Archives for the month of: November, 2014

flag

With liberty and justice for all…

Those are the words on which the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance rests. Unfortunately, the grand jury’s November 24, 2014 ruling on the Ferguson, Missouri shooting has once again exhumed a dirty, American secret—racism.

Racism in America is ubiquitous. It’s in our schools. It’s in our government. It’s in our homes, and it’s even in our churches. Yes, racism is even present in the house of God. For some, “liberty and justice for all” is conditional. For those individuals, the privilege of justice and equality is applied only to the subset of the population that looks and thinks like them.

I’m only three paragraphs into this blog, and I have probably already offended a great majority. When it comes to social faux pas, religion and politics are high on the list. However, I think that is part of the problem. Our nation has become so concerned with political correctness that we have diminished the free exchange of ideas and information and substituted it with a false sense of tolerance. A nation that is tolerant will always be a nation filled with prejudice, apathy, and hatred. You see, tolerance is not the same as acceptance or even love. To tolerate someone means that if given the change, you would rather not interact with them. You tolerate them because you have no choice. For a nation that rests on the principles of God, that is unacceptable!

This morning, as my fingers stroked across my keyboard, I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with today’s blog. My heart ached as I read about a city stricken by grief and charged emotions. I mourned over a mother who has lost her child. As I tried to make sense of all this madness, I wondered, “Where is God in all of this?” The verse that immediately came to mind was, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” (2 Chronicles 16, 9).

Throughout the bible, God is constantly looking for at least one person who will make a difference in their generation. Before God destroyed the city of Sodom, he said to Abraham, “

“If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it,” (Genesis 18: 26-32).

I believe that God is looking for someone, at least one person, in each generation that will stand up in His name. This means standing up in the face of injustice and inequality. It means speaking love into the hearts and the lives of God’s people.

With liberty and justice for all…

The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), a Baptist minister and a Christian Socialist. The original version read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Years later, Louis Albert Bowman ignited a movement to incorporate the phrase “one nation under God.” Now, I don’t know how that all transpired, nor do I know what political processes were in place for that to occur. The point I am trying to make is this: one person can make a difference. Many are called, but only few are chosen. Will you answer the call to be a voice of your generation? The world needs people who are unapologetically, unashamed to stand up for justice—to stand up for God.

The problem is that most people are waiting for someone else to make the sacrifices.  Most people are waiting for someone else to take a stand.  What if that person that everyone is wait on is you?  What will you do?

Advertisements

John the Baptist gave his life to Christ—literally—yet he died one of the Bible’s most gruesome deaths.

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:6, ESV).

Some translations say, “’God blesses those who do not turn away because of me,'” (NLT).

When John the Baptist heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else,” (Matthew 11:2-3)? Imagine how John the Baptist must have felt when he first got word that Jesus was the Messiah. Surely, all of his suffering was going to be over. Surely, he would be freed from prison and the brutality he suffered at the hands of his capturers. I believe that the reason John sent his disciples to meet Jesus might have been two-fold. First, maybe a part of him wondered whether Jesus knew that he had been arrested. Secondly, I believe that he wanted to be unequivocally sure that he had sacrificed his life for something real—something that mattered.

Isn’t that how most of us who have chosen to walk with Jesus feel, or have felt at some point in time. We feel as if we have sacrifice so much. Many of us feel as if we have trusted God with everything, yet we question whether he is aware of the “prisons” in which we sit. We question whether or not we are believing in something or someone who truly exists. Many of us think that if we believe and trust in God, He will rescue us from our situations. However, it doesn’t always work that way. John the Baptist dedicated his life to Christ, yet he was imprisoned and beheaded. How many examples can you think of in your life where the people around you, including yourself, have made sacrifice in the name of God, yet He has seemingly failed them?

John the Baptist must have been at his wits end. He knew that death was eminent. He wanted to know that it was all worth it—that his sacrifices were not in vain. I believe that a greater part of him wanted Jesus to return with the disciples and rescue him from death. However, Jesus did not return, he only sent word, “’Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me,’” (Matthew 11:4-6, NLT).

Here is what I believe that Jesus was saying to John and to us, “Deep down you know that I exist. You have seen my miracles. They are all around you. You are surrounded by inexplicable events that can only be accomplished by a higher power—Me. People all over the world are experiencing my blessings, not just those whom the world considers to be in good standing (e.g. rich and powerful). Don’t be discouraged when it seems like I am not at work in your situation. Look around you. My work is all around you. How could you be surrounded by my greatness and yet be excluded? Just give me a chance! Don’t just judge me based on a snapshot. Look at the whole picture. If you just trust me, I will reward your obedience. I know it hurts, but I have promised to wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4). Don’t turn away because you think that I don’t care. I will honor you.”

The truth is John the Baptist’s life and subsequent death was the fulfillment of prophesy. His sacrifice has paved the way for countless others. Our God is a big picture God, and unfortunately (or fortunately), sometimes our sacrifices are for the benefit of others. As I close, the most recent person that came to mind was Martin Luther King Jr. and the many people who lost their lives in the American Civil Rights Era. Many of them did not live to see the fruits of their sacrifices. However, as a result of their selflessness, I am able to freely write this blog. As a result of John the Baptist’s sacrifice I am able to know the glory of God. I believe with all my heart that when I get to heaven, I will see John the Baptist sitting in his seat of glory. I believe that many of us will be rewarded with the blessings that Earth withheld.

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:6, ESV).