You are Evil.

Racist alt-right Nazis marched. Media, political partisans, and evangelical churches condemn the evil of the marcher’s ideology. The fuel for the condemnation is the hateful and angry subjects in the photos from the march. The fuel for the condemnation is the outrageous murder of an anti-alt-right protester in Virginia. And the condemnation experienced even more combustion by the always inflammatory president when asked about the events by reporters looking to blame him because of their own partisan narrative. I am not going rehash any descriptions or pictures of that now infamous protest but I will say anyone who attended an event hosted by White Nationalist has no ground to claim they were only there to protect the history of memorials. Hate hides in their heart. Any attack on the worth or nature of fellow humans is against God. If you attack or demean the humanity of any person, then you are attacking the very image of God that rests on each person.

8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. James 3:8-9 ESV

Jesus pulls no punches about our evil. Mind the words that come out of our mouths. Mind the thoughts that dwell in our hearts.

34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 ESV

The words spoken on social media and the words spoken to family and friends about what one hates is just the surface of what dwells deep inside one’s core. This hate is evil. Mankind is evil. Both Jesus and James call words evil because the words flow from the source, our hearts, concluding in men and women sinning against God himself.

What I want to focus on is the unity and the positive words of the President Obama in what is now the most liked tweet ever tweeted. “No one is born hating another person”. With the implication being that society, culture, families, and individuals, teach hate and evil.

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It is true. People where taught to enslave and belittle other people created in the image of God. The KKK is an organization that must teach its members how to act and how to live. The president’s words and truth are wonderful. I thank him for speaking them. But his words taken alone will resolve the issue. Taken alone his tweet will not be a sound formula to fix the problem. Hate is always discovered by the next generation because the world, the media, and both presidents will fail to recognize and deal with the root of the problem.

The hearts of men and women are evil. All men and women are sinners. Hear Jesus again if you think yourself righteous.

34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 ESV

Examine your heart. Is your conscience clear to lead people to give up the hate in their hearts? Think yourself a good person? I can with certainty say no we are not. Look at the comparison that Jesus makes between ourselves and God.

9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11 ESV

The prophets recognized our evil.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 NIV

The apostles recognized our evil.

For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:9-18 ESV

The question I ask now. Answer the key question if one wants to see hate removed from the hearts of men and women. Do you recognize the source of our evil words? Do you see the anger, hate, and lashing out rooted in the heart, in our soul, of our rebellion against the Creator? If so then repent of the evil in your own heart.

The anti-white supremacy protesters that showed up to oppose the evil of racism should pray that the racist would repent and that the source of the evil, their hearts, would be made alive. Christians should pray for the nation and the people they know who harbor hate in their hearts. Christians should pray that they themselves would let go of hate and stop harboring evil desires. Repentance and Jesus are the solution. Teaching and laws serve only to control people and will not fix the heart that is evil and broken.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus Romans 3:21-24

Christ > Race

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What if you were related to a King from a faraway country or maybe your family happened to be related to someone even more awesome like Lebron James who is the current King of basketball? Ancestry and relations that hold great, famous, and wonderful people is a fun topic to think on. Movies are made about this (Luke I am your Father). The Bible hosts several geologies that link together famous people. The original patriarch’s descendant from Adam to Noah. The Jewish nation from Abraham to King David. And the genealogy of King David to Jesus as a baby born in Bethlehem. Who we are is very much wrapped up in who our families are and where they came from. It is no surprise then that how the world perceives and treats people can be directly related to ancestry. One of my favorite shows on television is called “Finding your Roots”. I enjoy the detailed research and the way the host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., unveils knowledge of the past to his guests. Sometimes the events and history he shows to the guest is amazing and emotionally powerful. There is good and bad in those family trees. Sometimes ancestry can be used in evil ways. Racial and ethnic pride is might be the ugliest use of the genealogy of ancestors. Hate or approval might be bestowed just from the color of someone’s skin. The reality is that people like to categorize themselves into nations and tribes. People prefer to be around others like themselves.

It would be interesting for me to know more about my genealogy. Mostly however the background of my family is unknown to me and I have not pursued knowing the truth because I wonder if my fascination with knowing is rooted in a vanity about the past that has no use in the future.

While genealogy is a hobby for some it could mean being part of the power structure to some societies. Who your parents are could carry serious privileges and unlock doors to wealth and success. Genealogy and proving historic links to be part of the power structure was something that Paul warned Christians against. He did not want them to be caught up in things that are not factual or relevant to God’s kingdom.

4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 1 Timothy 1:4 ESV

Devotion to endless genealogies describes a worldly focus of pride in things are not constructive to the present. Genealogies and learning ancestry are not bad in and of themselves because even Jesus needed to establish a pedigree in the line of King David to be the messiah. It is good to know and relevant in proving citizenship and understanding of where one has come but at the end of the day it should not be all consuming and it should not be divisive. Paul warns his other apprentice in similar fashion.

9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Titus 3:9 ESV

Where one comes from can be a distraction in regard to where they are going. Are you white and do not like to associate with people of color? Then you are allowing your past to cause quarrels and dissensions that are unprofitable and worthless. You are also just flat out sinning against your brother in Christ. Are you a person of color and harbor ill will toward the callous, privileged, uncaring white guy living an oblivious life in his suburb? Well you may be perpetuating speculations and controversy due to genealogies by pre judging based on ancestry. Note: Life is hard for the prince, the pauper, and all of us in-between. Everyone and I mean everyone has hidden sins and demons to face. Paul has harsh words for us Christians in this current age.

3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 ESV

Look at the world and see that it is normal for people to segregate and commune with those who are like themselves in a worldly way. Jealousy of others who appear to have more is powerful when living in the flesh. If I fellowship with a Christian from anywhere in the world it should be that our unity in Christ stands taller than nationality, skin color, political affiliation, or family background. If not, then Paul is telling us that our dissension is worthless and unprofitable because it is of the flesh and we are behaving in a human way.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1 ESV

William Barclay puts what Paul is saying this way. “Paul is talking about the difference between the person who is spiritual, and who therefore can understand spiritual truths, and the person who is [not spiritual] who interests and aims do not go beyond physical life”. If we are stuck on national pride, where someone is from, or the color of their skin (or if you have ill feelings toward the people who are in the first category) then we are not ready for the spiritual life. The obsession and focus does “not go beyond physical life”. We are much too obsessed with this earth, this life, and a desire for this world to be fair and accepting. Note: This world is not going to accept a follower of Christ any more than it accepted Christ when he was here. Stuck in infancy in the relationship with Christ we struggle with the worthless genealogies that mean nothing in God’s spiritual kingdom. The fact is all men are related no matter the nation or color. We all go back to one set of parents in Adam and Eve both physically and spiritually. They held the genetic make-up of every person living on earth today and they held the image of God that is also in the make-up of every person living on earth today. We all are just a shadow of their perfection in the hands of God our Creator. We are all brothers and sisters. Don’t let a genealogy separate the body of Christ that should be united under his Lordship.

The Bible Allows Slavery?

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Slavery is not a new condition and it is not just a historical institution. Current estimates are that 30 to more than 40 million people are enslaved today worldwide. In America sex slavery is thriving and active. So what does the Bible say about slavery? Obviously God is against slavery right? Well maybe not and that is a criticism that Atheist groups level at the Bible by citing verses like these…

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Colossians 3:22 NLT

44 “However, you may purchase male and female slaves from among the nations around you. Leviticus 25:44 NLT

So is slavery acceptable to God? Can Christians participate in such activity? The short answer is absolutely “no” slavery is not acceptable. How can I unequivocally say that for the contemporary reader that slavery is not acceptable but then find in the Bible ground rules permitting this institution?

In order to answer that question there is something that needs to be untangled to resolve the conflict. That primary entanglement is racism and abuse. Slavery as most commonly understood in the North American context was practiced based on racism that only black people could be enslaved. People of color were erroneously viewed as less human than their white owners. This form of slavery rooted in racism is evil, wrong, and in no way ever condoned in the Biblical narrative or acceptable to the character of God. Racism is wrong because there is only one race, all peoples are directly descendant from Adam and Eve, and all people are made in the image of God. Treating anyone regardless of status as less than fully made in the image of God is unbiblical and pure evil.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 ESV

The declaration of independence states the Biblical view perfectly… “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” All people are equal because they are created in the image of God himself. Sex slavery of modern times and racist slavery of the not so distant past are evil not because of slavery (although slavery as a practice quickly leads to this path) but because they demean and degrade the equality of humanity. The equality that is true is that all people regardless circumstance, wealth, or privilege are equal before God since all people are created in His image.

Not all slavery historically had anything to do with racism it had to do with power, commerce, and imperialism. When North America was first discovered slavery became big business because there was a shortage of workers. People would be sold or kidnapped to provide that workforce. Slavery or indentured servitude was the price of getting to the new country. Only later on did the practice migrate to the even more evil racist version that America still holds the scars of its practice. Robert Louis Stevenson based one of his adventure novels on kidnapping for slavery of a non-person of color. The story starts out with a young man from a wealthy home in England being sold unknowingly by his greedy uncle to a life of slavery in North America.

“And so he ran on, until it came in on me what he meant by twenty-pounders where those unhappy criminals who were sent over-seas to slavery in North America, or the still more unhappy innocents who were kidnapped or trepanned (as the word went) for private interest or vengeance.” (Stevenson, 43)

So how does the practice of slavery in Biblical days differ from the modern versions that are not acceptable? The answer to this resides in the fact that not all people are equal in opportunity. All men are equal in rights before God but the Bible does not proclaim a Gospel of earthly “fairness” and equal prosperity. (Fairness and Justice are not the same in this case. Goes does expect the privileged to be just to those without privilege) Paul highlights this in that verse Atheist love to quote but I will add the full context this time.

22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:22-25 ESV

Whatever lot in life one has that person is to live that life with sincerity working for God as Paul says “serving the Lord Christ” not an earthly master. Even if the earthy master is evil or unjust. Paul reminds us that God will judge those who have been unjust toward their fellow humans. In Paul’s day when this letter was written slavery was a common institution based on class and circumstance. Some people were slaves, some were free, and some were citizens. The lot often fell based on the family one was born into. Paul was a citizen of Rome because of this family circumstance. Paul is telling the Church that none of these earthy circumstances have any weight in the body of Christ. Those who are saved now work and serve God and God alone no matter the current circumstances.

10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:10-11 ESV

To the modern reader I would challenge to not label oneself as free, slave, gay, rich, poor, black, white, privileged, transgendered, or abused. If you are in Christ then no modifier is needed. Serve Christ and Christ alone. Do not add any other label or identity to the name you have been given as a child of God.

In the Old Testament there are rules of governance on what is permissible for the Nation State of Israel. Those rules are not applicable to contemporary society because the Nation state of the Old Testament Israel does not exist. (I have written on this in the past)  However if one reads those laws in Exodus and Leviticus within context of that society then always the slave was to be treated as a fellow human with natural rights before God. A need for this kind of slavery may have existed at that time of tribal governance however it is not needed or acceptable in the contemporary world of today. The modern Christian has no reason to promote, encourage, or in any way participate in this institution. We also demand that the Atheist apply legitimate context to the Biblical text they want to blindly skewer Christians with.

Christ came and died for all men of any earthly status. Regardless of standing in society all who are saved through Christ are adopted as sons of the one true King and will live with the inheritance of that Kingdom in the age to come. Therefore treat your neighbors justly and with respect regardless of their current situation.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 ESV

* Stevenson, Robert Lewis. Kidnapped. USA, Scribner, 1982.