What life should a Christian live to be Christian?

(Cindy) #281

So if we’re both meeting needs, what are we arguing about exactly? The end result of meeting those needs? How about just leaving that up to God?

How exactly do you determine the difference (in actions) between “feeding the hungry and relieving the oppress” and those that try to end both? In other words, what difference does it make in regards to what a person actually does?

Honestly, it does sound like you are looking for an “out” when it comes to helping the poor and oppressed.

(Mitchell W McKain) #282

Of course. Brain misfired on that one. Happens more and more often now…

Tried and failed to read “Left hand of Darkness” several times. “Lathe of Heaven” was made into a movie. “Wizard of Earthsea” series is on my shelf. “Word for world is forest” was memorable. I had a copy of “Dispossessed” for a long time but was never a favorite.

(Richard Wright) #283

Hello Cindy,

The debate is on whether or not the purpose of a Christian is to, “seek to end injustice and oppression”. That is not my purpose, I’m called to imitate Christ, which includes making disciples, which is seeking and saving the lost, and to meet needs along the way. But that is a much different thing from saying that my purpose is to end oppression and injustice, and by extension, hunger.

I think you misunderstood what I said. I wrote that there is a difference between feeding the poor, which all Christians are called to do in meeting the needs of the poor and needy, and having a purpose to end hunger. My purpose isn’t to end hunger, Jesus said the hungry will always be here, since the spiritual roots of hunger will be here. I’m called to make disciples and meet needs along the way.

If you’ve read my past posts in this thread, you would see that this is wrong. I believe in and practice feeding the poor. But my purpose isn’t to end hunger. Jesus was the most purposeful person who ever lived, and his purpose was spiritual, and so is mine as his follower.

(Cindy) #284

Again, what practical difference does it make? Why does it matter whether a person feeds the poor because they are “called to meet the needs of the poor and needy” or if they feed the poor because they feel like they are called to end the hunger of the poor? How do you see these two groups of people acting differently?

(Mitchell W McKain) #285

Since I have already profusely agreed with @Richard_Wright1 on the difference between helping the needy and trying to end hunger (as well as similar difference with regards to justice and oppression), then his continued harping on this as well as his effort to underline the religious appeasement motivation over any feeling for those in need (not to mention his continued denials of any call to seek justice or correct oppression) makes me suspicious that the only reason he sees to make any effort to help those in need is as a technique to get people to join his religion. I certainly cannot agree with that! It is not only disingenuous but grossly manipulative, and quite a lot of people come away from that with a clear feeling of totally self-serving nature of such so called charity.

(Richard Wright) #286

Hello Cindy,

This about the important question of what we’re called to do as Christians. It’s impossible for me, or my church, to end hunger. It’s just as impossible for us to end oppression and injustice. Those exist because the world is disconnected from God. The answer is Jesus. As followers of Christ, we’re not called to, “seek to end injustice”, etc. We’re called to imitate Christ, which includes helping the poor as we go along. But that’s a totally different thing from being called to end hunger.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #287

I think you’ve beaten that horse pretty well by now - you wish for others to acknowledge the distinction between “fighting against something” and the imperative to “end it”. I think I can speak for all here when I say, “we get it” - even if not all of us agree. It seems to be a distinction that we’re finding irrelevant at best, as I suspect you might also if we broadened the scope of issues in focus here. E.g. we won’t be ending murder or abortions or terrorism or any of those kinds of things either. So do you conclude then (to be consistent) that Christians should not be trying to do work on any of those fronts either since “they will always be with us” - and (in your view) Jesus didn’t call us to end any of those things in any case?

Jesus observation that poverty will always be with us is not some sort of imperative that we should “be careful” lest we wipe it out - as if poverty is in danger of disappearing if we’re not careful. So any of us can go “full bore” on any of these fronts without any fear whatsoever that we’re somehow going to turn Jesus into a liar by making poverty disappear. And Jesus’ matter-of-fact observation that it’s a part of life is no more endorsement of it, than his matter-of-fact acknowledgment of violence (in the Good-Samaritan parable) is an endorsement of roadside banditry.

(Richard Wright) #288

Hello Mitchell

True, t’s not salvation by works, but if we have the right faith, we’ll have the right works.

Well, I guess I have to put them up again.

“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

"and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

It’s not Marcion who said it, it was James, the half-brother of Jesus, at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 which met for the very purpose to decide if gentiles believers should obey the Mosaic law. They said to avoid immorality, blood, idols and the meat from strangled animals. So the answer was no!

That is not at all what Jesus was saying an Matthew 5. He said that he came to fulfill the law and prophets, and that they were to obey the law, “until everything is accomplished.” (v18). That to me is when the New Testament period was ushered in, in Acts 2. But we, as Christians, are not called to obey the law or the prophets, but Jesus, who fulfilled them.

“Definitely called”? Where does it say anywhere in the NT that we are called to, “seek justice and correct oppression”?

In the Christian faith, our lives are our worship, not 1.5 hours on Sunday. And our lives are called to be an imitation of Christ. If we do that, then we are truly worshiping God.

(Mitchell W McKain) #289

Already explained that. There is no support in the NT for the way you discard the OT in this way, quite the contrary. Rather it is only altered by making Jesus the lens through which things are understood, like the example I gave already regarding circumcision from Romans 2. To be sure, this is a difficult balance to strike, and you have those who focus too much on the OT commands as much as we have you going too far in the rejection of the OT. The point here is there is nothing in the shift to seeing the love for God and your neighbor as the meaning of all the law and the prophets which supports your rejection of the God’s command in Isaiah chapter one to seek justice and correct oppression. And frankly it looks to me like you are trying to turn the NT into a righteousness based on the law with the way you keep trying to make this all about obedience rather than love and faith.

But in any case these repetitions by both of us mean that this discussion is over, and by rules of civil dialog in this forum we must agree to disagree.

(Richard Wright) #290

Hello Mervin,

No, Mervin, I wasn’t broadcasting my message, “for others to acknowledge”. I was replying to Cindy, because she didn’t seem to understand what the issue was.

How do I work on ending murder or terrorism? If someone, who happens to be a disciple, is in a position to pass a law or somehow do something out of their convictions to make a change, great, I’m all for it. If I’m living like Christ, I do my little part. That they exist is shows how un-Christlike the world is. But I’m not called to end murder or terrorism. They are symptoms of a disease. The same is for abortion. I’m against it, but the real answer is to help people become true Christians, like myself, who was radically pro-abortion at the time of my conversion. If someone wants to promote pro-life laws or protest, or whatever, fine, nothing against it. But I’m not called to end abortion.

And I never said, or even thought that. But look at the context of the passage. The woman with the alabaster perfume, “wasted it”, according to the disciples, by pouring it Jesus’ head, since it could have been, “given to the poor”. But there is something powerful in honoring Jesus with our lives, that is even more important than helping the poor, even though we should help the poor.

No, but we’re not called to do that.

He’s not endorsing it as if he wants it to be that way. I think he is saying that this will always be an un-Christlike world, and that helping people know him is the ultimate answer.

(Albert Leo) #291

[quote=“Richard_Wright1, post:286, topic:39934”]
This about the important question of what we’re called to do as Christians. It’s impossible for me, or my church, to end hunger. It’s just as impossible for us to end oppression and injustice. Those exist because the world is disconnected from God. The answer is Jesus. As followers of Christ, we’re not called to, “seek to end injustice”, etc. We’re called to imitate Christ, which includes helping the poor as we go along. But that’s a totally different thing from being called to end hunger.
@Seeking_Harmony IMHO, so much of this dialog consists of “talking past each other” because both parties fail to make the distinction between the material and the spiritual.
Striving to eliminate hunger is an example: are we addressing biological hunger (felt in our stomachs) or spiritual hunger (our minds and hearts yearning for justice)? Once again, Teilhard’s use of the terms: Biosphere and Noosphere, helps clarify the differences.

One should consider the Taoist proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day: teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In the section of Richard’s quote that I have highlighted-- “helping the poor as we go along”–can be compared to giving a fish to appease biological hunger–a hunger that will quickly return. “Teaching a man to fish” is in the realm of the Mind (Noos), and is more permanent. The call to imitate Christ is a call to spread his teaching of the truth–that we should use the God-given gift of mind & conscience to rise above the evolutionary legacy of our animal ancestry and strive toward seeking justice and eliminating oppression. That goal–establishing God’s Kingdom on Earth–may be far, far in the future, but surely striving towards it is preferable than just considering earthly life as an exile, a mere testing grounds to see if we are worthy of a Heaven in the Clouds.
Al Leo

(Cindy) #292

I’m just trying to figure out what we’re really arguing about here. I think I made my questions quite clear and for whatever reason, they were never answered.

Yes we need to address both physical and spiritual needs. No I don’t think that we’ll end either physical or spiritual hunger but I see no reason not to try to do both. It really isn’t that complicated. Why we make it complicated, I do not understand.

(Albert Leo) #293

Hi Cindy
I agree that the challenge to alleviate both physical and spiritual hunger is not complicated, but it is very difficult. And in quoting Jesus, to conclude that "we are NOT called to end either hunger or oppression, @Richard_Wright1 runs the risk of giving under-inspired folks (aren’t we all!) an “out” for not trying at all.

As for my own personal experience, I quickly became aware in my science studies that so many others were more talented than I that it was very unlikely that I could ever become a ‘breakthrough’ scientist–another Salk or Sabin or Pasteur–, but I was lucky enough to find a niche where I could apply what talents I do have, in conjunction with many others, to reach some (limited) goals. Smallpox may be the only natural evil that mankind actually ends, but making even limited progress (to alleviate if not end) cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, etc. can give many people a purpose in life that makes living in a troubled, broken World a privilege that we can honestly thank God for.

So, IMHO, the bottom line: God created a good but changeable World. We humans are a part of that World–a part that He gifted with Mind and Conscience so that we are able to undertake the very difficult task of 'mending its brokenness’–of becoming, in a very real sense, Co-Creators in His Image.

This makes sense to me. What about you? Too UNorthodox?
Al Leo

(Cindy) #294

Yes, the logistics of doing both is, of course, difficult and complicated. Understanding that we are to aim to do both should not be.

I get that it can seem overwhelming to do. What I don’t get is why people, instead of saying, “Wow, this is a really big job; I’m not sure how exactly we’re going to accomplish this”,. They instead try to complicate the mission to make it seem as though the mission is as complicated as the task. It’s not.

(system) closed #295

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