Ask Father Paul 09/07/11
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few questions that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: If you had to give (in your opinion) just one verse from the Bible which best describes God’s view of the situation in America today, what would it be? — Randy
Dear Randy: Awesome question. My one verse would have to be from the New Testament book of James, chapter 3, verse 16 (KJV) “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
Do we have “confusion” in America today? Strife? Evil? Are you kidding? Look at what has happened in America over the past three decades or so. Since Watergate our nation has become paralyzed by envy and strife ... especially strife. Can anyone honestly say that is not the case? Our government today is so torn by strife among its leaders and political parties that something as simple as just passing an annual budget has become impossible.
The dictionary defines “strife” as “angry and bitter conflict and disagreement over fundamental issues.” And that, in a nutshell, is exactly where America’s problem is today. Strife! The President is at war with Congress ... and Congress is at war with the President. Republicans are at war with Democrats ... and Democrats are at war with Republicans. We are sometimes even at war with each other, as a people. I’m not talking about normal political debate which is O.K. No, today the “other side” has become the “enemy,” who must be destroyed. Anything is fair — character attacks, lies, half truths. Listen to Talk Radio sometime. Nothing is off limits. Political discourse today consists of both sides scoring political points on every tiny issue instead of thoughtful, respectful and courteous debate then action. Far, far too many of our people and our leaders today are what must be called ideologues. The definition of “ideologue” ... “an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology.”
Americans ask, ”Where are voices of moderation?” and, ”Are there no true statesmen left in this country?” We all remember the definition of a statesman, its ”an elected official who is more interested in the next generation, than the next election.” Strife is also rampant in our state and local governments as well Randy, not just in Washington. I want to again strongly emphasize the fact that God in the James 3:16 verse calls the results, the outcome, the fruit of all the strife we are seeing, “confusion and every evil work.” So the Bible says that strife actually produces evil. Can God then bless all our strife? I don’t think so. Is it any wonder the country is in such a confused, strife-filled and evil mess? Really?
The solution? All of us, especially our leaders, must fall on our knees before God, lay aside our pride, and dedicate ourselves to living and to acting out the wisdom of another Bible verse. Psalm 133:1 (NIV) “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”
Dear Father Paul: Is the Christian faith growing? — L. K.
Dear L.K.: Not in Europe; it is actually declining there. In North America? Also no. Numbers of Christians in the U. S., Canada and Mexico remain flat at best. However, in Asia, Africa and South America the Christian faith is exploding at an unprecedented rate. The reason? Many, many Europeans and Americans now worship at the altar of “self” and “materialism,” not the altar of the living God. They are at the mall, at the lake, the golf course or sleeping in on Sunday morning. They never give a thought to God except when a job is lost, or their health fails. Then they learn that (to their regret) God often takes care of his regular customers first.
Do you have a question? I will try to answer you in the paper. Email your question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, Sacramental Congregation. You are cordially invited to worship with us this Sunday. Sunday sermon pod casts and complete information are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com.