21 December 2016

Faithful Christians – Rational Majority

I keep hearing and reading comments in the vein of “Most Christians aren’t Christian.” I disagree with that “most Christians aren’t Christian” claim. Most of these loudmouthed extremists identifying themselves as Christian are the very hypocrites Christ spoke of in Matthew 6 – they are nothing more than a theocratic, very vocal minority of political extremists fighting to preserve their pathetic privilege. I do NOT accept that they are “most Christians.”

I’ve been in churches all my adult life, surrounded by Faithful Christians who are nothing like these so-called evangelical ChristianISH extremists. We, the rational majority, have been too polite to argue with these loud mouths – because those who don’t want to be argued with told us it was impolite to argue with them. These extremists are NOT the majority of Christians and neither are they the majority of Americans. We the People are the overwhelming majority in a country that is SUPPOSED to be majority ruled. Faithful Christians are part of that rational majority. It is time for the rational majority to get rude and loud! We must stop letting the extremes – both left and right – polarize and marginalize the rational majority of Americans. It is time for the rational majority to stop being pushed around by the extremes in our society.

I often ask myself, how did we get here? My perspective: Because televangelists have been preaching “prosperity” instead of Christ’s actual message of spiritual rebirth and salvation. Because televangelists led the so-called fundamentalist evangelical ChristianISH right to worship MAMMON instead of God. Some may ask: “Where is the Faithful Christian opposition?” I would ask in return, “Where are you looking?” Do you really think compassionate and progressive Christians are NOT speaking out? Do you think I am being silent and complicit? Do you think I am unique in speaking out? I promise you, I am not unique.

Faithful Christians ARE opposing the extremists. Those ChristianISH extremists voted for Trump in direct opposition to everything Christ ever taught or did. They are NOT followers of Christ. There is nothing Christ-centered nor Christ-like in the ChristianISH extremists who claim all their bigotry and extremism is in the name of their religion. They wave their religion flag to justify the ugliness of their agenda. They are followers of the pursuit of personal privilege and wealth – of Mammon.

Those who voted for Trump, put devotion and loyalty to Trump and to the GOP ahead of devotion and loyalty to God, ahead of reason, ahead of compassion – ahead of sanity. Christ told us how to behave as His followers. The people who have turned from God to choose Trump have not realized how far they’ve strayed from the Faith they profess, nor that they have become people who voted in direct opposition to everything Jesus ever did or taught. They have set Christ aside to follow Trump – i.e.: “Mammon” [definition (Webster’s) “material wealth or possessions especially as having a debasing influence”].

RVS Matthew 6:1-24
Giving to the Needy
1) "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2) "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3) But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4) so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5) "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6) But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7) "And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8) Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9) Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11) Give us this day our daily bread; 12) And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 13) And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. 14) For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15) but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16) "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17) But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18) that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Treasures in Heaven
19) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22) "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23) but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Faithful Christians do not wave a religion flag to justify what we do in the world. 
Faithful Christians are NOT standing up and voting or speaking or working in the name of our religion; nor are we excluding anyone. Faithful Christians stand up for what is right because it is right. We speak for what is needed, because it is necessary and good. And, we try to do good wherever we may, TOGETHER with whomever will do the same – regardless of their beliefs or background – because it’s the right thing to do and because our hearts and our minds are founded in Christ’s life and teachings. For us, living Christ-centered Faith is living with a compassionate and progressive heart to all humankind.

Being Christian doesn’t mean abandoning compassion, tolerance, and rational sanity. Anyone may say they are Christian as it suits them. If you want to know who are the Faithful Christians following the example of Jesus, you have only to look to the Scriptures where Christ Himself told us how we are to be recognized as His followers by the world in RVS John 13:34) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Please recognize that Faithful Christians are always and have always been standing with you. We strive to live the example called for in RVS Philippians 2:3) Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

 I know, from my own experience, that Faithful Christians are the majority of Christian believers, part of the rational majority of all people everywhere. Progressive and Faithful Christians stand with all the rational majority who stand for what is good.

Scripture is clear and it tells what the extremists are and from where their belief is derived. We can only hope to show the extremists the error of the paths they have chosen and to remain steadfast in love, in hope, in prayer, and in Faith, as we stand TOGETHER against extremism in all it’s forms.

15 December 2016

Call to action for the Progressive Christian Left

It’s time – and past time – for the Progressive Christian Left to stand up and be heard. Compassionate people of all faiths must make ourselves heard. But, Christ-centered Christians must make it our mission to challenge the voices of extremism in our Faith. We cannot sit idly back and let someone like “Judge” Pirro (of FOXNews) who justifies Putin by claiming “At least Putin’s Christian” and seems outraged that the rest of us just don’t get that – in the self-same moments that Putin is helping Assad butcher the children of Aleppo.

Such voices must not be put forward as a speaking for our Faith. It’s obscene and it is our own personal failing for allowing ourselves to be silenced rather than to be impolite.

It’s NOT impolite to challenge lies
It’s NOT impolite to challenge bigotry
It’s NOT impolite to challenge hate speech
It’s NOT impolite to challenge ignorance
It’s NOT impolite to argue with someone who is perverting our defining moral, cultural, social, national, and/or faith ideals to impose the oppression and degradation of everything and everyone “other.”

Consider for a moment… Who it is who always told us it was impolite (rude) to challenge or argue with them? Who told us to just bite our tongues and let them “run off at the mouth?” Who told us to turn a blind eye? Who told us that it was “lording it over people” to “show off” your education? Who demonizes the “intellectual elite?” The people telling us to hush are the people who don’t want to be challenged, who don’t want their lies, bigotry, hate speech, and ignorance exposed. The people demonizing the “intellectual elite” don’t want people educated because education shines a glaring light upon the ignorance they’re perpetuating. The people telling us to hush are the people we should be challenging. 

WHOS WITH ME? Find their posts. Take progressive faith messages to the political leaders. Dont let the extremist right be the only voices of faith the political leaders hear.

Like the song says:
"And all the words I didn’t say
like wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight!
Can you hear my voice this time?”

It may seem like hyperbole to some, however: I won’t be silenced any longer. I won’t idly watch those extremists pervert my Faith to protect their white ChristianISH privilege. I will speak out. I will use all my talents – writing, visual arts, singing, activism – to resist their perfidy. I will be heard. I will be the resistance alone if I must be.

This passage, speaks to me of a striking similarity in our current turmoil:

John 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Scripture lessons teaching us how to be more kind:
Matthew 4:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.… 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

John 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself… 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Corinthians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Philippians 2:1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry… 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”