20th Apr, 2008

They’re Just Like Us . . . They’re Just Like Us?!

People read the papers, see the pictures, and watch the endless parade of cartoonish characters, gobbling up their fill of Shock-Tarts Shock Tartsover the latest news about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints near San Angelo, Texas. We look on with horror, thankful that we aren’t like them, amazed that such things could happen anywhere, let alone in 21st Century America!

In the midst of our judgment and comparison what we often don’t realize is just how close we stand to such attitudes and behaviors. Many who would call themselves “liberals” separate themselves from people they see as simple and show hostility to their simple minds. It may be overdone – I don’t know I haven’t seen it – but the just released documentary “Expelled” demonstrates how the most “open-minded” can become quite close-minded and disdainful toward others who don’t see things as clearly as they do.

Many who would call themselves “conservatives” quickly build barriers between themselves and the outside “evil” world, trying to protect themselves from the onslaught of R- and X-rated media influences, choosing instead to create an artificial world of morally tasteful music, media, and the like. They don’t hang out with “those people” who make or like such things.

On both “sides” of this schism if you look closely enough you will find people. People just like you and me. They’ve been deceived to believe that others who believe differently are enemies and that we must separate from them. They’ve been deceived to believe that others who believe differently are enemies who must be looked down upon, or pitied, or worse, attacked. They quickly forget that Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, called us to love as He loved.

So, I’d remind us all that these people are just like us, facing a world that is difficult to understand and live in, trying to make sense of their place in it and how they should then live. May people filled with the love of the Father reach out to these hundreds of children now freed from one form of deception so that they don’t quickly fall into a different one.

But there’s more to learn through such revelations, and it is particularly troublesome for those of us who hope to be the salt and light of Jesus Christ in this world. The quote that really caught my eye about the FLDS sect was one by a “religious scholar” in a CNN article.

Walsh said he also studies the mainstream Mormon church, which renounced polygamy a century ago and has no ties to the FLDS. He said without the polygamy aspect, the FLDS would resemble the Baptist or Catholic religions.

The only differentiation, in this “scholar’s” mind, between Baptists, Catholics, and the FLDS is the practice of polygamy. Wow. From the perspective of a scholarly pursuit of religion and religious practices, this man, whose life is devoted to such studies, sees no difference between Baptists, Catholics, and the pictures we’ve been horrified by in recent days. Scary Movie

That’s really scary. From the perspective of yet another “sect” of culture, what some might call the liberal academic elite, all “conservative religious” groups really are the same. Now, it would be exciting if all the Body of Christ were seen as one because of their commitment to Jesus and their love for one another, but the similarities that this religious scholar sees are more about religious practices of separation, ignorance, and a negative attitude toward those who aren’t a part of their group.

It would be easy to discount what Walsh has said, but the fact remains that there clearly are people who view religious belief as meaningless or little more than a system of moral choices or control, and I have to admit that when one looks at the “ministry” of many churches today one can see why. In my last post I posted a video of Keith Green singing “Asleep in the Light.” If you haven’t watched it or heard that song, check it out. May God ignite passion in your heart for those who haven’t yet met the God of the universe and may it make a difference in how you live! If we continue to be more about telling people how they are wrong and how they must believe certain things and look a certain way, then we don’t look at all like Jesus and will simply be another group trying to maintain power over people in worldly ways.

We seem to doubt that God can really transform people to love Him and live for Him through the power of the resurrected Jesus…. And it shows.

Responses

Yes, and we’re all in this together. 400 innocent children suffer, we all suffer.

I saw the video about the horrible drug-infested Texas Foster Care system at:
http://dayofpraise.blogspot.com/

I also read most of a thousand thought-provoking comments by citizens outraged by Texas Bureaucrats’ blatant violation of the Constitution at:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/free-the-innocent-flds

This situation has huge historical significance.

I think the world views us as merely another belief system because we’re known more for what we’re against than what we’re for. Look at our spokespeople….Dobson, Falwell, Pat Robertson…all known for what they’re against. We’re so concerned that the world is going to rub off on us that we boycott, protest and speak out against the world, which by the way reminds me more of the Pharisees than of Jesus. Until we stop trying to live in a bubble and and stop trying to create a Christian nirvana this is how we’ll be viewed.

Camel Rider’s last blog post..Monday Madness ? the directory

As I read your post, I couldn’t help but think about the Reggie McNeal quote I recently posted on my own blog about Pharisees:

“The Pharisees clumped together and built a parallel culture–refuge theology is Pharisaical. When dealing with Pharisaism, we are dealing with a religion that has nothing to do with Jesus. They have a heart for religion, but not a heart for God.”

In or judging one another, whether left wing or right wing, we all have the tendency to clump ourselves together in build parallel cultures around our beliefs. It is a very real eye-opener to realize that this is what the Pharisees did, and as Reggie says, “Jesus does not like Pharisees!”

Guy Muse’s last blog post..Things God is showing us (Part 1 of 4)

Guy, great comment. It seems that judging to lower another or to raise oneself is the very opposite of love and to that which we are called as followers of Jesus.

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