Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rainbow Connections

I guess I feel the need to apologize... 

I'm sorry...

I'm sorry, but I will not allow anyone to force me to redefine the meaning of "love."

Note that I did not say "marriage."  That was on purpose; by design.

Many years ago, when confronted with what a church pastor felt was my completely non-biblical and incorrect view of speaking on tongues, I was challenged to do something I rarely did - actually research the Bible and see if my views on that topic could be supported.

Weeks of research led me to the conclusion that SOME of what I believed was wrong while MOST of what I believed was easily supported by the Bible, which I believe to be God's written Word for all mankind.

In recent weeks I have begun the same process with the, now, very controversial issue of same-sex marriage.

As I read the scriptures - both old and new testament - and even the red words by Jesus - I don't see any way around the notion that, as far as the Bible is concerned, a "homosexual lifestyle" is NOT commended by God.  It is always spoken of in negative terms.  The same way divorce, adultery, gluttony, gossip, slander, hate, blasphemy, murder and other issues are spoken of in negative terms. It is never brought forth as a desirable lifestyle.  Not once.  That can only lead to the conclusion that, as far as God is concerned, it is a sin.

Like every other sin, however, it is also trumped by God's love, mercy and grace.  He does not turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to our sin.  He does something better - he restores us.  He accomplished this by offering His only son, Jesus, on the cross to be the one-time sacrifice for our sins.  That's not my opinion - that is fact from the Bible. If you don't believe the Bible, then it's a moot point for you - I get that.  But that means ALL content of the Bible must be moot - you can't pick and choose only the parts you like or agree with.  That's another post for another time...

The point is - God's LOVE is THE most important thing.  And His love is NEVER forced or pushed or shoved or used as fodder for battle, hate, anger or dispute.  True, actual love - God's love - somehow permeates every man-designed theory, notion, attitude and action.  God's love always wins. To say "Love Wins" (the current battle cry regarding same-sex marriage) is far too simplistic and, actually, untrue.  The love I have for my dog does not "win."  It's just a really nice feeling I have.  But GOD'S LOVE always runs deeper and shines brighter.

The current climate of "you BETTER paste a rainbow on your FB page to prove you love!" is just bullshit.  That is FORCING love.  That is DEMANDING love.  That is SHOVING a particular human definition of love into people's faces that comes from arrogance and is laced in hate.

To truly love means to figure out a way to get past those things that separate us.  It does not mean we must fully embrace nor accept the thoughts, beliefs and actions of others.  That is not love.  That is pandering.

I love gay people.  I love black people.  I love tall people, short people, skinny people, fat people, stupid people, smart people.  SOME people irritate the hell out of me.  Just like I irritate the hell out of people sometimes.  But LOVE - REAL love - GOD'S love - gets past all that.  God's love calls us to actually allow others to be who they are without fear of being bullied, forced, chastised, or pushed around until they cave in.  That is how I am to love a homosexual.  And that is how a homosexual is supposed to love me. The love God calls us to is never a one-way street.

God's love truly is unconditional. Period.

Based on what I read in the Bible, I can never agree that "a homosexual lifestyle" is acceptable to God.  However, I will ALWAYS agree that a homosexual, just like me, needs to be loved and accepted for who they are as a human being.  No finger pointing.  No slandering.  No hate.  This is the ONLY type of love mandated by God - - that we love one another in spite of our differences. God created me to love you.  God created you to love me.  He created us to love one another regardless of our political bias, our religious beliefs, our morals, our arrogance, our lousy personalities... and the list goes on and on.

Love One Another - That's God's plan.  

There will always be those screaming for laws on the books to FORCE this or that philosophy. Those laws do not define the underlying issue or concept.  They - are - just - laws.

But God's law - in this case, His law regarding love - is the only true law to follow.

Love like God.  Love like Jesus...

because the only Rainbow Connection worth embracing is the one that connects us to God's love.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Stinky Fish

Let me just say at the outset, this is more of a rant than a blog post. 

I love Jesus and I love His children.  But over the past several years I've experienced what I might call a lack of Christian love from some (note, I did say some) of His followers.  And, frankly, I don't get it... it leaves me feeling like the "fish" is a little stinky.

My most recent experience was with an up-and-coming Christian organization who creates ministry content for use in churches for all age groups.  They are located out of state which is why I found it odd - almost a "God-thing" - that I found their job listing on Craigslist in my own state.  The job appealed to me and seemed to be a perfect fit for my skill sets.  The idea of a regular full-time position has been growing within me for some time and I felt that, perhaps, God was leading me in this new direction.

So, I sent an initial email of introduction, they responded, we chatted over email and by phone, they flew me to their corporate offices for an interview, the interview went great, I got home and received a job offer from them with a salary that, honestly, was quite low for what the position demanded and the skill sets I brought to the table.  

I came back to them with a counter offer which was the top of their posted salary bracket.

Then I received an email saying they changed their mind; that I actually did not meet the needs for the position after all and a few other things that, really, were not true.   And this left me wondering why, then, the initial email offer if I did not meet the requirements?  

My dilemma is that, because they are a Christian company, and I am a Christian, there is an unwritten rule that we must hide behind phrases such as "God guided me" or "we prayed about this" or "the Lord told us..."  

Really?  How 'bout honesty?  

Why can't you just say, "no, we are only offering what we are offering and that's the end of the discussion" without trying to turn it into some sort of "holy" event?

What angers me is that this sort of "mixed message" experience goes on sometimes within Christian businesses, be it a church, a media company, a university or similar Christian organizations.  I know people first hand who have gone thru similar, heart-wrenching, confusing experiences within the Christian community.  I don't get it.  I don't like it.  

And - it - stinks!

Sadly, this company's decision was made based on money.  I understand that businesses have budgets and that money is needed to operate companies and all of that.  So, then, don't offer a salary bracket in your ad to begin with and don't belittle the applicant or their abilities in order to justify paying them less!  Very bad form...

Why do Christians and Christian organizations feel the need to hide behind the fish?  It is not more mature to be dishonest.  It is not more godly to pretend all is well and then turn the tables on someone. In fact, it is very dishonoring to God and your fellow believer to speak in a condescending "holy" tone of voice when in your heart you have no intention of following through with what you are inferring.  That is not what it means to be a Christian.  

As I say, there are plenty of really great Christians and Christian companies out there.  I just feel led to call out the ones who reveal themselves to be lacking in living out what that fish on the building actually represents.  

Some will say, "grow thicker skin, Dan, just get over it and move on."  I did and I have.  This is not about throwing a pity party.  It's about holding each other accountable in the Kingdom. 

So, please listen...

If you run a Christian organization, or help lead one, please do all of us a favor and either live what you preach, or scrape the stinky fish off the building.  

Because sometimes you are definitely NOT doing what Jesus would do.