Thursday, June 30, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
According to the Washington Post’s report “Holy Week 2011,” there are approximately 2 billion people around the world who identify themselves as Christians. That means there are 2 billion people who lead their lives in compliance with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, right? I suspect making such a claim would incite several questions, such as the following: Why is it, then, that so many Christians live just as non-Christians do? For instance, why do some Christians fornicate and commit adultery? Why do some Christians habitually use profanity and lie? Why do some Christians spew hatred and condemnation? Why do so many Christians seem indistinguishable from everybody else? To these inquiries, I would respond with a couple of questions of my own: First, have you ever considered the possibility that many, if not most, people who profess to be Christians actually aren’t? Second, do you believe it is truly logical to
judge a belief based solely on the lives of people who allegedly adhere to that belief? I do believe that some people who claim to be Christians are, in reality, unequivocally lost and have no clue about Christian living. Moreover, I believe judging the validity of Jesus or the Christian faith based on such people is unfounded.
One day, I contemplated this phenomenon while studying for a Nutrition exam. I reviewed an eating disorder called Bulimia. People who suffer from Bulimia regularly binge on food and then use various methods, such as vomiting and excessive exercise, to prevent weight gain. Let’s imagine that I claim to be Bulimic. Yet, after being secretly recorded day after day for a year, observers determine that I never binge on food, I never vomit or exercise following meals, and, overall, I practice healthy eating habits. In light of this information, would people then say, “That Bulimia disease is such a sham. This woman is Bulimic, and she behaves just like everyone else”? Surely not! Onlookers would certainly say, “Clearly, this woman is not Bulimic, because her life does not exhibit any of the characteristics associated with Bulimia.” I’m sure there’s a plethora of other illustrations I could use, but here’s the point:
There are in fact characteristics that Christians’ lives should exhibit; and the lives of many people who assert to be Christians do not display those characteristics. Christians cannot be perfect, because like all humans, they are inherently fallible. Thus, if Christians are secretly recorded for a day, there’s a chance they will have more ethical failures than successes and ostensibly look just like everyone else. However, if true Christians are secretly recorded everyday for a year, a stark distinctiveness in the way they live should be readily apparent; their lives should obviously exhibit characteristics of Jesus and principles of His teachings. Sure, they will slip-up, and they will indeed be flawed; but there should not be a consistent pattern of immorality in their lives. They should not live just like everyone else. So, when we learn of the violence of the Christian crusaders, when we see some Christian pastors do and say ridiculous
things, when various Christian priests are indicted for pedophilia, when some politically conservative Christians encourage hate, when certain angry Christians on the West Mall here at UT condemn all the passersby to hell, etc., perhaps we should be less hasty to decry and reject the Christian faith itself and more inclined to question the soundness of such people’s claims to be Christians. Because we cannot look into people’s hearts/motives, we cannot conclusively determine what any given person truly believes. However, often times, people’s actions accurately denote what they sincerely believe. The actions of some people identified as Christians do align with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but the actions of other supposed Christians do not. Judging Jesus or Christianity in light of only the latter group is nonsensical.
I should note that I believe it is equally illogical to accept Jesus and the Christian faith based solely on people’s opinions. It is for this reason I researched the life of Jesus and the Christian faith for myself. Some components of Christianity are primarily faith-based, but there are empirical, concrete components as well. I looked into the validity of the Bible; I researched the many prophecies in the Bible to see if they have indeed come to fruition. I looked for information regarding references to Jesus in secular texts from the time in which He lived. I read reviews of how other religions compare to Christianity. I watched investigative documentaries (i.e. Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ). I assessed Christian, agnostic, and atheistic outlooks on life. After researching and processing all of this information for quite some time, I formed my very own opinion. I do believe in Jesus Christ, and I do believe in His
Word. The consequences of this decision are manifested in my life. I have experienced true love, true peace, and true joy; and I have a secure sense of my worth and my purpose in this life. Perhaps you already have all those things. But if you don’t, then what do you have to lose? I’m not suggesting that you take my word for it. In fact, I’m proposing the exact opposite: Don’t take my word, and don’t take anyone else’s word for it either. Look into the life and teachings of Jesus Christ for yourself and arrive at a conclusion about Him for yourself.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Forgetting the Label to the Glory of God ~ Brenda Fischer
So many families are facing the hard and perplexing reality of having their child diagnosed with a developmental disorder. Acronyms like PDD-NOS, ADHD, RAD, FASD, OCD and ODD are scribbled onto a child’s records with increasing frequency. Almost one child in 100 has an autism spectrum diagnosis. A diagnosis is helpful in some ways for families. It can open the door to receiving medical, therapeutic and educational support. A diagnosis also sheds some light and gives helpful insight to parents or others who are in a child’s life. On the flip side, a label can lead to heartache and deep hurt. All parents want their child to be loved and accepted as a unique individual, not put in a box.
With all these labels flying around, it is tempting to pick out children and refer to them with a label and then mentally place them in a category. After all, it’s true that with autism there are patterns of behavior that lead to the diagnosis. Also, in the case of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), children have brain damage that affects their ability to respond and cope with life. Yes, each diagnosis has accompanying characteristics; yet as Christians, this world of labels can collide with who we know we are in Christ. Our God has “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) every child with a heart and a soul. The variation in who each child is as a person is as big as the ocean. Any human-contrived label is too small for God.
Since so many children are impacted by labels, it is helpful to learn about specific disabilities while always acknowledging God’s great and unrestricted ability to work in the heart and life of each person that He has designed. Michelle Schreder shares in her book The Unexpected Gift—Raising Children with Disabilities*,
A diagnosis doesn’t really change our child in any way. It doesn’t change their interests, their likes and dislikes, their
sense of humor, their unique personalities. A diagnosis simply provides clues about how to help our kids, but it
doesn’t define them.
Your children, and my children, are bigger than their diagnoses-they are so much more than a list of symptoms and
disorders! They, too, have been made in God’s image, have been gifted by Him, and have eternal souls.
A diagnosis may change the way we express love to our children so that they can receive it… but it never changes our love for them and their need for our love, any more than our human ‘disabilities’ change God’s love for us.
*Schreder, Michelle. The Unexpected Gift: Raising Children With Disabilities. Sisters, OR: VMI Publishers, 2004.