Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Several months ago on facebook I shared a graphic of a picture and quote of Bill Maher, who in speaking of Syrian President Assad, said:  “Using harmful chemical weapons to hurt your own people?  Who does this guy think he is, Monsanto?”   
Dan commented.  Dan and I had been friends for thirty years, but it was only in the last few that I learned both that he was politically arch conservative, and considers himself Christian.
Dan wrote:  “Bob.  You posted a link of Bill Maher re. Republicans.  He shares your political views, sure.  That’s alright.  But you must know by now he’s a tirelessly outspoken atheist who thinks people who believe in God, especially Christians, are hypocrites and idiots.  That includes me and you brother.  There are so many links, quotes and videos I could post to back me up it’s a joke.  So I won’t.”
I replied:  “Seriously, Dan?  Should I shun Bill Maher because he’s an atheist?”
Dan responded:  “No, shun him for calling you an idiot.  I have atheist friends.  Woody was an atheist.  But he never thought I was a hypocrite, or stupid for being a Christian.”
The next day Dan posted a link to Michael Savage’s anti Obama vitriol, the hypocrisy was too stark for me to stand, and I decided to unfriend Dan, which I did by posting the following comment to him on facebook.
“It has been an amazing thing to watch an entire circle of college friends all lose their minds over thirty years.  Mary Ellen is insane—unless you consider bringing a rabbit named Woody to Woody’s funeral to be perfectly normal.  Zak lost his mind when he gave it to Mary Ellen when he willingly submitted himself to the underside of her thumb.  Woody lost his mind and it cost him his life.  Shaumyan has lost his mind, and is now an incoherent drunk who has aligned himself with the very wicked men and women he used to call out for being bastards, and is still writing his pathetic ‘fuck the world’ poems at a third grade reading level.  And alas you too Dan—you now dwell in a muddled parallel universe where Jesus Christ is a money worshipping, earth raping, warmongering, machine gun toting, child abusing homophobic racist hypocrite who hates the poor and serves the rich.
If I thought you were a Christian I would rejoice.  Instead I am deleting you from my friends list.  I still hope you someday come into the light, but I find some of what you publish on facebook to be offensive filth, and your perversion of Christianity to be misguided and blind.”
That was several months ago.  Last week I received this email from Dan.
Hello Bob,
Lately in church, one of Jesus’ teachings kept coming up, the one about leaving your gift at the altar, “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” It’s of course, about forgiveness, in this case, me forgiving you, and perhaps more significantly, you forgiving me. You kept entering my mind when this was addressed during service.
We disagree politically. Had we approached it differently, we might’ve actually found common ground. But I believe we at least agree on an even more important topic, which is why I’m writing this.
Of course, you can either accept my apology for what I’ve said or not. But I had to at least broach the topic with you, because the Lord says we must.
Hope all is well.
Kind regards,
I decided to turn my response into this blog post.
Just the fact that you write to me expecting a response can be regarded as arrogance, as there were two occasions in the past couple years where I wrote lengthy answers/responses to your comments/question that you not only did not answer, you did not even bother to acknowledge that I had taken the time to write them.
You’ve forgiven me?  Pray tell for what?  For the sin of speaking the truth?  I have done you no wrong.  While you’re standing at the altar offering heartfelt forgiveness to someone who’s done you no wrong, I think this would be the more appropriate scripture to contemplate, if you want do what the Lord says we must.
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.  Matthew 12:6-7.
God will have mercy, not sacrifice.  He wants your heart, not your hard cash.  You can’t bribe your way into heaven with tithes.
The concept of mercy not sacrifice must be really important, because it appears throughout the Old Testament and Jesus referred to it repeatedly.
Here it is in Hosea:  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
And I just read it again this morning here in Psalm 50:16-17:  For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it:  thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commandments, which he summed up by saying above all love God and thy neighbor as thyself.
My politics stem directly from Jesus, the most liberal man who ever lived.  He overthrew the establishment while healing and feeding everyone who came to him, and brought light to the world before laying down his life for his friends in it.  That is LIBERALITY, and I accordingly vote for the rulers that will most liberally legislate to create ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ as Christ demonstrated during his stay here, and to write law that loves my neighbor as myself with particular respect to the disadvantaged--the elderly, the widows, our children, the poor and the sojourners; the politician who would show mercy by lifting me up if I were in unfortunate straits.  Such leaders are the liberals.  You detest them.
In demonstrating ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ Christ also taught his disciples socialism.
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:  neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need
.  Acts 4:32-35
That is socialism, Dan, which you also despise.  How can you despise what you hope to attain?
Jesus also said that he who is not against us is with us.   You, Dan, are against us.  Your heart is with the enemy, who is the Devil.  Is Jesus good or evil?  Then why do you vote for leaders whose works are nothing but evil? To quote scripture: an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.  Truly Christian politicians would make certain all impoverished children are fed.  The politicians you vote for rip that food out of the mouths of babes and give it to BIG BANKS and OIL COMPANIES.  That is evil.  Truly Christian politicians would create a universal health care system that covers EVERYONE.  The politicians you empower with your vote would take away health care from as many poor people as possible.  How is that Christian?  How is that loving thy neighbor as thyself?  That is evil.
Thanks directly to Obamacare I now have health insurance for the first time in my life.  If you’d had your way in the last election that would have been ripped from me and I would be back in the position of having to give up my home to an insurance company or a hospital were I to become catastrophically ill.  If you tell me I’d be better off that way and that you love me like a Christian brother you are nuts.
And have you seen the latest right wing persecution of the poor—criminalizing homelessness?  It’s been happening in recent years in local republican legislatures across America.  Read some of the stories here and explain to me how it is Christian to vote for these sons and daughters of the Devil.  It’s pernicious malice, utterly heartless evil—and these are the lawmakers YOU choose to rule over your neighbors.  Since we know that blessed are the poor, and theirs is the kingdom of heaven, how can you persecute the children of God in the name of Christ?  You cannot, that is a kingdom divided, which cannot stand.
You, Dan, are the perfect example of the person Christ describes here:  Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  Matthew 15:8-9
And who but the phony Christians, wolves in sheepskin whose lying lips speak righteousness while their hearts are full of hate, is Christ talking about here?  Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful things?
And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you.  Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
  Matthew 7:21-23
As to forgiveness, why do you seek mine?  I really don’t understand.  For being what I perceive to be a phony Christian?   You have to account for your cold-hearted disregard, neglect and contempt for some of your neighbors to the Lord, not me.  And if you really think that Jesus Christ just coincidentally shares political views with Rush Limbaugh, Ted Nugent, Dick Cheney, Glen Beck, the Bush family crime syndicate, Ronald Reagan, the NRA and Wall Street, then you are crazy and there is no sin in my saying so.  
As to any reconciliation, what do you suggest?  I refuse to have your hypocritical antichrist right wing rubbish infesting my facebook feed.  It seems to me that if your heart were truly reconciled with Christ then we would already be on the same page and not having this discussion.  That is the reconciliation I would suggest you pursue.
Next time you’re standing at the altar with your precious gift (that you now know the Lord does not desire in the first place), you might want to write this scripture in your palm and read and ponder it in your heart while standing there, for it is you.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith:  these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  Matthew 23:23