Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

I wrote this monologue several years ago, but I was reminded of it by a friend the other day, and thought I ought to post it here.  It’s the story of humanity from Genesis-Revelation told through the eyes of Satan. Interspersed between various parts of the monologue are verses from Revelation to be read by another reader. Feel free to look up the verses if you’d like.  Also, keep in mind that Satan has a Brooklyn accent. haha. Enjoy!

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I know what you’re thinking… where are the horns and the pitchfork?  I get asked that all the time.  Well, let me first clarify a few things for you.  The horns were just an awkward middle school phase.  I grew out of em eventually.  So don’t worry, some of you will grow out of your horns too.  And the pitchfork??  That was just one time a couple… thousand years or so.  I was in Hell’s Kitchen, right? And we ran out of regular-sized forks, and I was hungry.  I grab the pitchfork, someone snaps a photo, and bada-bing bada-boom… I’m stereotyped.  And then some people ask me about this accent, and I know you were about to, so before you start buggin the hell outta me, let me just ask you a question.  Why wouldn’t the devil be from New York?  Seriously… (sigh) the ignorance of some people.

And let me tell you, it was never easy being the devil, with all the tormenting souls and whatnot.  It wasn’t my first choice of profession.  I really wanted to be God… but that position was “already filled”.  And with a name like mine, you’d be a devil too.  You try growing up in the Bronx when your parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fur, name their beloved son Lucy.  Lucy!  They were expecting a girl and already picked out the name. But who on earth names their son Lucy Fur???  My life was hell… literally.  (Mumbling) I hate that name.

I did have some good times though.  Like there was this one time right after creation.  I was in the Garden.  I put on a lizard suit and convinced some dopey, naked broad to eat a piece of fruit when the Big Guy told her it was a no-no.  Got her and her hubby’s formerly naked bodies kicked outta there so fast. (laughs).  I did miss my arms and my legs for a while though.  But it was worth it.

And then there was this one time when I got everyone on the entire planet live to against God… Well, not everyone.  No good lousy Noah and his stupid boat.  But the whole earth got flooded though.  That was a pretty proud day for me.

(Rev. 21:1-4)

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Things were working good for a couple thousand years or so.  The history of people is full of a bunch of screw ups, thanks to me.  Seriously, I got everyone who was close to God in trouble.  Abe was a liar, Moses was a stuttering murderer with a bad temper, the Israelites were all a bunch of whiners who apparently couldn’t read a map, Saul was a jealous, greedy, dimwit, David got all lusty-eyed and killed a guy, but not before doing a little royal hanky panky with the man’s wife, the temple was built, the temple was destroyed (my personal favorite), then it was rebuilt once more.  All the while, God’s people are sinning like crazy and worshipping Barbie dolls.  Then came a buncha boo-hooey, end is extremely nigh prophets that no one listens to.  It’s like everything God did, these disgusting vermin called humans that he “loves soo much” managed to mess it up.  I couldn’t be happier.

Then comes this schmo Jesus.  Let me tell you about a little story about him.  He goes out into the desert for 40 days and doesn’t eat one bite of food.  I noticed him out there and sensed that he might be a little hungry. Then me, being the nice guy that I am, I offered him a sandwich.  Now this wasn’t no ordinary sandwich.  This was a nice, hot Philly Cheese steak sandwich, and when you’re famished, nothing tastes better.  And there was no catch either!  All he had to do was bow down to me.  Needless to say, I was deeply hurt by his decline of my generous offer.  So I take him to the top of the highest building around, and says “Alright, if your God is soo tough, why don’t you just jump off this building and let him save you”.  Then he tells me that I shouldn’t test God.  Me?!?  As if I would ever try to do something like that.  So I am now particularly perturbed, so I bring out my big guns.  I take him to the top of a mountain and say, “Listen bud… I’m tired of playing games with you.  If you worship me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world.  I got no better offer than that.  Just take it.”  So then he tells to go away.  How rude can this guy be?  Who does he think he is?  The Son of God or something?

Then that’s when I realized what had happened.  I lost.  And you don’t understand… I never lose.  Never.

Then I just couldn’t get rid of that guy.  He was everywhere, and he was ruining everything I had.  People started to understand God better, and they kept ignoring me.  Then, after much trouble on my part, he died… finally.  I get 3 days of peace… 3 days!  Then he comes back to life, and from that point on, everything was different.

(Rev. 19:11-16)

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So after that Jesus guy came back, God pulled another trick on me.  For people who believe in him, he gives them this thing he calls a spirit to live inside of them.  I can’t implant stuff inside of people… believe me, I’ve tried, and it wasn’t pretty.  So it was very difficult to compete with.  And these people with the spirit acted differently.  With the spirit, they could better determine right from wrong, and it was a constant reminder that God was always with them.  They started loving each other and serving each other more and more.  It was enough to make you sick.

Things just kept getting worse from there.  Churches were built all over the world.  And I won individual battles all the time, but it just wasn’t the same.  It never was the same.

(Rev. 19:1-2a, 6b-9a)

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I never thought this day would come.  He kept telling me that it would, but I just didn’t believe him.  I had it all, you know.  I had everything.  People all over the world bowed down to me and worshipped me and worshipped evil.  But now those people are gone.  I had an army, but now I’m all alone.  Chained.  Unable to fight.  Powerless.  Hopeless.  Because I know that there is no room for me on this new earth, no place for me in this new heaven.  I know my future and I made my choice.  This is the end of it all.  And this is what I’ve become.

(Rev. 20:1-3, 7-10)  (Rev. 21:6-7)

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A few days ago, I was having some great discussions with some students about a variety of theological topics.  These kids are so hungry for truth, and they don’t really know how to find it. Sometimes they are just told what to believe, and other times their questions are ignored or forgotten.   So I’ve loved these interactions and opportunities to listen and explore who God is with them.

One of the topics a few students began to ask about was whether or not one can lose their salvation. Different traditions have various interpretations this topic, and it was great hearing their hearts and opinions on the matter.  Yesterday, a student found a verse that she thought might add some relevance to the discussion and tasked me to help her figure out what this meant.

So I spent a large part of the day doing a little research, and I thought I would share to my students (and anyone else who would care to know) my findings on 2 Chronicles 30:9.

The verse itself goes like this:

“If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”

Now this was fun, cuz I got to do a little research to understand what was going on in those verses.  The more you start to understand and study the Word, this one phrase will help you out sooo much: “Context is key”.

Basically, that means that sometimes we like to interpret things about the Bible that the authors never meant to have happen.  So we have to look at the whole message of the text to understand what was going on.  So let’s look at everything going on in 2 Chronicles 30 to get a better picture.

What’s Going On? Israel is split into two nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  Most of 2 Chronicles is about Judah, and Judah has had a whole bunch of pretty bad kings up to this point.  They put idols in the temple, stopped observing the holidays, and one king even shut down the temple (basically saying that nobody could worship God anymore… not good).

Who’s Involved? Then King Jehoshaphat (sweet name!) comes along.  He’s a good, noble king who loves the Lord.  He tried to bring Judah back to a nation that served God.  So he reopened the temple, and then he also tried to get people to observe the holidays, including Passover (one of the most important holidays of the nation).

The Main Message: When Judah got a couple bad kings, they began to turn away from God.  They became involved in idol worship and ignoring God’s presence.  The text never says that God leaves them.  It actually says in 2 Chronicles 29:8 that “the wrath of the LORD was against Judah and Jerusalem, and He has made them an object of terror, of horror, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes”.  This means that because God’s people turned away from him, he no longer gave them the blessings or favor he promised.  He never leaves them, but there are consequences for the sins and decisions they made.

The image of  “God’s face” is a very important symbol in this culture (Numbers 6:24-26).  It was important to have “God’s face” shining towards you. If God’s face was upon you, it meant that God was blessing you and giving you favor.  If God turned his face away from you, it meant that he wasn’t very happy with you and stopped blessing you.

In 2 Chronicles 30:9, that image of God’s face is used.  It says that God “will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”  So if you read that knowing what “God’s face” means, we can see that God will give his blessings again if the people from Judah returned to God.

So here are things we can know from this text:
1.) God is compassionate, gracious, and forgiving.
2.) Even when the Judeans completely disobeyed God, he never left them.
3.) God gets angry at our sin.
4.) When we do sin or fall away, God wants us to return to him.

Here are things that aren’t clear from this text:
1.) We don’t know if God’s promise of blessing to Judah when they returned to him is a promise for everyone.  In fact, God never said anything there.  Jehoshaphat spoke that promise because he knows God’s character of compassion and grace.  But his compassion and grace might look different in other situations.
2.) We don’t know if this has anything to do with salvation and whether or not we can lose it, but this is a good verse to reference.  It tells us about God’s character, which we can use to determine what we think about salvation.

…so that’s all I’ve got.  I know this is a whole lot of stuff, hopefully it’s been helpful and informative. If any other students have verses that seem unclear, I would love to walk through the fog with you.  Keep exploring and navigating the Scriptures. What God has to share is absolutely amazing when we learn to understand all he has to share with us.

Grace and peace.

In posting these, I make no attempts to judge or to, in any way, minimize the tragedies of 9/11 and all of our contemporary wars.  I have simply been scouring the Scriptures for God’s truth and seeking His heart on the matter.  I realize that this list is not exhaustive, but these are verses that I believe cannot be ignored in light of all the events occurring in our world.

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17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– Romans 12:17-21

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17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,

– Proverbs 24:17

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43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

– Matthew 5:43-48

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11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

– Ezekiel 33:11

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“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’”

– Jerry Falwell (referring to the 9/11 attacks)

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“Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America”

– Jerry Fallwell

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“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”

– Jerry Falwell

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… Reading some of these quotes, I am shocked that Jerry Falwell was once the leader of a church of more than 30,000 people and a leading force in American religion and politics. I don’t know what is most shocking to me – his blatant prejudices? His extreme politics? His Billy Graham bashing?? Or maybe it’s the not-so-subtle mixture of it all.

Falwell was, in many ways, the founder of the “Moral Majority” in America (which has recently re-awakened post the Bush Era with the rise of the Tea Party).  To say that Falwell has had an impact on America is a vast understatement.  Not only was Falwell a politician, a pastor, and a television star, but he was also the founder and long-time president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

Yes, the man who once called textbooks “socialist propaganda” decided to start his own university.

Liberty University is a liberal arts Christian university of over 10,000 students designed as a training ground (and, as it’s a Christian college… a breeding ground) for fundamentalist Christianity including the explicit teachings of conservative Republican politics, young earth creationism, and avoidance of secular evils.  The goal of this university is to train up a generation of teachers, preachers, scientists, lawyers and politicians who will infest American culture with these ideals.

A few years ago, a sophomore who was studying Journalism at Brown University became fascinated by this vastly different culture than his own.  As a result, he decided to go undercover to learn for a semester as a student at Liberty.  After taking the same classes, living in the same quarters, and even singing in the choir of the same church as many of these students, Kevin Roose confronted our modern cultural/political/religious wars in a book called The Unlikely Disciple.  I’ll conduct this review much like my review of Love Wins, since that was really easy and I received a lot of positive feedback from that (thanks friends!).

What I Liked

  • Captivating Story – I think that Roose has a big future ahead of him in writing.  His ability to tell a story was riveting.  I am rarely so enthralled by a book that I dedicate so much time to reading it.  I devoured the pages in nearly a week, and every spare moment was spent in this book.  I laughed, got angry, saw beauty, mourned, and simply stood amazed at God and creation.  Also, for a book that is essentially a journal/research project, there are some real unexpected and epic twists and turns.
  • Sympathy for Characters – I don’t know how everyone else will find themselves reading this book, but I found a companion in Roose and in many of his conclusions.  I would recommend this to anyone who a) is familiar with the secular college environment b) is familiar with a religious college environment c) is troubled by the religious rhetoric in politics d) is positioned in or among a fundamentalist/conservative Christian environment or e) is curious about an honest perception of fundamentalist Christianity from an outsider.  I think there could be something in this book that connects with everyone, and you may be surprised by how you connect with characters who have very different viewpoints and lifestyles than yourself.
  • Fair and Balanced – Honesty can sometimes have two moving hands.  One can portray the honesty of reality, which shares the factual information of events/time/places/etc. One can also signify the honesty of emotion, which can either skew or highlight reality. The temptation of an author in a situation like Roose would be to simply play one or the other.  He could have either listed in great detail each experience, or he could have been swept up in the emotions of each experience.  However, a great author is able to use emotion to humanize both the heroes and the villains.  The whole adventure of this book felt very human to me, which is probably the greatest element lacking from the culture wars in America.  Understanding each other as people, not just political positions, might be the greatest gift of this book.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun – So a slight pet peeve of mine is when an author takes the liberty of posting some explicit and sometimes demeaning information about another person without their expressed consent.  Though names are changed to preserve anonymity, this type of stuff is littered throughout this book.  In fact, the whole story is based off of a covert operation in which the author lies to an entire community of people in order to study them.  The whole thing definitely is not enough to make me dislike the book, but it did make me uncomfortable at times.  
  •  Extremes as Representative – I understand that the goal of this was to find common ground among two extremes – the politically and socially conservative and the politically and socially liberal, and that was very well done in this book.  Though I found great comfort in acknowledging the two could coincide and function together as friends, I often found my own, more moderate, views somewhat absent from the conversation.  I wish that there was a representation of Christianity that wasn’t gay-bashing or Republican.  I believe that the message of Christ offers a third way beyond conservativism or liberalism, and I wish that Christianity was seen in that light rather than through the lens of a caricatured stereotype.  My beef is not so much with the author’s portrayal of the characters, which is often very gracious, but it is more the fact that Christianity has been stamped with a societal label and there are still Christians typecasting themselves into these roles.

The Result

The end of The Unlikely Disciple is sprinkled with a bit of hope.  It is a hope that transcends personal viewpoints and looks to the humanity in our greatest of adversaries.  Once we begin to look at our enemies and ask them about their family or their favorite cereal, our dialogue begins to seek our commonalities rather than our differences.  What really moves and shifts a culture and a people is not argumentation or even intellect; instead, it is relationship.  By Roose reaching across the aisle, he was forever changed, as was the campus of Liberty.  The question he leaves us with at the end is, “Will you be the one to cross that barrier now?”

Last week, I attended a film screening of a documentary called, Fagbug, on IPFW’s campus.  The premise of this movie was that there was a young homosexual woman, Erin, who went to her car one morning and found her Volkswagen Beetle vandalized with the words “fAg” and “U R GAY” in spray paint.  Deeply hurt and concerned as to why someone would commit such a hate crime, she decided to display this hatred rather than hide it. This provoked Erin to start a cross-country tour of her car, riding through 41 states in search of ignorance and gay rights.  Though the movie itself was mediocre at best, the producer of this movie and owner of the vehicle was there giving her take on the outcome of the movie.

I have to be honest, going into this movie, I suspected that Christianity would take the brunt force of the hate portrayed in this movie.  In fact, though Erin didn’t outright admit this, she expected much of the same, which is why she started her tour driving through the Bible belt… just waiting for harassment.  However, Erin came to find that 99% of the discrimination that she received was not from the Christian community at all, but from the gay community.  Even when there was disagreement of ideologies, most Christians that she met believed that no one should be the product of a hate crime. This brought a bit of relief and thanks that my fellow brothers and sisters had loved her well, but her commentary on this was incredibly interesting.

After the documentary was screened, the audience had an opportunity to ask any questions of Erin.  One student asked her how to best address a situation when they are being targeted for prejudice.  Her answer was one of the most profound answers she could have said.

She said, “Point out their humanity.”

Often when people come at you, they come as an idea attacking another idea.  They come with fists raised, ready to start a fight, hoping for retaliation.  They say hurtful things, even if they are not generally hurtful people.  She found that the best way to communicate with someone vehemently attacking her is to ask questions like, “Where are you from?” or “How many siblings do you have?”

It is by the recognition of the humanity that we share that we can speak to each other not as issues but as people.

She said that, using this method, she has turned her greatest enemies into friends (or at least casual acquaintances).

Why is it, then, that we so often see winning people to our side or proving a staunch point as the ultimate victory?  The LORD speaks to and moves through us in the context of relationships.  The Greatest Commandments, according to Christ, are the ones directly related to relationships.

Though Erin is in no context affiliated with the Church, I think we have a valuable lesson that we can learn from her, which was first modeled by Christ.  Love your enemies. Pray for those that persecute you. Get to know the people who oppose you.  You just might discover that you are both human, which is shockingly one of the most revolutionary realities we might discover about each other.