Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Accountability


What does this word mean to modern man? In today’s climate it seems the popular thing to do is point fingers, give excuses, and deflect blame. I mean…who really wants to be responsible for their every action, decision, and word…right? Plus there is an added dynamic that being “held accountable” comes with some not-so-fun aspect of being called out on failures. Not IF they happen but rather WHEN they happen. This eventual certainty leaves many of us dreading the correction that comes from the figures in our lives that hold such a role.

In Christian circles we have something called accountability groups. When I first heard of such craziness the following thoughts were entertained:

· Who would willingly tell a bunch of guys/girls everything about themselves?
· Do they really tell each other EVERYTHING?
· What if someone confesses to something just off the charts crazy?
· What if I was that person and everyone ended up just staring at me blankly with jaws dropped?
· After “telling all” who wants to then sit and listen to the group tell you how wrong you are and how to fix yourself?
· Ah…those groups are for guys that NEED constant correction because they cannot control some kind of addiction/sin/behavior in their lives.
· Will I have to hold hands and sing Coom By Ya!?

Granted, much of these thoughts had perished by the time I first started meeting with three close friends from church but an inkling of these former, self-preservation ideas still remained, unsure of what I might expect. My concerns must have been more common than I first thought as several of the first meetings were punctuated with surface-driven chatter, most of which was an update on all things business. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being able to discuss my business dealings with other professionals but what about our families, our marriages, and our individual walks with Christ?

Well, we’ve begun transitioning into that very place and I must report…it’s great. I am not sure when it happened to me but my guess was somewhere around the fourth grade. I became painfully aware that complete transparency, sincerity, and genuine depth of character was not a good package to present in a dog-eat-dog prep school. I gave my bullies more than enough ammunition to take digs and pot shots at random for years. I finally got good at “playing the game”. Dad called it “Fake It Till You Make It.” You did what you had to do survive even if that meant sacrificing the genuine you.


Perhaps we all go through a similar transition. And perhaps that explains the general reluctance to have REAL, DEEP, MEANINGFUL relationships with people. But I find that sad. And for my most recent experiences with these men…I can no longer let fourth grade haunt me!



Post Script:

This morning my group met and for the first time to my recollection I had a brother correct me. I had dreaded this possibility for so long that when it happened, I braced for what I expected to be a hard blow. But my internal flinching was unnecessary. As Scripture calls us to…my brother was very gentle with his observations of me. I can equate the overall experience to having someone tell you that a chunk of broccoli is stuck to your teeth. At first it’s pretty embarrassing. But very quickly you come to appreciate that this person not only had the nerve to let you know but the care and compassion to help prevent further embarrassment.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Zombies and Unicorns

There are a multitude of reasons for a Christian to know everything there is to know about their faith. One obvious reason might be that a person should know and truly understand what they believe before just “blindly” labeling themselves. But for the purposes of this rant…I am going to address this very Scriptural reason:

1 Peter 3:15-16 (New International Version)
15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

This verse is one that I often reflect upon when describing my desire and calling to engage in amateur apologetics on the internet. I have no shortage of Christian critics and atheists that will question, challenge, and demand me to defend what they deem to be silly (at best) or even dangerous & harmful (at worst). There is no effort to be subtle about the fact that most of these people believe our planet would be much better off without Christians on it. They believe us to be deluded, crazy, weak, brainwashed, indoctrinated, cultic, and a menace to society’s ability to move forward. After all we have the moral doctrines that have been holding back the advancement of humankind now for centuries…right?

When I first began this pursuit, I made a mistake. I assumed that I had a very comprehensive knowledge of my beliefs, my Bible, and that these critics were just uninformed. They were just following the P.C. hype being sold through our multi-media lives and had never taken any actual time to investigate Christianity. I made this assumption mostly based on my own experience and discovery of Christ…not because of any desire to prejudge or stereotype an entire group of people. And while my conclusions do indeed find people that match the criteria, more often than not, the majority of the people I deal with end up being much different. In fact, many critics not only know everything that you know but they end up knowing more than you.

So the obvious and looming question at this point is: How would you ever expect to present a case for belief in Christ if the person you are talking to knows more about your own faith than you? I am not deeming it impossible mind you. Some of the best apologetics have nothing to do with facts and scholarly information so much as they deal with the heart and the human condition. However, most hard-core critics reject any initial appeal to emotion and subjective witnessing until or unless you convince them that this door is worth opening to you from a logical stand-point.

Let me just give you two examples of things that caught me by surprise.
1. Unicorns
2. Zombies

It’s an unspoken rule of the Christian critic to label God, Christ, and our beliefs with what they deem to be similar monikers but laced with insult. For instance, they often call God the Invisible Sky Daddy or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Pink Unicorn. To them God is every bit as mythological and worthy of belief as any of these fairytale alternatives. In one such discussion I called one critic out telling him how absurd the name-calling was and to “get real” with his objections. His reply?

“Well there are unicorns in The Bible!”

I knew this guy well enough by this time to determine two things: (1) That he knew his stuff and would never make such a claim unless he had some type of backup and (2) not to let on that I was completely shocked by his statement having no clue what he was talking about. Well what was he talking about?

In the King James Version it just so happens that nine different verses of Scripture refer to something called a “unicorn”. (Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9, Job 39:10, Psalm 22:21, Psalm 29:6, Psalm 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7). Now before you conclude that the King James translation must be in error, I might point you here. While it helped me to read the explanation that this animal was more likely a one horned Rhino, the experience left its mark on me. I ate some humble pie for having learned a lesson from someone outside the faith.

That leads me to the Zombies. A completely different person kept referring to all the zombies in Scripture. At first I thought he was pulling the classic insult of Christ’s resurrection story by equating Him with our Sci-Fi modern-day view of a zombie. However he kept making this assertion in a plural form as if there were many of these creatures. I decided to ask him what specific story he was referring to, careful yet again not to let on that I had no idea. He pointed me to the following:

Matthew 27:50-54 (New International Version)
50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son[a] of God!"

Granted…this time the word “zombies” was not actually used in Scripture. However, this guy had managed to point me to a part of the resurrection story that I had either read dismissively or failed to see at all.

Why do I bring any of this up? Well, whether you feel called to apologetics or not, I believe every Christian has a duty to know their Scriptures, their doctrines, and their faith’s claims. I don’t think any of us ever get to a point where we stop learning completely. But I do think the average believer has a long way to go in equipping themselves with Godly knowledge. But that’s just my opinion.

Take this brief quiz and see how you do. No google or biblegateway cheating allowed!

1. Who were the Nephilim?
2. Does Scripture ever mention Satan being in the Garden of Eden?
3. Did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon practice monogamy or polygamy?
4. Did Jesus have any brothers and sisters?
5. What Biblical character owned Mr. Ed’s ancestor?
6. Did Adam and Eve eat an apple?
7. Were there rainbows before the flood?
8. How old did Noah live to be?
9. Why were James and John known as the “sons of thunder”?

And finally a bonus question: Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? Since I don’t know for sure, I will give ten points to the most creative answer!

Quiz answers are in the comment section.