‘Paranoia strikes deep’

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In an article this weekend in The New York Times called “The Bad Faith of the White Working Class,” author J.D. Vance pointed out that the politi cization of the church has led to widespread thinking that the main enemies of our faith are external. The bad guys are all out there — the secularists, the “evil elites,” the Muslims, etc. And while preachers preach against all the evil out there, Christians on the inside are pulling further and further away from the world and more into isolationism and finger-pointing. This isolation and fear of encroachment from the outside and tendency to project complex problems onto simple villains is fueling both the current political campaigns here in America and the decision in Britain to leave the European Union. It is a widespread fear that has gripped the white working class in the Western World that the world as we know it is changing.

This  is true, but pulling in and building walls is not going to stop it. Actually, nothing is going to stop it, and as believers, we need to be better equipped to handle these cultural changes with grace and love. That’s why, here at the Catch, we emphasize the Gospel of Welcome and grace turned outward. God’s arms are open to everyone without discrimination, and the grace we have received, we are eager to extend out toward everyone, everywhere.

In light of this, I need to make a disclaimer about my Catch last Friday lest I be misunderstood. The passage I used for Friday’s Catch (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) has been a long-time favorite of mine for what it says to Christians about open attitudes towards those outside the body. However, it’s been pointed out to me that, due to the current controversial subject of homosexuality among Christians, my use of this passage could be interpreted as a mandate, at least by some, to remove or bar gays and lesbians from the fellowship because of what Paul says about judging those inside the church. That would not be my intent, primarily because this passage deals with incest, not homosexuality, and there is too much disagreement by respected leaders and scholars on all sides of the latter to close the book on it.

It is in keeping with the Gospel of Welcome here at the Catch that we remain open to all, and so we lovingly welcome all of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to walk alongside us as we journey toward a deeper and fuller understanding of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

* Title from the song, “For What It’s Worth” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

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9 Responses to ‘Paranoia strikes deep’

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    My thoughts what if us Christians woud just be concerned about our own sins and not that of others.. 🙂

  2. Kris Rudin says:

    Thank you for your wisdom and insight!! I have great sorrow for the American church. The fact that many of its leaders are now backing a man who is as far from Christian as can be – given his words and behavior – makes me nearly physically ill. Let’s stop playing politics and instead reach out to the poor and broken, as Jesus commanded us to do.

    • This is not a political endorsement of any kind so, please, bear with me…
      Over the weekend I read a couple of articles quoting Dr. James Dobson (of Focus on the Family fame) that Donald Trump recently accepted Christ as his Savior and is still finding his way around as a “baby Christian”.

      Now, whether we agree or not with his politics, applaud or cringe at his braggadocio, identify with or shun away from his “New Yorker-ness” – to paraphrase John above: in keeping with the Gospel of Welcome here at the Catch, aren’t we obliged to “remain open to ALL, and lovingly welcome ALL of our [bombastic and often-abrasive] brothers and sisters to walk alongside us as we journey toward a deeper and fuller understanding of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”?

      To my understanding, being offended by and/or dismissing (demonizing?) someone because of their politics and/or personality is just the same as being offended by or dismissing (demonizing) someone because of their sexual preference, ethnic or religious background, or any other trait that may stir up prejudicial discomfort which can ultimately feed the fears – if we allow it.

      While some may view Mr. Trumps recent “conversion” with skepticism – as well as his ability to lead the United States as its President – we must believe that Jesus died for him, too, and that God is mysteriously at work in his life as well as in Hillary Clinton’s, and in the lives of all the leaders He appoints to preside over nations and governments.

      Dr. Dobson wisely advises, “[As] a baby Christian, we all need to be praying for him especially if there is a possibility of him being our next chief executive officer…”

      If we haven’t been consistently praying for any or all of our candidates (or nation) by now then we better get to our knees quickly. November 8th is coming fast and in just 4 short months we’ll have elected a President who will lead us for the next several years toward destinies both familiar and unimaginable.
      Whether it’s Donald, Hillary, or even someone else, we need to be praying for them all. We don’t have to agree with their politics. We are commanded to love them – even if we find them to be repulsive.

      • jwfisch says:

        I read what Kris wrote and it resonates in my gut. I read what Bob wrote and it resonates in my head. It’s like one is first response; the other is after cooling down and thinking about it for a while. Thank you, both of you!

      • Kris Rudin says:

        The matter of Trump’s conversion is between him and God. But when he speaks out against minorities, belittles the disabled, speaks hateful rhetoric, and incites violence, then I have to speak out. As a Christian, I have to speak out against politicians that seek to demean and harm anyone, whether or not those politicians claim to be Christian.

  3. Lisa says:

    John, I am so glad you refer to our gay friends as brothers and sisters. I don’t even like refering to them as our gay friends, but for purposes of clarity, we say that. thank you for your constant love and insight.

  4. Lisa in Sunland says:

    It’s a struggle to know when to address ongoing sin within the body of believers. Of course we should be more concerned with the beams within our own eyes, but we are also instructed to help our sinning brothers…. sigh…. But yes, main emphasis needs to be on love since human nature tends so much more easily towards judgment than love! And, if we are going to be alert to sin within the body, would that we would be as vigilant about gossip as we are about sexually-related sin!

  5. Sandie says:

    One of the most important spiritual lessons I took to heart is a motto from Christian Motorcyclists Association…”Earn the right to speak.” Which means relationship…which means taking time to begin one and then nurture it. Find the good where we can agree and make that the foundation. Another is the fact that we are ALL created in God’s image…saint AND sinner. We have a responsibility to find that identity in others and treat them with integrity and respect. Only then, and with great care, should we dare to correct others. People usually already sense what you don’t like about them…surprise them with what you DO like about them. It doesn’t mean you condone the error…it DOES mean that you don’t beat them in the head with it continually. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to work.

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