Updated: 6 weeks 5 days ago
Jesus, Justice, and Judging the Difference: Why 'Social' Justice May Not Be the Kind Christ Requires
Not all "Christian" books are created equal, nor do they all meet the same need. While my personal cataloguing style might not be as academic as that of the library, I do have my own filing system that determines what I read and when I read it. There are the "biographies and personal insight books," "books of encouragement," and "make room for growth" books. Then there are the "challenge-my-thinking-kill-my-flesh-make-me-realize-how-little-I-know-about-God-and-His-ways-and-how-much-I-want-to-resist-Him" books. Some recognizable titles that get tucked away here? "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards and "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to name a couple.
Yesterday upon the stairI met a man who wasn't thereHe wasn't there again todayI wish, I wish he'd go away.Disturbed that he did not existI punched him with an angry fistSo from this day my guilt I'll bearFor striking the man who wasn't there. (The first verse is from "Antigonish" by Hughes Mearns, 1899. The second verse is my own.)I have just now punched someone who isn't here, right here near my desk, where I'm working entirely alone. I did it to test my guilt response. Nothing. Is there something wrong with me?
By all immediate measures, Jesus' ministry was a total failure. But it wasn't for lack of effort or commitment.At the prime of life, Jesus left his carpentry bench in Nazareth for the dusty roads of Palestine. For three years He promoted His brand, wowing crowds with miracles and captivating them with teaching. On more than one occasion He drew thousands to a remote place to see Him and hear Him. He invested Himself in the training of twelve handpicked men to carry His message to the world. But despite all of His good intentions and effort, at the time of His death, His following numbered scarcely more than one hundred individuals.
What would you do if you suddenly came upon what you thought was a murder in progress? According to a video released on YouTube, the response of many of us would be flight rather than fight. The video, released by a group called Thinkmodo to promote a new film called "Dead Man Down," is drawing comment across the Web for what it appears to say about us. The video shows a staged murder that random passersby encounter as they are about to step onto an elevator.
George gets up early every morning to spend time alone with God, praying and meditating on the Scriptures. Off and on it's been his habit for decades, since he first began to follow Christ in college. But George has discovered another way to spend his time recently, which means he has a decision to make as he settles down at his desk today. Should he open up his Bible or that page of pornography on the Internet? He's alone, where no one can catch him at it. He could go either way.
Roses are redViolets are blueI think much ado is made of Saint Val's DayDo you think so too? A new year is well underway. If January snowstorms and New Year's car closeout sales weren't obvious indicators, there is one other yearly winter occurrence that surely is. Before the final bars of "Auld Lang Syne" are even over, unwanted Christmas accoutrements have been banished to the back of wholesale stores everywhere to make way for Valentine's Day.
A "50-year failed experiment." That's how Scott T. Brown, a once-prominent figure in the youth ministry movement, describes youth ministry.Is Brown being too negative? Possibly -- if our purpose is to corral young people and entertain them in "safe," Christian environments until they leave home. But if the goal is to grow the next generation of disciples and church leaders, then youth ministry is an experiment that has not only failed, but failed miserably.
The title of the Department of Justice white paper sounds clinical and dispassionate: "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa'ida or An Associated Force." The reality it attempts to justify is considerably messier: the killing, without judicial review, by drone of United States citizens working with Islamist terrorist organizations without judicial or congressional oversight.But shall such attacks also go without moral critique? Regardless of the targets' individual guilt, aren't we still a nation of laws and not men? Or have we abdicated our moral responsibility to a president who boasts that he personally chooses his targets from "kill lists"?
Yusuf thinks some of God's commands must be crazy. Kyle says the facts of science and evolution prove there's no God. Melissa can't understand what's wrong with homosexuality. Rigoberto was raised in a religious home, but his father drank a lot, and his family was wracked with painful tragedies. Lizz thinks the most important thing is to make sure she gives meaning to this life, not the next. Miriam finds it enough to be alone with her thoughts. They are all young Americans, 23 to 30 years old, who shared their stories in a recent NPR report on why young people are moving away from religion. It's enough to bring a parent to tears.