Thursday, May 21, 2015

If You Can't Speak the Truth in Love...

As a Christian, I interact not only with non-Christians who I don't agree with, but often many Christians whose actions get my blood boiling.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I'm not talking about liberal Christians.

I'm talking about those who are super conservative -- to the point where they exceed the boundaries of Scripture. I'm talking about people who have turned into modern Pharisees in the name of Jesus.  You might call them Fundamentalists.

It probably comes of no shock to most of my readers that I spend a lot of time having debates on social media. I talk with people of faith (Christian, Jewish, and others), atheists and agnostics. I talk with a variety of denominations of Christian (Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, as well as many Evangelicals and Pentecostals). The ones who often bother me the most are those who use shame and anger and threats of Hell to attempt to win converts.

I see two problems with this attitude.

One, it rarely works.

I've met many people and listened to them share their testimony of how they became a Christian and not once have I ever heard someone say:

"I went to a baseball game and there was a guy standing outside hollering scriptures from the King James Bible to no one in particular at the top of his lungs and it convicted me to repent and turn to Jesus."

Not once have I heard a testimony saying:

"I was going to a clinic to have an abortion and a crowd of people were screaming at me and calling me a baby killer and saying I'd go to Hell. It made me change my mind about having an abortion."

Here's what I *have* heard many times:

"I was living a bad life of using drugs. Most people wrote me off. But one person, my friend Steve, never stopped loving on me. While it was clear that he didn't approve of my actions, Steve still showed me the love of Jesus through his actions. After a while I realized that, not only was my life a mess, but I wanted to have what Steve had.  I went to see Steve and he prayed with me that very night. That was the day I gave my life to Christ."

I've also heard:

"I was pregnant out of wedlock and I was so scared. Some friends told me I should just have an abortion and be done with it. But my one friend Sally suggested an alternative. She told me about a great place called Compass Care that gave women in my situation a free ultrasound and counseling to help me in this tough time.  They didn't make me feel condemned. They just showed me love and compassion. When they gave me that ultrasound and I heard that heartbeat I knew I couldn't have that abortion. I'm glad I didn't. I can imagine my life without my little baby girl."

The difference between the first two examples and the second two is compassion and love. The same goal, but done in the way Jesus would do it. Through love and compassion...through a personal relationship. As St. Thomas of Assisi famously said, "Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words."

THIS type of evangelism WORKS. This is what saves souls and saves the unborn.

The second problem with the Pharisee attitude is that the person who uses these unloving tactics is that in many cases, the goal ISN'T to save the person.

It's all about demonstrating their own righteousness. It's all about being holier than you. And that doesn't advance the goal of Christ.

Remember the Pharisees in the Bible accused JESUS of not being good enough. It's not a new phenomenon.

That brings me to my thesis. (This next statement is directed towards Christians, ONLY):

If you can't speak the truth in love, DON'T SPEAK AT ALL.

I'm not asking you to deny the truth. I'm not asking you to gloss over the truth. I am asking you to separate the person from the action. Love the person while despising the sin. Tell them what you disagree with in a LOVING WAY.

My sister is living with her boyfriend out of wedlock. I don't approve of that action, and she knows it. I still love her very much.  I had a dear friend in high school (who I have since grown apart mostly based on geography) who lives a homosexual lifestyle. I loved him like a brother. He knew I didn't approve of his actions. Never hid that. But I wanted to be able to influence him for Jesus in whatever way I could. So I told him what I thought and also told him that I didn't connect him with the actions and that I still loved him as a person.

If you can't do that, it's probably better if you go into your prayer closet and simply PRAY for the person or people in question. Because if you fail to speak the truth IN LOVE, you're more likely to push someone AWAY from Jesus than to lead them closer.

Again, if you can't speak the truth in love, don't speak at all. Ultimately, that will do more to advance the Kingdom of Heaven than speaking without love ever will.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dear Patriots Fans: Your team cheated, quit making excuses

As we've been known to do from time to time here at Biblical Conservatism, we're going to take a little break from theology and politics and talk about sports. Enjoy!

Dear New England Patriots Fans,

The hammer has been dropped by the NFL and your star player is suspended for four games. You know, because he had, at best, knowledge of cheating by your team if not direct participation.  Your team has been fined $1 million and lost a draft pick.

And what do you, Pats Fan, have to say about this?

"Haters gonna hate."

I'm sorry, but no.  The above phrase suggests that people are just picking on your beloved team -- and evidence has already shown that this is simply not the case -- and maybe that these allegations are just a matter of jealousy. (Sorry but no, it's because they cheated.)

Remember -- eleven of twelve balls brought to the AFC Championship game by the Patriots were deflated. If it was one or maybe even two of twelve were deflated, one could believe that it was some sort of an accident. If all twelve were deflated, one could at least conceive a possibility that it was a matter of some sort of improper storage conditions that caused a more or less equal drop in air pressure.

But eleven out of twelve just doesn't sound like a mistake or an accident, ok? Clearly there was some attempt at cheating. Even if it didn't impact the result of the game, it's still not ok to cheat. Period.

The bottom line is this: just take your medicine here. Bills fans didn't say "haters gonna hate" (or the 1994 equivalent) when OJ Simpson was arrested. Falcons fans didn't say "haters gonna hate" (or the 2007 equivalent) when the Michael Vick dog fighting allegations came out.

(And those involved JUST ONE player, not the whole team.)

Patriots Fan, it's time to just say "yep, my team cheated." Quit making excuses and turning a blind eye. It's ok. We've all had issues with our teams.

My Syracuse University basketball team had to remove itself from the NCAA Tournament due to academic violations and accept some vacated wins for their coach and a suspension for Jim Boeheim.  New York Giants fans had to accept that Barry Bonds was proven to be cheating when he broke Hank Aaron's All-Time Home Run record and Mark McGwire's Single Season Home Run record. Fans of Tiger Woods had to accept that their favorite golfer was a womanizer. Fans of Lance Armstrong and his wonderful comeback story had to accept that he had a little help from the Juice.

Heck, even YANKEE FANS (who I have no love for as a group, by the way) haven't tried to explain away the years of steroid abuse by slugger Alex Rodriguez or even far more popular players like Roger Clemens and Andy Petite.

Forgiving your team or favorite players is one thing. Making excuses is another. Don't make excuses.

The Patriots aren't being picked on. Nobody is "hating" on your team.  They cheated. They're getting the criticism they deserve.


Every other person on the planet who follows sports

PS: If the Patriots do well in the 2015-16 season, you do not get to say you "overcame adversity." )
(That phrase is reserved for people combating circumstances beyond their control -- not ones they caused -- you know, by cheating.)

Seriously. Just don't, ok?

(I don't want to have to write another one of these in nine months.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Screw Evidence, Let's Protest (and Maybe Riot) over Freddie Gray

I'm sure by now we're all aware of what's happened in Baltimore. At least some of what happened, anyway.

We know that Freddie Gray was arrested for possession of a weapon. We know he was put in a police car. We know that something happened in the car on the way to the police station. The police report is that a "medical emergency" occurred while driving.

This could mean a host of things, friends -- everything from a legitimate case of policy brutality to a handcuffed and seat belted person having experiencing a seizure and their body jerking in the wrong way or the previous occurring when hitting speed bumps.

Look -- I'm just throwing up speculation because we don't actually KNOW ALL THE FACTS.

Of course, this hasn't stopped race-baiting and rioting/protesting.

It doesn't actually *matter* what happened, because the Drive-By Media is spinning tails about an illegal police "rough ride" and basically *assuming* that there was some sort of police brutality. There's actually no evidence that this happened.

The point is we simply DON'T KNOW YET.

Yes, charges were filed against the police officers involved. By the way, here's a picture of said officers. (Tell me if anything jumps out at you.)

Hint: top right, bottom left and bottom right
Wait a minute...three of those six are black people themselves! I wonder how THAT will be spun as racism. (It will be. Don't worry.)

None of this matters. We're given lines like "Black lives matter!" -- but apparently police lives, public property, and public safety DON'T matter.

History doesn't matter either, apparently: George Zimmerman was found not guilty and evidence showed that Trayvon Martin was dealing out a severe beating to Zimmerman before he was shot, clearly demonstrating self-defense. Michael Brown was resisting arrest, attacking Officer Darren Wilson and allegedly attempting to take the officer's gun.  "Hands up, don't shoot" never happened.  Eric Garner was resisting arrest and police officers used necessary force to restrain him and, at most, things went wrong. (So far, we still don't know.)

We will, I am certain, hear all about what a gentle, sweet person Freddie Gray was, probably including his finest 4th grade picture. We won't, I'm guessing, hear much about his criminal record as long as his arm. We also won't hear about the fact that Freddie Gray had a history of back injuries and that he had recently had back surgery -- possibly as recently as ten days before he lead police on a 45 minute chase. We probably won't even hear about the report from another suspect in police custody who was riding in the van with Freddie Gray that Gray was, in fact, throwing *himself* around the van and possibly injured himself.

Frankly, I have to ask whether or not these officers were charged in an attempt to soothe the rioters, rather than dealing with the fact that these rioters SHOULD NOT BE RIOTING. Because rioting should not be okay in our society.

For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL: Protesting is not the same thing as rioting. Protesting is peaceful and does not damage any property. I've been part of protests. We didn't loot stores. We just wore tri-corner hats and talked about how we are "Taxed Enough Already" (TEA Party. Get it?)

The Left doesn't give a rats rear end about the truth of the story. It's all about the narrative -- and the narrative has to be "Police are evil and black people are still being oppressed. (It's still 1955 in Mississippi.)"  Neighborhood Liberals everywhere are wringing their hands and worrying and talking about "White Privilege" and feeling guilty that black people have to deal with such police harassment. (Actually, it turns out police are really only a problem, to people who, you know, BREAK THE LAW when we look at evidence instead of just allegations.)

Truly, it doesn't matter. People *feel* like they're oppressed (even if they aren't oppressed in reality), so therefore they can also break the law, damage property, attack police, etc.

It doesn't matter what the truth is, because according to the Left, it's ok to protest and/or riot. Because of what *might* have happened.

(But only if you ignore all that pesky evidence...)