Wednesday, April 26, 2006

To Be Loyal?

Loyalty: adj. 1. “Faithful to the lawful government, or to the sovereign to whom one is subject. True to any person to whom owes fidelity.”

When used with the above definition, “loyal” is a good word. However, the word “loyal” and the practice of loyalty have gone far beyond that definition. At the best the practice of loyalty is innocent and the worst, it is mindless fanaticism. Sometimes it embraces apostasy. Example of innocent loyalty is when it is to a certain brand of beer, running shoes and perhaps a sport team. No promise of fidelity is being upheld. There is no requirement of loyalty. In all of these practices loyalty has a good reputation.

Loyalty is encouraged and taught as a good thing regardless of the objective we are loyal to. This happens in churches and whole denominations. People are taught loyalty and in turn practice it. They think it is a good thing.

Loyalty can also be expressed in being men followers. St. Paul says that this is immature and carnal. All of this kind of loyalty that is thought as good is a major hindrance to the unity in Christ. It is a means of choosing sides.

I would like you to consider your loyalties as possibly bad things, sins. Even if you have convinced yourself that your reasons are good.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Real Vicarious Event

“Vicarious,” we may not know the meaning of the word but we are living vicariously much of our time. We get vicarious pleasure out of books, movies, adventures, romances and athletic events. Our pleasure is not the pleasure of participation in the event. It is the pleasure of identifying in a substitutionary way with the hero. This vicarious pleasure gets more real with “virtual” action.

However, there is a vicarious event that is real, very real. It is real and effective. It is the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

Monday, April 17, 2006

Everything is Permissable, Not Everything is Beneficial

Paul in his letters raises objections to what he himself is writing and then answers those objections.

Here is his dialogue with himself about sexual promiscuity.

His first paragraph:
“Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-17

Objection
-“Everything is permissible for me.”

Response
-“But not everything is beneficial.”

Objection
-“Everything is permissible for me.”

Response
-“But I will not be mastered by anything.”

Objection
-“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.”

Response
-“But God will destroy them both.”

Final Paragraph:

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Paul appeals to Genesis 2:24, the first man and first woman and the first marriage as “one flesh.” In the beginning God made one man and one woman. He has been creating 50% of each ever since. That means one apiece.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Reintroducing Idolatry

When Moses told the second and third generations the story of the Exodus he knew that those who were between 40 and 60 years old were present during the march and could remember it. He reminded them of that scary night at Horeb.

“Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children." You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. But as for you, the LORD took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.” Deuteronomy 4:10-20

The first three of the Ten Commandments speak to this issue.

The Israelites violated this basic teaching about forty days later and made and worshipped a golden calf with an alter and sacrifices and had a wild party.

For the next 1000 years the Israelites periodically turned to idolatry.

The next 1000 years they were fully free from idolatry. The Christians were very free from it. Mohammed who had been influenced by Jews and Christians founded a religion that was violently iconoclastic.

About that time the second Council of Nicea 725 A.D. reintroduced images, icons into formal Christianity 725.

Now the Muslims would tear down “Christian” icons as well as pagan icons.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Guerrilla Warfare

In the last hundred years there have been many civil wars, most of them conducted by communist guerrilla armies (I lost a good friend in the Philippines in a Huk ambush). In our antagonism toward communist guerrilla armies and now our antagonism to terrorists, we might not see the difference between guerrilla warfare and terrorism.

Recently, Fidel Castro and his brother, General Castro, said that they were against terrorism. General Castro said that if any of the El Quaeda prisoners escaped into Cuba, they would be captured and returned to the Americans.

Che Guevara, the Argentinean guerrilla leader who helped Castro take cuba, knew the difference between guerrilla warfare and terrorism. Here is his distinction in his book Guerrilla Warfare:

"It is necessary to distinguish clearly between sabotage, a revolutionary and highly effective method of warfare, and terrorism, a measure that is generally ineffective and indiscriminate in its results, since it often makes victims of innocent people and destroys a large number of lives that would be valuable to the revolution. Terrorism should be considered a valuable tactic when it is used to put to death some noted leader of the oppressing forces well known for his cruelty, his efficiency in repression, or other quality that makes his elimination useful. But the killing of persons of small importance is never advisable, since it brings on an increase of reprisals, including deaths" (Guerrilla Warfare, pp.61-61).