What the world needs now

Think about the point Mel is making here. We can all be one in Christ Jesus. The key is that we obey His commands and love each other.

Will we all be the same? No, but the distinctions between us will no longer matter.

Our distinctions matter now because we put our self first. When we put God first, we realize that the distinctions we put between us are silly things.

In My Father's House

I can sympathize in many ways with all the social unrest going on today, and many things certainly do need to change in how we see and treat one another. That’s not my point here. As a follower of Jesus, I have to ask a bigger question with regard to the unique times we find ourselves living in: How would Jesus have us respond to our current cultural climate?

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40 thoughts on “What the world needs now

  1. Let’s just settle on the simple fact that many will seek to enter into The Kingdom of Heaven, but few there be who will find the way. Let God be True and every man a liar.

  2. As Mel never allows any atheist views I will post this here Tom, I understand Mel wrote these quotes.

    “To obey Jesus means that we would sincerely love those who would want to be our enemies; that we would not seek revenge but treat everyone exactly how we would want to be treated. There’s NO excuse for any other response, no matter how righteous our cause may seem to us.”

    “This world will never find freedom by one group forcing another to submit to its agenda, no matter how righteous they think their cause. Haven’t we learned this from our long bloody history of violent overthrows?”

    Absolutely impossible to be like Jesus or pretend to be. A peaceful environment living under any ideology has never been the case in all of history and never will be.

    We are part of the animal kingdom whether you like it or not, all animals evolved survival skills that include violence and suppression that drive our need for domination over other humans. It is humanly impossible for all people to be passive believers of one ideology for all of the time. As an extreme example, would you swallow your Christian beliefs or simply your humanity and live in a sharia ruled country such as Brunei where they can stone people to death? I believe I do not need to tell you about human nature Tom as you know it very well, but unfortunately your vision can only be an admirable dream.

    1. @sklyjd

      I thought Mel debated Atheists. Maybe he found it too frustrating and time consuming.

      Since Jesus is God, Christians don’t pretend to be like Jesus. We strive to follow His example.

      Christians are not all the same. Most of us don’t expect everyone, not even Christians, to believe the exact same things. The Bible is actually quite clear about that. Real tolerance is putting up with people who don’t share our beliefs. Since we live on a fallen world, some people have to be forced to leave other people in peace.

      Since the United States made the mistake of letting the government get too involved in running our schools, we have more intolerant people these days. Political leaders too often value power over tolerance. Hopefully, God will help us fix our education system and put parents back in charge.

      Do people in other nations share our desire to protect our neighbors’ rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? No. All we can do is set an example and hope the idea catches on.

      When you decide you don’t want your self and your family to behave like animals, consider following the example of Jesus Christ.

      That said, do I expect perfection in this world? At the Second Coming I hope for a significant improvement.

  3. Tom,

    You must know that this is fanciful. The wages of sin may ultimately be death, as Romans says, but you must know that the survivors can still benefit for generations from those wages. I don’t really have time to go through the rest of your one sided reasoning.

    People have a way of ignoring even the most obvious inconvenient truths if it hurts their pride. Your smarter than I am in many things, and if I’m not too old and set in my ways to honestly look at both sides, question my certainties and come to a few new epiphanies, then you’re not to old either.

    Don’t you find constantly arguing these things as us-versus-them issues in absolute terms really tiring? It certainly doesn’t allow much progress or compromise on either side. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but we should at least be able to recognize that four centuries of institutionalized white supremacy was not and will not be reconciled in one generation.

    Regardless, I love you brother. I’ve got a feeling that if we elders persist in divisive and destructive stagnation, in endless argument for the sake of our own pride, for good or for bad, younger folks will just move history along without us. 🙂

    1. @tsalmon

      You don’t have time deal with my supposedly one sided reasoning, but you have plenty of time for psychobabble.

      What happened during the Civil War? Once it started what was Lincoln’s big problem? He had to find a general who would fight. Once he got Grant the industrial might of the North (which had very few slaves) overwhelmed the South.

      Why didn’t the South have a bunch of industry? Why had manufacturing located in the North? The answer is that the North had few slaves. In addition to the fact that slaves have to be driven to work and are still not very productive, the acceptance of slavery undermines the honor we should give to those who work.

      Read this old post => https://citizentom.com/2010/01/03/a-gap-too-wide-and-too-deep-to-bridge/

  4. Thanks for the re-blog, Tom. As IB said, it is a very heated and politically-charged subject right now. My point is, if we think that these politically-motivated organizations are going to want the struggle to end, we’re quite naive. If the organization, BLM, wants things to truly change, then they would not be condoning violence or promoting identity politics, all of which find their source in neo-Marxism, not Christ. We need leadership like Martin Luther King for any true change.

      1. Jesus did not accomplish His reforms by using violence at all. He preached against it in the Sermon on the Mount. We’re to love our enemies, not seek revenge, etc.

          1. Which was because they were supposed to be representing God in the Temple and they were ripping people off. He never acted that way toward the world. He only got angry at religious people who were being hypocrites and keeping people from God. He was never angry at sinners or even the Roman Empire, who was a far more cruel and brutal than we see today.

          2. No, I’m not a pacifist. There’s a difference between pacifism and advocating non-violence. I’m saying that we can’t use Jesus to justify violence. Just like BLM can’t claim the moral high ground when they allow riots and looting. They become the problem instead of the solution. That’s the world system. But Paul also tells us in Romans 13 that the government wields a “sword” for the people’s protection in society, which God allows for. But that’s how the world operates, and it has nothing to do with how the Kingdom of God operates. Jesus changes things by changing hearts. And we are to represent this Kingdom in the world.

  5. Good stuff from Mel, Tom.

    This is controversial and tends to get people all riled up, but as to the question, ” are you without the guilt of sin,” has to be a yes, because Jesus paid it all. Yes, I am without guilt. Jesus went to the cross “despising the shame on our behalf.” It is finished. “In Christ there is no condemnation.” We can all go astray and make mistakes, in which case we lay it down at the cross and turn back to Jesus. So this idea that I better be ashamed and feeling guilty about racism, guilty about not wearing a mask, guilty about income inequality, quilty about global warming, etc, etc, is actually a violation of my religious freedom.

    Also, if anyone cares about such things, we build a better world by loving others, not by attempting to guilt and shame people into pseudo “caring” and complying. That just builds resentment, often even a bigger backlash then we started with. We will actually serve others effectively when we are motivated by love. Guilt, resentment, the law, and force, tends to make the problem worse, such as the “war on drugs.” You cannot declare war on the things you are trying to fix and restore. You have to love them. Nobody ever likes hearing that, but it’s the truth.

    1. @insanitybytes22

      Guilt, resentment, the law, and force, tends to make the problem worse, such as the “war on drugs.” You cannot declare war on the things you are trying to fix and restore. You have to love them. Nobody ever likes hearing that, but it’s the truth.

      The George Floyd riots illustrate that perfectly. All whites are supposedly responsible for the death of George Floyd. Worse, because of the soft bigotry of low expectations, Floyd has no responsibility for his own conduct.

    2. IIB,

      For some reason, I can’t seem to “like” things on Tom’s blog any more, but I wanted to acknowledge the truth in your response above. “Love” in exactly the way that you describe it provides the freedom from the guilt of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus. I heartily agree that “guilt” indeed is our motivation only until we have fully acknowledged and embraced Jesus’ love sacrifice paid in suffering and blood. The difference between the two motivations in our’s and in others’ actions on any given issue (such as those you describe) merits considerable contemplation. I think that you would agree, however, that the freedom from the guilt of sin that Jesus provided begins with the acknowledgement and repentance for our own personal and our corporate participation in sin and death. God’s love through us then transforms us in that atonement. As you say, guilt does not motivate that atonement (at one ment) with God and each other through the resurrected Christ so much as its acknowledgment proceeds it. The dynamic form that that love motivated atonement takes, even amongst well meaning Christians who have accepted God’s gift of redemption, then is the issue that can be subject to discussion and even some disagreement.

      I think that we Christians often confuse the free gift Jesus gave to us as some sort of exclusive magic formula or spell that ends all confusion, complexity, debate, and even all need for the the expertise element of wisdom that can only come from study, experience and most of all, deep contemplation. The redemption that precedes and proceeds acknowledgment and repentance of sin only begins our journey of reconciliation and atonement in Christ. It makes our cross lighter on that journey, but it alone does not resolve the ambiguity and complexity as to every twist and turn and fork in the road that that journey should take. Our personal and corporate redemption in Christ only begins our discussion and debate as what course love’s sacrificial atonement should take – it does not end that discussion, nor does it abrogate our humble and compassionate consideration of the expertise, experience and hurts of others, even others who have not yet been redeemed. It does not make us an exclusive club who knows all the answers to every difficult problem – it profoundly redirects the urgency of the question. In short, our proclamation of personal salvation does not end either the discussion, the direction or the dynamics of atonement – it begins those activities with even greater resolute humility. Resolute in the faith that Jesus is with us. Humility because that great gift alone does not mean we know everything He knows.

      Don’t you think IB that this is one of one of those profound paradoxes of faith? The meek are the ones who are truly strong and the strong are the ones who are most meek.

      1. “I think that you would agree, however, that the freedom from the guilt of sin that Jesus provided begins with the acknowledgement and repentance for our own personal and our corporate participation in sin and death.”

        I’m going to say “no” because I think this is what the world is perverting right now. We’re seeking an awareness of sin and repentance without Jesus in the equation. That’s what all that kneeling was about. I think what must come before repentance and an awareness of sin, is grace and the love of Jesus. Without love and the grace of Jesus, we don’t even know what sin is.

        1. IB

          “We’re seeking an awareness of sin and repentance without Jesus in the equation. That’s what all that kneeling was about. I think what must come before repentance and an awareness of sin, is grace and the love of Jesus. Without love and the grace of Jesus, we don’t even know what sin is.“

          Yes, that’s very true, and it’s something that I have been struggling with for quite a while that perhaps you and others here can explain for me.

          Let me first say that, for the sake of discussion only, for the sake of illustration only, I am going to explain this dilemma that’s been bothering me in the most extreme generalities and stereotypes. It’s not meant to apply perfectly to you or anyone here. I realize that we are each unique individuals who are driven by unique experiences and that none of us easily fit into trite labels and categories, so I hope you will not take offense in my using these generalizations for purposes of analogy only.

          Christianity as the dominant political force and in many self proclaimed “Evangelical” religions in this country right now seems little concerned with the morality that is the dynamic exercise of love that you refer to, IB, the love exemplified in the life of Christ and explained in His Words and Parables in the Gospels. Instead, the Christian Right appears more concerned with moralizing and judging others based upon the idolizing of a strict set of rules that they appear to have cherry picked from Scripture almost as a form initiation and allegiance to a closed tribe rather than the open, inclusive and welcoming Body of Christ that a merciful God is calling all of us to, worts and all, out of His infinite and merciful love. This so-called Christian movement seems particularly consumed with shaming or imposing only certain sexual taboos and bugaboos while ignoring, or even applauding, a host of other selfish vices like greed, wealth accumulation and vanity in the form of the glitz and glamor of conspicuous consumption. Indeed, the whole quality of morality in this movement appears to be transactional where, rather than doing the right thing for love as its own reward, the prize of Heaven is purchased and the punishment of Hell is supposed to be avoided by inclusion in an exclusive club and (outwardly at least) ostentatious conformity to its Pharisaic rules. This leads its members to the dualism of greater and greater right versus wrong, black versus white, in versus out thinking. In the place of real faith, this almost Manichaean dualism forms an extreme certainty that leaves little room for the diversity of culture, nuance, mystery, complexity, ambiguity, theorizing or compromising that allows for actual problem solving in a finite and fallen universe. Finally, a movement that should be a demonstration of Christian love actually spends most of their time and efforts on criticism, hate and anger. In sum, as a political force, this “Christian” movement that I am admittedly caricaturing claims to be founded in the God of love, but the resemblance appears to abruptly end there.

          At the other extreme we have the so-called secular Liberal movement. They often seem to want to do the right thing out of empathy and compassion, but as you say, they lack the consistency that comes from the existential foundation that only God can provide a moral philosophy. This movement depends upon a laudable moral universalism to spout platitudes like “Do the Right Thing”, but as the believer keeps asking them “why” they quickly run out of answers because they cannot ultimately point to anything ultimate. This leads to a good deal of frivolousness and moral relativism. If one does not believe in anything ultimate and eternal, then one can believe just about anything in the moment, the more esoteric, gaudy and venal the better. Conformity is strictly (and often brutally) enforced only against a member’s inability to imagine greater and great expansions of the preposterous. The human craving for the sublime God that God placed in us is assuaged with magical faux spiritualities and fads – plastic paganism without the mysterious spiritual connections to the eternally incarnate Christ that the actual Pagans sought and incompletely filled when there was a hole in our souls that Christ as Jesus had not yet perfectly satisfied for Christians who seek Him. In short, we have a movement that is guided to some extent to do the right thing for its own sake by the moral law of love that is written in every human heart at all times, but because they have no solid foundation in God to stand on, the sands constantly shift beneath their feet and their world ends up looking like a devout devotion to an absurdity.

          IB, these admittedly stereotypical models are the two fighting dogs that I seem to often be caught between these days, with each dog constantly casting me in the others pack. It sometimes leaves me contemplating the Good Samaritan – he did not belong to the tribe of the Jew he helped, but He was Jesus’ example of love.

          Do you have any thoughts on this dilemma? Please reserve the trite platitudes if you will, but I’d appreciate some enlightenment if you or Tom (or anyone else here) have any.

          1. Nah, I think you’re absolutely right. One problem I often see with the evangelical right and the secular left is that they are pretty much the same thing, just looking at one another in the mirror and reacting negatively. I’ve argued that the best fundamentalist authoritarians are actually secular atheists. It’s like they fled the religious right and left behind Jesus, the good music, and the fellowship, while taking along all the rigid ideology and rabid intolerance. So one problem I see is that both groups are really reactionary, responding to one another by trying to swing in the other direction. If instead we stopped responding and reacting and instead just placed our eyes on Jesus, everything would change. What’s kind of happening in our country right now is really just a power play, a fight for dominance. There’s not a lot of love and not a lot of Jesus in the equation.

          2. @tsalmon

            I think both of you need to turn off the television. The stereotypes the news media play up don’t exist.

            Every human being is an individual. We try to associate with people like us because they affirm us, but we all do a lot of searching as we try to discover what we should believe.

            Is their a political struggle in this country? Of course there is, but each of the parties in this struggle is made up of diverse constituencies.

            The problem with the Democratic Party is that the public schools and universities have radicalized many young people. The greatest danger posed by these people is their arrogant ignorance. The Democrat establishment does not know how to control loose cannons like BLW and Antifa. Who knows what Obama was thinking, but he stirred up more animosities than he ever alleviated. The newly elected crazies like AOC are just adding to the turmoil. Therefore, an incident like the killing of George Floyd quickly blows up into nationwide riots, and the Democrats blame the police? Democrats have been running the police departments in these cities for decades.

            Does the Republican Party have a similar issue? Sort of. Those most active in the Republican Party, the Conservatives (mostly Christians) are not violent, but they also attended government-run schools. So, most have not read the Bible, and their knowledge of civics is weak. I look upon myself as an unusual example. I did not even read the Bible until I was in my fifties, but I have at least read and studied the Bible, and that is critical. We cannot understand what Jesus taught and hold our pastors accountable until we do that.

            Anyway, we have a lot of ignorance in this country, and that ignorance explains much of the strife. Ignorant people can be easily manipulated by opportunists.

  6. This was my response on Mel’s site:

    I agree with everything here and it is so well put. Let me share my own epiphany on this Reverend.

    I, an old comfortably retired white guy who felt that he “earned” everything that he accomplished from being a Navy Pilot who attained the rank of Commander to being an attorney to being a Captain at a major airline finally to the realization that all that God has blessed me with was not so much “earned” as it was at least in part a benefit of a centuries’ long “culture” of white supremacy in this country. Yes, I said it and I mean it – every person in this country from before it’s inception to this moment has, no matter how unconsciously, benefited from a culture of white supremacy. Not until we see our “culture” for what it is, the good but also the very bad that only our pride causes us to hide our eyes from, will we be able to move beyond “culture” to the purity, the perfection in Christ you so ably talk about.

    Until we all come to similar epiphany, and actualize yours and MLK’s dream that Jesus is not “a culture”, He is not a tribe, He is not a race, He is not a country, He is not a political party, and in fact, the moment we seek to divide ourselves into any such exclusion, we exclude Him first, then we simply will not be able to see Him in all people (even our enemies) as welcomers into the open arms and inclusive Heart of the Body of Christ.

    We need to hear four centuries of suffering and our theft of their lives and labors in cries (and even the angry violence) of those protesting. We need to see Christ crucified again in the pleading of George Floyd as a river of tears (His tears with those suffering) that our easy indifference allowed and continues to allow.

    Mildred Bangs Wynkoop wrote in her “Theology of Love”:

    “LOVE takes the Harshness out of Holiness. Love takes the Incredibility out of Perfection. Love takes the Antinomianism out of Faith. Love takes the Moralism out of Obedience. Love takes the Gnosticism out of Cleansing. Love takes the Abstraction out of Truth. Love puts the Personal into Truth. Love puts the Ethical into Holiness. Love puts Process into Life. Love puts Urgency into Crisis. Love puts Seriousness into Sin. Love puts Fellowship into Perfection.“

    That last one about “fellowship” to me allows God’s Love to transform us into a Body of Christ that transcends all politics, all tribalism, all cultural affiliation and even all religion. That is the impossible “perfection” of fellowship we seek, but as you know, with God all things are possible. I think that that fellowship starts with a simple recognition of the centuries of sadness and pain that goes into, what is less a proclamation than a pleading cry that at long last we see, we really see that “Black Lives Matter”.

    1. @tsalmon

      You know as well as I do that you never stole anything that some black person had coming to him. Love that is not love in truth is a bunch of BS. It is virtue signaling.

      What you are guilty of — and probably still guilty of — is the soft bigotry of low expectations. When we don’t expect the best of others because of their skin color — when we make excuses for them — that is racist.

      Check out => http://christianoutlook.com/2020/06/22/truth-bomb-racism-huge-problem-america-john-hall-kathy-emmons-larry-elder/

      When we wallow in a bunch of false guilt, we don’t do anyone any good. You want to do something for blacks? Why do you have to help blacks in particular?

      Well, you will have to figure out your own motivation, but you may wish to stop voting for the people who peddle worthless racist nonsense for votes. False guilt foments hatred and deceit, not love.

      We don’t love out of guilt. We love out joy. We love because He loved us first, and He proved it by forgiving the sins we each actually committed.

        1. Before redemption must come recognition and repentance, or in other words, “guilt”. You speak of truth and yet we are supposed to hide from it if it is ugly. As just one example, do you think our constitutional republic would have even happened had essential men like Washington and Jefferson not had the wherewithal that was provided out of the lives and back breaking, whip induced, family destroying enslavement of a people based on the concept of white supremacy?

          There are sins of commission and sins of omission. There is legal causation and there is “but for” causation. The truth that guilt sees comes in many forms.

          1. @tsalmon

            Communists killed 100 million people in the 20th century. You going to accept the guilt for that too? Where does this stupidity stop?

    2. Yes, I said it and I mean it – every person in this country from before it’s inception to this moment has, no matter how unconsciously, benefited from a culture of white supremacy.

      “Every person” would include black people.

      1. Liz,

        Yes. I think so. Just because a certain “culture” (which includes a culture of white supremacy) has some notable moral or legal equities does not mean that we should ignore its past and current inequities. If the neighborhood robbed and murdered your parents so as to pay for new roads and sidewalks that you now enjoy still would not make up for the fact that you grew up without the resources and equal advantages that your parents could have also provided.

        1. @tsalmon

          Evil does not actually help anyone. When one human being enslaves another, that hurts both the slave and the slaver. The relationship that a slaver has with his slaves is parasitic. The slaver uses slaves to foist upon the slaves the harm caused by the neglect of work he should have done himself and the development of skills he should have acquired.

          Please note that most of the country did not have slaves. Slavery is so inefficient that it did not make sense except with respect to production of a few crops such as cotton, rice, sugar cane, and tobacco. Most of the founding fathers thought the damn sin would go away on its own. The invention of the cotton gin, unfortunately, saved slavery, for awhile.

          The point is that slavery is an ego thing, a sin of pride, more trouble than it is actually worth. You and I did not benefit from slavery because sins don’t actually benefit anyone. Sin is ultimately STUPID!

        2. Something I read recently seems appropriate here:
          Douglas Murray noted, “a curiosity of the age” that as racial and sexual tolerance “at the very least appears to be better than it ever was, it is presented as though it has never been worse.”
          This paradox occurs because, as we address and overcome problems of intolerance and discrimination, we also expand the concept of intolerance to stigmatise new attitudes and behaviours. This makes it appear as if we are either making no progress at all or, worse, that we are becoming more intolerant. The upshot is that social problems appear increasingly irresolvable.

          1. @Liz

            Moving the goalposts? Yep!

            Victimhood ends once the problem is solved. Therefore, once we have become dependent upon our victim status we move the goalposts. Some politicians like this. Instead solving problems — hard work — they engage in identity politics and advocate holy causes like climate change. Then all they have to do is push the right buttons to get their followers worked up.

          2. Liz,

            There’s truth in that. Don’t you think that most revolutions only start after people have a taste of new freedoms that makes them realize the many more freedoms that they are missing? It was only because Englishmen had new rights and freedoms that caused our Founders to rebel when those new rights were jeopardized for them.

            This liberty begetting a thirst for more liberty seems to happen over and over again with limited success, sometimes with two steps forward and sometime with two steps backwards.

            I agree with Mel that riotous violence usually just puts a new tyrant in charge – the French Revolution illustrates that truth. The violence of our founding revolution was more calculated and less mob driven, but it was violent none the less. However, if you really know our history, there have been many times when our democracy survived on a knifes edge and it could have gone either way between leaderless angry mob and well lead calculated incremental change.

            I think I have figured out one thing about how we survived those mob rule possibilities – it was because we had leaders who recognized legitimate grievances and united us toward resolving those issues rather than just inciting us to more divisions. When was the last time we placated legitimately angry protesters by screaming at them and labeling them all as just an angry mob? Sounds more like a good way to actually get an angry mob doesn’t it?

          3. When Obama was president the same sort of thing was going on.
            Looking at the antagonist to all of this, I’m not sure why what Minneapolis does should be the president’s fault.
            Seems to me like it should be the Minneapolis government’s fault.
            The right leadership at the right level is important.
            Whatever Trump would say the local leadership would fight against, by any measure of Minneapolis leadership of which I am familiar.
            So if Minneapolis has a police problem I’d place it squarely on the leadership that empowered it. That isn’t the president of the United States of America.

          4. @Liz

            That has to scare the Democrats. Once they had the South under lock and key the way they currently have blacks. Then the people of the South had an epiphany. That sort of epiphany could now be happening to blacks. Let us pray and hope so.

          5. That sort of epiphany could now be happening to blacks. Let us pray and hope so.

            Agreed, Citizen Tom!
            I agree 100 percent.

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