Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Keep Using That Word...

...I do not think it means what you think it means...

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite movies, and it just happens to fit this blog post perfectly.

I promised a blog post a couple weeks ago about my Christmas pet peeve. I fully intended to write that post, but time and other stressors prevented me from getting that post out on paper, or at least virtual paper. So, given the fact that it is now less than a week from Christmas, I am ready to reveal to you my biggest Christmas pet peeve. Are you ready? Here it is:

Merry X-Mas!

Now some of you may be thinking of course, she hates the way that businesses and even private citizens remove Christ from Christmas, literally by X-ing him out of the very word. If you are thinking that, you would be wrong. My pet peeve about this is the ignorance among so many Christians about its true origin. Western Christians are often very quick to pass judgement and complain about persecution and censoring of our religious beliefs. The problem is, if we really understood the history of our faith, we would not be so quick to be offended. In reality, the X is not crossing out Christ, it is representing him, in the most authentic way. It represents the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of Christos, the name for Christ found in the original language of the New Testament.

In much the same way, many Christians are misinterpreting the Constitution. As I scroll my facebook feed, I am being bombarded by posts in support of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, many of them making the claim that his "freedom of speech" was violated. It wasn't, plain and simple.

There is an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, 7th Heaven, in which the oldest son gets a job. His father makes a bet with him that he will not last one day because he doesn't yet understand what it means to have a job. When the son loses the bet, he admits defeat, then asks his father what he meant by that. The dad looks at his son and says, "Whatever the job, the number one thing is to make your boss look good."

At least in the opinion of A&E, Phil robertson did not make them look good. The constitution protects freedom of speech from government censorship. It does not in any way prevent a private company, such as the owners of a cable TV station, from distancing themselves from the personal views expressed by one of its "stars" if they feel those views reflect badly on them. It is the equivalent of a professor for a Christian school signing a contract which states that he must portray a certain standard of behavior in public, in keeping with the image of the institution. Then he is caught at a bar drunk, cussing, and generally making a fool of himself. That professor is going to very likely be suspended, if not fired, because his behavior reflects on more than just himself. It reflects on his employer.

The fact is, most Western Christians do not know persecution. I heard a missionary to China once tell me that the Chinese Christians pray for persecution of the American Church. Why? Because persecution is what makes Christians become more like Christ. Persecution is what is faced by millions of believers around the world who are cut off from their families because of their faith. Persecution is what believers are faced with in countries where their faith lands them in prison, such as Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran. Persecution is what early Christians, such as Perpetua, and even the Apostles faced when they were tortured and killed for following Christ. Persecution is what Christ himself faced when he was beaten and mocked before hanging on the cross.

Face the facts. Phil Robertson was not imprisioned for his faith. He was not investigated or interrogated or tortured for his beliefs. He was not sensored by the government, and he was not even put under house arrest or warned by some government agency to stop stating his opinion. He was simply repremanded by his private employer who felt that he was not making them look good. That is not persecution, and it is not a violation of his constitutional rights. If he is that passionate about his point of view, then, much like the response of the son from the TV episode I referenced above, maybe next time Phil should be more careful about who his "boss" is.

And, even it if were some form of persecution, as followers of Christ, should we not respond to persecution the way He did? He did not fight it, He understood it as part of the suffering that comes with laying down one's life. He told Peter to put down his sword. Isn't it time we are more concerned with following Christ's commands to reach out to the poor and the needy, and to make disciples of all the nations, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and love The Lord our God with all of our being, and less concerned with standing up for our "rights" as US citizens? I don't know about you, but I am first and foremost a Citizen of Christ's kingdom, where the first are last and the servant is King.

I want to wrap this up by bringing it back to my "Pet Peeve." Christians need to stop giving Christ a bad name out of their ignorance. Learn what words like "persecution," "constitutional right" and "freedom of speech" mean before we use them. Learn the historical and theological significance of something before we dismiss it. Most of all, let's all remember what real persecution is, and pray for the millions of believers around the world who experience it every day.

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