, and then how the Maccabees, with God’s help, freed their people from their oppressors. That became an opportunity to remove the mystery of what was unknown. And when you do that, fear and misunderstanding wane. And that is the beginning of tolerance. Awareness and education mitigates intolerance, not the disinformation political correctness encourages.
Also, the freedom to display our symbols and discuss our heritages provides a basis for understanding the greatness of our country. Hiding them encourages ignorance. And we all know what ignorance breeds. Racism. Hate. Suspicion. Have you ever wondered why our society seems to be more divided than ever before? More suspicious of each other than ever? More white-collar crime? All these issues surface as a natural progression of the stripping away of our Biblical foundations of respect for the individual and adhering to a moral code beyond ourselves. The very thing that builds tolerance is being systematically deleted from our public square in the name of political correctness. We have turned off the lights slowly. And it’s getting dark.
Political correctness wants to keep us in the dark. It attempts to hide that which is obvious and plainly visible, and redefine what we believe. It’s done subtly, but done nonetheless.
Jesus wants us to be in the light because the light always dispels darkness. And our faith demands honesty. It fosters freedom. It despises intolerance. It demands an ethic beyond our ability to live it. It gives us boundaries for our safety. And tells government that it exists for the people, and not for itself. And, to the chagrin of many, it tells us that we are not god.
So, once again, we will hear the same old politically correct rhetoric this Christmas season. Remember that by allowing those messages to control your life, you are participating in one of the great ruses being perpetrated on the American people.
Choose to opt out of intellectual dishonesty. Choose light instead of darkness. Jesus said He was the light of the world. I’d rather listen to Jesus. He died for me. PC wants me to die for it. The choice is simple.
Ok, we’re going to take a slightly divergent path on my post this week. I may do that from time to time. Sometimes, I just might like to comment on current news intersecting with our faith.
Recently, thanks to Mr. Harold Camping, headlines mockingly reacted to his predictions of the world’s demise that he targeted for October 21. His announcement of Armageddon provided great fodder for late night television jokes. Possibly some interesting water cooler talk, as well.
Political correctness really does not have much to say about when the world is going to end. There is no politically correct position on Armageddon that I’m aware of at the moment. So, that’s off the table for today.
Now, back to the end of the world. Sometimes, our response to even the most ludicrous of statements provides insight into our culture’s psyche. The preoccupation with Mr. Camping’s predictions may be an indicator of something deeper in our corporate cultural soul. Something that has to do with the larger question of our purpose on this earth.
From time to time when our world gets a little off center (maybe a lot off center) we worry about losing the things that make us feel safe, comfortable, untouchable. One thing about our American lifestyles…we don’t want anything to upset that applecart.
So, every now and then when world events take a strange twist, and someone like Mr. Camping decides unilaterally to put an end date on what makes us secure, we look for signs of impending doom. There’s drama enough for everyone. Wall Street failures, government gridlock, entire countries going bankrupt, unemployment, natural disasters, the political drama in the Middle East, wars and rumor of wars. Maybe Harold Camping is right about one thing. The world, as we know it, is imploding.
Can Armageddon be far behind? Will Jesus return this year? Or next?
Certainly, there may be signs that the Second Coming is around the corner. But, who knows the length of God’s block? We get so preoccupied with the idea of the Second Coming that it overshadows the reason for the First Coming—to redeem the world, not end it.
Some people see the Second Coming like a script from some old western movie where the cavalry arrives in the nick of time, bugles blaring and rifles firing to save us from the enemy. I can see it now…Jesus riding at the head an angelic column to “save” those who’ve rallied their wagons in a circle to ward off the politically correct hordes. (I had to put that in somewhere)
We want Jesus to come soon so we can go from hell on earth to heaven with Him. Isn’t that a great reason for the Second Coming? To be relieved of our problems and pressures of living in the world.
Sure, things can be hard. But Jesus didn’t tell us to wait for the Second Coming in order to be rid of the problems that plague us. Instead, he said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. “ (John 16:33)
Long story short—we need to get closer to God, not have the Second Coming get closer to us. Wall Street can collapse. The Middle East can explode. Earthquakes can happen. But, Christ promises that He is with me regardless of my situation, and that brings real comfort.
That’s why Jesus said to occupy until He returned. And he didn’t mean Wall Street. He meant to be about His business of being His hands and feet to those in need, and to tell people about the good news. Current day saints do not forfeit the present because they are so focused on the future.
Let’s use the Second Coming as a calling to build the Kingdom of God, regardless of the work involved or forces we encounter. We already have victory over that stuff. The First Coming took care of that.
In the third chapter of Exodus, one of the most intriguing encounters in all of human history is recorded. It’s between Moses…and a bush. Man comes face to face with God. Well, sort of.
Reminds me of that famous scene in The 10 Commandments with Charlton Heston, as Moses, talking to the burning bush. And the bush talking back. That’s a great story!
But the greater story is how it illustrates one of the Bible’s most basic themes—that God is personal, knowable, and involved. Moses found that out, for sure. When he went up to the mountain, he was a shepherd. When he came down, he was a leader. No need for graduate school. No leadership seminars. No pomp and circumstance playing in the background.
There’s another interesting note to this encounter. The Bible says that when Moses came down the mountain, he was carrying the “staff of God.” When he went up the mountain, he was just carrying a regular shepherd’s staff. God not only transformed Moses; He also transformed what Moses used for his work. The principle being that God wants to have us surrender what we do, as well as who we are, in order for Him to use us.
Just like Moses, Jesus calls us to surrender who we are and what we do so God can reshape us to accomplish His purposes.
But, we don’t like the word “surrender.” It sounds so “un-American.” Surrender means that we are no longer in charge. Someone else is. And that means change. But in a politically correct world, there are no moral absolutes, so there’s no need to surrender anything about ourselves that needs changing. We prefer to hold tightly onto the things we believe, and to use what we have for our own purposes rather than God’s. That thinking breeds selfishness. It’s pretty hard to think of others when you are holding tightly onto yourself.
Now, fast forward a thousand years or so to the time of Jesus who said that He was there at the burning bush moment. “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” John 5:46.
Jesus said that he was around even before Moses and the burning bush. “I tell you the truth…before Abraham was born, I AM,” declared Jesus in John 8:58. That comment, and a few other ones Jesus would make, often got the pc crowd of His day REALLY upset with him. Why? Because, understood in context, Jesus was saying that he and God were one and the same. Not a God. Not kind of like God. No, it was clear that he claimed to be God. That would make what He said pretty important. So important, that it leaves no room for misinterpretation. Even though He often spoke in parables, Jesus was clear on that one thing. Now, that was radical.
And just as radical was another one of His comments. He told His disciples that they could be burning bushes themselves! That God could now speak through them, as well. Like Moses on that mountaintop, God wanted to transform this ragamuffin bunch of men into leaders for His kingdom.
Now let’s skip ahead another 2000 years. Jesus still tells us that God can speak through YOU, just as He spoke through the burning bush to Moses and to the disciples. Same God. Same opportunity. Different time.
That’s right. You who are reading this blog right now can also be a burning bush. But, you have to burn a certain way, says Jesus. Otherwise, instead of being a burning bush, you might look like a whitewashed tomb…pretty on the outside, but very empty and hollow on the inside. That’s how he described some of the Pharisees, the politically correct crowd of His day. Needless to say, those comments did not endear Him to those people.
Not much has changed with today’s politically correct police, who would rather throw water on the burning bush than fan the flame.
One word of caution, though. The road to the burning bush, Jesus said, came with a price. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But, if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 8:24-25.
That price cost Jesus his earthly life. It will also cost you yours.
Jesus asks us to become a “burning bush” so people can see God. If that’s the mountaintop experience in life you’re looking for, then welcome to the fraternity of the burning bushes.
Diversity. Or Divergence?
Diversity is one of the “darlings” of the politically correct lexicon.
It’s also a concept close to God’s heart. Just look at His creation. In nature, no two snowflakes are the same. Not even identical twins are identical. So, Jesus must like diversity, too, right?
Well, that depends.
The Biblical notion of diversity accommodates the uniqueness of creation (those snowflakes, difference in races) while the politically correct version of diversity will accommodate aberration in creation.
Diversity as a reflection of God’s natural order differs radically from PC’s blanket acceptance of behavior that may contradict God’s design.
Jesus throws a wet blanket on the politically correct laundry list of acceptable lifestyles with statements like, “What comes out of a man makes him unclean. From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside, and make a man unclean. (Mark 7:2-223).
“Inclusiveness” is also under the politically correct umbrella of diversity. The truth is that Jesus was anything but inclusive. He would not accept all roads leading toward a God of our own making. He said in Matthew 7:13 that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.”
He also was rather exclusive with comments like “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through me. “ (John 14:6).
Those words don’t sound too inclusive to me. And they didn’t sound too good back then to the politically correct police of His day, the Pharisees. They really got upset at Jesus with comments like that.
But, Jesus was inclusive about one thing. His Father’s love for mankind. Of course, he then reminded people that He was that visible expression of God the Father’s love for mankind by being the payment for man’s sin.
Oops. There’s that word sin. Political correctness has a problem with that word, too, because diversity advocates freedom to live the way you want. Sin, though, infers that there is a right and wrong, a missing of the mark.
That means we aren’t as nice as political correctness would like us to believe we are. We’re just plain guilty. Period. It’s not news to me that I’m guilty. All I have to do is be honest with myself. Look into my heart and you’ll see all kinds of bad stuff.
In our current politically correct climate, exclusivity is antithetical to inclusiveness. The two just cannot get along. And diversity’s mantra is “Why can’t we all get along?”
Jesus came to say, well, that we all cannot get along. That’s the problem! Which is why He claimed that God sent Him to die. Man had to first get along with God before he would be able to get along with his fellow humans.
The good news is that Jesus accepts the judgment on our behalf. His payment wasn’t for any sin in particular. It was for the collective sin nature that keeps us from God.
Jesus, though dismissive of inclusiveness and diversity, is ultimately the answer to the politically correct mantra of everyone being able to get along.
Ironic, isn’t it?
I have been fascinated by the growth and popularity of competitive poker matches on television. It has morphed from back room, smoke-filled, cheesy looking environs populated by questionable characters into luxurious casino-type surroundings attracting major movie stars dressed to the nines airing on major cable networks.
With all the upgrades in window dressing, though, one thing doesn’t change. The nature of the game. Someone wins. Everyone else loses. Nothing is guaranteed except insecurity. In the end, it’s all still a game. A gamble.
Aside from my college days when a bunch of us in our dorm would play gin rummy or poker with penny ante stakes, I only gambled one other time in my life. A bunch of us went to the track at the New Jersey Meadowlands one night and bet on the horses. I didn’t know much about horses other than watching Mr. Ed or Fury on television when I was a kid. And I had this picture of me when I was about five sitting on pony looking like a miniature Roy Rogers on Trigger.
Anyway, my more knowledgeable friends helped me through the night, and I won a couple races, but lost more than I won. Overall, I came out $2 in the red that night. It was at least a cheaper night out than going bowling, or something like that.
Okay, where am I going with this.
Simply, as I was flipping through channels one night and came across one of those televised poker games, I was struck by the realization that all of us gamble with something in our lives. With some, it’s our money. Or a relationship. For others, it’s our bodies when we smoke, or do drugs. With many of us, though, it’s with our eternal destiny. And that’s when it hit me hard.
Our politically correct world would have us believe that we can gamble with the most important aspect of lives—our spiritual future–and always win. We can roll the dice, and they will always “come up seven, goin’ to heaven.” Or we hope.
If you ask people why they should be allowed into heaven, or how does one get to heaven, the answer is usually that one has to be “good” or do “good” works or be a “good” person. That has become the politically correct mantra. We measure how God should act by how we would like Him to act. And then try to measure up to the ground rules we create. I think there’s a conflict of interest here!
Jesus tackles that thinking head on in Matthew 19 when a rich young ruler approaches Him with his question about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. He asked Jesus “what good thing must I do to get eternal life.” Sounds like a sound question, right
Jesus responds rather strangely that no one is good except God. Meaning, of course, that goodness was not a trait that man can attribute to himself.
Jesus continues. (I’m paraphrasing here, so give me a little latitude) “And by the way, rich young ruler, you have to obey all the commandments to secure your future. And, while you’re at it, go and give away everything you own to the poor, and maybe then you will get eternal life!”
Oops. “Now I’m really in trouble,” thought the young man. He finally understood what many of us fail to understand even today…that while it may be politically correct to accept goodness as a measure of how one enters the Kingdom, Jesus dispels that summarily by saying that it’s humanly impossible to achieve the degree of goodness required by God to warrant our entrance into the Kingdom.
The Old Testament is a bit stronger, and earthier, about describing men’s “goodness.” It says that our righteousness is literally like a filthy menstrual rag. (Isaiah 64.6) Ouch! That hurts.
Scripture says that the young man went away stunned (again my paraphrase, but you get the picture.)
His disciples are equally stunned by that realization, and they respond with the obvious question, “who then can be saved?”
And Jesus responds by saying that with man it’s impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Jesus squarely takes it out of the hands of man to determine how to get to heaven and places it right where He wanted it..on His shoulders. He said He was the way, the door, the path to eternal life. (John 14:6)
Now that statement really annoys the pc police because it sounds too exclusive. You can almost hear the politically correct say “What do you mean I’m not good enough to get to heaven?” Talk about a burr under your saddle!
Well, let me tell you that I am sure happy that getting into heaven is not about being good. I mean, who is going to measure how good you have to be to be good enough? Who’s in charge of that deal? That scares me.
As I said, I’m not a betting man, and betting on the hope that my “goodness” will outweigh my “badness” sounds like something from one of those poker games. You’ll often hear someone say, when placing a bet, that they have a “good” hand. Unfortunately, it’s not “as good” as the next guy with the winning hand.
I want a winning hand when it comes to heaven. I want certainty. I just don’t want to THINK I’m good enough, only to find out one day that it was not quite good enough. Jesus meets us in the middle of the poker game and says that getting into heaven needn’t be a craps shoot. That’s just one of many reasons why the Gospel is good news.
Now, the REALLY good news is that Jesus substitutes the word “good” for the word “grace.” Grace is unmerited favor, which means we did nothing to get into the game and a seat at the table. And, when the cards are dealt, we are given the winning hand. All the time. That’s grace. I like that.
Uncertainly leaves me a bit fearful. Certainty is a sign of real love. Now, that sounds more like a loving God.
Quite frankly, I’d rather not gamble on eternity. If there’s one thing in this world I want to be sure of, that’s it! Can there be greater news than that!
I don’t want to wake up someday being politically correct, but eternally wrong.
How about you?
In our increasingly secular society, the person of Jesus evokes a variety of reactions, and after two millennia, remains a controversial figure. He’s admired and ridiculed; revered and rejected; embraced and dismissed. However you may feel about Jesus…whether as God or as a great teacher or as a deranged individual–he still is the central figure in all of human history. As such, both what Jesus said to the world in general, and asks of His followers in particular, demand our scrutiny.
But close scrutiny of Jesus will lead us to understand Him in a way that does not fit into a politically correct context in which all “truth” is equal. (For our purposes, I define Political Correctness as the “chic” moral ideology of the day advocated and fleshed out in the public square by self-appointed gatekeepers of public opinion to the point where that definition becomes “fashionable.”)
Jesus was not open-minded when it came to truth. He stated that He was THE truth—which flies in the face of political correctness that tries desperately to not step on anyone’s sensitivities. Unless of course, that person belongs to the group whose moral ideology the gatekeepers want to replace with their own.
Political correctness would try to make Jesus “fashionable” in an effort to de-deify Him and make Him more palatable to our culture. But Jesus calls us to be salt and light, not chameleons. If we are Christ followers, changing colors may allow us to blend in, but at the expense of preservation and dispelling darkness.
As such, we need to understand what our culture is saying when it talks of diversity, tolerance, and other popular politically correct concepts and how they clash with what Jesus taught. Political correctness is all about accommodating, and ultimately, shaping the culture. But Christ calls us to a counter culture.
The challenge is how should we respond to truth in a culture that seeks to dilute our beliefs and dumb-down our faith?
To do that requires a new model—and that’s the mission of this blog. To suggest that no higher level of “correctness” exists than to embrace the political incorrectness of Jesus.