Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Personal, Not Private

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:1-2

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Bizzaro World
Introduced in the early 1960’s by DC Comics, Bizarro World was a comic book world where bizarre versions of existing Superheroes lived…only they were opposite to the personalities of their normal world counterparts.  For example: in Bizzaro World, Aqua man could NOT swim.  Just something wrong about that, right?  This comic book concept caught on enough that today in popular culture ‘Bizarro World’ has come to refer situations which are in the words of Wikipedia: “…weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations.”

I have an opinion that our current culture has devolved to the point that the inhabitants this country and most other “modern” governments have become Bizarro Worlds in and of themselves.  Let me illustrate:

·      According to current news and politicians, having secure borders means borders are being breached by literally tens of thousands of illegal alien men, women and children.  Keep in mind, this statement is not about those crossing, but a point being made about the borders themselves.  They are unenforced, porous, and seem to do nothing; hence they are “secure.”

·      According to current cultural values, marital fidelity is undesirable and dysfunctional, and homosexuality is normal (and apparently preferable)

·      Unbridled sexuality is not immoral, but suitable for songs, literature, movies, television, cellphones, and computers…no matter who has access

·      For Americans to fly the American flag or wear clothing with the flag represented on it is bad because it might cause problems with others living in America who hate America.

·      Persons who oppose conservative values can say ANYTHING and are applauded as sensitive and intuitive; persons who uphold conservative values who say ANYTHING are accused of being intolerant and committing hate speech. 

I don’t know how else to describe the times we live in other than: Bizarro World.

Shhhhh. Keep it down a little!
Believe it or not, the body of Christ has been affected by this Bizarro World mentality as well.  Our faith…the Good News of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection…that which the scripture suggests we are to “shout from the rooftops” (Matthew 10:27), has become a ‘private’ thing.  Freedom OF religion is largely interpreted as freedom FROM religion, so we have translated ‘personal faith’ to be experienced as ‘private faith.’ We cannot pray together in school.  We have to be careful how we pray in City Council meetings.  We have to be careful where we place the Nativity Scene at Christmas.  We have “Holiday Trees” rather than “Christmas Trees” because out here in Bizarro World America, personal Christian faith should be PRIVATE Christian faith. “Go ahead.  Worship your god.  Just keep it to yourself, or I might become offended…and that’s bad.”

NO, that’s just the way it is.  That’s the way it has ALWAYS been.  The Gospel is offensive to all who hear it but don’t believe. But to those who do believe, it is LIFE! 1 Peter2:6-8 reads:

“For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.”

So what’s it going to be?  Are we content to live in Bizarro World?  Are we sheeple who will practice our faith in private and keep it to ourselves so we don’t offend anyone?  Or will we stand in the current; will we not lean against the winds of culture and proclaim what we know as personal, not allowing it to be stifled as ‘private.’

Be a city set on a hill; a light not hidden under a bushel.  We are not called to be obnoxious, but we are called to be obvious. We are described as salt that seasons, not sand that lays in silence.  We are not merely those who believe, but those who follow…and lead others to do the same.  Right?

Almighty God, we have no interest in embarrassing our Lord with obnoxious religious behavior.  But neither are we interested in letting the Gospel we know to be true become a legend untold and unillustrated.  If there has ever been an age to let the Light of Christ be shined, it is today.  Help me shine.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. 

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