Archive for the ‘Politics’ Tag

Contending For The Faith Delivered To The Saints! – Part 11

Jesus and Politics 2

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X08EByCsRQg

Slides: NLF Sermon Slides 12.2.18

Audio: Part 10a: 32 min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/18.12.02-contending-for-the-faith-delivered-to-the-saints-part-11a-jude-mark-tah.mp3”

Audio: Part 10b:  32 min

“https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/18.12.02-contending-for-the-faith-delivered-to-the-saints-part-11b-jude-mark-tah.mp3”

Audio: Full Message:

https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/18.12.02-contending-for-the-faith-delivered-to-the-saints-part-11-jude-mark-tah.mp3”


Main Passages: Jude 1  John 4 


 

This Specific Message in the Series Points to the Truth in Christ that: “The Church in its witness must never give ultimate or unquestioned allegiance to any political or social ideology, or to the absolute rule or reign of any person or human institution. It must not idolize any humanly imagined ideal, and it must not justify evil means to accomplish the ideals promoted by ideological zealots. Instead, the church must carefully discern what limited good government (be it local, regional, national or international) can achieve without causing more harm than good (see Romans 13:1-7).”…other good stuff!

This series on God’s Good News urges believers to contend FOR the faith once delivered to the Church, in participation with Jesus Christ!, and AGAINST the ungodly cultural pressures and influences of our current times!

This is a Gospel message to a specific congregation of our times facing issues similar to congregations in other times as seen in the scriptures, particularly the Books of Jude and John. In this series, we make Christ-centered comparisons with the congregation in Jude and the Samaritan woman of Jesus’ time in John 4 to our particular congregation. You may see that the Church in general (especially if in the United States!), faces these same issues and also be helped by WHO and HOW He is proclaimed!

In the light of Jesus and the God revealed in Him (and over the course of 12 messages), we address today’s big questions regarding relationships, race, marriage, love, gender/sexual identity, politics, and worship and witness as it relates to the Christian God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Photo Compliments: http://jacksonwu.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/jesus-politics.jpg

So Why Not Say You’re Gay, or…?

 

col-3-hidden-in-christ

…Black, White, Asian or Hispanic??? Or Republican, or Democrat? Or why not say you’re a Millennial, Boomer, or a Gen X’er??? (After all everyone else calls themselves by their age, too?) Why not call yourself ESFJ, or INTJ – for those familiar with the Myers Briggs personality inventory?

Because, simply put but complexly true, according to Jesus Christ and the God Revealed in Him, you are not any of those things! You certainly may exhibit some of those traits but…

 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

– Colossians 3:3-4 (The Msg)

According to Jesus, from the Father and through the Holy Spirit in the Apostle Paul, that’s why you shouldn’t identify as just any old “thing”, or even as your own thing! So if you’re struggling with your identity, it is probably because you’ve forgotten, or never knew the Truth God points out  through this scripture:

1.) Your identity is not in some thing (your sexual attraction, your skin color, your political party or age), it is in Someone outside yourself, namely, in Jesus Christ, in God. You’re going to have to look outside yourself in the first instance to discover your identity! You should receive and look to Jesus because your real life is hidden in him. Your true humanity is hidden in him. He is your life! (By the way, what largely remains hidden to you now is the glorified humanity Jesus has for you; the humanity that will never die and is incorruptible. What isn’t hidden is all of the other stuff revealed and witnessed to about Jesus in the bible!)

2.) If you’re going to receive who you really are, you’re going to have to follow Jesus and let him show and tell you. Because he is a Person and you are a person, that means discovering your identity is not static but dynamic, or relational and active. Identity is not a thing that can be discovered in isolation from others (as in “I’m a hermit”). Your identity is a discovery that comes in relationship with Jesus and the God Revealed in Him.

3.) One of the greatest and common places Jesus is pleased to meet you is in the scriptures! Perhaps you, personally, are having more clarity about your identity through the scripture just quoted. It wouldn’t surprise me! This Relational God – Father, Son and Spirit is the one who inspired and left us these books we call the bible through which he would encounter us and witness to himself! If you like reading books, he left you quite a few to catch up on! Lol! If you are getting clarity about your identity through the scripture notice that we went to a passage through which God has been pleased to witness to himself (though He’s NOT the bible!) Through that passage he was pleased to speak to you not only about who he is but also about who you really are!

4.) Notice also that this isn’t a scripture only about you, it’s about every one of us! Because of who we are speaking of, Jesus, the God/Man and One who created and sustains every single person, your fellow human beings also have their identity in Him! Jesus is literally the One Human for all! Pointedly, this means you should seek to see your neighbor also for who they are in Jesus who represents all humans in his humanity, namely, your brother or sister, or neighbor in Christ!

Imagine for one moment how transformed our world would be if we referred to all others as “brother” or “sister” or “neighbor” “in Christ” rather than the things I noted in my first few sentences? Can you see the difference that would make in our treatment of each other? Can you sense the other-centered love in humility that could thrive, and the self-centered pride that could die? Wow!!!

By the way, none of this means that you become Jesus or that he becomes you! No! He will still be Jesus and you will still be distinctly you. It does mean that Jesus intends to share with you his awesome and glorified human nature so you can relate with God and each other in a way that partakes of the divine nature, as one made in the image of his image in Jesus (2 Cor 4:4)! His life reveals what it really means to be human and those who trust him get to participate in that!

Here’s the link to a GREAT read through which I was encountered by God – Father, Son and Spirit and got stirred to write this article:  http://www.livingout.org/why-not-say-you-re-gay-

As author Jonathan Berry writes in his last paragraph:

“We’re often warned of the dangers of identity theft in an increasingly digital age. As a Christian I feel passionately that I don’t want to allow myself to be robbed of the enjoyment of these great blessings, by falsely embracing any other identity. In his letter to Christians in Rome, Paul urges his readers not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). For me, a really important aspect of that mind-renewal process involves ditching any unbiblical labels and securing my true identity as being in Christ.” (underline emphasis mine!)

Amen!

– tjbrassell

*photo courtesy of rhemafromgod.blogspot.com

 

Yes – Barack, Hillary and “the Donald” are Better Than You!

hillary-barack-donald

Or, at least grace is given, from Jesus, to consider them better than you! Right? Right? Right?

I know. It almost doesn’t seem like that kind of grace is true for us after seeing or participating in all of those political rants on Facebook this year (and received even in my mailbox today!). But thank Abba Father for helping us to receive this grace, through Jesus, in the Spirit, and written by the Apostle Paul in scripture:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.” Phil 2:3 (AMP)

I’m not saying, and the Apostle Paul isn’t saying, that people aren’t sometimes bad and don’t make bad decisions that suck. They do! We do! You do! Paul did! All do! Paul considers himself to be “the worst of sinners”, 1 Tim 1:16, (as you should be regarding yourself, right?!) Paul is just admitting that, after an encounter with Jesus and receiving Who Jesus says he is, we see that we all suck badly enough with our sin nature that we rebel against God (and you really can’t get worse than that – I don’t care who you are! Can you?)

If for some reason you can’t receive that, then can you at least receive that however far you perceive yourself to be away from Barack, Donald and Hillary in your supposed sin and ethical behavior, you are wayyyyyy to the infinite power closer to them than you are to Jesus, WHO NEVER SINNED! Hmpf! It’s ONLY in Jesus’ humanity that your humanity is perfected, AND, you’re not Him and he’s not you! He sends the Spirit so that we, you, sinners, might be conformed to him, not just in his humanity, but in ours! As Dr. Gary Deddo says “What Jesus does for and to us, the Holy Spirit works out in and through us!”

So, if you’re going to give us a Christian political rant, have at it! But have mercy (the kind you want the political leader to have on others! Ha!). We should be able to sense some of Christ’s humility in your rant, not simply political hate, if you’re a Christian! Can you at least get a word or two in about Christ? It is a “Christ”ian rant, if it’s coming from you, right? Politics are tainted with darkness, so why not leave people with a witness of the hope of Christ in politics, the Light the darkness cannot overcome?

And in case you’ve forgotten Who Jesus is (and we DO forget), he is the Son of Abba Father, who sends the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, bringing Jesus to our remembrance! Yes! Ask Father for the Holy Spirit before your next political rant, because there’s nothing more God would rather give you than the Holy Spirit! Luke 11:9-13.

As the Holy Spirit grants you growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, be political because you’re Christ-centered, not just mentioning Christ because your political-centered! Ha! Proclaim Jesus as the Sovereign of the world and don’t just be concerned with the sovereignty of this or that nation!

Perhaps you think I’m overly spiritualizing things, but I’m actually not! Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” – John 8:12.Whatever spiritual means, it means God in flesh and the ordinary things of life! To say Jesus is to say “flesh” and “Spirit”. Therefore, Jesus IS the spiritual Light on politics, in flesh, and politics really matters, and we ought to wrestle with and talk about it, and all subjects, in the Spirit.

As Christians we’ve not become so poisoned with hate, so sin and policy-centered, that we can’t (or won’t?) write a political rant that leaves us more with the Christian hope than hate for a human brother or sister (political leader), have we?! If we’ve become like that, we need more grace to become more Christ-centered in our spiritual journey. Can’t you use at least 4 of your 150 characters to characterize Jesus and (dare I suggest) request P-R-A-Y-er FOR the political leader as Christ holds them, rather than praying for them to “go to hell” as we hold them. Haha

By the way, if you aren’t claiming to speak or write in Christ’s name, or as one in whom His Spirit dwells, then of course this post wasn’t written for you except as a witness to you of Christ – Who loves and has mercy on you too! (wink wink) And who knows (God knows!) maybe Barack, Hillary and Donald REALLY ARE BETTER THAN YOU, considering Who they know versus Who you know! Hmmmm…

– tjbrassell

 

How Trump & Hillary are (sort of) like God

unilad-donald-trump-bible6Donald Trump has been affecting how I think about God. Really. His popularity baffles me, but a new theory explaining it is making me think harder about what kind of God is revealed in the Bible.

Stick with me…

George Lakoff, UC Berkeley neurolinguist and author of Don’t Think of an Elephant!, believes current U.S. politics can become understandable if we think in terms of parenting styles. Here’s how it works:  In American parenting, there are two main styles which differ in their belief about what children need if they are to mature into responsible adults. The “Strict Father” style values clear rules and strict accountability above all else, while the “Nurturing Parent” style values empathy and people caring for one another above all else. For the record, I know great parents (and great kids) in both camps.

What kind of family should our country be? What is our gut-level vision of the kind of leader our national family needs?  People who want a Nurturing Parent tend to be more liberal in their politics, while the Strict Father types tend to lean more conservative. And for the record, I know great people in both camps.

The point that explains current conservative politics is that not all Strict Fathers are the same.  Some are strict non-interventionists, giving people space to explore and experience the consequences of their actions, regardless of how bad those consequences might be. But other Strict Fathers are more like kings –- setting rules and impartially punishing anyone who breaks those rules. When we understand that BOTH of these qualify as Strict Fathers, we can begin to understand why conservatives are backing a candidate as un-conservative as Donald Trump. He may be a bit dictator-esque, but at least he’s a Strict-Father, Law-and-Order kind of guy. Very deep down, he fits the conservative image better than that Nurturing-Parent Hillary (George Lakoff’s essay about this is the first explanation of the Trump phenomenon that has made sense to me, and I highly recommend it).

But believe it or not, this is not (supposed to be) a political post but a theological one. From here on, at least….

As Trinity and Humanity dwell together with our Father in Christ through the Spirit, what kind of family are we? What is our image of the kind of God/Father we have?

We, the People of Yahweh, have been arguing about that question for thousands upon thousands of years. Our Scriptures contain two voices, often at odds with each other, talking back and forth about which kind of God we have. And it’s not as simple as the difference between the Old and New Testaments, either.

In both testaments, we can observe Yahweh as a Strict Father who (in response to rule-breaking) punishes his children with natural disasters, disease, starvation, and invading armies. Jesus spoke of the same Yahweh, who would within a generation come in fire and judgment to Jerusalem, where not one stone would be left on another (which is exactly what ended up happening).

Yet, in both testaments we can also see Yahweh as a Nurturing Parent who protects his children from their own foolishness, who lets his children argue with him, and on their advice chooses to cancel well-deserved punishments.

Sometimes we see this tension displayed as coming from within Yahweh himself. For example, the first 10 chapters of Hosea are Yahweh’s extravagant description of Israel’s sins and the brutal punishments coming her way, until abruptly without warning in chapter 11:  “How can I hand you over, O Israel?…My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.  I will not execute my fierce anger…for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath” (Hosea 11.8-9). In the same self-conflicted mode, Jesus speaks of Jerusalem as a fruitless fig tree that will soon be chopped down and burned, and then proceeds to weep over his longing to gather the city under his wings like a mother hen.

What kind of God are we dealing with?  A Strict Father or a Nurturing Parent?

I used to think Jesus settled and ended this argument, that he once and for all revealed God to be “nice” and not “mean.”  But in recent times, I have come to see that as too easy an explanation, one that fails to take Scripture with adequate seriousness.

In Jesus we find revealed a God who is Father, Son & Spirit in holy eternal communion with one another and with us. Love is the final Word.  This is a settled fact of the gospel, not under question here.

But as I have discovered in my own parenting journey, Love lives in a persistently unsettled tension between Strict and Nurturing. Real-world Love is both tough and flexible. Consistent yet merciful.  Compassionate but not codependent.  As a Dad, I have no formula or equation for when I should be hard and when I should be soft. You could say it’s a constant fight between my Inner Trump and my Inner Hillary.

The fight doesn’t end. AND IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO.

This is precisely what the agony of parenting is all about. And it is here that I recognize this strange One of the Bible. When I let go of my ideas about GOD and his omni-this and omni-that, I can glimpse in the Bible someone like me –- a loving parent who is finding that Love in the real world is really really COMPLICATED.

I have decided that THIS is the God I believe in –- the God who is so human that he has to argue with himself about how best to love his children.

Even if that means he sometimes acts a little Trump-y and other times a little Hillar-ish.

And I’m going to say it: This God is the MOST HUGELY CLASSY GOD YOU’VE EVER SEEN, AND BELIEVE ME, HE WILL MAKE HUMANITY GREAT AGAIN.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Can I Just Sin All I want?

 

Shortly after I was confronted with Trinitarian thought in 2006 (thanks to my good friend Timothy J. Brassell) I began to wrestle with many issues peripheral to the Gospel. One question that came up over and over was, “Well, If I am saved in Jesus and always will be, why can’t I just sin all I want? God will still love me right?”

Well yes of course, if you sin all you want God will still love you and (here’s the kicker) he will still like you too! But it doesn’t mean we should just sin all we want. In fact Paul’s answer to this question in Romans 6:1-2 is “certainly not!”

Let me explain by using one particular behavior that drives me nuts.pinocchio

It seems that in today’s heated political climate the practice of slandering and denigrating others has been taken to new lows. Every day we hear about some politician who said this about some other politician and then in turn that politician retorts with an equally derogatory statement.

Well what is “Bearing False Witness”? Simply put it is just that, telling a tale about another that is untrue. It isn’t just your basic lie or fairy tale; it is much more mean-spirited than that.

An example of telling a lie would be me telling you that I once caught a ten-pound Largemouth bass- no wait… that one is true. Let’s make it a 30-pound Largemouth bass… that would definitely be a lie.

An example of bearing false witness would be to intentionally, for some nefarious reason, make an accusation against another that is untrue. At its core, bearing false witness has the intention to do harm.

So what’s the big deal? Why not bear false witness and get ahead as a result? Why not spread rumors and make false claims against someone in the office in order to get that promotion instead of them?

Well here’s why.

The Father, Son, and Spirit have created us to share in their very life of love and community. Participating in the Triune Life of God is the specific and foremost reason you and I were created.

So when we read of some behavior that the Lord tells us to avoid, it is always because that behavior is eternally absent from the Godhead. There is never a time when Jesus bears false witness against the Father or the Spirit. The Spirit always bears truth about the Father/ Son relationship in the Life of the Trinity. Likewise there is never any betrayal, stealing, gossiping, cheating, etc…

Do you see? We are created for… and to share the very life of God!

So instead of asking “Why can’t I just sin all I want?” My question gradually became, “Why on earth do I want to sin at all?” And with this new question came a prayer: “Lord please help me remember who I am, whose I am, and teach me how to participate more fully in your divine Life of Love.”

~Bill Winn

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