There is a great dialogue that can be found in John 18 (verses 33 to 38) between Jesus and Pontius Pilate. In my mind it shows a stark contrast in priorities between a politician and a believer. Pilate was an extremely good politician who had managed to survive as Governor in one of the most unruly provinces in the Roman Empire. The first thing that Pilate asks is “are you a king?” That’s what a politician is worried about – political opposition. Who’s in office right now? Who has the title of President, Prime Minister or King? Because that person must have “the power”?!
It is starting to sound familiar. Muslims are up in arms and the Vatican is defending Benedict XVI and his speech quoting 14th Century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologis. The issue in question is whether or not Islam is an inherently violent religion? The Pope’s claim is that Islamic extremists convert by violence, an argument he claims to make in an attitude of “not trying to offend Muslims”. To the Muslim Brotherhood Chairman Mohamed Madhi Akef the Pope’s speech only adds fuel to the fire and shows the west’s “hostility to Islam”.
“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”
“Those who know don’t speak. Those who don’t know speak.”
I don’t know how true these quotes are, but I like them nonetheless. One of the “read between the lines” doctrines in the Bible is that of Friendship(s). This sounds like a bit of shallow discussion but I have seen over the years numerous relationships based on numerous things: work, next door neighbor, family etc. However, how many sincere friendships do you have? How many people are in your life that truly know you and genuinely care about you?
I just spent five days traveling across the United States. Staying in hotels and having some free time on my hands I made it a point of watching a lot of Christian television. Something struck me very strange in program after program. The viewer is inundated with the preaching which claims we need victory?, breakthrough?, the next level?, etc. The preaching is quite obviously targeting born-again, spirit-filled believers. Are we really that needy? Or are preachers merely feeling a false emotion-based feeling of need?
I have a confession. Early on, I realized that as a minister I was standing up and telling people to live one way (for example – pray every day) while I myself was struggling. I found that on any given week I certainly couldn’t say that I prayed more than one hour per day. And even if I did pray it was usually at a prayer meeting (ie. in front of people). We were all very forceful prayer warriors then. I can’t speak for what the others were like when they were alone, but I know that my private prayer life was not nearly as…how should we phrase it – vocal! In retrospect, years later I find myself wondering how much of our prayers back then were for God’s ears and how much was for each other’s.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15
I remember going to youth group when I was fourteen and the dreaded subject of witnessing would come up. The announcement was made that after the meeting we’d be heading down town to “witness”. I would rummage through my thoughts, pretending not to be scared out of my wits that I might run in to someone that I knew; trying to figure out how to look cool while doing it.
Jesus’ non-discriminatory approach.
Last weeks blog brought a lot of reaction. Thank you for responding whether you agree with my sentiments or not.
End-time prophecy predictions are a tricky business. Anyone remember Salem Kirban prediction books in the 70’s? What about a host of other prophecy teachers who foretold Jesus’ return in 1982, 1987, 1988, 1992, 2000 etc. All through these emotionally charged predictions I have been saying that Jesus’ return is not tied to a date on the calendar, but to a fulfillment of a condition the Gospel must first be preached.
Have you noticed how unfriendly many Christians are towards Muslims? After September 11 I have known Muslims and traveled in Muslim countries for over 20 years and I can tell you that Islamic nations, just like Christian nations, have their share of violence.
However most Muslims, just like most people in all countries, are peace loving, hardworking people. Most importantly, Jesus died for the world – for everyone.
Paul tells the Galatians, it can happen and quite easily at that. The bewitching is in believing the oldest lie there is. “Yes, surely Jesus died for your sins. His death made you righteous, but you must prove your love to him by doing things that are right. You need to show God why he should keep on loving you.” In fact, God’s love is extended unconditionally to everyone. He loved us when we were enemies.
Have you been on the treadmill of faith? You are running as hard as you can in your pursuit of faith but not getting anywhere. Could it be that Christian preachers have made faith into something we manufacture by efforts of prayer and Bible study rather than a gift of God?