Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Saturday
Apr272013

CHRISTIAN  MARSEILLAISE

On Bastille Day, July 14, 2012, I wrote the following article.  Recently I rediscovered it, so I'm reprinting it here for you.

Jesus, how did You challenge the power elite?

By doing what Your Father asked.  I assume that right along You were healing people.  We read in Mark 3 that a man with a withered hand came to You in the Synagogue on the Sabbath.  That was too perfect. Was he a plant by the Pharisees?  No matter.  You healed on other days; You were going to heal on the Sabbath too. And, so You did.

Some Pharisees watched.  The healing miracle must have enraged and terrified them.  They couldn't do miracles.  So it was easy for them to fear and hate You.  Of course, they couldn't deny the miracle, because the man now had a perfectly good hand.  And everyone in town saw it.   So, the Pharisees jumped on a peripheral matter:  You healed on the Sabbath.

Yes, they were terrified and furious.  How do we know?  The Bible tells us so.  Verse 6 reads, "The Pharisees went out and immediately began plotting with some members of Herod's party how to do away with Him." It's only chapter three – and already they're out to lynch You.

And in that, Jesus, You are a prototype for us.  As Christians we shouldn't have to protest spectacularly to get the attention of the governmental and religious authorities, the police or the military. If we keep doing what You tell us to do, we'll be so troublesome that they'll come after us.

OK, how does that apply in the context of oppression? 

Example:  Pastor Martin Niemöller wrote, "When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.  When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.  

When they came for the Jews, 
I remained silent; 
I wasn't a Jew.  When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."

How should followers of Jesus protest?  By identifying with and loving our oppressed neighbors. They're our brothers and sisters, and they're always in abundant supply.

The urban legend of the King of Denmark serves us well as an example.  When the Nazis took over Denmark and decreed that all Jews should wear a star of David armband, the next day the King appeared on the street wearing a star of David armband.

If the King did wear the armband, he may not have risked much.  Even under the Nazis, he probably had immunity from arrest.  But for us, such actions can lead to arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death.

That's Jesus' call for us.  If you doubt that, reread Romans 12:14-21.  It's the Christian Marseillaise -- our Father's strategy for Christian revolution.  And it works.

Between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D., the Carthaginians, Parthians, Egyptians, Gauls and Germans couldn't conquer the Roman Empire, but the Christians did it by 313 A.D.  How?  By following their marching orders in Romans 12:14-21.  And that revolution is still going on today -- for example, in China and in Iran.

Keep the faith.  As my friend Dick Taylor has said, "God is good.  He's in control, and He knows what He's doing."

John Calvin also had a cleansing opinion.  He wrote something like this:  "One test of where we are as Christians is how much of the New Testament we can take literally."

In the United States today, Christians are seen as conservatives.  That's because the majority of Christians stay in their comfort zone and give part of their allegiance to traditional American values -- including greed, glory, and Empire building.  Instead, as followers of Jesus, we're called to give our allegiance fully to Him and to Scripture.  When we fully follow Jesus, we become the real radicals.

May we trust in Him and have the guts to follow Him.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile several books for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright  ©  2013 by Jack Towe

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