"Union Seminary’s actions deserve criticism; confessing and praying to plants is full-on paganism and should be named as such. But deserving criticism and even denunciation does not supersede Jesus’ commands to speak and act charitably nor undo Paul’s admonition found in Ephesians 5 where followers of Christ are commanded to 'walk in love, as Christ loved us.'" - John Ellis
I have always thought of jealous adults as childish. But as I thought more about the matter, I came to realize that many of the sins we see so clearly in childhood carry over into adulthood. We simply learn to hide them better. For many of us, the weaknesses and sins we displayed in childhood are still with us: jealousy, laziness, a critical spirit, fits of temper, etc.
The other day, I was teaching our AWANA kids about how Laban was jealous of Jacob. God blessed Laban with wealth (in those days, measured in livestock). Jacob, who started raising livestock with Laban’s rejects, began to catch up to and surpass Laban (Genesis 30-31). Laban and his sons became so jealous that Jacob and his family had to escape for their lives. Had God not warned Laban in a dream, he may well have killed Jacob.
Johann Strauss Sr. was a musical genius, but he envied his son, Johan Strauss Jr., who surpassed him in genius and fame. When we speak of the “Strauss Waltzes,” we are usually talking about the work of Johann Jr. Time and time again we hear stories of parents jealous of their children’s talents, beauty, or “breaks in life.” I am among those who want my children to have everything so that I can move in with them!
The Apostle Paul responds to questions from the Corinthians in his first epistle. Chapter seven addresses concerns about marriage, and chapter eight with eating meat offered to idols. Although idol meat was the question, Paul’s answer leans heavily upon the underlying issue of Christian liberty. Some activities, though not sinful in themselves, should still be avoided because they harm others.
The Corinthians lived in an idolatrous society, and most of the church members were saved out of a pagan background. Much of their former social life involved meals eaten in pagan temples. No wonder, then, that questions relating to idol meat were high on their agenda. Two questions emerge. First, is it right to eat food at home which has been offered to idols, and second, should I refrain from eating at pagan temples? The Apostle Paul addresses both questions.
All Christians know the truth about pagan gods, but knowledge can puff us up, which is why we need a generous dose of Christian love to build others up. Knowledge tends to promote overconfidence in ourselves fueling an inflated estimation of our knowledge. Yes, we know something about pagan gods which our neighbors do not, but none of us knows as much as we ought. Knowledge should make us humble, but often instead expands our pride. There is something more important than knowledge, namely love, which causes us to consider others and their needs, not trumpet our superior understanding. May our knowledge always be seasoned with love.
Read Part 1.
On the topic of racism in America and in American churches, some things are debatable and some things aren’t.
Debatable: how pervasive racism is in American society and Christian churches. Not debatable: the fact that some individuals and groups do misvalue and mistreat people based on their race or ethnic background, even in gospel-preaching churches. Also not debatable: the issue continues to be a hot one in our culture.
Scripture has plenty to say against the thinking and behavior that underlies racism. But we’re not all well taught on the subject, and we’re not all as mindful of it as we ought to be. This article continues a look at biblical reasons to reject racism.