Insulting God

When we think of insulting God, it’s easy to imagine someone like the French philosopher Voltaire, with hands raised in the air, uttering his famous words against Jesus

“Curse the wretch. In 20 years, Christianity will be no more. My single hand will destroy the edifice it took 12 apostles to rear.”

That’s one way to insult God. Attack Him directly. Be clear in your blasphemy. Don’t mince words. Go with the full hatred and rebellion in your heart. No subtly needed. Voltaire was not the first to do this of course (even on the cross we read of mockings casted towards Jesus), nor will he be the last.

There is another way however in which God is insulted. One that is not so in-your-face. Not so evident. Solomon speaks it in the proverbs:

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” (Proverbs 14:31)

That word “oppress” is elsewhere translated as defraud, burden, extort, crush, and abuse. When those things happen to the poor, God is insulted as if Voltaire was playing on repeat. Why is God insulted when the poor are oppressed? Well, the proverbs says God is the maker of the poor. That is, He has created them, and thus they bear His image. Despite their poverty, despite their lack, despite their perceived difference because they do-not-have, they bear the image of their Maker. And because of this, oppressing the poor implies that God’s image means nothing in comparison to riches and material. It implies that God’s worth, endued in a person, is judged wanting against the image of money and possessions.

That’s insulting to God.

How we treat the poor is not just a matter of kindness towards humanity. It’s a matter of reverence towards our Maker. There’s no way around that. Our attitude, our inner secret thoughts of those that are destitute, and perhaps most challenging, our intentionality towards their care – says something about how we truly value our God.

WARNINGS

We get a sense of this when Paul tells the church in Corinth that some of them have been judged and died because they’ve participated in communion in an “unworthy manner.” What was that? Well, the rich were using the Lords table to shame the poor. That’s insulting to God, and apparently the just response to that was sickness and death to the oppressors (1 Corinthians 11).

John Calvin had this to say about the issue:

“If the poor souls that have bestowed their labor and travail and spent their sweat and blood for you be not paid their wages as they ought to be  .  .  . if they ask vengeance against you at God’s hand, who shall be your spokesman or advocate to rid you out of his hands?”

A little later, Abraham Kuyper had this to say:

“when the rich and the poor oppose each other  .  .  . both the Christ, and also just as much His apostles after Him as the prophets before Him, invariably took sides against those who were powerful and living in luxury, and for the suffering and oppressed.”uch His apostles after Him as the prophets before Him, invariably took sides against those who were powerful and living in luxury, and for the suffering and oppressed.”

These are not condemnations against being rich, only warnings against ignoring the poor.

ONGOING OPPORTUNITIES

On last reflection on this topic. Jesus said something that ought to stick out in all of this. He said “the poor you will always have.” (Matt 26:11). Know what that means? That means every day, we have an opportunity to affirm – in our words, our attitudes, our spending, our intentions, our care, yes, even our voting – to affirm and proclaim the worth of our Maker. This, instead of insulting Him.

Staying Focused Around Land Mines

As I get ready to preach through the Olivet Discourse in Mark 13, these words resonate:
 
“The most important thing that Christians have been called to do is to preach the gospel to all the nations (13: 10). When the Son of Man comes, he will not quiz people to see whose predictions on the date were accurate. He will want to know what we were doing. Were we proclaiming the gospel to all the nations? Were we enduring suffering faithfully? Were we fulfilling the assigned tasks? Those who have been asleep on the job or buried in the task of trying to map out the times rather than carrying out the mission will be more than just embarrassed; they will be judged. That is why Jesus warns his disciples to be on their guard (13: 9)” – David Garland, NIV Application Commentary

Being Spiritual and Drifting From God

I’m reading a book by Eugene Peterson, whom I’ve grown to greatly appreciate:

 

“There are seething energies of spirituality in evidence everywhere. To begin with this is a good thing. But spirituality is also prone to imprecisions that clutter the playing field and make it difficult to carry on a conversation. Four are common: First, spirituality easily, almost inevitably, develops elitist postures as it notices that so many of the men and women that we rub shoulders with in our work and worship are so “unspiritual.” Then, in the enthusiasm of firsthand experience, spirituality imperceptibly wanders away from its basic spirituality text, the Bible, and embraces the inviting world of self-help. Now, exposed and vulnerable to a culture that is only too happy to supply the terms of discourse, spirituality is diluted or emptied of any gospel distinctiveness. Finally, in reaction to what is assumed to be “dead” theology, spirituality easily becomes theologically amnesiac and ends up isolated from any awareness of the grand and spacious God horizons, the truly vast landscapes in which we are invited to live out the Christian life.”

– Peterson, Eugene H.. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (p. 13)

Considerations On Earth Day

In light of Earth Day, and in light of all the talks of climate change, I thought I’d shared two videos. One is by a professor that taught at MIT for 30 years in atmospheric physics and published 200+ papers (i.e. brilliant) and the other, co-founder of Greenpeace speaking before congress (i.e. you better be clear and know what you’re saying, even if no one agrees with you). Both are labeled as climate change deniers.

 

 

 

Of course there’s a lot of debate in this, or I think there should be. Some have said the debate is done, but I’m no so convinced. I’m not convinced because of logic like this (and mind you, this is from one site only that does support the view of climate change).

First – show the sharp, exponential growth in CO2 levels:

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Then show a historical trend

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Lastly, make an extrapolation that goes like this:

  • Make the assumption that that top graph must coincide with the bottom graph
  • Don’t talk about any other possible factors that come into play
  • Don’t give some analysis on what that graph might look like if it spanned say 500 years.

That last point is important. Before we declare that the world is going to end and that climate change is the most important issue facing our day (as many do), it would be important to see a bigger time span. After all, the earth has been around for far more than 120 years, and it may be that given temperature ranges across a thousand year span, the 0.7 degree celsius change may be very normal. Or it may not be. But to speak of climate change as it is spoken today seems absolutely premature. There are so many issues here that should be considered, one of which, are why do credible scientists (like the ones above) disagree with the conclusion of a catastrophic global warming?

On this Earth Day, I’m not here to deny that we could be experiencing “global warming,” but I am here to deny that the topic has left the realm of “could be” and landed in the realm of “is”.

One thing to remember as a Christian: plenty of scientist will take scientific data and conclude God does not exist. In some places (perhaps some universities), that “plenty” might be all. And yet that all is wrong.

When it comes to the “theory” of life-ending climate change, healthy skepticism & asking lots of questions seems the right path.  If we don’t do more of that, it may be that we’ll be seeing more of this:

Bill Nye “the science guy” says in a video interview released Thursday that he is open to the idea of jailing those who deviate from the climate change consensus. – Washington Times

Happy Earth Day!!

Speechless … So I’m Ranting…

(Warning: This is a bit of a rant, so read with caution)

I am absolutely perplexed that followers of Jesus view Trump as the means to make America great again? If great is simply defined in terms of economics, maybe (and that’s a big maybe). But if great is defined in terms that Christians have argued for over the last 20 years – morality – then in what way will Trump make America great again? Leaders tend to create followers in their image. Followers made in the image of Trump will not make America great again. Not in the slightest. Not in God’s eyes.

WHERE IS THE REFLECTION OF JESUS?

Trump, in my honest no-political-sides-just-the-bible opinion, resembles less of Jesus than Cruz, less than Hillary, less than Sanders, less than President Obama. For all the constant complaints about the current President’s “Muslim-ness” from the right wing, he carries himself in a way that reflects the character of Jesus FAR more than Trump does. I cannot imagine what would be said, written, and done if the President spoke in the language, tone and content of Trump. And yet Trump continues to carry the “conservative evangelical” vote. Why? If we want a candidate that resembles Jesus, that we can speak of to our kids that demonstrates any respectability in leadership, why Trump? When I score each leader according to the qualities of a leader in the bible (Titus, 1 Timothy), Trump easily takes last place. He’s not even close. To vote for Trump on the basis of any Christian faith is to simply trash the bible. Take for example the list in 1 Tim 3:2-8:

  • A leader is to be above reproach, be respectable  – That means at the least we can take a persons actions, a persons words, and turn to our kids, or non-believing friends, and say “those words, those actions, are what God deems as respectable.” I would NEVER do with the many things Trump says.
  • A leader is to be the husband of one wife  – Some translations say “a one woman man.” It means a leader ought to know what commitment and fidelity is. Not be drawn away by lust. Not surrender commitments made for the sake of satisfying fleshly appetites. Is this true when we consider what Trump has said about women who are beautiful? His attitude, or lust, for women would never be what I train my boys towards.
  • A leader is to be sober-minded, self-controlled – Or “temperate, sensible”. The idea is that leaders should not be carried away in the moment, the heat, the emotion. Leaders don’t just say or do what’s comes to mind. Leaders are not reactionaries with power. No. Leaders guide with principle, with thought, with conviction. Leaders are not “politically-correct,” but neither are they hot-heads that spout trash as soon it’s evoked in them. Somewhere along the way Trump convinced Christians that “to say it as it is” represents a character God commends. It is not. God expects us to speak truth, but to speak it in love. Jesus often spoke truth, but it was always balanced with love. Try taking Trumps “say it as it is” strategy in your marriage. You will not be married for long. Try it with your kids. You will destroy the spirit of your kid. There is so little sober-mindedness and self-control in Trumps communication. So little. And yet we applaud it as what will make America great again?

Those are just a few. I could talk about the bibles view that leaders should not be violent, but gentle. Not be quarrelsome. Not be a lover of money. Get that. A leader should not be a lover of money. There’s so much to say here. If you want to read more, read Randy Alcorn’s blog post:

Donald Trump: Do Character, Morality and Kindness Still Matter?

So far the answer most evangelicals have given is NO.

BEYOND HYPOCRISY

When Jesus spoke of the religious leaders of his time, he called them hypocrites. Because of that, his instruction to the crowd in regards to these leaders was “do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” (Matthew 23:2). Jesus makes the implication that these “hypocrites” actually say righteous things, things that should be followed. Their failure is they don’t live what they say. But at least what they say is good. Followable. By implication, representative of the God they profess.

So it has been for as long as I can remember. The shock of hypocrisy in public figures has always been that personal lives have not conformed to public speech. So for example, a pastor gets up and preaches against sexual immorality and then is discovered having an affair. Or a public prosecutor rails against money and corruption, only to be discovered at the center of it.

What is so unique about Trump is that neither his actions nor his words resemble anything of the God he professes. There’s no hypocrisy because he doesn’t even have the conscience to buffet what he says. Instead, he takes pride in what he says even when it is unkind, uncharitable, unloving, and at times untrue. This is a new type of hypocrisy. One that is so filled with pride that it does not attempt to hide. Instead it gloats and it invites others to applaud the unChrist like attitude. Shockingly, the evangelical sector I’m a part of is doing just that. Applauding. Why? We should be renouncing.

Take for example this latest Tweet by Trump.

trump

Think of what is said here in the back to back Tweet. Think of what Trump views as ok, alright. Think of what he is represent and offering. I have less respect for him as a leader and as a so called Christian than any candidate for something like this. It’s shocking to me. There’s no caution, no consciousness of propriety. This is not greatness. This is not going back to the Christian foundations of America. This does not represent Jesus in the slightest. It represents that type of attitude that Jesus denounced over and over again.

VOTE THE BIBLE

For so long, Christians have said “vote the bible”, or something like that. Vote what reflects the bible. I wholeheartedly agree. For that reason, I could never vote for Clinton or Sanders. I could never vote for someone that stands so strongly on the wrong side of the death of millions of children. However, if that issue was not considered, they easily (in my opinion) represent a better picture of Jesus than Donald Trump.

(rant end)

Quick Read Rec: The Heart of Socialism

Desiring God put out a great article today on Socialism.

The Heart of Socialism 

I appreciated the article for it’s tone, balance, and the fact that the author himself has come out of the system of poverty. My own experience of growing up in welfare identifies a lot with what he writes. I also appreciate his focus on the heart, family, and true societal change. These get to the heart of the gospel.

Great quotes from the article:

  • In other words, Socialism borrows the compassionate aims of Christianity in meeting people’s needs while rejecting the Christian expectation that this compassion not be coerced or forced. – author quoting John Piper
  • Though my grandmother only received an eighth grade education and grew up in complete poverty, by the grace of God, she is the reason the poverty cycle was eliminated in one generation.
  • As my grandmother and other recipients of social programs reveal, it is unquestionably false that everyone who benefits from social programs are lazy and will remain lazy. But it is equally false that social programs are essential to bringing families out of poverty or are necessary for a thriving society.
  • The economic rise of blacks began decades earlier, before any of the legislation and policies that are credited with producing that rise. The continuation of the rise of blacks out of poverty did not — repeat, did not — accelerate during the 1960s. – author quoting Thomas Sowell, black economist
  • Christians don’t fight for low tax rights to store up treasures on earth, but to invest in our neighbors and fellow laborers for the advancement of the gospel.
  • When Luke writes in Acts 2:44–45, “All who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need,” what he means is that every need was being met by other believers, even if they had to sell things that they owned in order to help meet them — and this was done freely. It didn’t remove, but rather presumed, the ownership of private property. – author quoting John Piper

These are interesting days to live in, especially for the Huy household. As my kids get old enough to process the world around them, it’s been interesting to step into the discussion of politics with them. One of my hopes is to help my children think clearly and biblically about the rhetoric they hear.

 

A Life Saved

Saw this on a facebook group I’m in. Thankful this woman was outside an abortion clinic, with a sign, and that a life was saved. Not only was a life saved, but a life was ministered too.

I’m reminded at how important this issue is. It is, in my opinion, what will define the success of this “social justice” generation. Nothing in “justice” is as important, nor as clear, as this topic. Let’s continue to be proactive in speaking the biblical narrative of life. And through that, may there be many more stories like this!!!

Adoption and Life!!

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