Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jesus is a RADICAL

A lot of people still wonder how I can be a Bible-believing Christian and be politically "liberal," not to mention a Democrat. Frankly, I'm not sure how I couldn't be!

Today's Epistle lesson in Church, Romans 12:9-21 strikes me as a great patter for how to live your life. It also seems to be to be filled with progressive (aka liberal) values, like caring about others, being unselfish and offering dignity, respect, love and forgiveness to others, whether they deserve it or not. Sharing with those in need, showing genuine compassion and concern. Being humble, empathetic, non-judgmental and not being arrogant, controlling or greedy.

Last week I was trying to get my 8th graders to consider what respect means. It dawned on me that in many ways, it's synonymous with love. I remembered Cornell West's quote about how "justice is what love looks like in public."

Romans 12:21 especially reminds me of  what Martin Luther King said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5 to "love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you," is radically different than what the world practices.

It's radically different than what we assume is normal, natural or "right." It's counter-intuitive, you might even say it's "counter-cultural."

And as critical, controversial or divisive as it may be to say this- I believe that it's radically different than what the religious-right, conservative-Christians, Republican  and Tea-Parties tend to represent. My perception is that they hold to an authoritarian, insensitive, fear-based, anger-stoking, greed-perpetuating, sort of Machiavellianism.

Mind you, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7)." So I don't recommend making the Democratic Party into your religion or trusting it as a steadfast refuge either, after all from 1864-1964 they were the party of Jim Crow injustice.

Seriously, I think that is the United States used Romans 12:20 as a foreign policy doctrine, perhaps we'd have fewer enemies. We'd have a Marshall Plan in the Middle East instead of counter insurgency and counter-terrorism programs.

Not-so seriously, if Republicans used verse 20 as a political strategy, the poor would be fed in America and they'd be paying gay couples to get married!

At any rate, I just feel like Romans 12:9-21 is some of the most beautiful explanation of what God hopes for His children. This passage fleshes-out what is encapsulated in Micah 6:8, "what... does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Here is Romans 12:9-21 from the NIV, but I took the liberty to remove the verse numbers and hit "return" a few times so that you can read it like poetry, because it deserves to be seen like poetry.

Love must be sincere. 
Hate what is evil; 
cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in love. 
Honor one another above yourselves.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. 
Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; 
mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another. 
Do not be proud, 
but be willing to associate with people of low position. 
Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, 
as far as it depends on you, 
live at peace with everyone.

Do not take revenge, 
my dear friends, 
but leave room for God’s wrath, 
for it is written: 
“It is mine to avenge; 
I will repay,”says the Lord. 

On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry,
 feed him;
if he is thirsty, 
give him something to drink.
In doing this,
 you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, 
but overcome evil with good.

Great poetry in a hymn we sang today
It makes a great prayer too

O God, My Faithful God By: Johann Heermann (1585-1647)

O God, my faithful God,
True fountain ever flowing,
Without whom nothing is,
All perfect gifts bestowing:
Give me a healthy frame,
And may I have within
A conscience free from blame,
A soul unstained by sin.

Give me the strength to do
With ready heart and willing
Whatever you command,
My calling here fulfilling.
Help me do what I should
With all my might, and bless
The outcome for my good,
For you must give success.

Keep me from saying words
That later need recalling;
Guard me lest idle speech
May from my lips be falling;
But when within my place
I must and ought to speak,
Then to my words give grace
Lest I offend the weak.

When dangers gather round,
Oh, keep me calm and fearless;
Help me to bear the cross
When life seems dark and cheerless;
Help me, as you have taught,
To love both great and small
And by your Spirit’s might
To live at peace with all.

Hymn # 371 from Lutheran Worship, #696 from Lutheran Service BookTune: Was Frag Ich Nach Der Welt  1st Published in: 1630

Saturday, August 13, 2011

@lwrjohnnunes, 8/13/11 12:30 PM

John Nunes (@lwrjohnnunes)
8/13/11 12:30 PM
"Faith is nothing else than begging for mercy." CFW Walther

Sent from my iPod

The Poverty of Satisfaction That Afflicts Us All

"Our Gross National Product now is over 800 billion dollars a year. But our Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear war heads and armored cars for the police to fight riots in our cities. it counts... the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriage, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit not our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud to be Americans."