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character equality unity

KING’S CRITERIA WERE RIGHT ON THE MARK

Neal Pollard

Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on a seasonable and rain-free day in August of 1963, but this speech, delivered to at least 250,000 people, is often remembered on the holiday in January named for him. This speech is one of the most important documents of our nation’s history and was a watershed moment in improving race relationships between black and white Americans.  Eloquently and poetically pointing out the injustices his race of people had endured and were enduring at the time, King looked forward to a new and improved day.  He hoped all people, whatever their race, would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He hoped to leave Washington, D.C., and return back to his home with a faith in the powers that ruled nationally and locally which would be translated into hope, brotherhood, and unity. His final call was to “let freedom ring” (via http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf).

Many people forget that Mr. King was a religious man, a preacher who often alluded to Bible characters and principles as well as directly quoting from it.  Inasmuch as he accurately referenced it, Mr. King was calling all people to God for guidance regarding right and wrong.  He said that character took priority over color.  He saw unity as right and division as wrong. He called for freedom rather than slavery, real or virtual.  While he was rightly championing these characteristics in the realm of racial equality, those principles doggedly stand regarding other matters.  Character, unity, and freedom matter in religious matters.

When we stand before Christ in the judgment, there is no indication that He will even take note of our race, ethnicity, or nationality.  He will look to see if His blood covers us.  Peter rightly says, “I most certainly understand that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34b-35). Corrupt behavior or disobedience will not be acceptable, no matter who we are.

Furthermore, anyone who fosters division is rejected by God. He hates “one who spreads strife among brothers” (Prov. 6:19). He condemns it through Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.  In social or spiritual matters, I don’t want to be responsible for inhibiting a brotherhood God desires.  If I refuse to stand where He stands or if I stand where He doesn’t want me to stand, He will not accept it.

Finally, there is a freedom even more important than the noble cause King and his followers pursued. They wanted loosed from the manacles of a bondage imposed by others.  All of us, outside of Christ, are subject to a bondage we cause for ourselves.  Paul refers to this as being “slaves of sin” and “slaves to impurity and to lawlessness” (Rom. 6:17,19).  But, thank God, we can be “freed from sin” (Rom. 6:18). Then, we become slaves to righteousness.

Christians must care about racial equality, never treating someone different because of the color of their skin.  The way to right content of character, unity, and freedom is found in the book so often quoted by Mr. King.  No matter where or when we live, it will guide us toward an eternal home in heaven.

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Why Ridgedale church of Christ Is Getting Slammed

NOTE: SOME TIME AFTER THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN, THE RIDGEDALE CHURCH OF CHRIST FACEBOOK PAGE WAS HACKED.  THE CONTENT THERE NOW CONSTITUTES AN 180-DEGREE TURN FROM WHAT THAT GOOD CONGREGATION BELIEVES.  DON’T BE DUPED BY THIS PERSON WHO, IN EFFECT, IS COMPOUNDING THE PERSECUTION UPON RIDGEDALE FOR SIMPLY TRYING TO FOLLOW GOD’S WORD.  –NEAL

 

Neal Pollard

In the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus wrote, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mat. 5:12-13).  Persecution takes many forms, but if you want to see one form of it simply go to Ridgedale’s Facebook page and look at the dozens of examples of tolerance from broad-minded people as they help that congregation face what the world thinks of them.

An article by Kevin Hardy in today’s Times Free Press online (http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/aug/21/repent-or-leave/), which reflects some basic ignorance of what the Bible teaches about church discipline, unleashed a firestorm of hateful response by readers who are on Facebook and who in turn posted their remarks on the aforementioned page.  My prediction is that things will get worse before they get better for the good people at Ridgedale.  Understanding that we do not have all the facts of the case and would not expect a person in the world to give them to us, what we should do is focus on what is alleged.  A professed lesbian’s family that attended Ridgedale was approached by church leaders after the woman’s mother publicly supported her daughter as she sought same-sex benefits from the city of Collegedale.  As the family’s support of their daughter was public, the church felt compelled by scriptural mandate to ask the family to repent or be subject to church discipline.  The family publicly made their exit and a congregational matter is now being splashed across news outlets.  But, why is this congregation facing such an outcry and disapproval?  The answer will differ from individual to individual, but here are some broad reasons evidenced from people’s responses.

Ridgedale is getting slammed because of the cultural sickness of subjectivity.   One woman writes, “I think the decision makers of this church will one day pay for their sins…” Another woman writes, “I think the Cooper’s will be far better off without a church who punish’s them for not turning their back on their child….” Another puts it, “In my world, my God accepts, doesn’t judge and loves all his children!” Still another says, “Wow! I guess we know different Gods. My God offers unconditional love and tells me not to judge others….” (misspellings and grammatical errors made by the original writers). Others’ subjectivity is more subtly expressed, but here is the common thread.  People think they get to co-opt God and make Him over in their image.

Ridgedale is getting slammed because of society’s warped view of tolerance.  Certainly, so many who commented on that page are not tolerant of anyone who interprets Scripture literally.  They are not tolerant of this congregation’s autonomy. They are not tolerant of the view that homosexuality is a sin.  It is abundantly clear from the comments.  You will read such slurs as “bigot,” “hoping the church burns in hell,” “Scumbag Church,” “group of horrible people,” and more.  This is dripping with irony.

Ridgedale is getting slammed because the average person does not know the Bible.   People speak of God loving unconditionally, Jesus accepting everyone, and that one’s sexuality does not matter.  There is a famine of hearing the words of the Lord in our land (cf. Amos 8:11). Such lack of knowledge will destroy a people (Hosea 4:6).  God’s unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance if someone lives in rebellion to His will.  Jesus will not accept everyone.  To the majority, He will say, “Depart from Me” (see Mat. 7:13-14, 21-23).  Apparently, one’s sexuality does matter (see 1 Cor. 6:9-11). But people are grossly uninformed about the only book that reveals the heart and mind of God.

Please pray for Ridgedale.  Encourage them and show them love.  The detractors are popular and validated by a world separated from God.  Let us have the courage to stand by God’s people who are willing to stand up for His will.

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GLORIFYING THE PERVERSE WHILE REJECTING THE PROPER

Neal Pollard

On the front page of today’s Section C (Colorado Style) in the Denver Post, there is what is undoubtedly meant to be a heartwarming story of love between Ned and Sara.  Except that Ned is now Koko, a man who contends he identifies himself as a woman.  Ned also is attracted to women, so he considers himself a lesbian.  The piece subtly contains the barb that if he had an operation, he and Sara could “only have a civil union.” As it is, they can be legally married and all because of anatomy.  The clear implication is that our current laws unfairly exclude homosexuals and discriminate against them.  With complete sympathy, writer Claire Martin gushes at this “unconventional trip to the altar” that will culminate in their July wedding–both of whom will be brides wearing bridal gowns (C1,C8).

Speaking against such thinking and behavior as this is increasingly unpopular.  In a “live and let live” world, whose inhabits decry and detest judging behavior as right or wrong, calling scenarios like the one presented in the article perverse is considered unacceptable. An agenda-driven media, as well as other, like-minded institutions, continue to foist homosexuality and perversity upon the “consumer.”  Not only is it promoted, it is normalized, dignified, and even glamorized.  Through such relentless publicity, so many are becoming desensitized and callused to what is advocated.  Interestingly, people get more comfortable with perversion but get quite uncomfortable with any denouncement or disapproval of perversion.

Consider Paul’s warning to the church at Ephesus (Eph. 4:17-24).  Nonbelievers can be found “walking” (manner of life) with a mind set on valueless and useless things.  The result of such thinking and living is moral darkness, spiritual death, ignorance, hardness of heart, shamelessness, an insatiable desire for pleasure, and a craving for what is wicked and lewd.  Paul contrasts the thinking of the world with those who have “learned Christ.” We are not to be corrupted by deceptive desires.  We are taught the truth, which leads to a new mind, a new man, and a new morality.

That means we should be able to distinguish between the normal and the perverse, the proper and the improper.  This will be more important as the world continues to lose its grip on such distinctions. We must keep our bearings!