Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – 18th Ordinary (Day 3)

Ephesians 4:1-16

4 Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
7 God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. 8 That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.
9 What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.
11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, 16 who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part.


What a great passage! And one that speaks to the church on many different levels. Today, however, is boycott day at Chik-fil-a (or eat at Chik-fil-a if you’re of a different persuasion on the issue of the legitimacy of homosexual marriage). On this day, Paul’s words at the beginning of this text speak most insistently to me (4:1-4).

I have no dog in this hunt. Indeed, I’m not even sure there should be a hunt over this. I understand the passion on both sides of this matter, as well as the sense of urgency that possesses the different parties. I feel there is such confusion and lack of clarity over the issues involved and the church’s role in such issues, that I will not be involved either way in it.

Even if I were convinced enough to be involved, however, Paul’s word in vv.1-4 in our reading still give me pause. The follow blog post from “Christ and Pop Culture” expresses my concerns in light of calls like Paul’s here:

Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

The Minority Report: McDonald’s on Chick-Fil-A Day
By
Drew Dixon
– August 1, 2012

"... its important that we, as Christians, avoid turning absolutely every issue into a culture war of vast proportions. It just feels childish."

Every Tuesday in The Minority Report, Drew Dixon takes a look at trends in youth culture and offers some biblical wisdom for navigating them.

Sometimes when I forget to set the coffee maker, I stop by McDonald’s on the way to work. Their coffee is decent, and I like to have an Egg McMuffin from time to time. And though it is always busy in the morning, McDonald’s is quite efficient and I can always get in and out of the drive-through quickly. Say what you will about McDonald’s or fast food in general, but it provides me a product that I like and am occasionally happy to pay for. This morning was one of those times, so as I pulled into McDonald’s, something strange happened. I pull right up to the drive- through window—there was no line.

Only later, once I perused my Facebook feed, did I realize why McDonald’s wasn’t busy. It is Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. It became very clear to me that this was the case because I quickly lost count of the number of people on my feed who had taken pictures of their chicken sandwiches or wrote a status declaring their plans to go to Chick-Fil-A. I also saw one status by a gay friend of mine, joking about how he was going to wear a chicken shirt to work today.

I think the claims of the mayors of Boston and Chicago that Chick-Fil-A isn’t welcome in their respective cities is ridiculous. It is ridiculous in terms of Dan Cathy’s constitutional right to free speech and in terms of holding an entire company accountable for the personal views of its CEO. Yet, I also find it slightly childish that so many Christians are so excitedly posting their love for Chick-Fil-A for all their Facebook friends to see.

I want to pull these sisters and brothers aside and ask them what they think they are accomplishing by publicly declaring their love for Chick-Fil-A. Do they feel they are supporting the first amendment? Do they believe that eating a chicken biscuit sends a message to governing officials like Thomas Menino and Rahm Emanuel that they can’t force their views on others? Or do they think they are taking a stand for the traditional definition of marriage?

If all these Christians are motivated by protecting their first amendment rights, then let’s make that clear. If the goal is to win the culture war by purchasing waffle fries, I want no part of this buycott silliness.

I have friends on Facebook who are gay, who feel that their home state discriminates against them. I have friends who are firm advocates of gay marriage. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality and I believe it. Going to Chick-Fil-A and posting a picture on Facebook, however, seems like an incredibly unproductive way of engaging these friends in an important dialogue. It feels like political positioning rather than Kingdom ethics.

These friends are not going to consider the claims of the gospel because I promise to eat waffle fries in support of traditional family values. These people do, however, value my friendship. I want them to see the glory of Jesus in the gospel, but I fear too many of their Christian friends on Facebook seem more interested in winning a culture war than proclaiming the gospel. I want to tell my gay friend wearing the chicken shirt that not all Christians are like that, but I am not sure it would help.
I like Chick-Fil-A for breakfast but I rarely go there. It’s not on my way to work, and it’s more expensive than McDonald’s. Honestly, I am glad I didn’t stop by Chick-Fil-A this morning because I have no desire to wait an hour for a chicken biscuit when I can get something just as good for cheaper in a fraction of the time. I also want to be cognizant of my neighbor and feel it’s important that we, as Christians, avoid turning absolutely every issue into a culture war of vast proportions. It just feels childish.

Another friend of mine posted this passage on Facebook today; it seems appropriate:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14–21).

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