“If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.”
I love movies! But honestly, who doesn’t?
Recently I had a discussion with a friend concerning some good movies they have recently watched, and they said to me, “Hey, you were raised in the Roman Catholic Church, have you seen the movie ‘Spotlight’? I think you would find it interesting?” I never heard of it so I asked them to describe for me the plot:
“Some hard-nosed reporters from the Boston Globe undercovered a major pedophilia problem in the Boston diocese and it depicts how they eventually were able to shine a light on years of sexual abuse within the Catholic church. Church officials covered up these sick actions by the priesthood for decades by shuffling alleged offenders among parishes. Thier research and subsequent stories won them not only a Pulitzer Prize but many abusive priests were defrocked and even sent to prison.”
I decided to watch the trailer. It has some very famous actors portraying real life reporters, and it seemed to be very well made. It definitely grabbed my interest. I then wanted to see how close to the truth the movie was so I did some research myself online. What I found is horrifying:
The most distressing personal story for me centered on the deceased priest, Father John Geoghan. One article says, “Over a 30-year career in six parishes, Geoghan was accused of sexual abuse involving more than 130 boys, including rape, molestation, assault and battery.” The real tragedy in his case is that his superior, Cardinal Bernard Law, a Boston Archbishop, knew everything about this man and kept sending him to new parishes free to victimize more boys. One account says that after Father Geoghan received psychological treatment the counselor warned Cardinal Law that Geoghan was probably not fully cured and would more than likely abuse more boys. And yet, Cardinal Law once again had him reassigned to a new parish not telling a soul that a child predator was set loose to hunt down more innocents.
After all the findings and years of court proceedings the case of Father John Goeghan cost the Boston Archdiocese over 10 million dollars to be paid in damages to 86 of Goeghan’s victims. What a horrific story.
One of the last articles that really caught my attention detailed the life of Cardinal Law after his recent passing in December of 2017. It is a strange article, because for much of it Cardinal Law is praised:
Near the end of the article was this quote: “There's going to be a lot of good," the historian said, "interred with his bones."
And then the article said this, “Although not bearing sole responsibility for the wrongdoing, Law, had direct knowledge of the scope, duration and severity of the crisis experienced by children in the Archdiocese; he participated directly in crucial decisions concerning the assignment of abusive priests, decisions that typically increased the risk to children...the mistreatment of children was so massive and so prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable."
How should we feel about Cardinal Law?
Does his goodness cancel out his penchant for turning a blind eye? Hey, he denounced racism, he was a social justice warrior, he dedicated himself to the church - - he did good! Yeah, but what if your son was one who was caught in Goeghan’s bedroom and Law knew about and said nothing? How would you feel about it?
Some people will see a person like Cardinal Law and conclude that people in general are all complicated. While he did allow some terrible things, at least he did some good in the world that we can celebrate. Don’t be so hard on the guy. Why focus on one aspect of his life when he did so much good for others, especially the marginalized and left behind? But again, ask yourself, what if your son was one who was caught in Goeghan’s bedroom because of Law’s silence? Hidden in the book of Leviticus is this startling statement, “If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.” (Lev. 5:1)
Here is my point: there are some crimes that cannot be considered morally equivalent. Some trespasses are so heinous that to try to downplay them or ignore them by citing equal acts of goodness and social justice is just plain sick. Allowing a man to continue abusing boys for his own pleasure must not be wiped away by saying, “I know Cardinal Law kept quiet, but at least he wasn’t a racist, or he tried to help the poor get some of their debt forgiven.” This to me is the problem with progressive thinking - - doing social good has been made equivalent and even more righteous than true righteousness.
Did you know it is easy to fight for the poor with your mouth? It is easy to say you are not a racist, or make some cool stance for the transgendered. Yes we should do what we can to make this world fair, equal and civil, but when you see a real evil and say nothing, you will be held responsible.
In my mind, murder is even worse than abuse and molestation. Abortion really is that bad. Let’s not downplay it because we want to win politically. It is sick. If you don't think it is, how would you like to have your life terminated in the womb? Well a unborn baby has no conscience, no ability to think, what is the big deal? That is like saying a young boy in the hands of a sick priest is just another altar boy fulfilling his service for the Lord. Try saying that to the boy's mother. The problem with the unborn is the mother is often allowing the killing.
Our quest to win politics has snuffed out our outrage at true acts of sin. It should make us sick.
“Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.”
What will happen when God wakes up?
Even though God is Sovereign and he daily puts our lives in his hand, he sometimes acts like he is sleeping. He remains quiet. He lets people be. He lets fools be fools.
But what will happen when he wakes up?
I was asking this because in my reading of Psalm 78, there is a point when God gets fed up and as verse 65 puts it, “He will arise like a warrior who was sleeping heavy after a night of drinking.” Have you ever seen a big guy with a hangover? Let me put it this way, they are not nice...at all.
How do you think God feels about our President paying off a porn star, and we are discussing it like it is not big deal? I think God is ashamed of both sides of the political spectrum: On one side they will defend the President no matter what he does, and the other side they will throw their lot in with a porn star just because they hate the President so much.
How do you think God feels about America’s descent into ever deeper sexual deviancy? The mind of humanity is so twisted. I just read a story about a gay man with HIV who purposely had unprotected sex with 20 other men in order to spread the infection...sick! Or producers at the Cannes film festival who boast about movies showing extreme sexual situations in fine detail and yet they are the ones who parade around with #metoo protestors who hate the objectification of women. Which is it?
How do you think God feels about the public discourse on race, guns, war, adultery and every other act of rebellion under the sun?
What will happen when he wakes up?
If you want to consider the Bible's answer read Psalm 78:66. Does this not move you in the least bit?
It does me.
Are Americans sports obsessed? Yes.
Even though the vast majority of my readers are more than likely sick of sports talk and loathe driving their kids to practice, I want to talk about sports anyway. And my question for today’s post is this, “If Jesus played sports which sport would he choose?”
A quick hint at my final answer before we start… “Give Blood, Play…”
I want to suggest three possible sports that I think include good representative generalities of Christianity, as it is currently being played and how we should being playing it. While there are thousands to pick from not all sports are conducive for metaphorical purposes. For instance, I don’t think Jesus would choose the sport curling because not only would it be difficult for a middle eastern man to find a good ice rink to play on in Nazareth, but it does not offer enough characteristics to apply to general human behavior. Nor will I choose sports like ping-pong, luging, synchronized swimming, quidditch or croquet. While fun, they are too limited and particular.
I have chosen three to build my comparison.
GOLF: this is the sport that best represents American Christianity, but Jesus would have nothing to do with it. Golf is all about individual scores. Golf is about being alone in a place of beauty. Golf is about the clubhouse and drinking a few beers after 18 holes. If that doesn’t describe the church in America and how people view spirituality, I don't know what does? Somehow we have turned Christianity into a game about self and how good my walk with Jesus is? Christians are always on the lookout for a beautiful and pleasant experience with God. If I sin, give me a mulligan. But even if I have a bad game, it is ok, the clubhouse is waiting to talk over scores with my buddies. A good friend will let you fudge the numbers if you need to, but what matters most is if I had an enjoyable round of golf. If not, better luck next time. I think Jesus would get bored with golf, too individualistic, too self centered, too detached from the brokenness of this fallen world. He came to seek and save the lost not spend most of his time alone selfishly working on his relationship with his Father. He could have just stayed up in heaven if he wanted to do that. Golf is the ideal me, myself and I sport...perfect for squeaky clean Sunday for an hour Christianity.
TRACK: there is good biblical support to say that Jesus would choose track, especially the relays. Paul talks about running the race in Hebrews 12, or in 1 Corinthians 9 to run the race to get the prize. Track takes hard work, effort, and a strong desire to win. I even like the concept of being part of a team, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 2, “And the things you have learned entrust or hand them off to reliable men…” It is like handing off a baton. But track is still a bit too clean, and detached from the messiness that is life. Track does involve sweat, but the blood and tears that Jesus lived and died with are not a main part of the sport. Americans are also good at short bursts of speed, we like the sprints, but long distance is too much. Jesus went all the way, carrying the load of pain and guilt for all of us. I like the analogy of track, but I think there is one better.
RUGBY: Rugby did not exist during the time of the New Testament writings, but you can find it everywhere in scripture. Let me first describe the sport for you and then I will point out some verses. First and foremost rugby is a sport that requires closeness to your teammates, especially in the scrum. You are leaning on each other, grabbing each other in sometimes embarrassing places, sharing blood, smearing sweat and falling in the dirt and mud together. No one playing rugby is that pretty, you can't put on a good face when it is getting pulled and punched. And everyone is needed to succeed. The opponent you play wants to hurt you, so the stakes are high. You must help motivate each other. There also is no toleration for foul play on the rugby team. If you take a cheapshot at the other team or a teammate you will be held accountable for it. And boy do they know how to party after the game! You don't think these characteristics of rugby are biblical? Check this out:
And oh yes, Christians are going to party! Read Isaiah 25:6-9 if you doubt me!
As I was thinking through this, I know alot of you golfers out there may feel a little betrayed, “Aren’t all good pastors supposed to love golf?” You know, the only way I think golf would be truly reflective of life is if Satan designed a course to play on. Then I think it might be more interesting and accurate to this world we live in. Could you imagine his sulfur sandtraps, fire and brimstone water hazards or hot coaled putting oranges? Now if that were to happen, I may reconsider my sports assessment. But as it stands, all I can say is how I started this post,
“Give Blood, Play Rugby!!!!”
I have taken a few minutes out from working on my sermon to write this post. I had to do it.
I was looking over my books on my shelf to find a quote and I noticed something that I never saw before. Two books with two completely different worldviews were leaning against each other. They have been there for years and I never saw it before.
One book is not hard to miss because on the cover is smiling Joel Osteen. He is dressed up in a nice blue blazer, bright white teeth gleeming and his glamour shots hair cut is styled perfectly. The cover of the book reads, "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential." It is a book about positivity, harnessing success, and finding fulfillment in life. John C. Maxwell on the back cover writes, "Everybody will find something useful in this wonderful book." Nice, nice, nice.... all is nice.
The other book that was leaning against it is a book that is easy to miss. The fonts are not the best, the picture is blurry and the writer has a funny name, Wurmbrand. There is nothing truly compelling about the book's cover. And the title is the worst, "Tortured for Christ." The book is all about how Richard Wurmbrand was placed in Romanian prisons for over 14 years because of his dedication to Christ. The Communists hated his faith and he suffered for it. On the back of this book it reads, "Months of solitary confinement, years of periodic physical torture, constant suffering from hunger and cold, the anguish of brainwashing and mental cruelty." Horrible, horrible, horrible...all is horrible.
So which way is it? What is the real Christian worldview, nice or horrible? I see no real way of bringing these two accounts together?
The nice one has become a best seller, millions of copies sold! The horrible one has inspired thousands to cherish their faith. One makes us happy, one makes us hungry for Jesus to come back. I find it is so much easier to fall into the smiling trap of Joel Osteen's message: "You can have anything you want when you have God." We can have happiness, ease, comfort, romance and money. I find Joel's message, though easy, is very selfish and destructive. It is also not biblical: come to God so you can get what you want.
The other message is hard. God is worth the pain of waiting. God is worth the hatred of the world. God is worth it. This message, is biblical.
I once heard a story of a young man who went to propose to his fiance'. He had saved up for a large diamond ring. He had the night set up perfectly: he would pick her up, take her to dinner and then propose to her on one knee at her favorite fancy restaurant. It was going to be a surprise!
As he drove up to her house he had the ring box in his front coat pocket. He looked great. Dashed on some cologne, and pulled up to her house excited as ever. As he honked the horn she came running out to get into the passenger seat, not knowing that this was the night he was going to propose. She looked fantastic!
As she sat down he couldn't stop smiling. She said, "What is it? I know something is up?" And in his excitement he took out the ring and proposed right on the spot! He couldn't wait. When he opened the box and she saw the gleaming diamond, she said in tears, "This is what I have always wanted!" She put it on and it fit her delicate hand perfectly. She held it up higher and said, "Isn't it wonderful? I have to go show mom." And she rushed out the car flashing it to her mom, dad and everyone else who would come see.
She then ran upstairs to her bedroom slamming the door behind her. Her boyfriend was left downstairs sitting on the couch. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes went by as he waited. Finally he went up to her room and knocked. Opening the door he said, "You ready to go, I have dinner reservations?"
She was still staring at the ring in the mirror not noticing he was at the door. He said, "You ready to go?" She looked over and said, "Oh, its you. You can go ahead without me, I have everything I want right here!" There she sat, staring at the shining jewel. Smiling.
Is Christianity about me or falling in love with God? Is it getting or is it knowing? Is it finding ease' and comfort in the moment, or worshipping God even when it is hard?
Which worldview is it? They both can't be right?