Disclaimer - I understand the problems with name-calling, but I looked up the literal meaning of the following words, and I'm using them with deliberate care in the opening couple of paragraphs of today's post:
- sad: "deplorably bad; sorry; pathetic."
- idiotic: "senselessly foolish or stupid."
- indecency: "offense against accepted standards of propriety, or good taste."
- consummate: "being of the highest and most extreme degree."
- pathetic: "miserably or contemptibly inadequate".
- nincompoop: "non compos mentis"; "insane, mentally incompetent;" "a fool or a simpleton."
- aberration: "deviation from truth or moral rectitude."
I had fully intended to ignore plans for the upcoming "mass Koran burning" September 11. The stunt, an act of deliberate indecency, has been dreamed up by a sad and blatantly idiotic pastor and his consummately nincompoopish followers in Gainseville, Florida.
I didn't want to give any extra publicity to such a pathetic aberration.
However, it has come to my attention that some people actually read this blog, and that I might have a modicum of influence in the world of faith-based thinking. In fact, if I am to achieve anything of long-term consequence in my writing, then I want it to be in the realm of facilitating a reconstructive conversation regarding what it means to be a Christian in this Twenty-first Century.
I am increasingly convinced that some of the loudest religious voices in this culture are not faith-based at all. They are so far off base as to be:
- Ungrounded in credibility
- Unanchored in scripture
- Unrelated to the mission of The Church
- Unconscionable in terms of foundational moral thinking
- Unreliable vis-a-vis the eternal purposes of God
- Indefensible when it comes to our responsibility to follow Jesus, honor the Prince of Peace, love one another ("so people will know you are my disciples"), and live according to the light.
I've said a mouthful, and I could very well be exposed as a hypocrite. Well, let me beat you to the punch! I am a hypocrite. But I believe I'm an honest hypocrite, and one who is committed - day by day - to making progress.
REGARDLESS, I feel that it is critically important that the world understands what it means to follow Jesus. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I can't sit on my hands anymore when it comes to this Gospel!
Here is what the Gospel means to me: Jesus has extended an invitation for me - in a sense - to move back into the Garden vacated by Adam and Eve so long ago. Because of Jesus, I am free to engage in and to enjoy an ongoing relationship with God - it's exactly what humankind was created for. My life is qualitatively different because I continue to choose, daily, to follow Jesus.
The way that I relate to other people is profoundly affected by my moment-by-moment walk with Christ, as is the manner in which I go about my work, how I order my life, my values and priorities. My "salvation" isn't "pie in the sky when I die", it's the opportunity I have - right now and for eternity - to participate in the ongoing work of God.
And so I am deeply disturbed when - once again - the loudest "testimony" about faith in Christ, plastered all over the news from coast to coast and around this confused, broken world, is a message of extremism, deception and hate.
This pastor is not only turning countless people away from truth, but he is setting up scores of innocent people to be victims of acts of violence all around the world. Acts of violence that are the spawn of this cycle of ignorance and hatred.
That's why I can't sit on my hands anymore when it comes to telling the story of Jesus! It's the Greatest Story Ever Told! It's Good News for the entire planet! It's the only story with the power to heal! It's the answer to this world's deepest need!
Grace and Peace - because we sure need them - DEREK