After decades of Biblical study, I continue to discover there is much deeper meaning than I had ever imagined.
Christ calls me to
-people I'd not expect;
-be politically active for justice;
-love without restriction;
-accept those from whom I would normally recoil;
-be a student of the Bible and also the society in which I live;
-see the economic, social, and spiritual struggles of others;
-be a prophetic voice for justice, mercy, compassion, grace, and love;
What about you?
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Samson, The Strong Man
We like strong men. We are enamored of power, strength, and violence, or at least the potential for violence. This is shown clearly in our fascination with Samson, one of the judges mentioned in the Old Testament. What we miss is that while the book of Judges grants Samson's story a lot of space, it does not paint him in a positive light.
Samson had everything necessary to have been a great man of God, a redeemer of Israel. What we find in his story, however, is that he abused God's gifts over and over for his personal gratification. It is true that he was responsible for killing many of Israel's enemies due to his great strength. All of his efforts, however, had no bearing on Ancient Israel's security. His feats of strength did not bring peace to the land. They did not grant Israel release from the oppression of the Midianites who attacked Israel to steal its agricultural bounty.
I think we are often enamored of strength because we feel if we only had more strength we could accomplish so much more. We believe that if we only had greater wealth, greater influence, greater resources, greater status our lives would be easier, simpler, and more productive. We would change the world for good.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty in that argument is that there are many with influence, power, and wealth who have not accomplished any significant positive transformation. The second is that all too often we use our lack of resources as an excuse for our inaction. If only we had more or greater resources, then we could act. Instead, we need to be determining what we can accomplish with the resources we already have.
Samson had great strength, but he used it throughout his life only for his personal gratification. If Israel had some benefit from that, he would not be upset about it. Redeeming Israel, however, was not his priority. His priority was himself. That was his only priority.
The people who have acted in history to truly transform the world were people with much more limited strength and resources. Sure, Bill and Melinda Gates have set aside 50 percent of their resources to address world issues. There is also a teenager in Malawi, John, who has used his ingenuity to created waterways for garden irrigation for the good of his community and others in the region. His only resources were sticks and rolls of black plastic. In proportion to his resources, John had already accomplished much more by his 16thbirthday than the whole of our billionaire class.
God is not limited by our lack of resources. God is more limited by our inaction. We don't need strongmen to solve the world's problems. We just need to address the issues in our own communities. We need to befriend the poor, tutor those who can't read, feed the hungry among our neighbors, and encourage those who need support. In so doing, we transform the world for those around us.
The victory may be to the strong, but it is more to those who are of strong character than those with great physical strength, political power, or financial resources. We need to let go of our obsession with strongmen and recognize that even the weak can be agents of world transformation in God’s hands.
The Bible on Homosexuality
The Bible is not arranged topically to address the issues that arise in our lives or in the consciousness of any culture or society. It is not a book we can easily run to in order to find neat answers to the concerns raised by people living far removed from the circumstances of the Ancient Near East of First Century Palestine. That is just not how it was designed.
Life's issues are generally much more complex than what we might dig from the Bible by quickly looking up a few words in a concordance or web search. Some themes are treated throughout the texts that compose the Bible. Others are hardly present at all. What one text may seem to say another might spin differently, challenging us to take a closer look at the first passage and the second, as well.
When it comes to a topic like homosexuality, we are dealing with a short list of passages that may or may not have anything to do with what we understand as homosexuality. To further complicate matters, …
constantly hear folks talking about how horrible socialism is. In the
USA, we have fashioned a definition of socialism that has little to
do with socialism and much to do with the vague ideological enemy of
the cold war era red scare.
of all, socialism is an economic system, not a political one. It is
on the continuum with capitalism. Communism lies on a different axis
with democracy, theocracy, autocracy, and such. While capitalism
elevates capital as the most important element in an economic system,
socialism elevates the public welfare as the most important and
valued element. This is often looked at as labor versus capital, but
my understanding is that it is more than labor. It is the social
sphere that includes labor as well as those who are unable to provide
labor in the economic system.
to theology, doctrine, and Biblical witness, however, we find those
attitudes cast against the nebulous enemies of the nation from our
Red Scare days greatly impacting our attitudes …
Why does the US far outpace every other developed nation in rates of gun violence? What makes us so special that our per capita gun violence rate is 3x higher than the next developed nation? Why do we have more mass shootings than Yemen in a time of war? -Is it a mental health problem? It would seem that women and men of color are not affected like white males. Maybe it's something in our water supply that Canada and Spain don't have. -Is it a societal ill based on bad parenting and discipline? We are the only developed nation with the symptoms of gun violence, mass shootings, and school shootings. Are we that much worse at child discipline and parenting skills than the Europeans and Aussies? -Is it a result of Hollywood and video games? The rest of the developed world watches the same shows and plays the same video games. They don't act out the same way. The Japanese traditionally watch much more television than we do. -Is it a result of the US abandoning God and "taking…