Posted tagged ‘love your neighbor’

The Imago Dei

July 23, 2018


When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment,” he said “the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul”. Ravi Zacharias notes that Jesus didn’t have to go any further. He had been asked what was the greatest commandment, and he answered the question, but he didn’t stop there. He offered a second greatest commandment, which is “to love your neighbor as yourself”. (Matthew 22:36-39)

Why did Jesus go further?

The significance of these two commandments that are the greatest of all, Ravi Zacharias says, is “that you and I are made in imago dei – the image of God. Moreover, this revolutionary idea, that we are created in the image of God, is unique to the Judeo-Christian worldview.

The point is further illustrated elsewhere in the same Chapter of Matthew in a confrontation between pupils of the Pharisees, who were sent to challenge Jesus by asking him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. They were trying to trap him with a question for which there was no good, politically correct, answer, but Jesus was not deterred by their ill will.

Rather, Jesus requested a coin. Someone produced a denarius (a Roman coin) for him. Ravi Zacharias describes the interchange that ensued this way.

“He held the coin out to [the man who gave it to him], and he said, ‘Whose image is on this?’ The man said, ‘Caesar.’ Jesus said, ‘Give to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and give to God that which belongs to God.’ The man should have had a follow up question, and the follow up question should have been, ‘What belongs to God?’ and Jesus would have said, ‘Whose image is on you?’”

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Following Jesus on Immigration

July 11, 2018


“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law is transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point he has become guilty of all of it…. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:8-10, 12-13)

The immigration issues in the United States are much on everyone’s mind, if for no other reason than Donald Trump and media are making a big to do about it. Most thinking and empathetic people, however, have watched with some angst as the treatment of families and children crossing the border has brought a moral crisis to our daily awareness.

What should we do with these illegal immigrants and asylum seekers? How should we be treating them and handling the situation? As the videos, photos, stories and reports stream in day after day, we can’t help but notice what is going on and to react to it. How does a Christian respond to the immigration issues that face our country?

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God Talk about Guns

February 17, 2018

Depositphotos Image ID: 11354851 Copyright: Rajen1980

As time goes on, I have been more diligently and more earnestly aware of the assumptions we tend to make as Americans, and as American Christians, that may not supportable biblically. We tend to make certain assumptions, but we don’t question those assumptions or test them against Scripture. If anything, we work to make Scripture support our assumptions, rather than subject our assumptions to Scripture.

This is a human tendency, of course. I am not picking on Americans. I am one. I just know more about how Americans think than other people, so I can speak to it more definitely.

On the issue of gun control, I am finding a distinct disconnect between the popular Christian responses, the realities and what Scripture suggests. The popular Christian responses, at least among white evangelicals, of which I am a member, is something like this: guns don’t kill people. We don’t need more gun control; people need God (among other things).

That is a truism of course. People do need God, but that doesn’t really help to address an obvious issue that is utterly unique to our country of all the countries in the western world. We have a problem, and we should be able to acknowledge it.

As Christians, we could also say that it isn’t a gun problem; it’s a sin problem. That is right as well, but that also doesn’t help us. Does that mean we should ignore it? Condemn it but do nothing about it? (After all, people are getting what they deserve because all have sinned.)  Do these responses seem right to you?

They shouldn’t! Yes, people need God, and the root of all human problems is sin, but we can set back offering nothing but sayings and platitudes and be considered followers of Jesus who had a reputation of getting into right into the place where people lived, right in the middle of the ugliness of sin, and engaged people where they were, healing and delivering people as He went. If Jesus is our example, we can’t sit on sidelines without doing something.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”[1]

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The 2nd Amendment, Freedom & Responsibility

February 16, 2018
Second Amendment to the Constitution

Depositphotos Image ID: 173296888 Copyright: zimmytws

If faith without works is dead, then our thoughts, prayers and condolences are meaningless at some point if we aren’t willing to take some action to address the societal problem of school shootings and mass shootings in general. What is the Christian response to these tragedies? Is the 2nd Amendment greater than the 6th commandment (though shall not murder), the greatest commandment (to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds) and the second greatest commandment (to love others as ourselves)? How do we balance the 2nd Amendment with God’s commandments? Are guns really the issue? Below is an article with some thoughts to consider as we mourn the victims of another school shooting.

via The 2nd Amendment, Freedom & Responsibility

 

An Open Letter to My Fellow Christians

November 14, 2016

Dear Fellow Christians,

We won the election, but, it’s no time to celebrate. We won, but we also lost our credibility in the process. We helped to vote into office a man that people almost universally dislike for his brash, harsh, insensitive comments. It is the first time in history that xenophobe, racist and misogynist are words used to describe the President of the United States.

I understand why it happened. Trump sought us out. He promised protection for our decaying religious freedoms. He listened to us and courted us. Hillary Clinton vowed to continue the course of this country down a road that we have dreaded, and Trump promised us he would stop that momentum.

Hillary vowed to work to change religious beliefs to conform to official government postures. She gave no inch to the unborn. She admitted a private and public persona, two faces that could not be trusted. She represented the entrenched political machine that has shown us no favors for decades.

But now we need to face the stark reality of our success. (more…)

The Secret to a Happy Healthy Life

April 6, 2016

IMG_20130825_060248


I recently read this entry in a local paper that allows readers to call in and leave anonymous messages of current and political import. Excuse the length of the following entry that I am reproducing here. I think it is important enough to reproduce in its entirety, because it bears some comment:

My parents had four daughters. We are all in our 60s now. Three of us earned master’s degrees. The happiest daughter is the daughter who spent a short time in college and married young. She has a wonderful husband and children and grandchildren. The other three are without husbands and can be very crabby. I know because I am one of them…. The three single sisters are all working because we have to work. Our married sister has a job, by choice, and loves her life. To all the 20-something girls out there… You cannot hug a diploma. A wall of degrees will not fill your heart with love. You will be alone night after night wondering what it would be like to have a nice guy at your side. Marriage is far better than a life of degrees.

Before commenting, I need to preface what I am going to say. Marriage is no guarantee of a happy life. Plenty of married people are unhappy. If that weren’t the case, the divorce rate would not perennially hover around the 50% mark. Marriage is no magic pill.

Gaining a college education is also nothing to snub. The reasons people go to college, however, are many: to get an education (duh!), because it is expected of them, to get a good job, because they don’t know what else to do, to find a spouse….

Looking back 40 years later with the kind of clarity that hindsight reveals puts those reasons into perspective, apparently. If only we could gain that perspective looking forward! But then, looking back may not really be 20/20 – unless you are looking back at a 75 year Harvard study. (more…)

The Evil We Must Guard Against

December 9, 2015
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / aaronamat

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / aaronamat

Immigration continues to be in the news with Donald Trump calling for a ban on all Muslims who want to immigrate to the United Stated. In the wake of widespread criticism, Trump is holding his ground on barring Muslims and tracking the Muslims who already live here until we can determine “where this hatred comes from and why”:

Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Mr. Trump said.

Meanwhile, Loretta Lynch, the highest prosecutor in the land, pledged she will take aggressive action against anyone who uses “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.”  She has since toned down her own rhetoric following backlash on the grounds of freedom of speech, but she stuck to her guns on the pledge to protect Muslims against violent actions that might be inspired by “hateful speech”:

We always have a concern when we see the rhetoric rising against any particular group in America, that it might inspire others to violent action — and that violent action is what we would have to deal with,” Lynch said on Monday.

These heated words on opposite ends of the spectrum follow on the heels of the mass killing in San Bernardino, which the FBI now says was planned out by a couple who had been “radicalized ‘for quite some time’”. We barely had caught our breath from the mass killing in Paris by another group of radicalized Muslims who may or may not have had direct ties to ISIS.

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