Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coming storms...

You're hated. Get used to it.

Do you believe marriage is for one man and one woman? You're a bigoted homophobe.

Do you think that a baby in the womb is a human being and therefore deserving of the protection of any human being? Your an anti-choice and have no thought for a woman's fundamental freedoms.

Do you really believe in a six-day creation and a young earth, Noah and the ark, Jonah and a great fish? Do you believe in the tooth fairy, too?

Do you really believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven? You are a fundamentalist extremist, the kind that runs planes into buildings.

Yes, folks will care for you and your convictions. Peter said as much.  "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings" (1 Peter 4:12-13a). Jesus said as much to his disciples. Twice! "You will be hated for my name's sake" (Matthew 10:22, 24:9)

With such prescient training, I don't get flummoxed when I hear the Bill Mahre's of the world lampoon the religiously convicted. I don't get too stressed (okay, maybe a bit) when the followers of Christ are lumped in with the followers of Muhammad and Allah. It's to be expected.

Consider this Facebook post. All is in the original to include the parentheticals and the subject-verb disagreement; I just bold printed a few statements:

Apparently the social conservative faction of the Republican Party (read anti-science, anti-abortion, anti-gay) are declaring war on Karl Rove - the most devious political operative since Halderman. They claim that Rove virtually controlled the nomination process (probably true) and that Romney, Rove’s choice, lost because he wasn’t conservative enough (ARE THEY ON CRACK??). So who do you root for, evil genius or superstitious dunderheads?
More and more, those who follow Christ in all corners of their life will suffer such scorn. I have a friend who, like many others, decided to post every day in November something for which they were thankful. As a new believer in God and the Bible, much of it was directed to him. It only took a week before she took blow-torch heat for her convictions. She posted,
" ::Day 7:: Today I am thankful for my rights as a US citizen. I am thankful that for the time being I have the right to voice my beliefs and concerns about this nation and its leaders without being stoned, I have the right to worship my God and carry my Bible without being beheaded, and I have the right to bear arms and protect my family if needed."
Pretty benign. A pretty patriotic post. In response to a comment from a friend, she added,
"I explained to my son why I voted for the person I did and explained as believers that we need to vote for the candidate that holds to biblical truths. Then having to tell him who won this morning, and he asked, 'why does America hate God?' Good grief.............."
And then the whip cracked.
"Good grief... I'm removing you as a friend. I do wholeheartedly support your right to believe in your religion, but hearing that you've brainwashed your child to believe that America hates God because we elected a Christian man, who happens to be a democrat is sickening, ignorant and utterly ridiculous. People like you are the basis of religious fanaticism, and if anyone remembers September 11, 2001 we all remember what religious fanaticism causes.

I pray that your child gets an excellent education that will help him move beyond such narrow minded and ignorant thoughts in the future. I hope that his education allows him to balance his faith and his knowledge in a constructive way that is realistic for today's world.
I'd like to say such responses and attitudes are a rarity. They are not. A couple of thoughts for you as you love and lead your wife and family:
1. Prepare them for darkness. I'd love to paint a rosy picture of the world around us, but truth is, it is a dark place. Yes, there is much good and beauty, but my wife and I do not have Concealed Handgun Licenses because of bunnies and butterflies. The truth of God's word speaks of a fallen world and the sinfulness of mankind. These things will intrude into every life. Ignoring such and failing to lead our families in the full counsel of God's world will not prepare them for the storms ahead.

2. Bolster them in hope. It's not all doom and gloom. Even in the fallen world, bunnies and butterflies do exist. I saw a sunset last night that stole my breath for fifteen minutes. Extraordinary. But it's not simply for these brief blessings that we hope. Jesus Christ died and rose that one day we would be with him in eternity. Despite and through the difficulties in this life, we will know glories in the coming age. Teach your family these things.

3. Protect and defend them when you can. There are bullies out there. Do not let them touch your family. Not all bullies are physical. Some come in through the television. Some try to bludgeon through the internet. Some will deceive and destroy through enticing melodies and noxious lyrics. You, man, have a responsibility to protect your bride and children.

4. Protect and defend mine when I'm not around. Few spend 24/7 with their families. It's not possible. As such, if I am not around, you have my permission to intervene for my family. I will do so for yours. When bullies are bullying, stand in the gap.
The numbers of those who loathe and despise us will not likely wane in the coming days. As the apostles did, rejoice that you are counted worthy to bear reproach for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41; it's him they are persecuting after all [Acts 9:4]). Be ready for the coming storms.

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