23 December 2013

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

There’s a recurring theme I have observed from too many Christians:  their God is too small, and their devil is too big.  They seem to believe we’re engaged in some type of cosmic celestial battle between two equal powers: the power of good and the power of evil.  Where do we get such ideas?  They certainly aren’t from the Bible!

The Bible clearly depicts the devil as a defeated foe.  His future is to be bruised beneath our feet as we discover that “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.”
If we were given the challenge to overcome the forces of evil, what weapon would we choose?  How would we defeat the devil?  The human response is always to look for the strongest thing available.  But not God’s; God chose to send a baby!  A baby!  How could a baby defeat the forces of hell?  Nothing seems more helpless than a baby, totally dependent upon His mother.  Not only was He dependent; He was born in a germ-infested barn.

Yes, I know, in our retellings, the stable always has clean hay and the animals are kept at a safe distance away from the baby, but Jesus was born in a dingy cave surrounded by stinking animals.  The dirt floor was encrusted with dung and urine.  It didn’t smell good, and it wasn’t clean!  I hope I’m not being too graphic in describing the stable in Bethlehem, but the truth is this wasn’t a hygienic place for a baby to be born.  There was no disinfectant to sterilize the manger before they could lay the baby down.  Why would God do such a thing and send His “only begotten Son” as a helpless baby into such a terrible situation?

I believe He was giving us a strong Christmas message: “Your devil is too big, and your God is too small.”  God wasn’t threatened by the devil.  It’s almost like heaven is rejoicing in the devil’s face.  He knew the devil had no power over Him.  He trusted a teen-age girl with her maternal instincts to take good care of the baby.  He wasn’t afraid that the baby would get sick and die; no, the baby would live to accomplish His purpose of overcoming the power of evil.  The life inside the baby was greater than the death in the cave.

The Bible tells us we should “overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)  The greatest force in the world is love.  No, not some warm fuzzy emotion that makes us feel good.  This type of love is described as “tough love.”  It’s the kind of love which isn’t afraid to get its hand dirty.  It’s the kind of love which invades darkness and conquers because of its fearlessness.  It’s the kind of love which can look the devil in the eye and not blink.  It can invade a germ-infested cave filled with dirty animals and conquer death, hell, and the grave.

I believe one of the greatest messages of Christmas is “your God is bigger than the devil.”  Why are we afraid of the big bad wolf?  Jesus has already conquered both hell and the grave.  Jesus is Lord!  We need to come as the magi did two thousand years ago and bow at the feet of the little child.  We need to bring our most precious gifts and lay them at His feet, because the baby has won.  He has defeated the devil.  We don’t have to be afraid of the darkness because the light of God’s truth has shown in the face of the Christ-child.  The angels have sang and we can rejoice because “greater is He who is in us, than He who is in the world.”

Merry Christmas!

10 December 2013

The Death of Freedom

The United States is called “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  This is no longer a true statement.  A US federal judge just ruled that a Christian baker must create a wedding cake for a homosexual wedding regardless of his religious convictions or pay fines for failing to do so.  The baker is free to practice his faith at home and at church, but he can no longer take his faith to the marketplace.

The case was based on discrimination.  I would agree that the baker discriminated against the same-sex partners because of his religious beliefs, but now the court has discriminated against the baker because of his faith.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too!  The judge says the baker can have his faith, but he can’t practice it; only the homosexual has the liberty to do that.  The baker only has the choice of abandoning his faith or abandoning his business.  That is not freedom of religion.

It’s not just the baker who is hurt by this ruling.  Every person who serves at weddings has just been told to begin promoting homosexual lifestyle or go out of business.  Every wedding planner, florist, and photographer will now have to use their creative abilities to promote weddings which are not according to their beliefs.  And what about the preachers? I’m effected by this decision also.  According to this judge’s ruling, I don’t have the right to promote heterosexual marriage as the only marriage God intended.  It doesn’t matter what my Bible says or I personally believe.  I’m now guilty of criminal discrimination against the homosexual because I believe heterosexual marriage is what God designed.

Both the homosexual and the heterosexual cannot be right.  As I said before, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too!”  The judge has thrown out the religious freedom of the majority for the sake of the sexual preference of the minority.

The words I am writing at this moment are considered by many to be “hate language.”  However, I am not saying them because I hate.  Jesus taught us to love people, and that is what I always attempt to do.  But because I disagree and refuse to endorse the homosexual lifestyle, I am accused of bigotry and hatred.  Homosexuals can say anything they want about me; they can curse me and revile me, but this is my own fault because of my supposedly bigotry.  What absolute nonsense!  The United States has ceased to be a country with religious liberty.

I love the response of Billy Graham when a reporter asked him what he would do if his daughter were to declare herself to be a lesbian, “Would you still love her?” she asked.  Rev. Graham wisely answered, “I’d probably love her the most because she would probably need it the most.”  That is the right answer.  As Christians, we must always love; but there is a drastic difference between acceptance and approval.  I accept the homosexual as a person created by God who will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell.  I will treat him with respect as a person, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything he practices.  And my disagreement with his lifestyle does not mean I have become an intolerant, religious bigot.  I agree that intolerance must go, but that rule must apply to everybody, including the homosexual.  The homosexual must accept and respect me as a person who, though I disagree with him, will do him no personal harm.

But the homosexual “hates” what I’m writing because he wants me to admit that he is right and that I am wrong.  In the case of the Colorado baker, the baker offered to make other deserts for the homosexual men or sell them the products in his bakery.  No, they wanted him to create a special wedding cake for them, and since they couldn’t have their way, they went to court.  There were other bakeries which would’ve accommodated them, but they wanted to make an example of him and force him to admit they are right or go out of business.

Why aren’t preachers everywhere crying out against this injustice?  Don’t they realize we are the next target on the homosexual agenda?  Religious freedom is at stake, and if we don’t speak up now there will be no choice tomorrow.  We will face the same options of the baker: Do what the judge says, or go out of business.  I understand that homosexuals are a minority in the US, but the Christian majority has become passive.  A militant minority always rules over a passive majority.  We sit silently when others are attacked hoping that no one will bother us.  The attack on the baker is an attack on every Christian in America.  If we fail here every other religious freedom which we cherish will eventually be taken away.

There is a famous saying from Pastor Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant voice against Nazi Germany, that should make us all think very carefully about saying issues don’t effect us. 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.