More than a decade ago I wrote a controversial book titled, Through the Needle’s Eye, and subtitled, An Impossible Journey Made Possible by God. Due to the subject matter—biblical stewardship—it was by far the most challenging book I’ve ever written. I did my best to be honest in interpreting what Scripture says, but the problem is, the Bible doesn’t always support what is often taught and believed about stewardship in modern church circles.
So I gritted my teeth as I wrote, knowing that, most likely, my finished product would not end up on the New York Times Best Seller List. In fact, I felt certain that what I was writing would close most every church door that might otherwise be open to my teaching ministry. It was like closing the lid on my own coffin.
Why do we love? Our motives for loving can be divided into two categories: (1) “I love you because of…” and (2) “I love you in spite of…” The first we could call merited love and the second merciful love. Merited love is earned and deserved. Merciful love is not. It stems from grace.
Every loving relationship finds its motive in one or the other, or a mix of the two, including marriage relationships. However, before I reveal the 14 words that can fix or upgrade your marriage, let’s first make sure we sufficiently understand merited and merciful love.
One of the redemptive perks for doing something stupid is that it is much easier in the future to correct others who are making the same mistake. By simply talking about your own past foolishness, you can provoke others to ponder without pointing your finger.
I’ve been able, for example, to prick the consciences of thousands of pastors over the years by telling the story of my pastoral repentance (something I shared in Part 4 of this series). In that case, my problem was more than stupidity. It was plain disregard of Jesus’ words. The confession I’m about to make trends more to the “sincere but stupid” side.
So far in this five-part series, we’ve considered how the gospel ends racism, misogyny and abortion, both now, in the lives of all true believers, and ultimately, in Christ’s future worldwide reign. Regarding the subject of this e-teaching, political polarization—something we’ve certainly witnessed during the last election—it is easy to understand why only one political viewpoint will dominate the future reign of Christ. But it is puzzling that evangelical Christians are politically polarized, right and left, along with everyone else, with each side claiming the higher moral ground.
I confess that I—on moral grounds—lean a little more to the right, but I’ve got good Christian friends who lean a little more to the left—and also on moral grounds. Yet we’re all reading from the same Bible.
“Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights violation of our time. It is going the way of slavery and segregation, sooner or later.”
That was my prediction in Part 1 of this series, and it was based on more than just wishful thinking. According to a recent Gallup Poll, “Support for making abortion broadly illegal [is] growing fastest among young adults” (gallup.com/poll/126581/generational-differences-abortion-narrow.aspx). That is a good sign for the future.
Moreover, in 1996, 56% of Americans considered themselves “pro-choice,” while only 33% considered themselves “pro-life.” As of May, 2016, that gap narrowed to 47% and 46% respectively (gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx).
The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels, however, fall short of identifying the various stances people hold regarding abortion. The truth is, many people who consider themselves to be pro-choice actually hold views that are pro-life to a degree, and vice versa.
If someone had written an article in the London Times during its first year of publication, 1785, titled, “The End of the Slave Trade,” no reader would have taken it seriously. Britain had dominated the Atlantic slave trade for 200 years. Slavery was an entrenched institution.
In 1787, however, a tiny Quaker and Anglican abolitionist society began working to influence public opinion. They were eventually joined by a born-again politician named William Wilberforce, and in 1791 he introduced his first bill before Parliament to abolish England’s slave trade. That bill was soundly defeated.
Just about every year thereafter for the next 20 years, Wilberforce introduced a motion for abolition that was voted down, a drawn-out battle that is well dramatized in the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace. Wilberforce’s persistence was finally rewarded in 1807, when Parliament voted in favor of abolishing the slave trade. Slavery itself was not abolished by Parliament for another 26 years, in 1833.
It was a 46-year struggle. During the first 45 of those 46 years, the consciences of every British Parliamentarian sided with Wilberforce, but the majority clung to their justifications for slavery—all based on the various lies they employed to suppress the truth. In the end however, the truth, which had not changed in 46 years, prevailed.
Charles Darwin concluded that women were inferior to men. He wrote in The Descent of Man, “males are more evolutionarily advanced than females,” and he believed that children and women had smaller brains and therefore were led more by instinct and less by reason. Darwin concluded: “Men attain a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women—whether requiring deep thought, reason or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands… We may also infer from the law of the deviation from averages, that the average mental power in man must be above that of women.”
In Darwin’s evolutionary-advanced brain, such thinking was obviously justified. If you are a member of the “more intelligent gender,” you naturally have an advantage over the “less-intelligent gender” to know that your gender is inherently more intelligent.
In last month’s e-teaching, however, I tried to show that the Bible is not so misogynistic. On the contrary, the first female whom God created was custom designed to rescue the first male, turning his “not good” predicament into something “good.” Eve was the original Superwoman. (In fact, when Adam first laid his eyes on her, he gasped and said, “Whoa, man!” No doubt it is from Adam’s stunned reaction, repeated every time he looked at his wife, that the modern word, “woman,” evolved.)
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much (Jesus, Luke 16:10).
I once heard a story of a wise, elderly man who owned a dry-cleaning business. Periodically, he would hire young men to help him run his shop.
The first day on the job, every new employee was instructed by the shop owner to carefully check the pockets of each bundle of dirty clothing. Unknown to that new employee, the owner secretly placed a quarter in the pocket of one pair of trousers that he was to check.
If the new employee, upon discovering the quarter, brought it to his employer so that it would be returned to its rightful owner, he was hired permanently. If the trainee pocketed the quarter, at the end of the day he was asked not to return, and for good reason: The owner knew that the man who can’t be trusted with small things is not going to prove himself trustworthy with larger things. If an employee would steal a customer’s quarter, he certainly couldn’t be trusted to operate the cash register when the owner was absent.
Misogyny is a word it seems we’re hearing more often these days. It is derived from two Greek words, miso, meaning “hatred,” and gunē, meaning “women.” But you don’t have to hate women to be a misogynist, as the modern definition has been expanded to include “the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women (or girls).”
Misogyny is a pervasive evil that has existed from very early in human history, and it is alive and well in the world today. (I’ll shortly provide you with some examples.)
The good news is that misogyny is something that Jesus is in the process of eradicating from the earth. At present, that eradication is limited, because Jesus only transforms those who believe in Him.