Monday, March 24, 2014

Knowing God: A Sidebar On Prayer

Prayer is a fundamental part of spiritual growth. It's also badly neglected. Why is that? I think part of the problem is that we don't appreciate it. Let's step back and look at prayer for a bit.

The Privilege
It's amazing that we're even allowed to pray. Think about this: God is running a universe. He sees and hears everything. He takes care of galaxies. He's got plenty to keep himself busy. Where you're concerned, he knows what you need, what you want, and what you fear. He knows what you've done and where you're going. Why would he want to hear from you?

But he does! Prayer is not just allowed but commanded. He makes time for you to talk to him.

The Access
In the story of Esther, we get a picture of a royal court where the king is considered semi-divine. You do not even dare to approach the king silently. If he doesn't grant you permission to speak, just standing in front of him draws a death sentence.

The picture of prayer is the exact opposite. We are not subjects standing, trembling, before the throne hoping to be granted an audience. We are children who run up to daddy and climb into his lap and talk to him. This daddy is never too tired to listen to us after a long day. He lets us prattle on and on about things he already knows. And while we talk, he holds us and sings over us and loves us.

The Beauty
God doesn't just put up with our prayers; he cherishes them. He views them as incense. We make his abode more beautiful, in his eyes, with the prayers we offer to him. (Though I'm sure all prayers aren't equal in this regard.) Our pitiful offerings are like a child's treasured "artwork" posted on the refrigerator.

Make the time to avail yourself of the privilege of access to a king who receives your every word as a treasured gift. "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are You Required to Serve Me?

A black man with a catering business should not be required to cater an event for the KKK. A gay woman with a photography business should not be required to photograph an event called "Stopping the Homosexual Agenda." If I ran a printing shop, I should not (white gentile that I am) have to provide any signs or any other materials for a neo-Nazi march against teaching the reality of the Holocaust.

Sometimes people object morally to something so much that they simply cannot in good conscience profit from it. It's not rejecting a person. If someone who was a KKK member walked into any restaurant, he'd be served. It's not about discriminating against people; it's about refusing to participate in an event. And that should be okay.

And in the examples I've given above, it is. There is no law (as far as I know) requiring a black man (or anyone else) to cater for the KKK.

But apparently a Christian can be forced to cater a same-sex wedding reception. And to take pictures. And to print programs. Next will people be required to attend the things?

Why can people be forced to do these things? Because homosexuals are a special, protected group. We're not, and we're not likely to be.

So what now?

People who have gotten in trouble have been open about their objections. You don't have to be. You can just refuse. "I don't have an availability there." Already scheduled? "I'm sorry, I have a conflict, I'm going to have to cancel."

Are they pressing for details? I don't know if this is an issue about which we can safely midwife them, but it's something to ponder.

But ultimately, we can do little. This society is simply going that way. So what, then?

The gospel.

Homosexuality has been embraced in our society alongside greed, covetousness, gluttony, and all kinds of sexual sins. It is not the disease. It is a symptom. As societies spiral down into sin, this rears its head. And this will only turn around if a society repents and turns to God. That's where we should focus our energy.