Messin' with Jesus

Have you seen the Jack Link's Beef Jerky commercial series, "Messin' with Sasquatch"? Each commercial features a group of foolhardy people who stumble upon Sasquatch (Bigfoot) and decide to, well, mess with him. The normal human instinct as far as I'm concerned would be to hide or run but these folks are eating Jack Link's Beef Jerky so they're "feeding their wild side," to paraphrase the commercial's tagline, and can't resist poking fun at the large but seemingly dim-witted creature. The antagonists, however, usually pay an embarrassing or painful price before the end of the commercial so in my view, the creature gets his way. I'm left to wonder if the beef jerky made these people stupid or were they already there to begin with? That brings me to my point about liberals and Jesus Christ. Well before he announced for the Presidency, Senator Barack Obama declared the Democratic Party's hostility toward people of faith had to end if they ever expected to regain political power. He seemed to understand the power of faith in people's lives and spoke the language of faith with ease and comfort. Hopes were high that he would be the bridge between the Democrats and the evangelical community, especially the younger evangelicals who espouse a social agenda that includes the environment, poverty, disease, genocide and social justice along with the traditional hot-button issues of sanctity of life and the protection of traditional marriage. I believe he is sincere about people of faith being fully engaged in the political dialogue, but he didn't count on the folks in the Democratic Party who are "feeding their wild side" and can't resist antagonizing the faithful. Like the people in the commercials, they are varied but equally annoying:

Secular liberals - I'm going to be blunt. Secular liberals hate people of faith, especially evangelical Christians. They despise anyone who challenges their relativist and humanist worldview, which is diametrically opposite that of the committed Christian who serves God over self, accepts Christ as Lord and Savior and the only way to heaven, and trusts in God's Word as absolute truth. The Christian worldview vexes them because it says they can't do whatever they wish, they are accountable to a higher power, and there is a greater cause than self-fulfillment to which they must dedicate themselves. They mutter under their breaths about Senator Obama's faith outreach but they save their vitriol for the blogs because they understand he needs to appeal to the unwashed religious masses in order to get elected. The problem is that their barely disguised contempt for the faithful is much more apparent than they realize. Donald Miller, a former Republican and author revered by young evangelical Christians for his best-selling spiritual memoir Blue Like Jazz was invited to the Democratic Convention by the Obama campaign, but he said he wanted Obama to repudiate those in the Democratic Party who mock people of faith, stating "I'd like to see Obama address that — say that voice is no longer welcome." Senator Obama can say whatever he wants but these folks aren't going to be quiet until there are no Christians around to trouble their consciences.

Entertainers - See "Secular Liberals" above and multiply by several orders of magnitude. Not all entertainers fall into this category, of course, but they are a minority lost in a sea of hedonism that rivals Rome in its heyday. Exhibit A? Lindsay Lohan, the former Disney starlet who has since strayed far, far away from "family-friendly" territory. She's only a year older than my college-age daughter and she's already assaulting Christians and their values. Now that she has apparently discovered the pleasures of a lesbian relationship, she feels compelled to trash Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, as "a narrow-minded, media-obsessed homophobe." She rants, "Is it a sin to be gay? Should it be a sin to be straight? Or to use birth control? Or to have sex before marriage? Or even to have a child out of wedlock?"

Well, "LiLo," the Bible says the answer to most of your questions is "yes," not that you would believe or accept that because it might prevent you from satisfying your carnal desires - or not. Fortunately, most people don't seek moral or political advice from a drug and alcohol-addled 22-year old in a lesbian relationship. What has happened to her is very sad, however, and it's due to the "freedom" the world espouses which leads only to pain. By all accounts, her parents failed her and she's been looking for solace in a bottle, drugs, or indiscriminate sex in an environment which celebrates such destructive behavior and taunts people who hold dear the commands of Christ. I pray she'll find peace before this lifestyle consumes her.

The Religious Left - One wouldn't think that people who profess to believe in Jesus Christ would be on this list, but in one sense, they're not a lot different than the secular liberals in that they are equally uncomfortable with God's admonitions against sin.  They embrace the merciful and loving God who cares for the poor and oppressed and ignore the holy and judging God who demands we strive to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, and they criticize their conservative evangelical brethren for correctly condemning the sins of homosexual behavior and abortion. Both the Religious Right and Left err in trying to fit God into their political agendas. In that sense, they are two sides of the same coin. The Lord is not an a la carte diety where we get to pick and choose what we will or won't obey. Jesus tells us to care for the poor but he also directs us to refrain from sexual relations of any kind that aren't in the context of a loving marriage between a man and a woman, whether it's adultery, premarital sex or homosexuality. Jesus commands us to defend the oppressed but unborn children are not excluded from his love and protection. If anything, children hold a special place in God's Kingdom - "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." And yes, unborn children are children in the sight of God. The Bible uses the same word to describe a baby before and after birth and the Lord speaks throughout the Bible of calling on his people and forming them and knowing them while they were in the womb. It is as much a sin for the Religious Left to be timid or muted when it comes to abortion and homosexuality as it is for the Religious Right to neglect social justice and creation care.

The Religious Left, however, is really pressing their luck when they try to defend their positions by insisting the Bible doesn't really condemn homosexuality or even mention abortion, or dismissing the parts of the Bible with which they don't agree or understand. That's the theological equivalent of poking a sleeping bear with a stick - the outcome is probably not going to be pretty.

Senator Obama may speak the language of faith with ease but he's cut from the same cloth as the Religious Left when it comes to his refusal to acknowledge the Word in its entirety. During a 2006 speech, he spoke in a sometimes mocking tone about the Bible as if it was in error in some areas and not in others:

"Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles."

Senator Obama clearly doesn't understand the difference between the ceremonial and civil laws of the Old Testament, intended for the holy nation of ancient Israel, and the moral law which was revealed to us in the Ten Commandments and fulfilled in Jesus Christ and his church. Senator Obama also falls into the Religious Left's old habit of assuming Jesus' commands to individual Christians and the church are actually calls to government action. God commands us to obey our government and its laws as long as they do not violate God's law, but His commands are intended for the church and Christians, not the government; after all, Jesus stated quite clearly that "My kingdom is not of this world" and he never resorted to political action as a means of bringing about change. In fact, He was betrayed by Judas because he and other followers of Jesus were disappointed that He didn't come to vanquish the Romans and establish a worldly kingdom. Senator Obama may be reading his Bible but he needs to study it further, as all Christians should. It is the daily and in-depth study rather than just the reading of the Bible that teaches us to understand God's Word as He intended it. It's good that Senator Obama made it OK for religion to be discussed in liberal circles again, but it just brought the same old religious socialists with their flawed theology out of the woodwork once again. 

Politicians - Liberal politicians are way out of their league when it comes to talking about faith but it hasn't stopped them from trying. I think Senator Obama needs to give them a few lessons before they embarrass him further. When Speaker of the House and practicing Catholic Nancy Pelosi claimed on Meet the Press that the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion developed only in the last 50 years and has been a topic of controversy throughout the Church's history, she was immediately and publicly rebuked by nearly a dozen Catholic leaders around the country, including the Archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl:

"He said, 'We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.'

"Wuerl pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear, and has been clear for 2,000 years. He cited Catechism language that reads, 'Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception … Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.'"

When Senator Biden declared he believes the teachings of his Catholic faith that life begins at conception but thinks it "inappropriate" to "impose that judgment on a pluralistic society," Archbishop Wuerl and others weighed in again. "Defense of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but an act of justice," Wuerl said. Despite the Catholic Church's clear teachings on the sanctity of human life, Catholic politicians continue to use tortured reasoning to justify their support for the premeditated slaughter of innocents while still claiming to be faithful members of the flock. I often wonder if these people in their quiet and reflective moments honestly believe when they face their God on the day of judgment, He will embrace them and say "Well done, good and faithful servant!" when He gave them the power to protect the little children, the ones to whom His Kingdom belongs, and they not only failed to use it but in fact facilitated the killing of millions of them. I simply can't grasp their thinking.

The most outrageous faith-related statement from a politician, however, came from U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee who, in response to Governor Sarah Palin's comment at the Republican National Convention that "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities," uttered the following statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:

“Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus, who our minister prayed about. Pontius Pilate was a governor.”

This statement blows my mind on so many levels, it's hard to know where to start. I guess we can begin by letting Jesus describe himself:

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.' ~ Matthew 16:13-17

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" ~ John 14:6

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.'" ~ John 11:25

"...Then the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the blessed God?' Jesus said, 'I am, and you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God's right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven.'" ~ Mark 14:61-62

It's pretty clear that Jesus knew who He was. He never described himself as a community organizer; that wasn't His mission. He didn't come to organize people around a list of grievances so they could agitate the system to get what they want - a simplified but essentially accurate description of what a community organizer does. In fact, if you research the history of community organizing, you'll learn some pretty sobering things about the practice and the people who engage in it. The creative force behind community organizing, Saul Alinsky, was an inspiration to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and his book, Rules for Radicals, was dedicated to Lucifer, "the first radical." No one but the most hardened non-believer would attribute the works of Jesus to Lucifer, perhaps better known as Satan, but those who want to link Jesus Christ to the social agitation of the community organizing movement probably haven't done any research on the topic and therefore haven't a clue.

In Representative Cohen's defense, I should point out that he didn't originate the phrase he spoke on the House floor; in fact, it had been making its way through the blogosphere for days beforehand and political commentators like Donna Brazile and liberal celebrities like Susan Sarandon have picked up on it. That doesn't make the statement or his repeating it for the Congressional Record any less stupid, however. The insensitivity this analogy shows to devout Christians is stunning, and the fact that many liberals raised as Christians are parroting it proves my point about liberals and their attitudes toward people of faith, attitudes which range from casual to contemptuous. As for Cohen, did it ever occur to him before he opened his mouth that believers might take offense at their Lord and Savior being relegated to a community organizer, especially by a person of Jewish descent? Did he even stop to think that his predominantly black, predominantly Christian constituents and the black ministers who already regard him with suspicion might not agree with him appropriating Jesus to make a political point? Did he consider that his statement might hurt his candidate, Barack Obama, because it exacerbates the perception problem he already has with the center-right electorate of political messianism? Was it his intention to imply that the governors of our 50 states, all democratically elected public servants, are synonymous with the Prefect of Judea who was imposed on the Israelites by the Roman Empire and who ordered Jesus' crucifixion?

Clearly, Rep. Cohen did not think this thing through. He's got a reputation for foolish statements, however; during the Democratic primary, Cohen, a Barack Obama supporter, compared Senator Hillary Clinton to the femme fatale in the movie Fatal Attraction.

The media - What list of  false prophets would be complete without the media? The examples of the mainstream and new media misrepresenting Christ are legion (which, by the way, is a demon found in the Bible - "Then Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' 'My name is Legion,' he replied, 'for we are many'"). I'll just go with one; Joe Klein of Newsweek said that Barack Obama's response to the question asked of him at the Saddleback Civil Forum about when babies get human rights should have been:

"We're gonna disagree on this one. I respect your view on abortion, but I'm pro-choice ... And you know, Pastor Rick, Jesus never mentions abortion in the Bible."

Jesus didn't have to mention abortion in the Bible because His Father already established that He is in communion with us before we are born:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you..." ~ Jeremiah 1:15

Until our self-glorifying culture took hold, there was little to no dispute for thousands of years about the sanctity of the developing human inside the mother, and Christians understood that killing an unborn child was an assault on the very work of God who in the words of the Psalmist is "knitting us together" in the womb. I suppose if the Immaculate Conception occurred in modern-day America, Mary's contemporaries would be harassing her to have an abortion so she could get on with her life without being "punished with a baby" as Barack Obama puts it. God knew what He was doing when He gave the world his Son in first-century Bethlehem!

As you can see, there are a lot of people out there who can't resist provoking Christians with their irreverent or ignorant statements about Christ and his teachings. Sasquatch is a lightweight compared to the risen Son of God, however. I wouldn't mess with Him.