Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trevor Noah, Racism, and Judas Iscariot

One thing that Trevor Noah said we should do with our oppressors is something that Jesus actually did with Judas Iscariot

In a recent op-ed for the New York Times, South African comedian and TV show host Trevor Noah wrote about his view of racism in the US, and not everyone was pleased with it. A recent BuzzFeed article stated that his recent comments "suggest a profound misunderstanding of the way racism works in America."

One argument was that it is wrong to think that people should “break bread” with those who have oppressed them. As a Christian I must ask not only what would Jesus do, but also what Jesus actually did in similar situations. We must remember that Judas’ betrayal came at no surprise to Jesus. Despite this knowledge, Jesus still continued to spend time with him (literally breaking bread with him), and even during the very act of betrayal called him “friend”. How do we apply this example to our own lives? The answer is simple, but not easy.

What we need to do is spend time with those who hold views that differ from ours. Doing this does not give credence to their views, but rather gives evidence of their value as a person (which is often the root cause of discrimination). As professed followers of Christ we should, well, follow His example in how He treated others, especially those who meant to do Him harm. He treated them with respect with the goal of eventually bringing them into a saving relationship with Him.

At the same time we must be realistic that this process will often be arduous and heart-breaking. This should not cause us to waver in our resolve to win others for Christ. Look what Jesus went through for us, shouldn't we at least give others the same chances He gives us?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Focusing Our Energies

We only have so much time and energy. As Christians only one area deserves the bulk of those resources.

If you follow this blog, you know that I am concerned about how Christians as individuals and the church at large should be relating to government. Last night as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I found an article retweeted by Univision's Jorge Ramos. Written by a South African Journalist, it talked about what the press can expect from a President Trump, and how they should deal with it. This got me thinking once again about my role a Christian in this upcoming presidency. What should I be concerned with, and what should I do?

The Benefit of Focus


As I mentioned in my previous post, doing something is much better than doing nothing, but we still need to be intelligent as to how we use our time and energy. Better to put a lot of energy into one area, than to spread yourself too thin. Think of it this way, if you take a sewing needle and push it into a piece of fabric, it doesn't take a lot of force to push it through. When we focus even a small amount of energy into a precise area it can be quite effective. As a parent of small children, I don't have a lot of time to spare, and I would venture a guess that many of you also have some committments that are non-negoitable. So that being said, in what area should we focus our energies?

Where Should We Focus?


For me there is only one area that should receive the bulk of my energy, and that is the building up of God's kingdom. Sadly, I have to clarify what I mean by that statement. I say "sadly" because many people are under the dangerous misconception that expanding God's kingdom involves greater political influence. Their goals are to put "Christian" politicans into office and pass laws that enforce their personal beliefs. The Biblical view of God's kingdom tends to be quite different.

The passage in the Scriptures commonly referred to as The Gospel Comission goes as follows,
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
As a Christian, that is my mandate, and that should be the focal point of my energies. All other goals should either be secondary or non-existent. How do we put that thought into practice? The answer is simpler that you may think.

How Do We Put Our Focus Into Practice?

Jesus told His first disciples, and us, to make people followers of Him, and to teach others what He has taught them. The only way we can truly accomplish those goals for others is to accomplish those goals first for ourselves. To be a follower of Jesus, one must first know Who He is. Where did He focus His attention? What did He do with His time? While there are many good books about Jesus, the best is, of course, the Bible. Begin first with those parts of the Bible that focus on His life and expand from there. With much of the world now turning their attention to the story of His birth, there is no better time than now to start striving for that goal.

So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Now What?

A brief guide on what to do in a post-election America.

This past presidential election has highlighted many divides in the United States. Now that the election is over a growing realization is settling in that we have to still live with each other. I have been thinking quite a bit as to the pain I have seen displayed on Facebook, and I posted my thoughts there regarding that subject. I garnered many positive responses to that post, but positive online responses mean very little without concrete actions to accompany them. So with that in mind, I will share some actions that we need to take. These will be from a Christian perspective, but even those without this perspective will most likely find something helpful.



The Bible states that we should "Pray without ceasing." Without prayer even the most well-intentioned response can can easily go awry. If for no other reason prayer is beneficial because it causes us to slow down and let our minds process the flood of information and emotions that bombard us. We need to keep in mind that prayer is much more than listing our grievances. It should involve a great deal of listening to what God has to say to us. While we're at, we should also do a lot more listening to each other.



Some of my Facebook posts led to someone (with views different than mine) contacting me privately regarding my motivation for posting the articles/videos that I did. This led to a conversation in which we came to the agreement that a major problem was that many people simply talk past each other instead of attempting to see the world from the other persons/groups point of view. Listening doesn't mean that you have to compromise your views, it simply shows others the respect that you would like them to show to you. You might be surprised to discover causes that both of you agree should be defended.

Defend Causes Not Candidates


Christianity has been done a great disservice by religious leaders that feel the need to promote one candidate or one political party over the other. Such pandering to political power causes many to think that Christians care primarily about winning elections instead of winning souls. I see no where in the Scriptures where Christians are told to aspire to political power. Doing so only corrupts both institutions, with Christianity taking the brunt of the damage. (Something I wrote about in previous posts.) Defending causes can be done in many ways, but the most obvious way is to . . .

Donate Time and Money


Your first priority should be your place of worship because let's face facts, the problems we face in this world cannot be solved by political means. Changes in attitudes come only through changes of the heart, and the best conduit of that change at least should be places of worship. If you discover that your religious leaders hold views that you believe to be wrong, talk with them. If you don't get satisfactory answers to your questions and concerns, prayerfully consider finding somewhere else to worship. However, don't give up on God altogether. The Devil often uses corrupt leaders to drive people away from God. Don't allow yourself to fall into that trap. There may also be other organizations that you're interested in supporting outside of your place of worship. You should support them as well with your time and money. If you can't support them in those ways, show your support online. Also, let's not forget another way to show your support is to . . .

Contact your Political Representatives


I put this one last for the reason I mentioned in the previous section, political action will only take you so far. However, that doesn't mean that you should totally neglect this avenue. Find out who your representatives are and contact them, and don't forget your local ones. The best way to get your message across is to go old school: telephone calls and snail mail. Electronic means of communication will generate an electronic response, often automatically. The higher level of interaction the greater the impact.

Whatever You Do, Do Something

We find ourselves at a key point in history, and our actions determine not only our future on this world, but also in the world to come. Regardless of your views of Jesus, one thing we can agree on is that He wasn't lazy. He went about doing good. For His professed followers to be spectators to this country's and this world's suffering does a disservice to the name of Christ, and should not be tolerated. So as you go about doing good, encourage others to do the same, and hopefully we can help bring an end to this suffering once and for all.