Should We Stand Our Ground?

Over the last few weeks I have read numerous arguments from religious people insisting that Jesus would absolutely support Stand Your Ground legislation.  And the truth is God has given mankind volition, so it is up to every individual to discover His will and make their own decisions about how to live life. We are all free to ignore God’s plan and deal with the consequences or follow the guidance of the Spirit of Wisdom and Truth. But there is a growing trend among professed believers to wear the façade of “Christ follower” while twisting the words of Jesus to allow for a full expression of the darker desires of human nature. This is what I see happening when people pretend that Stand Your Ground legislation is aligned with biblical principles.

This is what I know. Jesus commands us to love each other just as He has loved us. This includes even people who hate, curse and mistreat us. (See Luke 6:27-36)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us that love protects, however it does so with restraint. One who loves as Christ commands is patient, humble and respectful. He does not keep a record of wrongs, is not self-serving or easily angered.

The dark side of human nature often fires a need to aggressively stand our ground even when violence isn’t necessary to save life or limb. But Jesus urges us to be humble, to look beyond our present circumstances and consider the big picture. Our lives on earth are brief. The task that should be foremost in our minds is living the kind life that inspires others to discover the source of our inner happiness. The question to ask is what approach would be more likely to reflect the glory of Christ. A self-righteous rumble in the street resulting in bloodshed or an exercise of self-control, forbearing to do what the sin nature tells us is our right. There is no question, if circumstances allow us to walk away from a confrontation then that is what God wants. That is not cowardice, it’s obedience.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law

Luke 6:27-36

Love for Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

John 15:12

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

1 John 4:7-21

God’s Love and Ours

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Why is the media intent on creating false stereotypes?

While there may be psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, don’t expect Paul B. Farrell’s commentary in the Wall Street Journal to provide any worthwhile insight. To help enlighten his readers, Mr. Farrell points to the following examples of new behavioral research which he believes will increase “our understanding of the “differences” between conservative and liberal thinking and their impact on your investing strategies.” Farrell, Market Watch Wall Street Journal (August 28, 2012). The behavioral studies the article references are pretty obviously flawed. Rather than shed light on the cause of our political differences they create fraudulent stereotypes that have little resemblance to reality.

Honestly, it is hard to image anyone taking this stuff seriously.

According to Farrell, “A study by psychologist Michael Dodd and political scientist John Hibbing at the University of Nebraska ‘found that when viewing a collage of photographs, conservatives’ eyes unconsciously lingered 15% longer on repellent images, such as car wrecks and excrement — suggesting that conservatives are more attuned than liberals to assessing potential threats,’ which might also be why they bet on the NRA and Pentagon.

Controlling or curious? In a study of the contents in the dorm rooms of 76 college students, researchers found ‘conservatives possessed more cleaning and organizational items, such as ironing boards and calendars, confirmation that they are orderly and self-disciplined. Liberals owned more books and travel-related memorabilia, which conforms with previous research suggesting that they are open and novelty-seeking.'” –Farrell, Market Watch Wall Street Journal (August 28, 2012).

I am not a conservative but every other member of my immediate family is. That being said, none of us would be inclined to linger on repellent images. Further, each and every one of us is attuned to assessing potential threats. The difference between us lies in how we see and prioritize threats. Conflict generally arises because we are not always in agreement as to what constitutes a threat. For example, I see living a life without health insurance as perilous while my conservative family members see government involvement in providing health insurance as the bigger threat.

As for the dorm room study, only an ill-informed researcher would consider the contents of a teenager’s room a reliable guide to the psychological differences between adults. College students have yet to experience the world. Having spent the first part of their life under the influence of parents the college experience for most kids is about test driving new ideas. At this point, opinions are not etched in stone and since most dorm room possessions are purchased by parents, the only thing an ironing board proves is that that someone’s mother objects to the rumpled look.

Lets Ditch The Hypocrisy

Republican, George Will, used a recent column “Lets stop trying to encourage healthy habits by taxation” to discuss the supposed impropriety of the US government using its power to encourage healthier food choices. To accomplish this nudge toward good nutrition the government is requiring the food industry to educate consumers by listing calories and ingredients and by making consumption of vast quantities of health threatening foods less cost effective by raising taxes on these items. Mr. Will makes the argument that combating an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease is not reason enough to justify government intervention. The essence of his position is that for the government to insist on informed consent or to intentionally create an impediment that inhibits the choice of an adult is both unnecessary and paternalistic because adults understand the risks.

What I find ironic is that Mr. Will seems not to notice the glaring hypocrisy of this position when juxtposed with his blessing of Governor Rick Perry’s informed consent abortion legislation in Texas. How can a logical person be dismayed on the one hand that the government requires the food industry to inform consumers about the health implications of its products and at the same time be perfectly fine with a government mandate that requires doctors to recite a scripted speech regarding the implications of a requested medical procedure? If we are to assume that everyone knows the health risks associated with the consumption of certain foods doesn’t it follow that pregnant women also understand the implications of their choice to terminate?

A mandated transvaginal sonogram and 24 hour waiting period are much better examples of government paternalism than a tax on junk food. It’s not like the federal government is demanding that people get on the scales and then wait a day before purchasing a bag of potato chips. I respond viscerally to the horror of abortion. But I am also concerned with the national epidemic of obesity, heart disease and diabetes resulting from diets laden with unhealthy foods marketed by food industry executives who would prefer to keep the public in the dark. Education about causation and risks is an excellent way to help people avoid bad outcomes. Anyone who is an inconsistent apologist for government warnings of risks and repercussions should be suspect. So lets ditch the hypocrisy. One is either for informed consent and government involvement in personal decisions or against it.

Ode To Joy

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

The Counselor

I woke up this morning thinking about the impact of our ability as Christians to live a life in the Spirit. This seal of assurance is such a wonderful gift. It is significant to me that the Holy Spirit’s presence actually allows us to perceive and know with certainty that we belong to God. The Holy Spirit enhances the way our brain works. He is our counselor, our moral compass, our guide to the truth and our light in a dark tunnel. Though the urges of our darker nature will always clamor for satisfaction, the presence of the Holy Spirit is our early warning system. When we resist God’s will for our life we feel a sense of unease. It is the Holy Spirit saying, “this path you are about to take is wrong”. That is the moment of decision for the believer. Silence the alarm and grieve or quench the Spirit or redirect? We have a choice. It is our perseverance in resisting the temptation to do what we know is wrong that pleases God. The Counselor’s presence in us is a clarion call to walk in the light and pursue love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control . Life in the Spirit provides an opportunity for peace, comfort, happiness and a close relationship with God.

Ephesians 1:13-14

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

John 16:5-13

The Work of the Holy Spirit

5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will will expose the guilt of the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

1 John 3:18-20

18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence

20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Motivation

This blog is intended to be an outlet for my observations. It is my sincere desire to get to the heart of things in a way that stays true to God’s expectations of me as a member of the human race.

Psalm 19:14

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

Proverbs 2:2-11

2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;

3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding;

4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;

5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.

9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul