When Good People Do Bad Things

When Good People Do Bad Things

PaparazziMany in the popular media seem to relish exposing “skeletons in the closet” whenever an individual or a group that claims to be Christian does something bad. “Hypocrite!” they shout. “Why do you think you can judge others when you are doing worse things yourselves?” A recent media circus has made political fodder of a Christian family’s pain, and that’s wrong.

But even though the circus is wrong, it’s normal and understandable. This is only one of the more recent scandals involving those who claim the name of Christ. Those who would rather continue living without any restraint on their lifestyle love to demonize those who fail to live up to the standards they themselves portray as right. “Bad” people feel justified in their badness when good people do bad things too. And talk of “forgiveness” and “bad choices” doesn’t address the real issues.

The media will not be silenced when Christians engage in bad behavior involving sex, lies, or money. While such publicity may be personally excruciating and publically damaging to the name of Christ, I want to look deeper. While there are real benefits to adopting an openly Christian lifestyle, why are the lives of many who claim Christianity no better than others?

The data is not all negative, but there’s plenty of evidence to say that on many fronts Christians are behaving badly all too often:

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5 Benefits of Reading the Bible

5 Benefits of Reading the Bible

As a Christian you’ve probably heard over and over, “Read your Bible!” But why? You get busy and it just doesn’t happen. Or you begin, but get bogged down in the “begats.” Or you really try, but it just doesn’t seem worth the effort; it’s not doing anything for you. Reading the Bible becomes one of those “should’s” hanging over your Christian life and making you feel guilty.

If that’s our experience, we must be missing something. Consider what the Bible has meant to believers throughout history. Would monks and other religious workers spend their entire lives painstakingly copying the Bible by hand if it were just a duty? Why would Guttenberg choose the Bible as the first work to be produced on his new invention – the printing press? Why would governments aligned against the Christian faith not uncommonly kill people simply for possessing a book? Would underground evangelists risk their very lives to bring Bibles to people if it were just something they “should” read? Why would believers in some countries rejoice with tears when they received their first Bible if they were only “supposed to” read it?

There must be something more to the Bible than we usually pay attention to. Many people in our culture possess multiple Bibles that are never read. Perhaps we value it too lightly because it hasn’t cost us anything, or we haven’t experienced any benefits from putting it into our souls.

If you haven’t experienced the Bible as vitally nourishing to your soul, here are 5 benefits that you’re missing out on:

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You Really ARE Alone

You Really ARE Alone

Sunset_AloneHelpers, advocates, friends, and kind people everywhere often say to someone who’s hurting, “You’re not alone.” I often say it myself. It’s meant as an offer of help and sympathetic reassurance. But does it work? What if you really are alone?

We human beings are all stranded on this messed-up Earth and hoping to escape one day. Our problems aren’t that unique, even though it often feels as though they are. Domestic violence, divorce, cancer, widowhood, bankruptcy, bullying, shame, war – whatever your trauma, someone else has experienced the same thing. Or at least something very similar. Some have turned out well, and some haven’t. Peter assures us that when it comes to spiritual warfare, “your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9)

But when you’re all alone at night and your child calls from the police station, or your body is full of pain, or you’re faced with the opportunity to cheat and no one would know, it’s up to you. You’re up to bat, and there’s no replacement available. Those moments demonstrate your true character as nothing else can.

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Why Christians Need Emotional Intelligence

Why Christians Need Emotional Intelligence

Telling StoriesThe list of catechism-like truths taught in a Sunday school class or Bible study won’t do much to change you, or change your world, if that’s where they stay. God’s pronouncements on Mount Sinai may have shaken things up, but they didn’t solve any of the world’s problems, or our problems. No, in order to do that He had to send Jesus.

What did Jesus do? He told stories. He spent time with people. He healed those who were sick. He said things that grabbed people’s emotions and made them think. He melded His heart with the men and women He was close to so thoroughly that they became different people, and would spend the rest of their lives living – and dying – for Him.

None of that comes through Mount Sinai-like pronouncements of propositional truths, as “true” as they may be. When we make those kind of pronouncements from our church pulpits, or from our Facebook pages, billboards, or any other form of media, it may shake things up but it doesn’t change anyone. (Have you ever known anyone to die for a billboard statement?) No, in order to change things and people, Christians need emotional intelligence.

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How to be Both Heavenly Minded and Earthly Good

How to be Both Heavenly Minded and Earthly Good

You know the old saying: “Christians are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.” It’s meant as a derogatory reference to Christians who spend their time and energy on spiritual activities, while seeming uninformed on current events or unavailable for making any positive impact on the world around them.

There are others who say that doing good – helping those who are hungry, poor, sick, or in prison, or providing disaster relief – is what it’s all about. For them, getting busy helping others is the mark of spirituality.

The Christian church has had heroes in both camps. The best known “heavenly minded” saints would be those in certain monastic religious orders who spent their days primarily alone and in prayer. And perhaps Mother Teresa would be the best known example of the “earthly good” camp. And yet all these saints understood that both aspects are needed. Many of the monastery residents worked to provide help to those in need, and Mother Teresa is well known for her deep personal spiritual life.

Jesus talked about both aspects – the need to love both God and people.

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