Reading the headlines through a Gospel worldview 10-28-2019October 28, 2019
It feels like we have to lead off with the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-declared Caliph of the Islamic State. He ultimately blew himself up but his journey to that end was paved with human devastation. He is responsible for the rape, torture, and murder of untold people. The direct and indirect result of ISIS in Syria alone has resulted in the displacement of millions of people living – and dying – as refugees. Muslims have suffered the most but religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis, have suffered disproportionately as targets of Islamic zealotry. It is tempting to celebrate his death but we must not dance on grave. al-Baghdadi gives us an opportunity to consider the depth of human depravity, man’s inhumanity to man, and the manifest evil possible when one person is so possessed of a deceptive ideology So, today, let us be clear: this was one really demented individual and under his leadership many other people have done horrific things. But each person is yet a person and as we talk about the death of this one man let us do so with the Gospel on our lips and the desire for redemption in our hearts. We are not vengeful and we must not allow ourselves to imagine that every Muslim is a terrorist nor that every person from the Middle East is a Muslim. Remember those who mocked Jesus because nothing good could come from Nazareth? They were wrong and as we engage Muslims in our own communities today, let us do so with the knowledge that many many more Muslims have been killed by al-Baghdadi’s murderous terrorist organization than Christians or Americans. It also occurs to me that are today tens of thousands of foreign fighters who traveled from 120 nations to join al-Baghdadi in pursuit of a Caliphate who still need a future and a hope. They put their faith and hope in the wrong man – but there is a man in whom they can put their faith and hope who will never fail. His name is Jesus and we are the people commissioned to make His name known here and now.
Who translated the Bible you hold in your hand?
Two headlines related to Bible translation caught my attention. The first, Second Bible Translator Killed in Cameroon. The second, Wycliffe Officially Installs New President/CEO. I am forever indebted to those who faithfully translate the Bible for the rest of us. Imagine for a moment that the Bible were not available in your native language. Or, imagine that God has given you not only the gift of language but the passion for others to know Him by reading His Word. That’s the space where Wycliffe – and other Bible translation ministries – operate. Angus Fung was a Bible translator. He was the first translator killed in Cameroon leading the headline of a second. Angus was murdered in August (his wife remains hospitalized with wounds suffered in the machete attack at their home). The man who stepped up to continue the work of Bible translation was 48 year old Benjamin Tem. He leaves behind a wife and five children. And now, God will call another to pick up where the translation ended. Yes, the blood of these martyrs cries out and the Word of God will yet do its transforming power.
“Happy Hallo-Thanks-Mas and a Happy New Year!” was the greeting this morning from my producer. Apparently he thinks you can mash-up Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. He’s wrong, of course. But he did make me wonder, “how many shopping days are left?” Answer (depends on when you read this so check here) when I posted this it was 57 days. But Christmas is coming early – actually just before Thanksgiving – for 5888 residents of Cook County, Illinois where more than $5.3 million of medical debt has been wiped out through generosity of local churches. Soon the bright yellow RIP Medical Debt envelope will arrive. They will open it to discover that their medical debt has been forgiven. No strings attached. And the benefactor of such liberating grace? Christian neighbors. Great thanksgiving will arise and who knows what God might then do. Want to know more? I’ve talked with the guys at RIP Medical debt and you can listen here and here.
One headline at the intersection of worldview, identity, relationships, sex, marriage and the sanctity of marriage. Thai King strips disloyal royal consort of titles and military rank.
So much soil to till here. Let’s start with the one of the oldest and most enduring monarchies in the world. Then we could talk about the wealth amassed under the control of this one king. Then we could talk about his succession of wives (his current wife is not his first and she was his consort before ascending to the position of Queen by marrying the King just before his coronation). So why is anyone surprised that his new consort (yes, that still means what you think it means) was ambitious for the throne? If you look at pictures of this beautiful, strong, capable woman – lying at this man’s feet. I asked myself, “where is the feminist outrage?” And then I remembered the coverage given to the Thai King’s coronation when no one in the breathlessly #MeToo media supped on the drippings of an event better suited for a bygone era.
Two headlines on life and death: Euthanasia and Teen Suicide. I have talked at length about the end-of-life ethics of euthanasia, physician assisted suicide and so-called right to die. We have also addressed the issue of suicide here, here and here.
And a GoodNews headline on life (and foster care) to inspire you! He traded single life to be foster Pop to more than 50 kids