Posts Tagged ‘Western World’

Ripe Arkansas Black apples.

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Compare and contrast, we all do this don’t we? And, whether we’d like to admit it or not, we do it a lot.

 It doesn’t matter if we’re believers or not, we look around at other people’s lives, then look at our own and automatically what do we do? We compare and contrast ours to theirs, and theirs to ours, to see what the differences are and who seems to be doing better in our eyes.

 Whether we’re actually born with a little gene with compare and contrast on it, or we’re taught it, it sort of reminds me of the game that some of us played while we were planted in front of the television watching Sesame Street.

The game was played on the television screen when someone held an apple in one hand and another apple in the other hand. You saw the two apples were exactly the same, then a deep, booming voice off camera would say, “same”. Another shot would show one hand holding an apple and the other holding an orange ( or some other fruit) and the booming voice would say “different”. It showed very clearly that some things were the same and other things were different.

 Of course, when we’re children we need to know what is the same, and what is different because we need to know how to differentiate between things. But, as we get older, seeing the differences between things becomes seeing the differences between ourselves, then making value judgments and decisions about another person or ourselves based on those differences.

 Think about it, very rarely do we automatically see the similarities we have with another person. Usually we see the differences first, then the similarities, if we even get that far.

 Unfortunately, we do this in all arenas of life, with our jobs, our houses, our spouses, our children, and our relationships with the LORD. We look at someone and assume that they are so much more spiritual than we are, so much closer to the LORD than we are, or so much less so depending on our perception of them, which drives division between us instead of unity.

 Or, worse yet, we look at what we perceive as blessings ( usually defined as wealth and achievement in the Western World) coming one person’s way and wonder why someone else doesn’t recieve the same blessings from the LORD, then take it one step further and use that as the plumb line to determine how close each of us is to the LORD.

 Think about that. Very often we use physical wealth and success to determine the strength of someone’s spiritual connection with the LORD.

 When I see others do this, and yes, do it myself, I am reminded of Job, who had every physical blessing only to have it all taken away from him. His friends assumed it was because there was something very wrong in his relationship with the LORD that caused it, when in actual fact it was the complete opposite. It was his righteousness and his reverence of the LORD that allowed it.

 The experience reaffirmed to Job, and to us in looking at his story, that no matter what we have, or don’t have, the most important thing is having reverence for, and rightness with the LORD, because He doesn’t view things the way we do.

 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.””

 1 Samuel 16:7

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For those of us in the Western World, we very often forget – or turn our backs on – the reality that people all over the world are dying for their beliefs, no matter what those beliefs may be. What is really disturbing about this, is that very often we don’t even hear about these situations until it is too late for the international community to respond.

Just this week, there was a story on Reuters about a Christian woman in Pakistan who was sentenced to death because her beliefs didn’t conform with those of the ruling power. It was a situation in which she offered some Muslim women a drink of water and the Muslim women wouldn’t take it from her because she was unclean to them. Eventually an argument ensued between them, and the woman who offered the water – a Christian – was arrested and a year later sentenced to be  hanged for blasphemy.

Blasphemy. A woman who trying to offer water to other women, who were probably thirsty, was tried and sentenced to be  hanged for blasphemy against Islam.

Now, when I think of blasphemy I think of blasphemy against God Himself, followed by the thought that He Himself will deal with it at the appropriate time. Although in many religious arena’s blasphemy is punishable by death, there is some distinction about who the blasphemer is and whether or not they should be put to death for it.

For those of us who may point to Torah law and state the obvious that it, like other religions, doesn’t tolerate blasphemy against God, we must remember that Torah law was given to the Jewish people and as such, applies to them, not to those who do not follow their God. It follows that those who do not follow their God – who is also the God of those who follow Yeshua Christ as the Messiah – cannot be held accountable to it.

If a person chooses not to follow God, chooses not to accept His offer of reconciliation through the Messiah Jesus/Yeshua or chooses to blaspheme against God, then that is that person’s choice.

If it seems that I need to talk to someone about blasphemy in that it is offensive, then I do. If they reject what I say then I leave it to God – where it wholly rests anyway – and pray for them. It seems to me this is what the essence of choice is all about, allowing people to make a choice freely and then allowing them, or ourselves, to live with the consequences of those choices.

I’m a firm believer that no matter what someone’s choice looks like to you, or me, God sees what’s going on in their hearts. Because of that reality, we never know what He’s going to do with the person. But, what we do know, is that He loves each person and desires that all come to know Him, but He will not force them to choose one way or another.

We are terrible interpreters of a person’s heart or the situations they are in. Because of this we are not well situated to determine how God will use their choices to draw them to Himself, and whether or not they will choose to follow Him at all.

At the end of the day, all God does is honor the choice we all make, either to acknowledge and follow Him or not. While we are alive on this earth, we all live on some level in the presence of God. He gives us the air we breath among other things, and at the end of the day depending on our choice we will either continue to live in His presence or be in a place where He removes His presence from  us.

God gives us the choice.

It is the aspect of the lack of choice that grieves my heart about this woman who has been sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam, a religion she was held accountable to even though she was not a part of. If God Himself gives us choices, then shouldn’t we who can’t even see the hearts of another, do the same without killing someone because of what they choose?

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15

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