Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jeremiah Wright - A Love U-Turn

Much of the country has been following the Barack Obama pastor story for the past few weeks, with many being shocked at the vulgarity of the pastor (lower case ‘p’ written intentionally) and the views which he obviously holds for this country and a vast majority of its citizens. The political controversy for Mr. Obama appears to be the implication that by remaining in this church and being obviously close to this pastor for 20 years rightfully suggest that at minimum he himself is not appalled by such vulgar mindset and rhetoric. That may or may not be true. But to a Christian, there is another story here worth exploring. To many in the secular community and secular media, Mr. Wright is in some way representing Christians. He is representing a “leader” who leads on the teachings of Christ! Barack Obama often represents himself as a Christian. More importantly to me, what kind of Christian can be tolerant of such hate speech?

Let’s examine further. From this incident, it appears that much of Mr. Wright’s focus is the damnation of and separation from the majority of Americans because apparently in his assessment, the ills of the country’s history ought to be permanently laid at their feet. However, as a Christian leader, I wonder if in his quiet time of prayer, he has earnestly prayed for the people who he so publicly damns? The Bible states in Matthew 19:26 “…with God all things are possible”. Since Mr. Wright appears to believe that the majority of Americans are so bad, does he want them to change? Does he want them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? If so, does he ever pray for them? Would or should we know it from what he speaks? If his church believes that such balance is necessary from the story that is emerging, would they have any interest in finding copies of past sermons that demonstrate such thinking consistent with the tenets of Christ? Perhaps these are rhetorical questions on my part. Through I have not heared 99.99% of Mr. Wright’s sermons, I wonder if the true love of Christ (for all people) is present in this so-called Christian leader.

An instructive passage of scripture for both the followers of Mr. Wright and other church leaders like him, as well as the audience who are only now learning some of this type of “preaching” is Mark 12:28-34. Here our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ tells his disciples and all of the rest of mankind about the most important commandment: One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. (NLT)

I wonder if Mr. Wright considers other Americans of a different skin color than himself his neighbors. Our Lord commands us to love our neighbors. What I saw from this so-called leader was condemnation and damnation for his neighbors, because of historical prejudice (probably both ways). However from our Lord’s teaching above, He did not qualify a benchmark for loving our neighbors. He said ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. How does the Bible teach us to love? The Lord shows us the practical application of love in 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

In a world that is rife with such hate, such divisiveness, such rudeness, such everyday examples of a lack of common decency and concern for each other, to be sure it may be difficult to express our love for each other. But God gives us a roadmap. And again with God all things are possible.

So if you are disgusted and appalled by the Jeremiah Wrights of the world, but you love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, allow His Holy Spirit to influence you to love Jeremiah Wright also. Love him by keeping “no record of wrongs”. Pray for him, even though he may not have prayed for you. I guarantee you that if you do this, Satan’s plan to bring you down as a response to this very unpleasant situation will have been thwarted. To God be all the Glory.

Writers Note: I needed this message as much as the next person

A God who sends people to Hell?