Saturday, March 11

Will we ever get it right?

Jesus summarized the all of the scriptures in just four sentences. When he was asked what the greated commandment was, he answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40.

So, if we can do two things, love God and love everyone, everything will work itself out. Theoretically, it should be simple. Show love to everyone all the time. If people don't like you, or don't like what you stand for, you love them. If people are for something you are against, you love them. We aren't supposed to hate our enemies, we're supposed to love them. Why do Christians seem to have so much trouble getting this right?

Far too often, it seems like the first instinct of a Christian is to punish those we disagree with. A secular company doesn't act, or require everyone to act, like you think a Christian should? Boycott them. You can find boycott lists all over the internet. Sometimes it's no wonder that all the world sees in the church is hypocrites. We preach love, but often don't practice it. We claim that Jesus came to save sinners, but it seems like what we really want is for them to be punished.

Followers of Christ should be a light to the world. We should show the way, and draw everyone to Christ. Everything we do should be based in love. Of course, this leads to its own set of issues. How can we try to impact our world for the better, but still make sure that in trying to make change we are really acting in love?


TheBGRT said...

Bravo!!! I often think of this myself when I am thinking about Youth Ministry. Tim, I sometimes think that you are in the wrong profession, that maybe you should have been a Pastor. However I am thankful that you are not, for you would not be the Tim that thinks like you do if you were a Pastor. Sometimes the greatest and purest views of the Faith comes from those that are not "trained" to be teachers or preachers, but those that think outside the box, just like Jesus.

Scott Wilder said...

Well said Tim. Well said. As a confession of sin; I find myself in the "punishing mode" far too often. Finding the heartspace of grace and compassion dose not come naturally to me.

No matter how long we've been christians. No matter how veteran we think we are in this faith thing. We need constant reminding that WE NEED JESUS.

Thanks for the reminder,


ash_loren said...

i definitely agree, but i would put this: "A secular company doesn't act, or require everyone to act, like you think a Christian should?" in a different category.

a company is not a person.
and not buying products from one is not a hateful thing in any way in and of itself, though i'm sure people could make it that way.
i'll bring up sweatshop usage again, because that's what's on my mind. disagreeing with the exploitation of people (the ones we're supposed to love) is also definitely not a hateful thing (it's the opposite), and it's not just a christian principle. it's a basic human consideration.

so in this sweatshop case:
where do hypocrites really fit in?
why would the act of challenging be considered hateful?
if one is challenging themselves to abandon sin, why should they not challenge others to do the same?
where's the punishment in this?
what does it really mean to love someone?

ash_loren said...

to further clarify my last comment...

"(the ones we're supposed to love)" this meant people in general, versus a company itself.

and also, i guess what i was trying to get at is, in the case of a company (if we ARE going to consider it a person, which lawfully, supposedly we can) in the case of a company being considered a person, how do we love them and not what they do?

is there a difference between "boycotting" and then just not agreeing with their practices?

and if not agreeing with their practices is the better of the two, how on earth do we love them but not the things that they do?

wouldn't buying things from them be an encouragement of their sin?
and would it not also be not only encouraging their sin, but aiding it as well?

ash_loren said...

to clarify again:

"how on earth do we love them but not the things that they do?"

meaning, how does that manifest itself?

ash_loren said...

oh brother.

i just thought of more. sorry.

okay. boycotting vs. simply disagreeing.

maybe disagreeing is, yes, not supporting that particular company anymore.
maybe the "non-hateful" way of doing that is to keep it to yourself, or maybe share it with your friends who are also christians or who also might be interested, but not let it become a huge deal?

but we are supposed to be the light, are we not?
so in that case, would it be innappropriate to stay quiet?

if we're concerned with not making big deals of ourselves and not, like, putting ourselves in the spotlight, do we just concern ourselves with affecting each person we come into contact with instead? not in the case of sweatshops, but in the case of Christ in general, and if other things (like sweatshop stuff) stem from that, so be it?

i mean, we are called to do good things for people (that's where the "don't do the good things for God, but do the God things for good" came from in the other post, meaning yes, Christ is our motivation, but he should also be the agent), right? person by person, like we talked about at camp. many questions!

Tigpan said... would have been so much fun in my business ethics class! :-)

In response to the posting....
How do we "love the sinner, but hate the sin"...we don't. No where in the word of God does it say that, God's commandment says "Love God, Love each other". No where in there does it say, oh but hate each other's sin. I don't know about you, but I have my own sin to hate/mourn (Matt 5:4). So where does the porn industry, or the sweatshops, or the use of God's creatures for testing, etc etc etc..come in.
I don't know....
What I do know is that God spent his time here on earth in bars and places "unfit" for the "church" of his day to be seen, and was called out by them for it. He did not come into the world to condemn it (John 3:17)...but to free it, and in freeing it he gave us two commands. "Love God, love others".
The second can be the hardest thing ever on the planet...EVER...yet that is what we have been called to do. Period. Full stop.
Does this make sense?

Tim Gleason said...

I've always wondered if boycotting for issues like sweat shops (which is not something I was thinking about when I originally wrote this post) is whether or not boycotting will really get the results we're looking for.

Retailers like Wal-Mart use smaller companies for their soft goods like clothing. It's not the major labels. Even if we are successful with boycotting these smaller companies, will the result be that they change their working conditions in the plants they currently have? Or will they just close their doors? Or, if they do agree to provide better conditions, will they move to a place that requires a lower base salary, so that improving conditions will have a smaller impact on their bottom line? If they shut down or move their plants (which I think is at least as likely as providing improved conditions in existing plants), have we really helped the people working there? Sure, they don't have to work in sweat-shop conditions, but they don't have jobs any more.

Bigger brand names can command higher prices, just because they are perceived as "better." Nike is making such a big profit on their shoes, just because they are Nike, that they can afford to provide better working conditions. Plus, the negative publicity regarding sweat shops is something that they don't want. So a boycott has a chance of working against a company like Nike.

I'm just not sure that there will be the same effect on a small, lesser known company, like those used by Wal-Mart. Plus, there is the issue of how much of the fault is due to the retailer and how much is due to the manufacturer.

Now, I'm certainly not trying to say that we should support sweat shops, or that we should just shrug our shoulders and say "oh well, that's just how things are." But I find myself wondering if there isn't a better way...

ash_loren said...

tigpan, thankyou for #1: responding, #2: helping to bring me clarity on that and #3: helping me figure out more precisely what i've been trying to get at.

okay. so, i go down to guatemala. i want to buy something in the marketplace, and i start to barter with the person. maybe we reach an agreement for a certain price, or maybe we don't, but eventually i end up paying for the item. i end up paying an amount that is ridiculously low, maybe even to their standards. the person wants more money, but knows i won't budge so accepts what i'm offering because they need at least something. i have a lot of money, money that i can certainly afford to give up. so though the person agreed to take the amount i offered for the item, i'm still cheating them in a way. i'm being greedy and cheating someone just because i can get away with it. i am manipulating them. that is not "loving my neighbor."

so is it still not loving my neighbor if i add in a middle agent?

am i not also placing "blame" on someone else, now?

does motivation/ignorance change anything?

tim, thanks for saying everything you said.
one of the reasons why i am so...feisty, i guess, when it comes to this stuff, is because there HAVE been companies that have started doing a far better job of making sure contractors use "fair trade" companies for production of their products.

but i also agree with this: "Sure, they don't have to work in sweat-shop conditions, but they don't have jobs any more," (i think i might have even said something along those lines in the walmart posts).

and unfortunately, it all depends on other countries' laws, too. sweatshops (okay, i really need to start using the term "factories with sweatshop-conditions") aren't illegal in many countries, and in some of the ones that are, they are trying to monitor factories but don't seem to be having much success.

i really do hope there's a better way...