Archive for the 'Christian Faith' Category

22
Jun
17

Why The Church Must Love The Refugee” by Scott Gustafson

Here are a few excerpts from “Why The Church Must Love The Refugee” by Scott Gustafson.

Please go to the link at the end of this post and read the whole article.

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Research finds that churches are 2x more likely to fear refugees than help them

 

The biblical case is clear for the Christian: caring for foreigners, immigrants, and the refugee is an irrefutable mandate.

 

Though we gratefully enjoy the benefits of American freedom today, from a biblical perspective we are not entitled to it, for it is far from the norm in the biblical and historical context.

In our fear of losing our blessed, but uniquely American comforts and freedoms, we have conflated ‘Christian’ with ‘American’.

 

 

I pray that the church will not miss one of the greatest ministry opportunities in the history of mankind out of a fear of cultural change and an idolization of safety. Now is the time to be salt and light.

http://www.zwemercenter.com/why-the-church-must-love-the-refugee/

22
Jun
17

Is This What You Do? Is This What You See?

Does the following reflect the way we live our lives – or at least how we ASPIRE to live?

Or do we prioritise other things that might be compromised if we obeyed what Jesus said?

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

(Luke 6)

15
Jun
17

A Flawed Historical Viewpoint.

The state of the western political world today:

 

  1. USA and Donald Trump (does any more need to be said?)
  2. Britain: Brexit, Theresa May and a hung Parliament.
  3. In Australia, partisan politics continues to cripple a government that often seems to have more policy disagreements within its own ranks than it has with the official opposition party.
  4. France: power to be in the hands of a new, untested, quickly cobbled together party based on the charisma of a young leader. Can such a party provide longstanding stable government?
  5. German elections in September… what surprises could that bring?

 

Some religious commentators are attributing the increasing instabilities in the “Western World” to a departure from our historical Judeo-Christian foundations; but I find their view of history is seriously flawed.

What kind of “Judeo-Christian” foundation was “Western democracy” ever built upon? Has there ever (REALLY) been an all-encompassing embracing of Jesus or His gospel?

 

Over over centuries there was a lot of religious superstition, theological rhetoric, and political USE of the Church as a tool of government.

And while there may have been individual pockets of society that at times have shown authentic devotion to God, has there ever been a GENUINE widespread, long-lasting commitment to Jesus and His Kingdom that could result in a claimed blessing of “the West” over past centuries – blessings that are now allegedly being forfeited?

 

If anything, it seems to me that during the period AFTER the claimed abandonment of Judeo-Christian ideals, the west experienced its most peaceful and prosperous period: that is post WWII.

Of course there were ongoing problems, but arguably, things had never previously been better for the average person in the west as the world got back to its feet after the death and destruction of the Second World War.

It’s mostly in the last decade or two (significantly post 9/11) that perceived threats have led to growing fear that blessings (our comforts, safety and wealth) will be forfeited due to a casting aside of Judeo-Christian” ideals. (Proffered evidence of this casting aside can date back a century or two. One case I’ve seen points way back to the French Revolution* as an example!).

Those fears of loss at the heart of the argument seem mostly founded on a fear of others – those “not of the west” . A fear that others coming into our nations will disrupt and compromise our “western values” – values that to a great part are not necessarily Kingdom values anyway.

 

Apart from the current issue of promoting a fear-based ideology, the fictionalising of history projects the cause of perceived problems onto society at large, putting the blame on “THEM” and THEIR (society’s) relationship to God; shifting the focus away from the personal and our own relationships with God and the unbelieving society we live among.

 

 

_________________

 

example here

 

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09
Jun
17

Radicalisation Environment part 2. (Westernism)

People often don’t want to hear of  things that might complicate the simplicity of the environment they’ve created around themselves, and they shelter behind walls of ideological insularity.

 

Insularity can blind us to the truth – to reality.

An insular environment can create its own “truth” – making sense of a chosen reality in a way that wouldn’t be possible if we took the time to look beyond the exclusion barriers we’ve erected. In a previous post something very like this kind of situation was termed a “radicalisation environment”, a term initially coined and applied to a situation among some young Muslim men.

 

In many ways “western” Christian experience has been built within an insular exclusion zone (its own type of “radicalisation environment), keeping other cultures at bay, even non-western Christians, and holding to a sense of “specialness”. We have viewed western society and culture as being particularly blessed by God; western comforts and prosperity being the outcome of a “Judeo-Christian” heritage. Effectively, blessings gained because of assumed historical national characteristics more than an ongoing personal connection to God.

I often wonder about the truth of those assumed “blessings”.

 

…others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

 

Modern Western Christianity has been relatively safe and mostly free from the kind of hardship we read about in other nations. Our experience of “Persecution” has mostly been no worse than verbal abuse, or being sidelined by general society. It rarely involves imprisonment, torture or murder as it does elsewhere in the world.

In the west Christian faith has been shaped to make it compatible with western values. When challenges to our perceived blessings arise, the blame is placed on a societal shifting from that Judeo-Christian heritage, and we lament the risk of losing those “blessings”.

 

Popular Western doctrines have their foundation in the kind of thinking that sees western comfort and prosperity as a God-given right. Doctrines like: a pre-tribulation rapture to remove the church from earth before bad things happen. Or prosperity doctrines that promise earthly riches and lives of comfort here and now.

 

Instead of Christianity changing western society, it has increasingly BEEN changed to become a westernised religion quite separated from its origins in the Middle East and increasingly distanced from the experience of non-western believers in places of hardship where reports of revival are increasingly common.

 

Sadly, Western Christians seem to identify much more closely with their secular nation’s interests and their unbelieving compatriots than they do with fellow believers from different countries and cultural backgrounds, and they seem to go to great lengths to protect those national interests, even when there is potential for those interests to be at odds with the Kingdom of God.  *

 

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

___________________

 

* see here:
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-attitudes-displayed-not-necessarily-in-that-order/

Compare the message of the video with the message in the preceding quote from the other blog.

06
Jun
17

The Radicalisation Environment

During the ongoing coverage of the weekend’s terror attack in London, I saw the end of an interview with Australian Labor Party politician, and “global counter-terrorism expert” Anne Aly, who, in 2015, was the “only Australian invited to the White House to speak at a countering-violent-extremism summit”.

 

A phrase she used caught my attention when she spoke of the conditions that led young Muslim men to turn to the kind of violent extremism displayed in the London attack and other terror events before it.

 

She spoke of a “radicalisation environment”, and from the short part of the interview I saw, I realised that the term could also be used to describe a very common kind of experience – where a community of likeminded people create an “environment” that reinforces particular views and a particular way of thinking. Contrary views are excluded, creating an echo-chamber of ideas where their adopted views are never seriously challenged.

In the “old” days – (my younger days) the term brainwashing was often used to describe a similar process, and it was conducted by groups that were often recognised as “cults” – which were comparatively benign in practice (relative to the Islamists of today), presenting no violent security threat to the community at large despite the personal and family costs that often resulted.

 

While the above mentioned “radicalisation environment” (or brainwashing) can create, reinforce and validate violent actions (as per the Islamists), that basic type of environment isn’t completely different to the experience of anyone who takes faith in God seriously. It is easy to isolate ourselves within groups of people of similar beliefs where the validity of those beliefs is not seriously challenged

The most significant difference is the nature of the God in whom we place our faith. How we think about God and what we believe about God will affect the way we act in response to Him. Simply stated; obedience to a violent god will produce violent followers and obedience to a loving God will produce loving followers.

 

A similar kind of “radicalisation environment” can be found in political groups, and partisan bias becomes so entrenched that the faults in one’s own “wing” of politics can become invisible, as can good aspects of the other political “wing”. Those within that “environment” can easily find themselves going with the flow, turning a blind eye to things they wouldn’t normally accept because it is part of the environment they entered and settled within. By identifying as “conservative” because the “conservative” wing of politics has certain views of morality that we see as scripturally endorsed, we can also be prone to aligning ourselves with some ideological stand points that under scrutiny contradict other parts of scripture.

 

Not only are religious and political thought affected by the insularity of “radicalisation environments”, the influence extends to embrace wider cultural norms; where our own culture is seen as the best, and others are seen as lacking, or aberrant in some way. In the past this has been displayed on the “mission field” where westernised cultural standards, such as dress codes and fashion styles were pressed upon communities as part of the “gospel” being presented.

But religion, politics and culture are never experienced in isolation from each other; and the wrong mix has the potential to become toxic, with national, cultural and political identities blending with religious identity. So our particular nation and culture, or our political views, (in our minds) become more favourable to God than other countries, cultures and political viewpoints. Our group is seen as His group. Our standards are seen as His standards. Our ways are seen as His ways.

 

That can give unwarranted justification to any group’s actions that in reality may be far outside of God’s agenda, and even contrary to it.

02
Jun
17

as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone

I see this as a continuation of what I wrote in my earlier post a hate-speech whirlwind, particularly with regard to the bible reference quoted in it.

1 Cor 5: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”

 

Consider the content of the talk in this video. Compare and contrast its message with common Christian attitudes and behaviours towards others.
Does it concern you (even before listening to it) that the talk is given by a Muslim woman?

 

The Muslim on the Airplane: Amal Kassir

 

After taking some time to make the above mentioned comparison and contrast, consider how often commonly expressed and displayed Christian attitudes live up to the content of this scripture excerpt:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

31
May
17

A Hate-Speech Whirlwind

Australian tennis great, Margaret Court, has become the centre of a hate-speech whirlwind.
She apparently wrote an open letter to a newspaper, announcing she was boycotting the airline Qantas because it’s CEO has been using his position to promote a pro-same sex marriage message. In addition to announcing her boycott, Court allegedly criticised a young Australian tennis player who is in a Lesbian relationship and raising children within that relationship.

In response some have called for a boycott of the tennis arena named in honour of Margaret Court.

 

A few thoughts and observations:

If Court chooses to boycott Qantas for the reasons she stated, she has every right to do so.
If Court chooses to be public about her choice, spelling out the reasons for it, she has every right to do so.

If she did publicly speak out and criticise the Lesbian tennis player personally– I think that wasn’t only very unwise, it was irresponsible and not her place to do so. (“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside”. 1 Cor 5))

As for those calling for the boycott of the tennis arena – again that is their choice to do so, but would their reaction be hurting Court in any way – or just be hurting others (competition organisers, spectators, other players with less profile than themselves) who have no connection at all to Court’s comments?

 

I’ve followed some of the commentary arising out of this situation and have seen the same kind of responses that always seem to dominate any discussion associated with homosexuality and homosexual marriage. Responses regularly bring up claims of young homosexuals suffering and being driven to suicide because of hate speech directed against them.

 

And yet in ironic hypocrisy, ALL of the hate speech I’ve seen in those “discussions” has been directed against Christians and others who don’t support a homosexual agenda. Extremely aggressive, abusive hate speech, sneering and railing against “Right Wing Religious Nut Jobs” and applying similar pejorative descriptions to those holding different views for religious (or other) reasons.

 

Personally I don’t take a hostile position against homosexuality and homosexual marriage within a secular democratic society. (Homosexuality within the church is a different issue. Refer again to the quote I gave earlier from 1 Cor 5: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”)

It’s not our place as Christians to try and enforce Godliness upon the nations where we live. Followers of Jesus are strangers here, living in foreign (often hostile) territory representing God’s kingdom as His ambassadors. It’s not our role to change the nature of the Kingdoms of men. We are placed in those Kingdoms to encourage others to flee those Kingdoms to find refuge in the Kingdom of God.

 

Those who choose to remain outside of God’s Kingdom will answer to God Himself later.

 

 

_______________________

 

See comments section of these articles for countless examples of hate speech, and see who it is directed at.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/31/andy-murray-ramps-up-pressure-with-call-for-swift-resolution-to-margaret-court-furore

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/18/penny-wong-says-marriage-equality-fight-proves-need-for-separation-of-church-and-state

 




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