Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her. -Genesis 16:1-6, NRSV
Our world has developed a sense of confusion. We celebrate backwards thinking, illegitimate action, and, God help me, alternative facts. We are currently in a society that welcomes at every turn the opportunity to inform people that ethics, morals thinking, and deep faith are the exception not the rule.
Over the past year, we have watched as our current commander in chief has done everything within his power to demonstrate divisive thinking, lack of unity, devoid of compassion, and lack of righteousness. Many people have stated that they have been shocked and dismayed by the actions of those who find themselves in positions of power, wealth, and authority. Nevertheless, I confess that I am not shocked nor am I surprised by the actions of activity of those who find themselves on platforms of influence.
It is within this framework that God is challenged me to think and consider what might be the reality of the world that we live in an occupied today. 500 years after the reformation ignited by Martin Luther, we now engage in dialogue between our theology and our reality. We are now attempting to find a solid ground, a common ground that will aid us in seeing clearly The mission and purpose of those of us who claim kingdom citizenship.
Consider this for a moment. We now occupy a portion of time on the continuum of history where people say with their mouths and actions that all bets are off about living the best life possible. People have decided to turn their back on God. Individuals have decided not to engage in honest, introspective discourse.
Yet, people are more concerned about situations and circumstances that are irrelevant to the advancement of God‘s kingdom. We have invested more time, energy, and thought into the illegitimacy of what has been presented as faith in God then really attempting to understand and comprehend when it comes to faith and discipleship increased. Brothers and sisters, this has become the status quo. We are now fully engaged with people who celebrate a view of the faith that it’s not only illegitimate, but has done more damage over time than anything else in history.
I’ve learned now how important the story of Ishmael really is. Most people decide that they want to label Ishmael existence as being illegitimate. The fact remains that his parents were caught up in the midst of backwards thought, processing, and ideology. How can I say such a thing? Well, Read the story. When you examine the entire situation there was no way in the world that anything was going to work out well.
Sarah took it upon herself to encourage Abraham to sleep with a slave girl, and procreate in order to fulfill the promise of God. Now how crazy is that? Consider for minute that you are a man or woman in a relationship. Your spouse comes up to you and says, “go ahead and sleep with this person”.
Your spouse/significant other is giving you a pass to be with somebody other than them? In some circles that is the perfect scenario. You mean to tell me that I can fulfill and carnal desire I want no questions asked? That’s the situation. And now the young lady that was nothing more than a slave girl is now the bearer of the first son of Abraham. What is her reward? She gains the ridicule and ire of a woman that set things in motion. She also receives the disconnection from the man that sired the child.
Ishmael constitutes what dictionary call a bastard. He is now in illegitimate child that came from a legitimately insane plan attempting to mirror the plan of God. Look who gets hurt in the process. A young man is now disconnected from his father. A young woman who wanted nothing to do with the situation is maligned for running because of a forced sexual issue the severity of human trafficking. And yet somehow, we praise Sarah for being strong enough to stand up to the other woman. But that revisionist history attempts to negate the reality that Sarah is the one that started the whole mess.
From this nonsense, we have now created a world that loves insanity rather than rational ideas and concepts. We live in a reality world age sprinkled with social media, Snapchat likes, and Instagram followers. More people are consumed with their own uninformed ideas than digging toward real results. This culture has now produced for-profit preachers, unapologetic bigots, and sheep without the True Shepherd.
Many people that might read my thoughts will probably look at my background and wonder how can I arrive at these conclusions. “You were born in the denominational structure. Why would you bash it?”
Brothers and sisters, I am not coming for denominations or traditions. I believe I have reached the point in my life where methodology is always going to be in question. However, I am call to speak truth to power. So here we go….
I can not stomach how anyone can justify plain evil as a theological mandate from God. Some religious leaders have sold their principles and faith in order to defend rape culture, racism, unchecked nationalism, and beyond. It is grown beyond my realm of understanding that people who claim Christ are willing to support and promote individuals who have no remorse for perpetuating the sexual assault of women and children.
I am convinced that people who attempt to fuse these elements via justification fueled by selfish gain are the most dangerous people in our society. What makes it worse is that those who have constantly spoken out against such abhorrent behavior for years have been demonized as troublemakers.
Yet, these have been the prophets that warned us that these days were coming. They said not to relinquish your faith and relationship with God for the temporary. But here we are. We are fighting to have any credibility with anyone in society due to “oil-less” representatives that have taken the Gospel and have fashioned it in their image.
I have not lost hope in the power of the Gospel. I know that the pure faith, preached and taught, still saves, redeems, and liberates. However, I must admit that it might be time for a new strategy. We must reclaim the foundation and power of the Gospel, so that we might fulfill our mission and purpose as the people of God. I don’t want us to have a Samson-like final push (reference: Judges 16:23-31). We must be destined to finish our course with a Paul-like resolution (reference: 2 Timothy 4:6-8). How do we begin to accomplish this?
1. Go Back to Truth and Foundation
Our society has devolved into an environment focused extreme amounts of information. We consume anything that comes over our phones, computers, tablets, TVs, etc. In many instances, people do not take the time to investigate or review if something is true or false.
The lack of pursuit for the truth has created a space for truth to be subjective rather than foundation. Having a foundation is not the absence of questioning. As a matter of fact, it is intelligence to raise interrogatives. Questions are a tool of digging. After a while, we ought to reach a place of depth where the foundation can be laid.
However, majoring in trivial matters takes away from the opportunity to find what our hearts and spirit seek. Consider the willingness of people to openly support sexual predators for public office. Think about people individuals in leadership who continue to name their price for their soul. The person that digs will have an informative faith that tells him or her that no temporary platform can overshadow the willing intent to hurt and scar.
2. Be Different
It is absolutely ok not to follow the crowd. Ultimately, you must give an account for the manner you have lived your life. You do not have to hold the line that groups hold if they totally reject the premise of Christ and the Word of God.
I know this next statement will take some people over, but so be it. If your salvation and commitment to God is fashioned by anything else but God, you need to reassess everything in your life. It is impossible for you to care about the poor and find new to keep them disenfranchised. It is unreasonable to say you love Jesus and continue to intentionally keep people from a genuine encounter with the Almighty. It crazy to believe that you can reject the outsider when God has welcomed you with grace.
3. Don’t Attempt to Do God’s Job
My favorite statement to make about our relationship with God: We are the created; God is the Creator. We are the saved; Christ is the Savior. We have the capacity to be creative, caring, and compassionate. We have the capacity to reflect certain aspects of the Holy One. Yet, we are not authorized to function as judge, jury, and executioner.
Whenever we function outside of the grace and mercy of God, we play the dangerous game of place ourselves on the Throne of God. We are the most unqualified creation to place judgement only anyone. Anytime we think we can do God’s job better, we take away any credence to the value and power of the Word of God.
Why do you think true believers are working overtime? People are questioning if God is truly real. Why do people back away from the church? They see the corruption in the institution and not the power of the organism. We must become representatives of Christ. Otherwise, we will continue to support the culture of the illegitimate.