Monday, April 6, 2015

Fighting the Bad Fight

Christianity's ongoing battle with atheism and secularism is not only misguided, but also not what God intended for His church.

I recently heard a story about the evangelist Billy Graham. What piqued my interest was how almost overnight he transitioned from relative unknown to household name. One day he showed up to the tent where he was holding a series of meetings and discovered a gaggle of news reporters who were eagerly writing down everything he said. When he inquired as to what caused all this interest, he discovered that he had caught the eye of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, and the rest, as we say, is history. Mr. Hearst never divulged the reason for his interest in Graham, but the historian who was telling the story stated that it had a lot to do with current world events, namely the rise of communism as a world power.

You see, the Soviet Union had successfully test fired a nuclear bomb, and Mao Zedong had recently taken over China. Communism now posed a real threat to the American way of life, or at least that is how many perceived it. Atheism being one of the main tenets of Communism, a key way to fight against it was a revival of religion in the United States. Hearst most likely saw in Graham a person who could spearhead such a revival. This revival that Graham participated in came about in a large part as a means to counteract the perceived encroachment of atheistic communism. Religion (i.e. the Judeo-Christian belief system) was essentially a weapon meant to ward off those who would seek to undermine American ideals.

The popularity of "this Christianity as a weapon" concept has in a large part caused the downfall of true Biblical Christianity because it has made the religion popular again on a grand scale. Christianity was never meant to be popular. The Roman emperor Constantine's supposed conversion did more damage than all the persecution up to that point because by making Christianity popular it brought in a sense of entitlement. This sense of entitlement causes adherents to the religion to do whatever it takes to preserve their popularity, including countless atrocities committed in the name of God, but more subtly it causes Christians to be on the continual lookout for battles to fight as a means of promoting the Christian brand.

One can hardly escape hearing about some ideological battle that Christians are fighting: creation vs. evolution, the "War on Christmas", abortion, gay marriage, the list goes on and on, all the while neglecting Jesus' words and example to the contrary. A prime example is His declaration to "be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." That's right, Jesus said that He has overcome the world, meaning that we don't have to, so why do we insist on trying to accomplish such a feat?

When Jesus was on the earth, His focus was on relieving people from religious oppression, not secular oppression, so why do His professed followers focus so much on the secular aspect? The simple answer is that it is easier to look out than to look within. Personal attacks are much easier to accomplish than personal growth because growth requires sacrifice, and sacrifice is uncomfortable. Despite the fact that Jesus sacrificed not only His comfort, but also His very life, we would rather give up as little as possible and attack those who threaten our comfortable way of life.

You can probably see where I'm going here. For multiple reasons, the professed followers of Christ have decided to go against His teachings and as a result are trying to compensate for the church's shortcomings by attacking those outside of the church; the very ones Jesus told us we should be trying to reach.

Now is high time for Christians to stop fighting the bad fight of unbelief and start fighting the good fight of faith, and see what wonders God will work in our lives and in the lives of others.

Friday, February 13, 2015

[Video] The Dark Side of Chocolate

For those of us who want/need a reason to stay away from chocolate this Valentine's Day, the documentary "The Dark Side of Chocolate" offers one very good one (Hint: It's probably not what you think it is.)

I was on youtube watching a video on the negative health effects of sugar, and one of the related videos was one titled "The Dark Side of Chocolate". Since I had just finished watching a video on health, I naturally thought that this chocolate video would talk about how eating chocolate is bad for me. What I discovered was something completely different. Here's the trailer.

If you want to watch the video in its entirety you can do it here, and you can visit the website here. Suffice it to say that I won't be buying chocolate anymore. I also plan on writing about some of the issues presented in this video in a later post, so stay tuned.

Have a Happy (Chocolate-free?) Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

To Be Loved

Satya Nadella wants love, but he's looking for it in all the wrong places.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, recently made a statement that caught my attention. He stated,
"We want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows, to loving Windows. That is our bold goal."
A bold goal, yes, but not an uncommon one. I'll follow that up with a bold statement of my own, Mr. Nadella has this love thing all wrong.

Now, to be fair, one can't get a full view of what someone thinks about a topic, (especially a complex topic such as love) from a couple sentences, but it's a start. You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can still get a general idea from that cover as to what is inside. So that being said, let's unpack Nadella's statement.

Nadella's Ladder
  • Needed: When we associate with someone out of necessity it means that we really don't want to, but we do it because we have to. An example is children choosing teams for a game, the last kid picked was picked simply because they were the only one left. Not a favorable position to be in.
  • Chosen: The next rung in Nadella's ladder is more favorable, but still not ideal. Someone in the chosen category is definitely liked, but is also interchangeable with others. Firmly in the middle of the pack, it's nice for them to be around, but we don't really miss them when they're gone.
  • Loved: The top of the ladder, and Nadella's goal for Windows. Someone in this category cannot be done without. The first one picked, they not only make life worth living, but also are sorely missed when they're gone.
That sort of progression may work with Mr. Nadella, but God's love turns that list around.

God's Love is Different

With God's list, the love comes first. In fact, God loves us even though we were/are His enemies. He doesn't need anything from us, but still wants to spend time with us. Not only does He love us, but He also showed that love by dying in our place.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 NIV
Let that sink in for a little bit. The best human relationship we can imagine pales in comparison with the relationship that God offers us. In essence, this unconditional love and acceptance is what sets Christianity apart from other world religions. Nothing is earned, it is only received, and anyone who states otherwise is not a true follower of God.

So as many people (at least in the United States) start talking about a holiday of love, don't be like Nadella and look for love simply from other people, look to the True Source because it is only from this Source will your desires be truly fulfilled.