Thursday, April 30, 2015

Riots, Race, Looting, Leadership, Family, Faith, Authority, Anger, Sin, Serving, Humanity, Humility

17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 
- 1 Peter 2:17

Aside from the fact that this blog post has the world's longest string of words, it is almost surely going to offend just about everyone in some way. *sigh*

Are we, as a country, anywhere close to the Bible verse at the top of this page? How about this...are we, as the Church of Jesus, anywhere close to the Bible verse at the top of the page?

Chaos & Division

That is where we are as a country. Everyone is pointing at everyone else declaring the failings that they see before their eyes. And the irony of it all is that just about everyone can make a valid case for their point of view.

If you watch CNN (and others on the left), the root of it all is "white privilege" and "unfair judicial system."

If you watch Fox News (and the few others that happen to be on the right), it is about the Democrats and the "failed poverty policies of the last 50 years."

If you watch the president, it is about America needing to deal with the problem, cops needing to do some soul searching, and always making it about race.

So, as I sit here looking at the blinking cursor, I'm sad. Sad for the country I thought I knew. Sad because my children are not going to get a better America. Sad because those of us that believe in what the Bible verse at the top says find ourselves hard pressed to see how we as a country or even as the Church in America can get there.

No one respects each other anymore. 

How do you address real problems when you cut people off, shout people down, and refuse to even listen (both ways)?

Why does everyone enjoy posting things on FB that highlight some anchor getting, "Shut down," "Stopped in his tracks," "Confronted," by some person or another. Does that show any sort of respect? Should we honor either side of that by sharing it on FB?

The title of this post has 12 words in it. Each of those words needs to be dealt with in order to deal with where we are as a country. I would love to take the time to get into each one but the reality is even if I took 1000 words for each one word people would attack and find fault. Why? Because we don't really want to have a conversation.

We just want to be right.

So, I will just give a short word about each. Sign off and let it rest. 

Riots: What do riots show? What purpose do they serve? 

On one side, they show anger, frustration, and pain. On that same side, they serve as a way to communicate because all the other forms of communication are viewed to have failed.

On the other side, they show a lack of respect for other people and their property, an animalistic sinful nature, and selfishness. On that same side, they serve the self-interests of the rioters and those with an agenda to promote.

My conclusion? Riots give an allowance for us to indulge in the actions we know we shouldn't indulge in under the cover of making a grievance known.

Race: White privilege and discrimination.

On one side, white privilege is viewed as a way to get people to understand how slanted things have been toward the majority for so long. It is a call to recognize the inherent bias of our society towards the majority.

On the other side, white privilege is the latest tactic to play the perpetual victim. It is the latest label to explain why things aren't getting any better.

My conclusion: white privilege is a racist term that has set us back 50 years as a country. It holds an entire race of people guilty for being born a certain color and growing up that color. In no way would it be OK to create alternate forms of this idea: black privilege, Asian privilege, etc. because they would be viewed as racist, as they should. Any time you hold an entire race guilty just because of the color of their skin you have traveled down a dark road of division, judgment, and hate. Race is our self-made version of the Tower of Babel. We are divided because we can't understand each other...except this time it isn't about language and it isn't God doing the dividing.

Looting: Any positive?

No.

My conclusion: I was stunned to watch some news casts say that looting was actually justified in Baltimore. We have indeed reached a point where we call evil good and good evil. Looting is simply stealing. Stealing has always been declared wrong in the moral code and always will be. It harms other people by robbing them of their livelihood. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy an entitled, selfish, and coveting population.

Leadership: Lessons to be learned?

Leadership is hard. Leadership must be proven not elected.

My conclusion: Whether we look at news anchors, mayors, clergy, the president, governors, etc., there seems to be a shortage of true leaders. Leaders lead by example. Which leader have you seen on TV or heard on the radio lately that you would actually like to be like? I can't think of one. I'm not talking about being smart, being a good speaker, or being popular. I'm ask, "Who would you actually like to be like?" If we can't find one we would actually like to be like, then why do we think they can fix anything? Leadership is not rushing to a judgement before any facts are known and neither is it leadership to craft the facts to fit your preconceived version. Leadership is not telling other people what to believe or trapping them with details they haven't had time to process yet. We have been electing/watching/supporting people but not leaders for a long time. We have gotten what we deserved.

Family & Faith: How do they fit it?

My conclusion: I find it ironic that all of this blows up again at the same time the Supreme Court is wrestling with redefining the family. Family would go a long way to fixing a lot of this. Family & faith would fix it fully. It is in the context of family that a person learns respect, boundaries, and kindness (just to name a very few things). If that same family is shaped by faith, then there is a solid moral foundation on which to build all the virtues a person should hold high and dear. Boys need men and girls need women. Boys also need women and girls need men. So, in the beginning, God created the perfect place for all those needs. It is called the family. A mom, a dad, and any children they might have or that they might influence. If you take mom or dad out of the picture, life become immediately...immediately....immediately harder. And as life gets harder, things slip through the cracks. As things slip, society slips. As society slips, the country slips. As the country slips, the country ends. Family and faith don't fit in the the equation...they hold it together. They hold together the very fabric of our country. Take them out and we will fall.

Authority: abuse of and submission to

"With great power comes great responsibility." "To whom much is given much will be required."

Is it possible to abuse power? Absolutely. How many of us have heard, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?" Yet, we all know that if we do not have a system of authority that we all agree to submit to, then we will have chaos. At least I thought we all knew that. Our founding fathers knew that, which is why our government has checks and balances. It is why our judicial system moves painfully slow sometimes because there are processes to try and minimize corruption and abuse. 

My conclusion: the occasional abuse of authority does not give us the right to refuse to no longer submit to authority. To do so invites more chaos than the abuse creates. For those of us in the Church, we are called to submit regardless. In America, we have options at our disposal to protest the occasional abuses. We are blessed to live in a country with such realities. Rioting and looting are not those options. It is much harder (not impossible but harder) to find yourself under an abuse of authority when you are living a life of submission to authority. 

Anger & Sin

My conclusion: People are obviously angry. And anger is not necessarily a sin. But anger that involves destroying other people's possessions, hurting other people's bodies, and losing all self-control? That is sin. Reasoning with a person or group of people in such a state is not possible. Anger arises from sense of being offended. In America, we have ways of making our offense known without resorting to violence. This move towards violence is a display of the sinfulness of man, the lack of respect for your neighbor, and the abandonment of love.

Serving: What about cops?

My conclusion: My uncle was a cop for 20 years. I watched him ride off time and time again to go help someone or stop a crime. He was the highest example of serving others. When we rob cops of their right to be viewed as heroes and servants, when we rob our children of the image that a cop is the person you run to if you are ever in danger, when we reach a point as a country where cops are the bad guys, then we will soon slip into anarchy and terror. My daughters both love policemen. Their eyes light up when they see a policemen in a restaurant. Why let a few who abuse destroy the image, effort, and sacrifice of the many? 

Humanity & Humility

My conclusion: "None of us are righteous. No, not one." Yet, I perceive that we are increasingly thinking that we are. We rush to judgement. We are quick to condemnation. And we reject anything that doesn't fit our agenda. We are a society that, like Pilate some 2000 years before us, is asking, "What is truth?" Facts are no longer viewed as such. We deny what we don't want to believe. Our trust has been shattered by those in the highest offices of our land over the last 50 years with few exceptions. Our current TV and movie lineup is full of movies that speak to distrust, deception, and corruption. We are surrounded by bad examples of bad people doing bad things. We have forgotten the One who came down and did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. 

Wow...this was really long! Sorry about that, my faithful reader. As you can see, we are in a very complicated place. 

I am a 37 year old male, white, husband and father of four young children. I am also an ordained minister in the Christian faith and an American citizen. In our fragmented society that means I am:

- inexperienced and naive
- sexist
- a beneficiary of white privilege
- against gay marriage
- unable to relate to single parents
- not driven to succeed in my career
- religious
- against immigration

Sadly, that is how our society is beginning to see each other. 

I choose, however, to do what I can to love God and my neighbor and to...

17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 
- 1 Peter 2:17

Please pause and just pray for our country for a minute. We all need a good bit more of that.