Category: Sin

“Evil is Dead, Long Live Evil!”

2004-vacation-0951.jpgWhen my kids were growing up we found it necessary from time to time to discipline them and yes, we would implement corporal punishment when indicated.  I hated when we had to do this.  While discipline was a necessary component of our parenting, I would never punctuate it with a fist pumping victory dance.  I grieved that it had to be done…but it did have to be done.

I responded to the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise with a solemn sigh of relief.  I won’t rejoice in an eye for an eye.  I acknowledge that justice was necessary but the joyful response from many is little more than a gross satisfaction of bloodlust.  Let us not lose sight of the fact that the actions, admittedly reprehensible, by bin Laden were in response to his own sense of violation and attack from “outsiders”.  The darkness that drove him to commit his many atrocities is the same hateful evil that motivates many westerners to pop a cork and raise a glass in celebration of this recent remedy…it is a toxic cocktail of fear and hate that brings us to this point.  Osama bin Laden was driven by a sense that he and his world had been and continued to be unjustly attacked and a sense that what he was doing was right as twisted as that may sound it is a logical response to his sense of injustice.  Therefore he responded in much the same manner as we have responded to his actions.  Justice is necessary to forestall anarchy but the meting out of justice over one individual or one offense does not serve to rid the world of evil…which can be found neatly tucked away in our collective selfish nature.

Osama bin Laden is gone; evil, terrorism and al-Qaida are not.  Perhaps one day we will comprehend the necessity of combating hatred itself rather than specific individuals, regardless of their character or deeds, through the pursuit of love.  (To love people does not concede approval of their actions)  Naïve?  Absolutely; but I will not relinquish my hope for the best…the desire of God that “no one should perish, but come to repentance”.  Hatred cannot defeat hatred and darkness cannot defeat darkness.  It would be like using anthrax to heal a rattlesnake bite.  Darkness is only overcome by light and hatred only by love.

I salute those who made the difficult decisions, painstaking and diligent research and assumed immeasurable risk to carry out this action in defense of our free world.  I can and do express my gratitude however I cannot celebrate what is ultimately just another manifestation of the malevolent nature that is inside all of us.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

-Ephesians 6:12-

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Did God give us Commandments to take the fun out of life?

2004-vacation-0951.jpgAs a college student in the 1930’s my mom took up smoking until it was determined that smoking is a health hazard.   Upon learning this truth she immediately quit but obviously she was in a minority in that resolution.  Even with today’s easy access to accurate health information people still engage in lifestyle practices that are not necessarily in their best interest.

If one wants to succeed at any endeavor there are certain practices that must be employed or perhaps commandments to be observed.

If one desires good health eating right and exercise are vital.

If one wants to initiate a new business venture sacrifices of time and priority are essential.

Are reasonable people offended by the doctor who councils them to eat right and exercise to increase their energy and health?  Do rational people become angry when an employment councilor offers best practice advice to improve employment or advancement opportunities?

The commandments were given to us by God in order to provide wisdom for us to fulfill our potential as individuals.  God knows what hinders us and what enables us to fulfill our highest capabilities; our destinies if you will.  To that end He introduced the commandments to enable us to live life to the fullest.  Jesus came “…that we might have life and have it to the full”.

The practice of condemning people over habits, vices and lifestyle contradicts the truth and the value that the Bible reveals; “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. If Jesus’ sacrifice was provided “while we were still sinners” then why is there so much focus on behavior modification?  If the Holy Spirit transforms behavior, who died and made church attendees responsible for brow beating everyone into holy submission?

God assumed the form of man in the person of Jesus and entered the world so that we can all enter into a relationship with Him on His terms.  The issue of our imperfections and iniquities was cleansed by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  As a follower of Christ it is not incumbent on us to focus on proper behavior or, dare I say observation of the Law, rather it is our mandate and privilege to imitate Jesus.  The commandments He gave us and the example He set for us were to Love God, Love everyone else and treat others in the manner that we would want to be treated.

The message that the church has to share with the rest of the world is simply this; “We all screw up and that affects us negatively.  Jesus covered the cost of our imperfections (though not necessarily the consequences).  If we follow Jesus and by that I mean live a life imitating Him then we can reach the maximum level of our God-given potential.  If we trust that His sacrifice covers the cost of our imperfections then we will have a full life and an eternal hope.”