Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Don't be an Ass

I just got the following email from an individual on MySpace.

hello, I am in a discussion with a friend on myspace and I noticed you posting vids of the Passion which is a movie by Mel Gibson..a self professing catholic that put many catholic themes in this movie. You, being a pastor, should know that movies and pics of God is idolatry, so why do you post this on people that don't know any better on their pages...can u please read the blog on my page about pics of Jesus being does not matter if you bow down to them or is a false representation of the Lord, for no one can pretend to be God, and no one can have a pic of the Lord, for he is a spirit....

hope u are open for correction, if not...I hope the Lord does convict you about this...

The Lord Reigns,

He also posted this blog which I made comment on but that comment and others were eventually deleted:

Here is my question, what are your thoughts? I know I hear from the overly religious at times, but thought it would make for good discussion here.

By the way to see the video in question you can click the following link, or if the video appears, double click on the video:
Click to see Amazing Grace, Amazing Life.

Now as to my comments for the day; I sincerely believe that those of us who walk on this planet, state we desire to be as much like Jesus as possible, and follow him, need to be open to correction. The issue becomes where and who does the correction come from, and, how is it done? It is in that regard that I admit, I am kind of tired of people I don’t know coming to me and trying to force feed me their vision and image of Jesus and their religion, even if a form of Christianity.

I realize that on this point I tread on thin ice and it is why I am trying to be careful, but it all comes down to how one responds to the myriad of views on theology and religion that exists, and how it is presented? In other words, how and whom do we listen to and take correction from? It is one of those things I know genuinely concerns many who this ministry reaches out to. People are bombarded with various questions. How can you watch movies? How can you tolerate bad language? What about violence? Nudity, it corrupts people, how can you watch it in a movie? The King James Bible is the only one, how can you even read something else? What do you mean you don’t go to church, don’t you realize you are in sin? Alcohol is a demon; surely you don’t condone its usage? How can you preach Jesus if you don’t preach Hell? And the questions go on, and on, and on.

It is likely you get my point. There are myriads of questions people ask. Often it is clear that deep in their heart they question the reality of the relationship we or others have with God, and the legitimacy of that relationship. It isn’t that this concern is a bad concern; in fact it can be good when driven for the right reason and purpose. Unfortunately though, it is very clear that most of the time it is for all of the wrong reasons, mainly to prove a point, and validate their own pharisaic attitudes. If those individuals actually cared about someone, they would make the effort to get to know them, spend some time with them, and not be so quick to judge before first offering love. The truth is though, most of the time this don’t happen. I have a few folks I have gotten to know over the last year or so who has taken the time to get to know me, offer correction, and I listen with an open and understanding heart and mind. Then there are others, that out of the clear blue, offers up a email or personal message that feels compelled to suddenly offer me everything from why the King James is the only bible, to how all movies are wrong, and now, how using the movie The Passion of the Christ in a video promotes idolatry and the destruction of faith among less mature believers. Then there is the line that because I am a pastor I should know better. Whew! See why I say in my page at MySpace that I am a different kind of pastor, one who attempts to be real, and thankfully has a ministry to people who has been turned off by this type of religion?

Unfortunately, there are those who think they are your friends, the ones who for whatever reason think they can can confront you when in reality, they haven't taken the time to get to know you, spend time with you, share your burdens with you, cry with you, laugh with you and I could go on. You know, these are often the religious types you have met through some religious organization, or even an organized church. They are the ones who say they love God, yet, find reason to ignore, and have nothing to do with those they are supposed to love as a brother and a sister. Those are the ones who usually tear me up because I find myself trusting, loving, and caring for them, only to be abused like a dog that is getting ready to be put down because they have been beaten so badly. They are the ones who never return the emails that are personal, the ones where they know you are hurting and don’t bother to pick up the telephone, or even those who live close by who would just as soon ignore you as they would the prostitute who knocks on their door asking for a donation to support her drug habit. Yea, the difference is, these are the ones who are called to love, but for whatever reason know so little about love that one has to wonder how they will respond when they face Jesus on this issue.

The truth is, those who have walked with me, those who have gotten to know me, love me, care for me, provide for me, share in life with me are the ones I will listen to. I don’t think it is any different for anyone else who has had a struggle with this thing we call faith and Christianity. I don’t think it is that God can’t use others, but I also think God can certainly speak to us in ways we will recognize. If God’s Holy Spirit was able to inspire and move various people over the ages, I think it is still capable to move me and others when we need to hear from him.
If we listen, we can recognize the voice of God, and we can recognize the voice that isn’t of God. Of course there are the times, just like in the Old Testament when people are foolish and don’t listen when they should, heck, I have been in that place. In those instances God may even use a donkey like he did Balaam to get the point across. Odds are though; God will find more subtle, realistic ways to address our issues and problems.

Do I think that a movie that depicts the person of Jesus Christ is sacrilegious? Of course not! I think the second commandment speaks to far more than a photograph or actor portraying Jesus. It speaks to things like the worship of self, putting things before God that take the place of God, and so much more. Of course one has to be careful because the truth is, we can make church, worship, religion, and even in some ways Christianity an idol that takes place over God. While we tend to look at the obvious idols, we forget about the religious things that can be just as dangerous. It is one of the reasons some people put so much stock into legalism, their views, and various doctrines. They have idols, they just think they can justify them because they are religious in nature.

Truth is, God chose to have a relationship with us, and he gave his son as a willing sacrifice to make that happen. For those who choose to follow the leadership and receive the forgiveness offered by that son, Jesus Christ, we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us understand what is right and what is wrong. It is high time, that some people let the Holy Spirit do his job, and they in return do their job, whatever that job may be.

For those who struggle with being misunderstood, being questioned, and being put down, know this, God loves you and God can find ways to communicate with you that you will appreciate, understand, and receive. God will do this even when that communication involves things that may be hard for you to hear. As to those who choose to correct, put down, and approach you without knowing what you are going through, love them, pray for them and above all, listen for God. But, whatever you do, don’t become like them, if need be, ignore them and turn from them, but on this, be careful, you never know when God will use a ass to speak his truths.

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