Sunday, March 01, 2009

Thanks for the disillusionment

Well, I think I've solved part of the mystery of why we have such a screwed-up church: Stupid "Christian" Email Forwards.

The blog post is about a corny email:

One Sunday morning during service, a 2,000 member congregation was surprised to see two men enter, both covered from head to toe in black and carrying submachine guns. One of the men proclaimed, "Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ remain where you are." Immediately, the choir fled…the deacons fled… and most of the congregation fled….

Out of the 2,000 there only remained around 20.

The man who had spoken took off his hood…

He then looked at the preacher and said "Okay Pastor, I got rid of all the hypocrites… Now you may begin your service. Have a nice day!"


Now, the email is corny as Iowa. But the message was still spot-on: Any faith you're not ready to die for isn't faith at all.

Does anybody remember the revival (evidently brief) that followed the rumors that during the Columbine massacre, one student, Cassie Bernall, was asked, "Do you believe in God?" The rumor was that even after she'd seen another student gunned down for saying so, she still said "Yes."

It turned out that it was just a rumor. Cassie didn't say that she believed in God knowing that saying yes would get her a bullet in the brain. But the brief period of time that many of us believed it to be so was electrifying. We talked about it -- and our fear wasn't that in such a situation we'd be shot. Our fear was that in such a situation, we'd be Peter -- we'd deny our Lord. We wanted to be faithful. We wanted to be what we'd believed Cassie to have been.

Does anybody remember this?

There are still martyrs -- people being persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and killed for their faith. Given the rise of radical Islam, any of us might end up staring down a rifle barrel and being told to deny our Savior if we want to live.

And I pray that I would have the foolishness of God at such a moment. That I would trust in my Lord even with my dying breath:

Daniel 3:15-19:

15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."


"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." -- Job 13:15

Do I think I would have that faith? Left to myself, I wouldn't. Left to myself, I'm as big a weenie as ever walked the earth. I run from pain. I run from things that frighten me. Would I stand my ground? Would I say, "Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him"? Would I have that faith? Faith like that is a gift. A gift I pray for.

And if that makes me stupid, so be it.

10 comments:

Lilliput said...

Good Post Christina

I really think however that in the 21st Century we should be encouraging people to live for their G-d and not die from it. Nobody should have to die because of their faith - especially when its religious people eg Muslims and Christians or the mentally ill eg Columbine that are the ones doing the killing.

I believe its much harder to live for G-d then die for Him.

GrannyGrump said...

You're right that it''s much harder to live for God than do die for Him. But that doesn't change the fact that the Bible's pretty dead set against denying Him, however practical it may be to do so.

That doesn't mean people won't -- even Peter, the Rock upon which the Church is built, denied three times that he even knew Jesus. But it was not this part of Peter's story that's to be held up as a shining example of how to behave.

And the problem with radical Islam isn't a willingness to die for their faith -- it's a thirst to kill for it. And I think part of the reason radical Islam is on the rise is because Western Christianity demands nothing of you. The God-space in us is bigger than what modern wishy=washy Christianity can fill, so people go looking for a substitute.

Wickle said...

Well, you just grabbed my April Fools Day post. That was more or less my point. At least I have a month for people to lose track of it.

Good post.

Lilliput said...

"And I think part of the reason radical Islam is on the rise is because Western Christianity demands nothing of you. The God-space in us is bigger than what modern wishy=washy Christianity can fill, so people go looking for a substitute."

What is the difference between your Christianity and modern wishy-washy Christianity?

GrannyGrump said...

It'd be hard for me to say, Lilliput, because it's difficult to see something amiss in your own culture, and the modern Western church is part of that culture.

I try to apply my faith to everyday life, and that has involved making a lot of changes. It's certainly limited who I can date, because there are very limited Scriptural grounds for divorce, and I can't date a man who divorced without Scriptural grounds (adultery, for example). Whereas the modern western church seems to treat divorce the way secular society treats it, as a matter of course with both partners free to remarry.

Lilliput said...

Wow Christina, I'm not sure where you are getting the Scriptural laws from because according to the old testament, a man only commits adultery if the women he sleeps with is married - in which case (if there are sufficient witnesses) they are both killed. In Jewish law a woman is not allowed to divorce a man, only a man can divorce a woman - and he can do that for any reason he wants. In Israel they put a man in jail if he refuses his wife a divorce until he sees sense - the whole thing to me is ridiculous considering G-d meant one man to have many wives anyway. But I would be very interested to know where the New Testament marriage laws come from.

On a different note, I just watched the Brazillian movie called City of Men - sequel to the Brilliant City of G-d. It made me interested in abortions in Brazil. I was horrified when my (very meagre) research brought up the fact that the illegal abortions result in the 3rd leading cause of maternal death. They say 250 000 of the estimated million women who have illegal abortions are admitted to hospital. I wondered if you had any thoughts or had done any research about it?

GrannyGrump said...

I wasn't referring to OT divorce laws, but to prayerful consultation with spiritual advisors from several different denominations about my specific situation, and whether or not I would be free to remarry based on NT scriptures -- since we're no more under OT law on divorce than we are on keeping kosher. There's a lot of room for interpretation, but no room for "as long as you both agree to divorce", which seems to be the most common justification nowadays both inside and outside the church. And I'm not going to go any further into my personal life on that score.

I'd not believe anything trying to prod action with claims of numbers of illegal abortion deaths. I saw an issue of "Conscience" (sic) magazine -- the mouthpiece of the "Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights" -- that on one page lamented that 400,000 women worldwide died from abortions every year, then in a news snippet on the facing page lamented that 400,000 women died every year from botched abortions in Brazil. What, do abortion-injured women migrate, lemminglike, to Brazil and die there? I have no reason to believe that those numbers are any more accurate than the bogus claims of 5,000 - 10,000 criminal abortion deaths annually in the US.

The way to reduce abortion mortality is to reduce abortion, not to enshrine it as a right and promote the practice. It's a bloody, inexcusable practice and needs to be looked on with nothing but loathing and horror, and until we do that, women will resort to it and sometimes die.

Kathy said...

Lilliput,

If God meant for one man to have many wives, why did He create only one woman for the the man Adam? He pronounced that as not just "good" but "very good."

The NT marriage laws are based on the original creation -- that God created one man and one woman, and that "henceforth should a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife." Your question is similar to one the Jewish religious leaders of the day tried to stump Jesus on -- that of divorce and remarriage. (It is primarily His teachings that form the basis of Christian marriage laws.) He answered them by saying that divorce was allowed in the law because of the hardness of men's hearts, "but from the beginning it was not so." You can see in the book of Beginnings (Genesis) that marriage being between only one man and one woman was just the way it was until Lamech took two women to be his wives -- but from the beginning it was not so.

Lilliput said...

Kathy, the OT is written in a way that it is impossible to understand the laws/commandments given without the interpretation and explanation of the rabbis and sages through the ages ie there is an oral and a written law and the two cannot be seperated - so we cnnot take the marriage laws directly from the story where G-d makes Eve from Adam's rib. That doesn't make sense at all.

But I love this -

"henceforth should a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife."

I know exactly why this is written - have you ever seen a Momma's boy? A man can have many wives and girlfriends at the same time but the most important women in his life will always be his Mom. This doesn't make for a peaceful house if his wife moves in with him and his mom - as his mom will always have the most say.

and again - later on it does state that a man - if he has more then one wife, he must be able to afford to give each one their own home. Otherwise they will fight - and more irritating for him, they will start menstrating together and there will be 1 week with no nookie - excuse my crassness - but we are all learned women here.

Christina, about Brazil, what then would you do about the overpopulation and poverty. Would you promote more birthcontrol or against like the Catholics? I cannot imagine the horror of Aids getting there.

Kathy said...

Lilliput,

You didn't answer the question -- you previously said, "...the whole thing to me is ridiculous considering G-d meant one man to have many wives anyway." I ask you where you get your knowledge that God meant for one man to have many wives? It seems to me that if God meant for it to happen, then He would have created one man, Adam, and many women, instead of just Eve. Instead, we don't see even bigamy much less polygamy in the world until several generations from Adam.

And just fwiw, I disagree with your statement that "it is impossible to understand the laws/commandments given without the interpretation and explanation of the rabbis and sages through the ages ie there is an oral and a written law and the two cannot be seperated" -- God gave the Law in such a way that it could be understood; Jewish religious "authorities" added on many things which were not required by the Law, in many ways making God's Law of none effect. But these are two different discussions. The most important question I have for you right now is, If God intended for one man to have many wives -- if that is what is good and best -- why then did He create only one woman in the original creation and then pronounce it not just good but "very good"? Why did He not create multiple wives for Adam?