the abc’s of tolerance

Tolerance…

The topic of tolerance came up in the comments of my last post, so I thought I’d re-post them here to offer a focussed discussion of them…

This t-word is used in interesting ways. I think it’s used far too loosely. You tolerate things (certain actions or persons whose identity is defined by those same actions) which you don’t agree with or like. If you agree with and/or like some action (or person affiliated with it), then you –by definition, I insist– cannot ‘tolerate’ it. Therefore, it should be obvious that you can only ‘tolerate’ things (or persons) which you disagree with or don’t like. Continue reading “the abc’s of tolerance”

brian walsh: targum of Romans 12:1-2

The Romans 1:1-17 targum wasn’t enough…

…I had to post this one as well…

Again, I advise reading these two simple verses in an easy-to-read translation before reading the targum…

In case it’s not obvious, Walsh is anything but a typical ‘republican-style’ Christian…

If this doesn’t stir your heart, check your pulse… Continue reading “brian walsh: targum of Romans 12:1-2”

brian walsh: targum of Romans 1:1-17

Read Romans 1:1-17 (in a good, easy to read translation like NIV or CEV), and then check out Brian J. Walsh’s ‘targum’ (an interpretive ‘modernisation’ of a given passage) of it… (Copied from here)

I just love this stuff…
Continue reading “brian walsh: targum of Romans 1:1-17”

harder than it looks…

I’ve got a quick thought to share…

It’s easy to distance ourselves from people like Hitler and Stalin. We can’t imagine such horrible evils. I mean really, what was the rest of the world doing, right? Why didn’t someone stop him sooner? I guess they just stood by and said, ‘Who are we to say otherwise?’

While I’m sure it’s not a one-for-one analogy, many would say that the large number of modern abortions is comparable to the genocide of those days, and that the same thing is happening today, and still, the world stands by and says, ‘Who are we to say otherwise?’

Now, abortion is a huge issue and I’m not going to take the time to offer a well-nuanced and carefully phrased view, but what if this was actually the case?

One of the small, behind the scenes things that helped bring an end to the regimes all those years ago was people using their voice to let the world know about what was really happening, not what they wanted you to think was happening. (go out right now and watch the movie ‘Sophie Scholl’ – it’s incredible!)

My point is, they didn’t start by physically going in with guns blazing. Some had to make the difficult but necessary decision to not act then and there, but to wait and tell others that could make a bigger, more permanent difference.

What if abortion is a modern-day genocide?

Well, if it is, I think something needs to be done. But what? Try and get the law changed? Use brute political force? Fund Christian political lobby groups?

I think that’s not the wisest way. I think we’ve got to face the fact that the abortion issue, as horrible as it is, is only a part of a much more foundational issue – toxic and destructive human sexual values and practices…

Changing laws won’t last. It won’t help. We’ve got to do the difficult work of influencing people. Now. With grace and truth.

That’s my quick thought…

-d-

of kings and kingdoms

The first followers of Jesus said many various things about Jesus.
(this is not a huge statement)

Particularly, they called Jesus ‘the King’ and ‘Lord’.
(these, however, were most certainly huge statements then…)

I’m not going to focus on the Jewish side of things – what it might have meant for them to call Jesus ‘King’ or ‘Lord’ – but want to focus on the Greek/Roman side of things…

The Romans hailed Caesar as Lord and King, and allegiance to him was demanded at basically every turn. Prison, torture or death – or maybe all three! – if you didn’t…

The followers of Jesus withheld their allegiance from Caesar.

I wonder how bold they were about this…

Perhaps we’ll never know. Did they keep their noses down and only admit it when pressed to it? Did they rub the Romans’ noses in it? I don’t know…

But what I am convinced of is this:

Their message and Kingdom of Jesus was offensive to the world of Caesar.

The Kingdom of Jesus is up-side down compared to the world of Caesar.

Check this out…

In Acts 17, we see that Paul and Silas preached the message about Jesus to Jews (and Gentile listeners – called ‘devout Greeks’ or ‘God-fearers’) in Thessolonica – which was a Roman city. The message was (and still is, by the way!) that Jesus was ‘the Christ’ (meaning God’s annointed – you guessed it – King.). They convinced LOTS of people (a ‘great multitude’ of the devout Greeks, and ‘not a few’ of the leading women).

The Jews were livid. They gathered what the text calls ‘evil men’ (I’m guessing like ‘hit men’ or something?) from the marketplace, and searched for Paul and Silas to have them… well… you know… probably killed or something. Apparently, they didn’t find them, so they grabbed who they were staying with…

They “…dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city (meaning the ‘Greek’ people in charge of Thessolonica), crying out, ‘These (Paul and co.) who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these (Jason, ‘some brethren’, and Paul and co.) are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another King – Jesus.’ ” (Acts 17:6-7 NKJV – my emphasis and distracting notes added)

Paul and Silas didn’t stay to try and sort things out…

The message and Kingdom of Jesus denies allegiance to all other would-be Kings, Lords, Caesars, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Dictators and more.

More than that (as if that’s not enough!) it also turns the world ‘upside down’.

-Does your faith turn YOUR world ‘upside down’?

-Are you acting contrary to the decrees of ‘Caesar’?

-Are you saying (with your time, money, etc.) that there is ‘another King – Jesus’?

May the Kingdom people be about the King’s business.
May we feel the tension of living in a world that gives allegiance to various other Kings.
May we encourage and strengthen each other to stick it to the false Kings around us…
…in the name of the real King – Jesus.

the gospel announcement

If you know anything about the word ‘gospel’, you probably know that it means ‘Good News.’ You may also know that it is the word (euangelion‘) that a Roman herald would use in making the announcement that there was a new Emperor in the Empire. I love the way that Tom Wright points out that these Roman heralds were not offering an invitation, but rather making an announcement. As Wright says, these heralds didn’t ride into town and say, “In case you are interested in offering your devotion to someone, you may wish to try Caesar, who has recently become the Emperor of Rome. He would be delighted if you should wish to follow him.” Instead, it would have been more like this, “We bring you the good news (‘gospel’) of Rome that Caesar Augustus is now our beloved Emperor, and demands your allegiance and taxes! On your knees!” In short, these heralds were declaring that Caesar was Lord!

The idea of ‘good news’ was certainly not just a Roman thing, however. The Jewish prophet Isaiah had spoken centuries ago about ‘good tidings’ for the poor, etc. (ch. 52 & 61 and other places). In fact, when Isaiah was translated into Greek (in the Septuagint), they used the same word (euangelion‘) in these places! Indeed, the word ‘gospel’ had a very different usage when the New Testament was written!

Believing the ‘Gospel’ in the first century came complete with side-effects, and it wasn’t simply that you belonged to a club that you didn’t before. If it was the Gospel of Caesar, the side-effect was that you would swear allegiance to him as Lord – lived out by paying taxes and obedience to the Roman system. Whether you were an orator, civic benefactor, patron, client, land-owner, peasant or slave, obedience meant knowing your place and not rocking the boat.

With the coming of Jesus, the word Gospel took on new meaning – as did the side-effects that went with believing it. For Jews, believing the Gospel of Jesus meant that the ‘good news’ of Isaiah had never been announced like it had been with Jesus. In the Roman world, however, believing the Gospel of Jesus was hazardous for your health! Believing that Jesus was Lord meant believing that Caesar was not! It meant believing that the ‘good news’ of Jesus made the ‘good news’ of Rome look like a cheap scam. It meant no longer living according to a system which really only served an elite few at the top, but rather living according to the character of a Lord, who is nothing at all like Caesar.

What in the world does this mean for us today? Possibly more than we care to know. I think it means that the Gospel of Jesus has little to do with an invitation that I accept (as if it were about ‘me’), and everything to do with an announcement that is true. Jesus really IS Lord. My life needs to give voice to that, and simply saying so won’t do. Simply associating with others that say so (or not associating with those that don’t) won’t do either. Our spending habits, dreams (‘American’ or otherwise), time, money, standard of living, and much more – they all must bow the knee to the fact that Jesus is Lord. Announcing this is our calling. It will definitely require our words, but equally (or more) so, it will require our lives.