First They Came…

My last post took an entirely different direction then I intended whilst I was writing it. I meant to discuss Christian love but off I went. So let us pause a moment and discuss this point.

My good friend Huw has a new post on his great blog called Argh – Things that make you want to be an Atheist. Once again Huw does not let you down on his analysis of the issues at hand.

I started the last post by mentioning that the Orthodox Church is a much regulated faith. We certainly are not part of the “Free Church” movement. We are especially regulated in our spiritual life to include large parts of the year that are dedicated to fasting and abstinence. Now I love the Orthodox Church and believe that we hold the full expression of the Christian Faith, however that is not enough to get you past St. Peter and into heaven. I know, I know it’s not like that, but how do we know?

There is an old song, “they will know we are Christians by our love” this is a true statement. We can follow all of the “rules” of the church to the letter of the law but if we do not love, as St. Paul says, we are nothing but a clanging gong!

The Government of Uganda, where the Orthodox Church has been ministering since 1946, is presently debating legislation that one can only describe as hateful. The 2009 Anti-Homosexual bill (this bill is also known as kill the gays bill) would not only outlaw homosexuality, it actually already is illegal, but it would require the death penalty for anyone caught in the act so to speak. It also catches those who are HIV positive in the net and they would face the same penalty.

Now the Orthodox Church teaches that homosexual acts are disordered and not natural. The Orthodox Church also teaches that any sexual act, to include masturbation, outside of the marital bond is sinful as fornication. The Church condemns the actions not the actor. The church does not condemn the person with the inclination toward homosexuality no more than it condemns the person who commits fornication.

However, the greater sin in all of this is the silence of the World Orthodox Church towards what has been called State Sanctioned Genocide! The Church needs to speak out whenever she sees injustice, and this is a big one. Far too long our Orthodox Church has shirked its responsibility to voice our opposition when Governments go off the reservation.

In my last post I said that those of us who preach need to preach the truth. The Truth is that Jesus loved all people regardless of what they did. He corrected with love and welcomed all to eat at table with Him. Jesus is the example that we should follow no? Is it Christian to do any less?

The Church has the obligation to stand up for ALL people when they are being oppressed. We as a church community can not stay silent when we see any injustice no matter what group it is aimed at.

I am calling on Christian leaders around the world to stand up against hate no matter what the situation. Hate is hate and hate does not come from God but from Satan. This legislation is nothing more that hate and it needs to be defeated. What would we do if this type of legislation was suggested here in America? Again I am not condoning the lifestyle and my Church is pretty clear on her thoughts on that, but that does not mean that we need to put people to death! That is just hate, plain and simple.

We have a responsibility to love one another. Christ loves us with an unconditional love and we, as the church, need to respond in the same way. We do not have to agree with the choices people make but we do need to love them.

In the end, I believe, we will not be judged on how well we kept the fast or how many prostrations we made or even how many Sundays we went to church. In the end we will be judge on how we cared for and how we loved each other. Jesus went to the Cross not because of some obligation but because of love. As we stand and look at Jesus on the Cross it is no mistake that His arms are wide open. His arms are wide open to welcome each and every one of us in just as a parent welcomes their children. He wishes to gather us up in His arms.

“They will know we are Christians by our love”

Time to get off the bench and get in the game. Speak the truth in love and stand up against injustice when we see it.

There is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller called “First the came…” Written in Germany and directed at the German intellectuals who did not speak up during Hitler’s rise to power this poem is as true today as it was then. Who will speak up? Because when everyone is gone there will be no one left to speak for you.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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