Sunday, August 05, 2012

For What it's Worth...

So this whole thing about boycotting national restaurant chains has gotten me pretty bummed. I'm a pretty simple guy, and it turns out getting a sandwich and being labeled hateful has a way of really harshing my vibe.  The response to the above mentioned boycott has been equally disturbing. Mostly because people seem to be bringing religion and politics into the mix. And we all know how well those things work together.

So... if I understand things correctly (admittedly, a BIG if), this is how things have played out:

President of Restaurant is interviewed and makes some statements regarding his belief about marriage. Then someone pulls out some of his other statements about his beliefs about marriage from another interview. Statements he's said before. Somewhat out of context. And while probably ill-advised for the head of a national food chain and less than gracious, certainly not hateful or bigoted. At least not in my opinion.

Then some other people get pretty riled up about what he said and because what he said doesn't include what they think about marriage (I think?) they pull out all his financials and see what organizations he donates to, and they call his company hateful and evil and decide that everybody should boycott his restaurant. Oh yeah, and if you eat a sandwich there, you are also hateful and intolerant, and probably went to school on a short bus.

Then some people who like sandwiches said "Nuh- uh! I biked to school. And stop persecuting us!"

THEN some politicians got involved and said "Hey, Restaurant President! Don't ever open one of your hateful, intolerant restaurants in our city!"

THEN some other politicians said "Hey! No fair! We need something to rally around too! So... next week is National Sandwich Appreciation Day!"

And THEN the sandwich lovers went out and bought sandwiches and said "We love God, and we love free speech, and these sandwiches are awesome! USA! USA! USA!".  And I'm pretty sure they did a victory lap around the restaurants.

So while the above may or may not be accurate (probably not) I think that the thing that bothers me most is how the Christian reaction to all this has been highlighted.

I do think Mr Restaurant President got a bum rap in all this. I don't know him personally, but I've seen his commitment to giving back to his community and his employees, and he seems decent enough.
And while people are free to agree or disagree with his beliefs I think his vilification in the media is misplaced.

Generally speaking, I've been really disappointed by the Christian reaction to all of this. It seems to me, we are so quick to point out that are rights as Americans are being violated, that we forget we have a duty as Christ-followers to seek Him first.  Also, remembering His words might be helpful. Specifically His words "The world will hate you because of me." and "In the world you WILL HAVE tribluation." (emphasis mine) And "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you." Nowhere in the Bible do I see the command to 1- take a stand, 2- make sure my First Amendment rights are not violated, or 3- 'like' that stupid Rosanne Barr facebook picture. Not that these things are inherently bad, but I do think they are a bit shortsighted in the context of what I understand Jesus' mission to be: Love Jesus, love your community (family, church, neighbors, co-workers, etc...), and make disciples (love non-believers).

So if somehow I get a magic wand ring to make everything like I want it... what do I do? After I get the proportionate strength and agility of a spider and my Green Lantern ring,  I make it mandatory that all the churches listen to an old Vineyard song "Break Our Hearts" by Kevin Prosch. Some excerpts below:

Teach us oh Lord what it really means,
To rend our hearts instead of outer things
And teach us oh God what we do not see
About our hearts and of your ways

And Father deal with our carnal desires

To move in your power but not live the life
And to love our neighbor
With all that we have
And keep our tongues from saying things
We have not seen

Oh break our hearts with the things that break yours

If we sow in tears we will reap in joy
That we might pass through your refining fire
Where brokeness awaits on the other side 

But there will be a day
When the nations will bow
And our Lord will be King over all the earth
And He will be the only one
And also His name will be the only one*

Raise up an army like Joel saw

Your church that is stronger
Than ever before
They do not break ranks
As they plunge through defenses
But the fear of the Lord will be their wisdom*

That we might weep as Jesus wept
A fountain of tears for the wounded and lost
Who ever heard of an army of God
That conquered the earth
By weeping and mourning and brokeness?

* I was going to leave this verse out, but they seem pertinent to the conversation

The key phrase in my mind is that last verse. As a whole I think the church would do well to do a whole lot more humble, loving, Holy Spirit-led weeping and a lot less stand-taking. Heck, I need to do tons more weeping for my family, my neighbors, and people in general who don't persecute me!

I think the church (again, as a whole) has lost an important opportunity to engage in a loving, humble dialogue with those that so desperately need to be loved in Jesus' name and for Jesus' glory. I also think the church has lost an opportunity to pray and see God work in amazing ways to see His name glorified in the midst of all this.

But there's always tomorrow...

(--Author's note: This was written while I should have been packing for vacation, so it was a little rushed. It is in no way intended to be comprehensive. Especially with regard to Jesus' mission, politicians, gay marriage, or sandwiches)


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