“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thess 4:11-12
A lot of media time and space has been given to the OWC (Occupy Wall Street) protests around the country and the world. It seems the whole thing was instigated by Adbusters, a Canadian anti-establishment organization, with the intent of bringing down American capitalism and its consumeristic culture. It has now grown into a hodge-podge of folks with a mind-numbing array of signs, slogans and emotional, viscerally charged, demands.
Watch this clip and you’ll get an idea of how random, ill-informed and adolescent this movement is.
Because of this randomness, many commentators are at a loss to put a single focus on these protests.
Let me give you one: greed.
In general, many are there to protest the greed of the top 1%, corporations, banks, bankers, etc. etc. etc. But the irony of it all, is that they want what others have. They demand it!
This is greed.
(Or greedy lust…pick one!)
The young man in the clip wants somebody else to pay for his tuition. Why? His answer? Because he wants it. And, he has the right to want it…and the right to demand it.
(Please excuse this next comment, but it just seems to be so very, very appropriate.)
The only thing missing from this picture is a diaper and a pacifier.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I would agree with anyone that would judge modern culture with being too fixated on material goods. I would agree with anyone who would caution people and a culture against lust and greed. But to yell and scream against greed by greedily demanding what the greedy have seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy.
The other common thread in these protests is the clear underlying notion that the hired gun for those who want what others have is the state. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that the current administration has voiced support for these protestors. Why not? It just means more power and control for the state.
And more dependency for the citizenry.
The passage in Thessalonians is a seldom quoted passage but it is very instructive to us as Christians: mind your own business, work, gain the respect of others, don’t be dependent upon anybody.
Should we be surprised when the world and our culture chants the opposite?
I’m in Tennessee this week, but hope to write next about the OWC slogan: “People before profits”. You might be surprised!
“And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
After the great victory against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Elijah cowered before Jezebel’s threat and fled to Mt. Horeb, hiding in a cave. God came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah then boasted about himself, how bad the people were, bemoaned that he was the only one left, and they were seeking his life. God told Elijah to go outside the cave where he was given a real show: a tornado-like wind ripping up the mountain, an earthquake, a fire. But after each, a strange comment was made: “but the Lord was not in the wind…or the earthquake…or the fire.” Elijah had obviously retreated back into the cave during the tumult of the three powerful forces, for after the show was over and he heard a still, small voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and came out and stood in the entrance of the cave. God then asked him the same question again and, unbelievably, Elijah responded with the same pathetic answer. It was then that God instructed him to go and anoint his successor.This has been one of my favorite passages. No matter how great you think you are, no matter how grand are your “victories”, you and I are mere mortals who can panic and run at the “boo” of a Jezebel and then get the “poor me’s” and think way too much of ourselves and start to believe we are the only one that cares or knows or understands or…whatever.
That’s when God shows up and flips on the “power” display to help us get the picture: we are a whole lot smaller than we think.
I think I had gotten a case of the “poor me’s” as well. Feeling betrayed, disappointed, disrespected…just when I thought there was great victory, the rug gets pulled out, the enemy seems huge, the battle appears to be turning sour, etc. etc. etc. Basically, it is the old pathetic “all about me” whining that infects the sons of Adam.
I needed some wind, some earthquake, and some fire.
I just returned from an awesome sailing trip (thanks to great friends) in the Caribbean.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31
It may sound opulent, but it really isn’t.
I have been invited to join a friend on a small sailboat in St. Maarten for a week. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
In light of the turbulent, yet providential events of the past weeks, it has become apparent to me that the Lord is laying before me several major tasks.
How, when, where, who, why, which and all the other questions are still unanswered.
The plan is to get away from the noise and trappings of modern life and do some serious praying and planning before the Lord.
Therefore, the blog will lie dormant, including many of the comments that were entered but not yet recovered or answered. I’ll be back in a week, hopefully with clarity and a renewed vigor for the tasks that lie ahead.
Blessings to all of you.
“I cannot recant.”
Youcef Nadarkhani is a Pastor in Iran.
He is in danger of being executed.
Why? For what crime?
His refusal to renounce his faith in Christ.
Three times this week the court has brought him forward and ordered him to recant.
Three times he has declared “I cannot.”
When asked to “repent” by the judges, Youcef stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied , “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”
Youcef has never been a Muslim, but the court has determined that he has Islamic ancestry and therefore, under Hadith and Sharia law, he is to be given three chances to repent and return to Islam. If he does not, he can be immediately executed.
There is no right of appeal under Sharia law.
Pray for Youcef, his family, the Christians in Iran and other Muslim countries.
Pray that our State Department will make an attempt to intercede.
Approximately 171,000 Christians are martyred for their faith every year. That is nearly 20 per hour.
When religious freedom is denied, the consequences can be ugly.
“Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2I’m in Washington DC, participating in Chuck Colson’s Simulcast on Ethics: Doing the Right Thing. He asked me to address “the roots of moral authority”.
It was an interesting topic, because we seldom challenge another’s basis for saying something is “right” or “wrong”. How many times, in conversation, do we hear someone say, “that’s right” or "that's not right". But, we never ask, “how do you know that is right or not right?”
There are several things that people base their ethical beliefs upon. Here are a few of them:
1. The law. Not too many years ago, a physician was working in a Chinese hospital when she was called in to handle a botched abortion. She was in charge that night and couldn’t find the clinician who would have normally handled these kinds of difficult circumstances. Due to China’s one child policy, the abortion had been ordered and so giving the child to the parents wasn’t an option; neither was keeping it alive. She wrestled with what to do as she looked down into the face of this little baby, who was healthy and brimming with life. After searching again for a staff member to do this for her, she struggled internally with her own conscience for a long time. But, in the end, she muttered these words and carried out her duty. She said: “It must be right. It’s the law.”
Here the “law” is viewed as the foundation of ethics.
2. Societal norms. Don Richardson, in his wonderful book “Peace Child” tells of he and his wife’s missionary call to work among the Sawi tribe in the western half of what used to be called New Guinea, now West Papua. The Sawi tribe had developed a societal ethic in which treachery was the highest form of virtue and honor.