Dreams and Dragons

 

Headlines daily declare man’s beastly behavior. Here are just a few of today’s headlines:

From the AP: “Indictment: Woman poured toilet water in roommate’s drink”

From ABC News: “Husband who had blamed cold medicine pleads guilty to killing his wife, stabbing her 123 times”

From Chicago Sun Times: “Saturday shootings kill 2-year-old boy, wound 8 other people”

And, “Man, 36, shot during argument in South Austin”

And, “2-year-old toddler dead, 18-year-old wounded in Hermosa shooting”

 

Going back in history, a Babylonian Times headline might have read:

“King Nebuchadnezzar Loses Mind, Lives with Beasts of the Field”

King lives like wild animals, eats grass like the ox

Nebuchadnezzar – William Blake

 

We read in Daniel chapter 4 of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and of Daniel’s God-revealed interpretation of the dream. We find out that the king, depicted as an enormous tree in the dream, has grown in pride and presumption and power over many. He will be cut down. We further learn that the king will become beast-like until he acknowledges God as sovereign. Those who walk in pride God is able to humble (Daniel 4:37).

In Daniel 7 we read of Daniel’s dream. In his vision he sees four great beasts. Daniel is able to describe them in detail. There are disturbing images of the earth’s rulers as terrifying unearthly monsters. These beasts rule over four kingdoms.

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

Daniel goes on to describe a protruding animal-like horn: “This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully.” He then describes heaven’s court room where thrones are set up and books are opened and where the Ancient of Day presides. And where a human figure comes into the vision:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7: 13-14 (emphasis mine)

Take note. A “son of man” designation is another way of saying a human. Ezekiel the prophet used this form of address (93 times) to remind Israel of their place: that they are not God but mere humans accountable to God.

In apocalyptic literature, Daniel is called a son of man, a human, in chapter 8 vs.15-17.

While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man.
And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.”
As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”

Where am I going with all this talk of beasts and kings and kingdoms and humans? To stop the presses. This will require an explanation.

The “Son of Man” title is used by Jesus throughout the Gospels. Mark records the title 12 times in his account. What we are to understand when Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man? That Jesus represents the human that God intended when he created the universe.

To clarify his ministry of redeeming fallen and often beastly humanity, Jesus, the Real Human, talked about servanthood and sacrifice and about his relationship with the Father. He talked about justice, and about the means to nourish the true human in each of us: “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

 “…and just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

And He said to him [Nathanael], “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:51

“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:27

So, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. John 6:53

You see, only a True Human – the Son of Man and Last Adam – who has been given all authority in heaven and earth, can redeem and restore humanity from its “red in tooth and claw” ways and from its beastly rulers. And, that reminds me.

C.S. Lewis, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, describes the agonizing redemption process the boy Eustace Clarence Scrubb goes through after Eustace became less than human. Eustace was selfish, whiny and cruel. Such a boy had turned into a beast – a dragon.

With Eustace’s permission, the lion Aslan claws off Eustace’s think scaly dragon skin until Eustace’s humanness is uncovered. The de-scaling has left Eustace raw and in a lot of pain. Aslan provides him a cool bath to recover in.

You see, being Son of Man human is the destiny of the sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. We will be like him when we see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. Revelation. 1:12

 

Roll the presses: “Dragon Skin Found Among the Ruins”

The Rise of Resentment

 

Ressentiment is the French translation of the English word resentment. In philosophy and psychology it is a concept that was of particular interest to the existentialist philosophers. According to the existentialists, ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one’s frustration. The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration. This value system is then used as a means of justifying one’s own weaknesses by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior, serving as a defense mechanism that prevents the resentful individual from addressing and overcoming their insecurities and flaws. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability. – Wikipedia

 

The resentment worldview has a perverted self-interest value system:

The resentment worldview has a perverted accounting system:

“Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.” – Milton Friedman

 

We are told by Jesus to “love your neighbors as yourself”. To do this we must consider our own self-interest and then apply the same measure of self-interest toward our neighbors. This parity of accounting is not unlike the Lord’s accounting of forgiveness: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses.” As mentioned above, the resentment worldview has a perverted accounting system: the self is to be credited and others must be debited for there to be parity in their world. If the word “fairness” is ever to be applied socially and economically to our culture then these two commands of our Lord define its limited and personal application.

Apart from the resentment worldview of “fellow travelers” and socialist sympathizers, I believe that many of us know that self-interest is not selfishness. We take care of our bodies. We wash and feed and exercise them. We think and dwell on good things and not on twaddle. We work and seek to pay our bills on time. We take our responsibilities to our family and to those around us seriously. In all of our transactions, social and economic, we strive to maintain a good name.

Going beyond a universal self-interest, a Jesus follower’s self-interest takes into her accounting what appears to be the opposite of self-interest – losses (see Mark 9: 43-47) or dying to self. Her losses (and subsequent gains) go right to the bottom line of her P & L statement: “What shall it profit a woman if she gains the whole world and loses her own soul?” The bottom line is what she gives out of in parity and fairness to her neighbor.

Scripture gives us God’s world view. And, early in Scripture, we read of contrasting worldviews: the worldview of resentment and its perverse self-fulfillment accounting and the worldview of God and His “on earth as it is in heaven” accounting.

In the familiar Genesis narrative (Genesis 37) of Joseph and his brothers, the brothers took account of how they thought they were treated and compared that to how they thought Joseph was treated. From their recorded behavior we find out that jealousy in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration.

Joseph became the source of their envy. Born in Jacob’s old age, Joseph had the gift of his father’s love. Joseph also had the gift of dreams – presumptuous dreams the brothers thought (Gen 37:8). And Joseph was given an ornate robe from his father Jacob. They also considered Joseph a tattle tale (Gen 37:2).

Resentment rose in the brother’s hearts. Heated arguments followed and then boiled over. Joseph became the stated enemy of their egos. The brothers acted on their resentment. Joseph was sold into slavery after almost being done away with under a Democratic death sentence (Gen 37:18).

Years later in Egypt, when tables are turned, Joseph did not hold resentment in his heart. He did not reciprocate (Gen. 45). He dealt with his brothers, not by returning upon their heads the evil done to him, but with God’s accounting worldview: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’

 

Resentment worldview onlookers that day would have testified that something bad happened years ago and now someone had to pay. And that brings us to today.

The Final Protest

 

The whole world is watching” was a chant by antiwar demonstrators outside the Conrad Hilton Hotel the evening of August 28 during the 1968 Democrat National Convention in Chicago

-Wikipedia

“Prologue, August 29, 1968”

 

If you lived through the 60s as I have you will remember the numerous protests across the nation. If you lived in Chicago during that time you will remember the local newscasts showing nuclear armament protests, civil rights protests and antiwar protests. At the time of the DNC Convention in August of 1968 downtown Chicago was flooded with protestors. The violent confrontations between anti-war protestors and the police and the responses of Mayor Richard J. Daley were shown on our family’s black and white with rabbit ears every night.

The national and local protests appeared to me, a teenager, to be a release of anger, frustration, hatred and anarchy. The protests, in a way, looked familiar. They appeared to a be a rebellious teenager’s emotional response to the authority in his life.

The signs, the shouts, the shoves and the protest songs were captured on tape for the whole world to watch and to listen. I said all you got to do is listen. Ironically, as witnessed in Chicago, many antiwar protests turned violent, as protestors incited a civil unrest to make their point about wanting peace in our time.

Protests have been around since day one. And many if not most of those protests focused fault for an objectionable situation away from the protesting party and outward onto a larger amorphous party – The Man. The Man is typically God or government or a boss or “the system”.  Any authority figure can be in the index finger’s protest sights. Here’s Adam (the man) protesting God (The Man) questioning him (the man):

But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

 The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3: 9-12 (emphasis mine)

Behind many protests today there is an “It takes a village” mindset that says everyone is responsible while making no one personally responsible except for The Man – an authority figurehead. Making every one democratically responsible then puts the onus for change dangerously into the hands of those elected – the political and religious elite – and away from personal accountability. When those in power are offered more power, totalitarianism follows. The State – The Man – then confiscates your liberty to control those situations and people you want controlled.

There are protests that hamstring or hamper others. These protests are meant to cause others to feel the protestor’s pain. One such protest happened in Chicago recently. Protestors shut down Lake Shore Drive on a Thursday afternoon. They carried signs decrying the ongoing violence on the west and south sides of Chicago: No More Violence Black Lives Matter, Help My Community and Enough is Enough.

Violence should be a matter of concern. Yet, in my view, the LSD blockage protest was a redistribution of responsibility for the choices the protestors had made. Consider that most of those protesting were the same people who voted for Chicago’s mayor and city council. And, if you recall, those elected officials made Chicago into a “Welcoming City” allowing in a criminal element composed of drug lords, MS-13 gang bangers, sexual predators, molesters and pedophiles, to name a few generators of imported violence. Consider also that most of those protestors are Democrats who continue to vote for programs that foster government dependence and not self-reliance and responsibility. The pols these protestors vote for offer to assuage fears by throwing money at a problem. And that means raising property taxes, which creates more poverty and more dependence on government, which, by lack of ownership and responsibility, creates more gang violence in neighborhoods. Therein is a Self-Induced Catch 22 for the protestors.

There are protests as marches which are meant to be a show of strength, and perhaps intimidation, in numbers. Union protests, the Million Man March and The Woman’s March in DC are these types of protests. In the end the marchers have had their fifteen minutes of fame and then often go on with nothing changed but their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts.

Many protests are about perceived injustices, inequities and intolerable conditions. As I see it, the cries for “equal rights for all” is often conditional on others being treated unequally.

Did you know that there is a Chicago protest website called Chicago Protest? Today you will find the following protests scheduled:

All Out – the Jason Van Dyke Trial

Rally to #End Money Bail

MeToo MacDonald’s

SayHerName: A march to end the violence against trans women

There are protests against personalities which represent The Man. The #Resistance protests against Trump. As they do, have you noticed that many of those who protest Trump’s behavior act as bad or worse than Trump as if by projection of their own immaturity? The #Resistance appears to justify its jejune behavior by saying Trump is The Wrong Man and anyway he should be a better-behaved (but not like those of the #Resistance). Of course, such personality protests are egged on by deep political and ideological divides which are stoked by media personalities who have their own following. Like all else regarding human nature, personality protests are not new under the sun.

In Paul’s day there was such a protest within the young and immature Corinthian church. The protest involved personalities Paul, Cephas and Apollos. It seems that these three each represented to the Corinthians a unique style presentation of the Gospel. The Corinthians, eager to take sides, had lined up behind the personality who was the most pleasing to their ears. Some chose Cephas, the hands-on fisherman who had walked with Jesus and could tell tales of his time with Jesus. Some chose the didactic deep thinker and talker Paul and others chose the polished speaker with the locally familiar Greek god name – Apollos.

Paul, writing to the church, reprimands the Corinthians for their partisan protests based on worldly wisdom.

In my own case, my dear family, I couldn’t speak to you as spiritual people, but as people who were all to obviously merely human, little babies in the Messiah. I fed you with milk, not sold food, because you weren’t able to take it—and you still can’t, even now! You’re still determined to live in the old way! Yes, wherever there is jealousy and quarreling, doesn’t that mean you’re living in the old way, behaving as any merely human being might do? When someone says “I’m with Paul!” and someone else says “I’m with Apollos!” are you not mere humans?

– 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Personality protests are self-serving protests. They derive from a person’s worldly human wisdom which generates errant expectations about how things should be – for me.

In Mark’s gospel account (Mark 8: 31-33) we read of Peter’s protest of Jesus announcing his coming suffering and death. Peter was expecting a Messiah who lived out Israel’s’ covenant hopes.

Jesus now began to teach them something new.

“There’s trouble in store for the son of man,” he said. “The elders, the chief priests, and the scribes are going to reject him. He will be killed – and after three days he’ll be raised.” He said this quite explicitly.

At this, Peter took him aside and started to scold him. But he turned around, saw the disciples, and scolded Peter.

“Get behind me, Accuser!” he said. “You’re thinking human thoughts, not God’s thoughts.”

How should we frame our thinking about protests? With human thoughts? Or, with the “mind of the Messiah” (1 Cor. 2:16)? After Jesus protests Peter’s mere human wisdom, Jesus, the Messiah, goes on to tell the crowd his mind: what protest should be about and about the Final Protest:

“If any of you want to come the way I’m going,” he said, “you must say no to your own selves, pick up your own cross, and follow me. Yes: if you want to save your life, you’ll lose it; but if you lose your life because of me and message you’ll save it. After all, what use is it to win the world and lose your life? What can you give in exchange for your life? If you’re ashamed of me and my words in this cheating and sinning generation, the son of man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:34-38

Jesus calls us to a protest that is personal, self-effacing and not world attention-grabbing. In fact, it is the opposite of the social media-grabbing, exploitive and often violent protests occurring in the world today. The violence of the Jesus protest is directed toward one’s ego and fleshly desires and even to one’s self-esteem. We are to sever all claims to self and all protesting rights from our thinking.

Be warned if your worldly human wisdom has you say “I’m behind the person that gives me the gospel the way I like it”. Be warned if your worldly human wisdom has you say “I will march for and demand my rights because my rights define me.” Be warned, also, if you protest the Lord’s claim on your life. Jesus, as we read above, warns of a Final Protest where he reveals his total displeasure with your cause to gain the world of self-interest and his embarrassment to be seen with you in the company of heaven.

 

 

~~~
Here is how the Apostle Paul understood the Jesus Protest:
“…I didn’t come and proclaim God’s mystery to you by means of a superior style of speaking or wisdom. No: I decided to know nothing in my dealings with you except Jesus the Messiah, especially his crucifixion. I came to you in weakness in great fear and trembling…” Paul’s first recorded letter to the church at Corinth, 2: 1-3
And…
“As for me, God forbid that I should boast – except in the cross of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, 6: 14

Circumstantial Evidence

You don’t feel right. You feel unsettled and unable to sleep at night. You feel achy, restless and depressed. You wonder if there is something in the air. You feel that there is something going on but you can’t put your finger on it.

One day, on the way to work, you stop for a “Caramel Macchiato, Venti, Skim, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip, Sugar-Free” at Starbucks. Getting out of your Subaru, you see a sign across the street: “GOT CARE?” The sign is out front of the Hope and Change Clinic. Another yard sign says that the clinic accepts all patients and rejects none. You say to yourself, “Maybe this is what I need.” You call and make your first appointment.

On the day of your appointment you find the waiting room full of scrutinizing looks. You meet with Dr. Betterman. He doesn’t examine you. He tells you right off the bat what ails you. He says, “I see this all the time in my practice. My patients sense that something isn’t right and they become anxious. They often feel stigmatized by their choices. I counsel them not to worry. The problem, I tell them, is not behavioral. It is not anything you ate or did. It is not you. The problem is who and what is going on around you. A fundamental transformation is required. You will need to see me at least once a week to work through this. For payment, we accept cash, credit cards and all kinds of insurance and reject none. A copy of my best-selling book “Think Through You: 17 Steps Toward Transcendental Reasoned Being” is available for purchase at the front desk.”

Already feeling chipper, you reschedule and then stop at Starbucks, book under your arm, before going home.

One Nation Under a Bed of Roses

 

Our current notion of cultural diversity — trumpeted as the repudiation of racism and biological essentialism — in fact grew out of and perpetuates the very concepts it congratulates itself on having escaped. The American love affair with race — especially when you can dress race up as culture — has continued and even intensified. Almost everything we say about culture (that the significant differences between us are cultural, that such differences should be respected, that our cultural heritages should be perpetuated, that there’s a value in making sure that different cultures survive) seems to me mistaken. We must shift our focus from cultural diversity to economic equality to help alter the political terrain of contemporary American intellectual life.

The Trouble With Diversity by Walter Benn Michaels, August 13, 2006

 

 What do you make of the above quote from the web article? What do you make of “We must shift our focus from cultural diversity to economic equality to help alter the political terrain of contemporary American intellectual life.”?

 

 

I thought of how everything the Left offers as societal ‘fix’ is off-kilter. I thought of how the Left seeks to alter the political and cultural terrain so as to espouse the “For the people” narrative for their own Ruling Class benefit.

Has dictator literature a future? If the absence of a sense of humor in public life is anything to go by, it very well might. Indeed, dictator-like literature seems to be increasingly common in academe, as a genre to be imitated rather than eschewed. It is either self-imposed or a manifestation of ideological conformism in the face of social pressure. – Author Authoritarians: The literary talent (or lack thereof) of tyrants at the typewriter by Anthony Daniels

I also was reminded of some of the clarion words of Thomas Sowell, economist:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding the initial quote, there are certainly cultural differences and they are certainly not of equal worth to humans. A culture of cannibalism or animism or Voodoism or a culture of abortion where human life is deemed an inconvenience or a culture of hedonism where self-pleasure is god or a culture of enforced slavery to a socialist political state or a culture of ‘red in tooth and claw’ materialism…none of these are worthy of humans.

We must maintain what is worthy of humans. That would include the cultural heritages that have sustained and benefitted humans down through time: mother and father families, transcendent art, music, and literature, the rule of law, and Christianity. There are without doubt differences between us that are more significant than cultural. These differences come down to whether one believes in the one True God and His kingdom way of life. One cannot equalize light and dark

Regarding the income inequality narrative, promoted as “For the people”: the benefit is solely for those pushing it – the ruling class who want to maintain control of their narrative and of you to flesh out their narrative. But, income inequality should not be an impetus driving anyone to do anything. Income inequities like cultural inequities should be resolved by the free individual and not by coercion.

People, though born equally human, are not equal in ability, desire or will. What should happen: each inequity should be the impetus for us to assess our personal values and goals in the light of loving God and our neighbor. Coercive income redistribution, whether via taxation or increased minimum wages, does not enable human flourishing. Rather, coercion supports further dependence, class animosity and the intellectual’s narrative that goes toward tenure consideration in the ivory tower.

 

The Left’s focus on materialism under the guise of ‘righting’ the Left’s storied wrong (“income inequality”) will have the same devastating effects as defining our culture down to the lowest common denominator for equality’s sake: humans acting as irrational animals to survive.

By seeing every human being as a soulless captive to impersonal economic forces, socialism kills human dignity. After that, as we have witnessed too vividly and too frequently, killing the human body becomes inevitable.Socialism Disregards Human Dignity, Eugénio Lopes

  In its attempts to “alter the political terrain”, the Left demands that there should be no work effort without income equality. Red clenched fists (an ersatz bed of roses) is the Left’s social justice poster.

 As a follower of Jesus in his kingdom on earth, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Evil One wants a social justice where people ‘love their neighbor’ vicariously through an impersonal government program. The Evil One does not want anyone to give directly to their neighbor. That is what Jesus wants – agape love. The Evil One would rather you move your mouse to virtue signal than do any heavy lifting for your neighbor. On the receiving end, the Evil One would rather you be one of the nine lepers would did not return to Jesus and give thanks to him for what he did for ten neighbors. The Evil One would rather you get what you want and not be grateful.

If the Left’s income equality narrative ever becomes reality you can be sure that we will become one nation under a bed of red-fisted roses.

 

 

 

Added 7-23-2018:

 

All the Difference in the World

If anyone had a reason to be politically correct it was the deported and exiled Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. But, confronted not with a raging Twitter feed or a riotous SJW protest but with life or death choices, they acted in full confidence in who they were.

They were the chosen people of God. They knew what they were about even when their names were changed to Babylonian names. Chosen once again out of the Jewish exiles because of their unique qualities, these four were to become advisors to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It was during the start of their three-year training that Daniel balked at eating the royal food.

The food may have been offered to idols. Eating the food may have gone against their ritual purity. Most likely, saying no to the food after being given Babylonian names would have been a political statement: “We will not let you redefine us as Babylonians”.

 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”  So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. – Daniel chapter one

 

You know the story. Though it would have been politically correct to eat the King’s food, Daniel and the others knew that if you drink the King’s wine, you sing the King’s songs. They instead chose to be faithful to God even in this small matter. So, God gave them greater things to be faithful in. One of those greater things was a smelting furnace.

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. …the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do:  As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.  Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” …you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.

But…there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel chapter three

 

Though bowing to the image would have been politically correct, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have nothing to do with worshiping anything other than the one true God. So, because of the decree, they were thrown into a seven-times stoked blazing furnace. This furnace is likely the oven where metals were refined to make idols like the “image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” But that kind of heat is nothing to the Creator of the Big Bang, especially with regard to his faithful ones. In the heat of the moment, the true God was revealed:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel chapter three

 

 

In Daniel chapter six we read that Daniel, a newly appointed satrap (basically, an overseer of a district) was the focus of the other satrap’s and their social justice jealousy. The satraps didn’t like it that Daniel had qualities and favor they didn’t possess. So, they devised a devilish edict formulated to depose Daniel from King Darius’ good pleasure: “the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.”

You know the story. Being thrown into the lion’s den is something Daniel’s Creator God could also handle. The Lord God shut the lions’ mouths and the mouths of the ends-justifying-the-means SJWs.

By now you should be able to glimpse that the book of Daniel provides us with, among its telescoped history, its dreams and interpretations, an understanding of how God’s people are to live in this world and under its rulers. God’s chosen appear different, peculiar, to those onlookers standing outside the furnace and outside our place of prayer and outside the lion’s den. The reason the world does not know them is that it does not know the One True God.

 

 

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church (chapter 6), Paul pleads with the readers to see what he and others have suffered to bring them the good news of Jesus Christ. He lists the adversities they encountered. He tells them that the hardships and their Christian character throughout are confirmed “by speaking the truth, by God’s power”.

The Corinthians Christians certainly may have presumed that because Paul and the others faced so many adversities and challenges, that they could off in their messaging. Paul wanted them to know that their messaging, though it kicked against the goads of the Roman empire (“Jesus is Lord”) and popular opinion (“food for the stomach, the stomach for food”), was not an attempt at politically correct virtue signaling. The message cost him and others dearly. The grace of his Lord cost him the cross. At the beginning of chapter six Paul appeals to the Corinthians saying, “when you accept God’s grace, don’t let it go to waste! Paul was not talking about cheap grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer would later sum up cheap grace:

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

 

 

Unlike many church leaders today, Paul, Apostle and pastor, made sure his message and his character were one and the same. Otherwise, the Gospel would be compromised. Again, Corinthians six:

We put no obstacles in anybody’s way, so that nobody will say abusive things about our ministry. …

We have been wide open in our speaking to you, my dear Corinthians! Our heart has been open wide! There are no restrictions at our end…

Don’t be drawn into partnerships with unbelievers. What kind of sharing can there be, after all, between justice and lawlessness? What kind of partnership can there be between light and darkness? What kind of harmony can the Messiah have with Beliar? What has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What kind of agreement can there be between God’s temple and idols? We are the temple of the living God, you see, just as God said:

I will live among them and walk about them;

I will be their God, and they will be my people.

So come out from the midst of them,

And separate yourselves, says the Lord:

No unclean thing must you touch.

Then I will receive you gladly,

And I will be to you as a father,

And you will be to me as sons and daughters,

Says the Lord, the Almighty.

 

 

So, my beloved people, with promises like these, let’s make ourselves clean from everything that defiles us, outside and inside, and let’s become completely holy in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 6: 1-7-1)

 

Reading this passage, do you think that Paul was talking about how the church should become acculturated to better evangelize? Do you think Paul was talking about the church assimilating the Post-modern New Age Epicurean culture surrounding it?  Do you think Paul was talking here was about being inclusive? About diversity? About unleashing one’s feelings as the criteria for love?

The words Paul wrote to the Corinthian church came from the narrative God gave to his people long ago – to be a people unto himself. This is the same narrative that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah understood and honored. In the passage Paul references the prophet Isaiah. His language is priestly temple language. Holiness is to be narrative of God’s people. Holiness separates them from an ego-centric life full of earthly desires to be a nation for God. Holiness is an upward and outward movement of the soul towards the Father, whereas narcissism, promoted in the world since the beginning of our time, is just the opposite, focusing the soul inward and downward towards the baser elements.

The Apostle Peter wrote in the same fashion (2:9-10):

But you are a “chosen race; a royal priesthood”; a holy nation; a people for God’s possession. Your purpose is to announce the virtuous deeds of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light. Once you were “no people; now you are “god’s people.” Once you had not received mercy; now you have received mercy.

 

 

 

There are several abhorrent notions going around in churches that rubber stamp Jesus on their narratives: all religions seek the same God and are equal in that respect; Jesus talked about loving your neighbor, so advocating for a social gospel akin to Marxism is acceptable to God; Jesus talked about loving your neighbor and not judging so you must love sinners and accept their values; America is a Christian nation; our priority as Christians is to make a just and fair world; illegal immigration is an acceptable form of lawlessness; homosexuality is just another version of human sexuality. Sex/gender are not binary; prayer doesn’t feed the thousands, Progressivism’s social gospel does; prayer is a nice sentiment but action and advocacy move mountains; democracy is the best and desired form of government for everyone; revealed values trump revealed truth, as values are based one’s sincere feelings.

That is the short list.

 

As a teenager I read Dr. Luke’s historical account The Acts of the Apostles. As I read, I encountered a living and vibrant church whose members were not politically motivated and who demanded nothing of the Roman empire other than for it to honor its laws and to maintain order. The church was the church and the state was the state. The early church was not democratic. Leaders were Godly men. Prayer, prayer, prayer, reading Scripture, prayer, the words of the Apostles, preparing for the return of the Lord, and, prayer, was the culture for the early church.

The early church did not push for Constantinianism. The church knew that governments were in place, by God’s will, to provide order. They prayed for those in authority. They had their own political reality.

The early Christians only political motivation, their only ideology came down to a personal statement: “Jesus is Lord”. Everything and everyone fell underneath his jurisdiction, since all things were created for Jesus and for his good pleasure. The early Kingdom Christians also anticipated and prepared in holiness for the Lord’s return to fully establish his kingdom on earth. Today’s Christians anxiously await the election of their candidate to establish their kingdom of values.

As the world asked, “What is truth?” the early Christians put on Christ and became Truth incarnate. The church became a community of Truth. The embodied Truth suffered persecution and martyrdom just as their Lord told them they would. The world looked on and saw that the early Christians were turning the world upside down. They were making all the difference in the world. Today’s Christians are letting the world turn them upside down and that is making all the difference in the world, too.

 

 

 

As I finished writing this post, I heard the Lord say to me, “Write these words: ‘I am with you and will never forsake you.’”

 

~~~

Here are two church position statements I came across this past week. I endorse their message.

Adapted from American Anglican Council’s “A Place to Stand

FOR TRUE INCLUSIVITY

In grateful response to Christ Jesus, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, we will extend the welcome of the Church to every person, regardless of race, sex, social or economic status, sexual orientation, or past behavior. We will oppose prejudice in ourselves and others and renounce any false notion of inclusivity that denies that all are sinners who need to repent. (emphasis mine)

 

 

FOR HUMAN SEXUALITY

Sexuality is inherent in God’s creation of every human person in his image as male and female. All Christians are called to chastity: Husbands and wives by exclusive sexual fidelity to one another and single persons by abstinence from sexual intercourse. God intends and enables all people to live within these boundaries through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

~~~

Here are some interesting links I came across this past week:

 

 

Wheaton Offers Scholarship Named for Former Professor Who Said Muslims, Christians Worship Same God