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Distributing Wealth

I recently heard a pastor say something along the lines of the following:

If you were to evenly distribute all the wealth across this whole country, so that every person had exactly the same amount of money, down to the penny, in five years the people who were rich would be rich again, and the poor people would be poor again.

If nothing else, it certainly will make you think. So, what do you think about that?

Why You Should Like People of All Faiths

The awe that we sense or ought to sense when standing in the presence of a human being is a moment of intuition for the likeness of God which is concealed in his essence … The secret of every being is the divine care and concern that are invested in it. Abraham Joshua Heschel

Atheist.
Muslim.
Hindu.
Buddhist.
Christian.

These are people made in the image and likeness of God. Are you okay with that?

The image of God in each and every person transcends the faith they practice. Are you okay with that?

God loves people of all faiths. He cares for them deeply and tenderly. Are you okay with that?

Asking Questions No One Wants to Answer

I had a professor in seminary who started out the class by saying, “At the end of this, I hope to still have my job.” Thankfully, he elaborated, “I’m going to have you ask questions about your faith that most people don’t like to ask.”

That he did.

Throughout the course of the one-week class, no less than three people had some sort of anger-fueled breakdown. One student accused the professor of being apostate. Others accused him of being biblically illiterate. All because he challenged us to answer this question:

Why do you believe what you believe?

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That About Sums it Up, Yeah?

I read this early one morning during my meditations. This just about sums up my struggle with the Church. See if it doesn’t resonate with you somewhere:

How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you!

How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you!

I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence.

You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity.

I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscuirty, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.

No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, although not completely.

And where should I go?

—From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

Amen.

Should Atheism Offend?

Interesting thoughts from Ricky Gervais. Do you agree or disagree?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1XGTrrZjlI

Of course, he may be referencing his close to this year’s Golden Globes, seen here:

Thoughts?

Valley of Indecisiveness (And What to Do About It)

I’ve been thinking about indecision lately.

Often times in the lives of people of faith, we blame indecisiveness on a “prompting” or “nudge” from God:

  • “I’m waiting on God to make a decision about this new job opportunity.”
  • “I’m praying through whether or not I should ask that girl I like on a date.”
  • “We can’t spend those resources because I haven’t heard from God yet.”

What these statements most usually reflect is simple, human indecisiveness. Only now, we can excuse that lack of decision-making because God is backing up our choices (or non-choices, as it were).

I was struck by something I read recently from the wisdom literature of an ancient culture. One of their writers said:

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Morality Cannot Be Legislated

When you try and legislate morality, it almost always fails.

Sure, you’ll get a few converts along the way. You may even get a enough people to start a movement of some sort. But eventually, you’ll fail. People will revolt and turn against you.

Why?

Because people don’t like to be told what to do. I don’t mean that in a “I’m taking my ball and going home!” kind of way. I mean that in a “people would rather be pulled along by vision than pushed by force” kind of way.

Morality is not a head matter. It’s a heart matter. We know this instinctively, but we feel it acutely when the government tells people what they can and cannot say and to whom.

“You can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” An old saying, but most certainly true. If I seek to live a moral life, it should be for the betterment of my own life and those around me. If you do not seek to live by those same morals, what business of that is mine? Hopefully, with any luck, the vibrancy and light coming from my life will speak louder than any 10,000 words I could hope to say.

Quantum Physics and Jesus

I got this email from a reader today:

I see that you are interested in Quantum Mechanics among other things.

Light, they say, is a wave when you expect it to be a wave and a particle when you expect it to be a particle.

So is Jesus a man when you expect him to be a man and he is God when you expect him to be God?

Light also seems to change form depending on who is watching it. Particles of light seem to know when they’re being observed.

I’m glad my readers are much brighter than me. What do the rest of you think?

Zacchaeus

One of my favorite people from Scripture has to be Zacchaeus. The wee little man. The tax collector. The one that nobody liked.

We find Zacchaeus’ story in Luke 12 19 and it breaks down like this:

  • Man cheats his fellow citizens out of their hard-earned money.
  • Community despises Zacchaeus for getting rich at their expense.
  • Jesus comes to town. Townspeople flock to see him.
  • Zacchaeus is among the throngs that want to get a glimpse of Jesus.
  • Out of all the people to notice in the crowd, Jesus picks out Zacchaeus.
  • “Finally!” everyone is probably thinking, “Zacchaeus will get his comeuppance! Jesus will show him who’s boss!”
  • Jesus doesn’t punish Zacchaeus, Jesus has dinner with Zacchaeus. Scandalous (for real).
  • Grace abounds and lives are transformed for the Kingdom!

I like Zacchaeus because, broadly speaking, he’s just a jerk. But Jesus reaches out to him and that one chance encounter changes the course of this person’s life. It also gives a story that we’re still telling to this day.

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Sinner’s Prayer Project Plague

Have you ever prayed the “sinner’s prayer”?

It’s the standard evangelistic method of conversion that sounds something like this:

Dear Jesus,

I know I’m a sinner. Please forgive me. Now come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.

Amen.

The basic premise of the prayer isn’t bad per se, but it creates a very strange set of bi-products, not the least of which is transactional theology (i.e. “Scratch my back, God, and I’ll scratch yours”). It gets people into this weird, works-based relationship with God that inevitably leads to burnout and spiritual fatigue.

Another nasty bi-product is the tendency to treat people as projects. As math problems waiting to be solved. As a notch in the proverbial evangelism belt. “If I can just get them to pray this prayer….” the thinking goes.

Here’s a novel idea: What if we really loved people? More specifically, what if we didn’t treat them like transactions? What if we loved people even if they never showed any outward signs of changing? Even if they never prayed any sort of prayer acknolwedging their sin? What do you think would happen?

Simply put, what if you, Christian, never attempted to change another person’s behavior as long as you lived?

Most people know when they’re someone’s project. I know I certainly do. I don’t like being someone’s project. I like being treated like a human being.

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