Monday, January 14, 2019

What Price Are We Willing to Pay?

While not the most famous words of his inaugural address, this statement by President Kennedy was significant. “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

It was understood in January of 1961 that anything worthwhile in life had a cost. It was understood that there are burdens and hardships to bear. It was understood that a man or woman seeking only their own comfort was a man or woman without significance, meaning, or purpose.

At that point in our history, the worth of pain and the might of self-sacrifice were understood by many. The mindset of our nation at that time was still heavily influenced by the scriptures. We were not really a Christian nation, but we were a nation strongly influenced by the faith that has a cross at its center. We are no longer such a nation.

Today the question is not “what can I do for my country?” but “what is the government going to do for me?” That shift in attitude may be the most destructive force in our national life. But I am not writing primarily about our national life.

Is it any different with Christians? Has our faith and focus also drifted? Do we gather to sing our favorite songs and to see our friends? Or do we gather to honor the Lord? Do we live as consumers, trying to get the best bargain we can from the local merchants, on the Internet, and from the Lord? Or do we live as those who “have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor 5:14-15)?

I am sorry to ask such challenging questions. But somehow I don’t think the church was built by means of positive thinking pep talks, and I don’t think that is what will restore it to its original purity and purpose. What price are we willing to pay, what burden are we willing to bear for the cause of Christ? Admittedly, it is a challenging question, but then most worthwhile questions are.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Pork Fat and Faith

I do not pay much attention to the news. I do not take the paper; I do not listen to the television or radio news. On those occasions when I want to be a bit depressed, I can always look up the news on the BBC web-site. I suppose it was our years in Africa that made the BBC my favorite source for news (although it was only by means of shortwave radio in those days).

New Year’s Day I saw an article on the BBC site that claimed to list the 100 most nutritious foods ( I ran through the whole list rather quickly, reading the details on only a couple of items. The biggest surprise was “pork fat.” That is right; they listed pork fat as one of the most nutritious things we can eat, and said that the rumors of it causing heart attacks have been proven false.

For more than forty years we were told to avoid pork fat. Now, a group of 100 nutritionists have listed it as one of the best foods. Frankly, I do not know (or care) who is right on this particular matter. I just want to make one simple point.

The next time someone tells you that there is scientific evidence that homosexuality is unavoidable for those who have the “homosexuality gene,” you could say, “Pork fat.” The next time someone claims that scientific evidence supports the idea that children should not be made to mind their behavior, just say, “Pork fat.” The next time someone claims that monogamy is bad for us, just say “More pork fat” and keep going.

The sad truth is that the so-called scientific community is full of people who are anything but scientific. Some of these people manage to prove (to their own satisfaction) whatever it was they set out to prove. No matter what they claim to have proven now, they will someday be busy proving the opposite. On matters of faith and morals we will do best to just stick with what God has said, and let the manipulators of statistics go their merry way. We really do not want to go where they are going anyway.

If God says something is bad for us, it is. If he says something will eternally separate us from him, it will. If he says that a given action is evidence that the person engaging in it has an arrogant and sick mind, they do.

One of the great things about being a Christian is that we do not have to keep up with the constantly changing claims of contemporary theorists. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8).