Just a question…

What separates this;

from this?

Does it matter at all that the man who died was a human being? Did he “deserve” it?


17 thoughts on “Just a question…

  1. Spiritually speaking, that one was created in God’s image and likeness, and the other wasn’t.

    Both are sad, nonetheless.

  2. Yeah. I wasn’t trying to make any deep point. Just a lament. And some honesty, I guess. The first time I saw it, I was shocked. The second time, I was angry. The third time, I was sad. And after that, I’ve lost some of the reality that he’s a human being, created in the image of God, and no more important than I.

  3. I am curious if you guys would feel different if he was pointing the RPG at a school bus of children? Would your feelings change? It is hard to understand everything from that short clip of what was going on.

    Just food for thought.

    That image was disturbing to say the least. He was a son to someone, possibly a brother and a father to others. We live in such a fallen world. It makes me think of the parable of the rich man storing up his treasure in his barns and the Lord says you fool don’t you know your life will be taken from you today (paraphrased). We just don’t know when that day will come for any of us. Hence the passion we should have to pass the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. We will only stop seeing those images when the Prince of Peace returns.

  4. Wes,

    I hear you, though I’m not sure that simplifies things quite so neatly. That image is VERY disturbing, and I think I was mainly wanting to highlight his humanity.

    I think a larger reality, though, now that I’ve had a chance to reflect some more, is a lament over a system that creates persons like him and us; one that formed him to point an RPG at another human being only to have another one take his life away before he could take theirs. And in this case mostly because of the bluster and bravado of their countries’ leaders; who I didn’t see on the front line. He carries some responsibility for picking up that weapon, but the broken system carries some responsibility too.

    It is true, Wes, that these images will cease for good when the Prince of Peace returns, but I can’t help but believe that we have a role to play in reconciliation and peacemaking until that point. Could we make a difference in a life like his and others? I believe we can. I hope we can.

  5. Well said Nate. I agree completely with you. If we all followed the commands of Christ and lived for Him we wouldn’t have to see these images any longer. I also hope we can make change in spreading the Good News. It is the only way true change happens at every level of human existence.

    I would also agree life is complex, but there is hope. I have seen it.

  6. Wes,

    As I’ve traveled the path of discipleship for a bit now, I’ve come to know something that I believe reflects the truth, and it is this;

    We are tempted to be locked in as a Christian community on a destination (heaven), while God is more deeply concerned about today and righteous and just action in the present, with “eternal” or “post-death” just being the natural outgrowth, the obvious consequence, if you will, of the commitment I have to following him today. In other words, God wants us to expand our vision to not only include a time when suffering will cease and justice will reign but to work to make our world into that place one step at a time. And that is faithfulness.

    I think there’s a great deal of truth in this approach, and it humbles me and continually reminds me that I am a work in progress with great potential for good and great potential for evil.

    So, to use some of your words and put it in this sort of mindset;

    I may not have followed the commands of Jesus as well as I could’ve up to this point, but from this point forward I can commit and recommit myself to the continual process of being transformed into the image of Christ through my deep pursuit and God’s great forgiveness and grace.

    I may not have represented the Good News as clearly as possible before, but I can continually humble myself as a child to sit and learn at the feet of Jesus before I go out to “change the world” in my own way.

    True change comes in a disciple of Jesus pursuing God with all of who they are, yet there is a possibility for the effects of our pursuit to ripple out in society so that they shape others’ lives in a secondary way to more incrementally represent God’s purposes in the world. It’s not something that’s owned by them necessarily, but God is glorified.

    For example, we like to bang on government programs a lot as Christians because it “creates a culture of handouts” etc etc, but I think, fundamentally, before anything else; when a child is fed, God is glorified. When the poor are treated humanely, God is glorified. When a formerly uninsured man has access to adequate health care, God is glorified. Or when a family that lived in a toxic environment (abuse, etc) is taught to interact differently and in more healthy ways, God is glorified. Over and above all human selfishness and greed and taking the glory for ourselves, when the world looks a little more like the world God created, the one he intends it to be, God is glorified.

    What do you think? I think that shifts our thinking away from a more black/white view of the world to a more colorful, more relational, more hopeful view of reality that takes into account that God is working in a number of different ways to sustain and redeem persons and societies and all of creation…and he’s just waiting for us to hop on board.

  7. Didn’t realize there was a discussion going on here. Nate, I had kind of the same of reactions. Then, I felt bad that I was kind of numb to it.

    Wes, the fact of man being made in God’s image and likeness doesn’t make shooting that man inherently wrong. I’m sure he was point that rocket at something–and that may have made shooting him inevitable. But, it still makes my stomach turn to see a human being killed. Images of war break my heart, whether the war is “just” or not. To realize that the man holding the rocket most likely entered into an eternity separated from the love of God, while we watched his death, is sobering at a minimum.

  8. Nate,

    Again I totally agree with 95% of your above comment. What I don’t understand is why I can’t be heavenly minded but focused on helping people in all the ways you talk about. Do you think we as fundamentalist are sitting around and just studying doctrine and condemning people? I commit over 20 hours of my week to the following: I run a bible study Tuesday mornings, I preach at our men’s Wednesday morning Breakfast, Thursday mornings I help run an accountability group with men who have various addictions, Thursday afternoon I run a bible study at work, I work at church on Saturday and Sundays doing the sound and video. Plus I have 3 boys and my wife works 3 nights a week. I am trying to serve my Lord and Savior best I possibly can. I volunteer to feed the homeless. I help my brother-in-law with his bmx ministry. I write blog articles, I comment on others, it goes on and on… Trust me it is only Christ who changed me that has allowed me to accomplish any of these things.

    Here is what I don’t agree with:

    I think that shifts our thinking away from a more black/white view of the world to a more colorful, more relational, more hopeful view of reality that takes into account that God is working in a number of different ways to sustain and redeem persons and societies and all of creation…and he’s just waiting for us to hop on board.

    God gave us two commandments 1 to love Him with our everything, 2 to love our neighbor as ourselves. I am trying to follow those commandments with all my heart.

    There are black and white issues. I am not saying some things fall into the grey but it is pretty clear the basic truths of the Bible. I don’t know if this makes any sense to you or not.

  9. Oh and I forgot. John 14:6 There is only one way to be reconciled to God and that is through Jesus Christ. There are not many ways. That was the other point I disagree with you on.

  10. Not only do we store up our treasures on earth, we fight, kill and die to preserve our hordes. If we did not hold so tightly to the temporal world we exist in perhaps we wouldn’t have to war.

  11. Wes,

    I wasn’t banging on fundamentalists…I was just talking about an important shift from a focus on salvation being about heaven to salvation being just as much about transformation in the present. In this thinking, heaven (or, more Biblically, the resurrection of the dead) is just a natural development in the life of a faithful person.

    And I agree that there are black and white issues, I’m just saying that it’s not all black and white. And if it’s not all black and white, then we can talk about the reality that the Bible is written in different forms to illustrate different realities, some of those realities being beyond human comprehension, with the best way of description being a limited metaphor.

    John 14:6 does speak of Jesus as the Way. But if you think that Way isn’t shown in mysterious ways a whole lot of the time, you’re kidding yourself. John 1 tells a little about how mysterious the working of the Word (Jesus) was and is. You could say that the Way is Light, and that light shines in the darkness in a variety of ways and forms.

    And Steven, good solid point.

  12. Nate,

    Can you show me one place in scripture that says there is another way besides Jesus? Did God write the Bible to confuse us or to help us understand Him and what He expects from us?

    But if you think that Way isn’t shown in mysterious ways a whole lot of the time, you’re kidding yourself.

    Can you give me examples because I have no clue what that statement means?

  13. Wes,

    I never said that Scripture says anything about another way other than Jesus. I said the working of God (Jesus at work before we knew about Jesus; again, look at John 1) to draw people to himself is more mysterious than you might think.

    Look up Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar, Melchizedek, Jethro (Moses’ father in law) and multiple other examples (the King of Egypt and Abimelek in Abraham’s story); then apply that reality to places in our world that haven’t heard about Christ…do you honestly believe Jesus isn’t at work there?

    And how about this; what about places in the world like the Middle East that have been the recipients of violence coming from twisted actions carried out in the “name” of Christ that can’t see and embrace Jesus because of the atrocities of “Christians.” Ex. Crusades, etc.

    Do the people of the Middle East carry all the responsibility and accountability when confronted with the truth of Jesus of accepting what they have been confronted with? Is it as simple as seeing Jesus for them, or would their vision be obscured by the kind of people and actions of those people who claim to be followers of his?

    Just a couple questions.

    I’d say Jesus has to work in some SERIOUSLY MYSTERIOUS ways to reconcile these people to himself in the light of how these persons have been treated and what they carry in their cultural memory.

  14. I believe it is a mystery that any of us are saved! I have read all those accounts many times. God calls who He will call. Romans 9 For I loved Jacob but hated Esau. I don’t understand everything about who He calls and why but I am thankful that I know Him. I don’t deserve it but I am so thankful.

    Romans 1 and John 3:19 explain a lot about your theory on the middle eastern people. I don’t think to many middle eastern people are dealing with Christians trying to kill them. I think they are more worried about the different sects of muslims killing one another. Plus their own book denounces the deity of Christ.

    Thank heavens it is the Holy Spirit who leads someone to Christ and we are just used as tools to bring the message.

    Light has come into the world. It is not that there is not enough light but men love the darkness and their wicked deeds more than the light. None will be able to say to God on judgement day it was Your fault that I didn’t believe in Jesus. ALL are without excuse.

  15. Wes,

    I’m not talking about blame or fault, I’m talking about shared responsibility. You would have to admit that if you had been severely mistreated by Christians in your life prior to someone presenting the truth to you, you’d be less inclined to accept the truth for what it is? Why? Because those who claim to be his followers have greatly hurt you. Do those Christians deserve to carry a responsibility for how the world sees Christ? Yes.

    And I don’t know if you’re aware of history, Wes, and the reality of historical and cultural memory, but if you approached a Palestinian today and told them one word, “Crusades,” and asked them if they knew anything about it, they’d come out with a major cultural wound from centuries past. And I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the crusading language Bush used prior to the invasion of Iraq or the cultural perception that the US is “Christian” and that this is just another crusade to Muslims. When you combine those together, there’s a significant obstacle in the way (twisted spirituality) to Muslims seeing Jesus. Of course Muslims face significant violence within their own faith; Christians do too!

    God, in His wisdom and vulnerability has called us to be “co-laborers” with Him in the extension of his gospel. So it’s not as simple as saying it’s the “Holy Spirit who leads someone to Christ and we are just used as tools.” We are meant to reflect the glory of God into the world through our discipleship, and to many people in the world, we ARE Jesus to them. There are significant barriers to the extension of the gospel in our world, including the behavior and lifestyle of Christians. Remember, it is true that light has come into the world, but it is also true that those who were “God’s people,” those intended to embrace the Messiah, rejected him. That still happens today. I’ve heard more justifications of rejecting God’s truth from Christians today (all the way from liberal to fundamentalist) than from my friends who are struggling to make the move to faith.

  16. We are all born sinners, though we may not kill others in a war. Jesus said being angry with your brother without a cause is murder. There are many people that profess to be Christian but in reality they are deceived and on the broad road to hell. These people give Christianity a bad name, but just because there are people like that does not give anybody an excuse to justify why they themselve never repent and trust in Jesus Christ.

  17. Linda,

    What you say is true, that just because there are persons who claim to be Christians but in fact act in terribly destructive ways does not give persons an excuse to justify their rebellion.

    I would, however, push you a bit on that statement. In fact, I’d probably say “just because there are people like that does not ULTIMATELY give anyone an excuse to justify why they never repent.” Persons who claim to be Christian and act in unChristlike ways in the world do shoulder much of the responsibility for how Christ is seen in the world, and therefore are accountable for that. Christians are not called the “body of Christ” for nothing. It’s a high calling and a tough job to display as consistently as possible the life that all of humanity is created for.

    And because God is a righteous judge, I would fully expect him to take into account the twisted actions of persons surrounding all of us in life when we appear at the judgment throne; and his decisions will consider what we are accountable for and not. Because irregardless of who Jesus REALLY is, inhabitants of Iraq today who are being occupied by what some call a “Christian” nation and mistreated in a variety of ways don’t have time to think about who Jesus REALLY is when they’re mourning their dead and maimed and dealing with anger. And we really shouldn’t be surprised if their mind flits back to the Crusades where supposed “Christians” defaced God’s name and creation, because that happened too, and Arabs were slaughtered there.

    All of those things being said, history shouldn’t paralyze us, but it should humble us. And people do carry the responsibility of responding to the truth. But the truth is most powerful when carried in word and deed, and blemished and fragmented when spat upon by those who claim to represent it.

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