Monday, April 27, 2015

Piece of Cake

Once a week I tell myself I'm done with social networking. I don't give a crap what color the dress is, and it's been 20 years since I sat in a classroom so I don't know the right answer to your algebra riddle. Because just like I told my math teacher, I've managed to get by just fine as an adult without knowing the order of operations (I do by the way, I'm just making a point.) And then there are the friend requests. I get "friend requests" from people that I was sitting next to in that classroom. People I wouldn't talk to then. If I didn't speak to you when we sat next to each other every day for a year what makes you think I want to know what you're having for lunch 25 years later?

But more than that, more than anything actually is that cat Memes and recipes for Jell-O shots get the same amount of attention as real world issues like war and police brutality. One incident that stands out, I pointed out that more Americans knew about Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMA's than Syrians being gassed by their government, and that I found that disturbing. One of the twenty something's who I knew from Church commented "What's it to you?" Literally. Why do I care if people are more interested in a woman shaking her butt on television than a foreign government murdering it's citizens? He went on to say, there's nothing I can do about it, so I don't worry about it. Are you freaking kidding me? Did you hear ANY of the things we taught you in church? It made me want to bang my head against the wall. And it seems like it have one of these discussions every day. And every day I promise myself it's the last one. Be it police brutality, our commander-in-chief or, Kirk vs Picard, (Picard, all day) this is going to be the last one. Until the next one.

So when my friend Pastor Cory Hunneyman posts an article about a Christian couple being fined $135,000 for refusing services to a gay couple I think, oh boy here we go again. Now, if there's anything I've learned about me and my fellow Christians over the course of my lifetime is we can argue with the best of 'em, those of us that have been aroud for a while anyway. Spend enough time in the church and you can  have a scripture reference for everything, and this argument was no different. This person chiming in as to why they'd make the cake (The whole discussion started over a wedding cake, which I still think is stupid in the grand scheme of things, but that's not the point) the other person explaining why they wouldn't and why it's a sin. And not only did I make my case, I said the conversation was silly in the most condescending text I could conjure, not worth arguing about. Seriously, I was in my evangelical zone. I went to bed quite proud of myself, hoping those people would read my wise words and realize their folly. Ha! No such luck. The next morning, I look and someone had the nerve to disagree with me! What I said came right out out of the Bible! What the hell is wrong with these people??  And again, are we seriously arguing about cakes you morons? Hello!? Bible, eternal souls, is this thing on? Perhaps, if I quote scripture directly they'll listen and stop wasting time on silly things like cake.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—  not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” 

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

There it is, in black and white. Or, red in this instance. What isn't there to get!? And yet the argument continued. Do you make a cake for Nazis? Does a mechanic refuse to fix a gay couple's car? Is turkey bacon legally considered bacon? That one actually got really heated, but that's another post. Just pray for them. Now, early on in the conversation a gay woman chimed in and gave her opinion. Is she a Christian? She didn't say. But to be honest it doesn't much matter. What if I were a gay man, and reading those comments, and my life was reduced to an issue, or a tweet? That wouldn't exactly make me feel the Christ like love that we Christians are called to share. Christianity is about love and grace and yet my Christian brothers and sister's aren't getting it. What is wrong with these people? That's Christianity 101.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6

I sat down full of piss and vinegar, ready to call out my Christian brethren. Are they (it's not we anymore) being patient or kind to these non-believers? I think not! It's like they're some some modern day phairasees or something. The nerve of some people!

Ever hear that one about,  Judge not lest Ye be judged?  Waiter? We'll take a double order of judgement over here! Here's one of the beautiful things about the God I believe in, he can use your idiocy to help you grow, as long as you get out of the way and let him. When I stopped arguing and started reading the scriptures I was quoting, this whole thing took on an entirely different light. Throughout this discussion, have I been patient? No. Patience hasn't always been my strong suit. Normally, I'm able to make up for it with my endless charm and stunning good looks, but that didn't even work here. Kind? Not exactly, I seem to remember saying something like "Tough $hit" about the bakery going out of business. They made the bed, let 'em sleep. That's a kind Christian approach isn't it? So, looks like I totally dropped the ball on the 1 Corinthians 13 thing. Well done Ray! Another hypocritical Christian. Let me clue you in on a little secret. I am a hypocrite. And so is everyone else who professes to follow Christ. I believe every word in the Bible, and every day, I try to live out what I believe in However, every day I go against my principles, I violate scripture, and I don't quite practice what I preach. You know why? Because I'm human.

It infuriates me when people use scripture to create division, and yet in my rush to defend unbelievers, I did just that. And to what end? I obviously didn't convince my Christian friends. And what of the non-Christians that see this conversation? We talk about being loving, and yet argue amongst each other like children.

I worked as a volunteer youth worker for five years. In that time, some of my closest friendships were forged. There was one particular boy though that just drove me crazy. It seemed like whenever he got the chance he would irritate me. He loves to tell the story of how I lost my temper and gave him the middle finger in church when he was in Jr. high. With both hands. Fast forward four or five years, and apparently he was listening at church, because even when his youth leader was a little off track, he was clear headed enough to be the voice of reason;

"There is further sin hoping in or being satisfied by their financial hardship, even if it is a consequence.

there are times people suffer these types of consequences and I want to put on my "serves you right" hat....but as a Christian, I'm called not to."

Words of wisdom from the kid I flipped the bird.

As for the Miley loving twenty-something I spoke about earlier, he and I are no longer FaceBook friends. We were never particularly close, and that discussion showed how very little we had in common. Besides, we hadn't talked in a few years anyways. Shortly after he graduated high school, he stopped coming to church. He seemed to sever his ties with all of his church friends. Coincidentally, he's gay as well.  Did he feel he couldn't  talk to those of us who were supposed to be supporting him? I don't know.  Christians don't exactly have a reputation for being 'Gay friendly'  But I know this, Christ died for him as much as he did me, you and everyone else. So, let's try to keep that in mind next time we have one of our theological 'debates.'

There will always be difficult discussions that need to be had in church. And every day the Church will take a stand that goes against what society is right, or status quo. But honestly, it doesn't much matter what the issue is, be it gay marriage,  or the rapture, or whether Coke is better than Pepsi (it is) we need to come at it from a place of love. Christianity is about relationships. The only reason why you're a Christian today is because someone loved you enough to share the Gospel with you. The only reason I'm a Christian today is because Christ loved me so much that he gave his life so I wouldn't have to. That my friends is the gospel. That's the good news!

He said to them, “You are to go to all the world and preach the Good News to every person. (Mark 16:15 NIV emphasis mine) 

And one of the most beautiful things about the Gospel, and the God I believe in is that my God loves men, women, gay, straight, bhuddist, Democrat, game show host, whatever. *

"Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

1 Timothy 2:14-17A 2:19

*Joey, it took a little research, but I found out that working for satan doesn't disqualify you, so that includes lawyers too!

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