Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno & Jerry Sandusky - Accountability Partners?

Reflecting on Joe Paterno’s firing, I’m hearing the oft-repeated phrase, “As long as I’m not hurting anybody, leave me alone.” We are told that what we do in private is our own concern. We are told by the secular community that their sin doesn’t affect anyone else. Now we see yet another example of how the sin of one individual causes the worst to come out in all those around him. Joe Paterno was fired Wednesday for his sin of omission, as was the president of the university, Graham Spanier. Certainly we can see that Jerry Sandusky’s sin has brought down a beloved coach and university president. We could say the same thing about the sins of the Enron directors. All of the stockholders of that company paid for the sins of those men who made decisions without regard for others.

In my mind, this is why the Bible tells us that whether we like it or not, we are accountable to one another. We have a responsibility to hold ourselves and others accountable. Where were the Christians in Jerry Sandusky’s life who could have spoken truth to him? Where were the honorable in Enron’s upper leadership who could have stopped things before they got out of control?

2 myths of our day need to finally be dispelled right now. The first is that we live in a moral vacuum. In this current culture’s rush to declare everything acceptable, we see that everything isn’t really acceptable; at least, not when acceptable means allegations of sodomy against young boys. NAMBLA (search the term, you'll be surprised what people try to do in the light of day) might beg to differ, but it’s pretty obvious that society still does not consider a boy under 12 able to decide on his relationship preferences. So we aren’t really as secular and egalitarian as we’d like to believe. We do not live in a moral vacuum. We live in the light of God’s laws written on our hearts and conscience. We can’t escape it. It is our job as Christians to gently and winsomely lead the way for those who don’t know God. We should be modeling not only right behavior, but right accountability and right community.

The second myth is that we can make it on our own. Our polarized society would like us to believe differently. We now have single serving soups because the over 50% of the population that is single can’t be bothered to have a meal with anyone. Or more truthfully, those with friends are failing to reach out to those with few or none. Jerry Sandusky needed a real friend many years ago. Now the adage from the Bible has proven true again: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) I do sympathize with him, but I’m sorrier for his victims. I’m sorry for all of the people that this one man’s sin has now affected. Jerry could not really make it alone, even though he had wealth and prestige. Neither can we.

Let this be an example to society at large that despite our protests, God says there is a better way to live. Let this be a lesson to the Christians: we are called to be salt and light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. I think everyone can agree that the actions of Jerry Sandusky if proven true, are perverse. Christians (myself included) need to stop worrying so much about the work they are doing, the leisure they may be missing, and the retirement for which they are planning. People are hurting all around us. God has not called all of us to specific Christian ministry because our mission fields are the workplace, the office, the home, the ball field, the community center, the skating rink. I guarantee you there is a Christian somewhere in Jerry Sandusky’s life who did not heed the call of the Spirit to say something years ago. I’m sad for all of us who let our brothers and sisters down in this way.

Now there will be justice in some form delivered by the hand of Man. But we will give an account to God someday as well. I pray we all learn the lesson that it is important to be vitally involved. If we had done a better job of that, perhaps there would be 8 human beings, children of God, who would not have to wear the moniker of “victim.”

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How to handle Stress

Just a quick thought here about handling stress. God does not call us to be passive, but active in His kingdom. We are on the front lines, operating within the kingdom of this world. And by that activity, we are advancing the Kingdom of God so that the gates of Hell cannot stand against it: Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." It means we are to go on the offensive, not defensive.

So, that said, when the pressures of the world press in, we are to meet them with the word of God, not cringe in a corner passively asking God to save us. He's already done that. We have been granted inheritance in the Kingdom of light according to Colossians 1:12 " giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."

The Bible is replete with calls to action and we will overcome by the Word of God. In Isaiah 1:17 it says to "Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow." Isaiah 26:3 also says that "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

Nahum 1:7 tells us that "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him." With that encouragement we come to Philippians 4:4-9 which tells us how to ACTIVELY have peace:

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

I hope and pray that this will be an encouragement to you as it has to me. We CAN overcome the world because Jesus has overcome the world and it's systems of Machiavellian pragmatism. John 16:33 says "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Ours is an active faith. We walk by faith and not by sight; but, we do walk. Faith is not passive. Jesus is not passive. God's kingdom is not passive, but advancing. It is advancing in us as we advance in God's power. Luke 17:21 says "...For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”