Saturday, May 25, 2013

Is This That?

Read Acts, chapter 2.

Amazing things were happening!  It was the Day of Pentecost almost 2,000 years ago.  The followers of Jesus were so excited about God that the pilgrim visitors to Jerusalem thought they must be drunk.  When Peter got up to speak, the only logical reason he could give why these disciples were not drunk was that it was too early in the day!  He said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" and then Peter quoted the words that spoke of many signs and wonders taking place(Joel 2:28,29).

Here in this great coming out party the church was born!  When you see the results of the early days of the church of Jesus Christ and look at today's  congregations you have to wonder, "Is this that?"  There are three main elements to to that early church:

1)  Proclamation.   vss. 14-40.  Peter proclaimed Christ.  He spoke of the life of Jesus and his death.  But the Pentecostal Preacher spoke mostly of the resurrection of Christ.  The portions of the message that deal with the history of Jesus have 13 dealing with the resurrection versus 2 dealing with his life and death.  Jesus lived and perfect life and died an agonizing sacrificial death but the thing that sets Christianity apart from other religions and that thrills all who think of death is that he is alive!  He has conquered death!  Peter says that the coming of the Holy Spirit is the proof that Jesus lives and is Lord(vs.33).

2)  Transformation  vss. 1-13, 41   Clearly, people's lives were radically changed!  This miracle, in itself is another proof of Jesus' resurrection.  The followers of Christ went from being cowardly, timid, and silent disciples to being exuberant, enthusiastic, and brave.  And the Holy Spirit anointed message of Peter cause another 3,000 people to do the same.

3)  Dedication.  vss. 42-47     All these on fire servants of Christ now spent the bulk of their free time in dedicated Bible study, prayer, fellowship worship, and evangelism.  There existed among the people of The Way and unity and love that impressed still others to give their lives to Christ!

Again, as I look at churches today, I ask, is this that?  And if this isn't that, then why not?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

From Gay to Hero

Announcement by NBA player, Jason Collins that he is gay has been very favorably received.  There is no question in my mind that Jason or any player should have the love and respect of coaches, teammates, opponents, fans, media, and others.  Jason should be treated just like any other pro athlete.

My personal problem comes when people try to make Jason Collins into a hero.  He has been praised as a courageous pioneer who risked everything to tell the world about his sexual orientation and (I assume) his sexual activity with other men.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt about his motives.  However, you have to wonder why he waited until a time when he appeared to be washed up as a player, released by the Washington Wizards.  He is a journeyman player who never played much and is now, at age 34, at or near the end of his career.   He is expected to receive many endorsements  now that he has ":come out" and there will be a lot of pressure for some team to give him a job.  This move may have been courageous or it may have just been smart, but it is hard to see him as a hero.

After having seen and thoroughly enjoyed the movie 42, I am amazed that some are calling Jason Collins another Jackie Robinson.  How dare they!  Jackie was denied a chance to play major league baseball simply because he was black.  When he got the chance to play he put up with insults, name-calling, extreme prejudice, and even violence.  He did not have to come out because he was clearly an African American.
Jason, on the other hand, has  played pro ball for eleven years.  He hid the fact that he was gay.   He came out at a time when his career is almost over and society has a favorable view of homosexuality.  If he plays again, he will, no doubt hear some name-calling but he will not come close to  what Robinson had to endure.

I recall the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 as he recounts humankind's fall from God.  "Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.  And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other.  Men did shameful things with other men..."  Paul's closing statement reminds me of all the praises that have been given to Jason Collins by the media, pro athletes, politicians,  and entertainers: "Worse yet, they give hearty approval to those who practice them."