Evangelical & Gratitude

People don’t have to be nice

And when they are nice

They don’t have to be nice to you

            Life is certainly ironic. This expression was voiced a many of times when I was a youngster. It was said by the Chairman of the Deacon Board of the church my family attended. Of course, being a mischievous youth along with other mischievous youths we would mock and attempt to imitate Deacon Brinker. Little did I know at the time I would enthusiastically include that expression in my repertoire of wisdom sayings when I became a fully functioning adult make. As a quick aside, I am really, really looking forward to the birth of my first grandson, via my youngster daughter. I look forward to her reaping some of the heartache she gave Monique and I as our daughter under our tutelage.

            This past week’s new items included the story of several prominent New Yorkers expressing angst over the Evangelical ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, offer to provide medical care to take the load off the conventional medical facilities in New York city as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Those leading the resistance include New York city, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York state senator, Brad Hoylman. 

            What was Hoylman’s contribution to the discussion, you ask? He took to Twitter and tweeted, “It is a shame the federal government has left New York with no choice but to accept charity from bigots.” Sen. Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and self-described “gay dad; public school parent; husband to David,” also tweeted, “Being gay is not a sin. Telling LGBTQ New Yorkers that they are wrong to love their partners might qualify.”

            1) I have covered in great detail the Bible does present “being gay” as a sin, both in the Old and New Testament in previous blog posts so I am not going to spend time treading ground already covered. I will just mention Leviticus 18:22, 20:3 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in passing.

            2) It is mind boggling Hoylman actually is attempting to turn the table and posit Evangelicals who dare call sin what God calls sin as sinners. This is hubris on steroids, this is akin to Satan calling Evangelicals sinners when they posit the Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity. The Apostle Paul makes explicit in Romans 1 that any act that violate the sexual complementarity between a man and a woman is a vile affection. Please note these are the exact words the ESV uses to translate verse 26 in Romans chapter One.

            The full verse, along with the following verse, reads, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26-27, emphasis mine).

            I believe it is important to note Paul makes mention of women first for a very insightful reason. Lesbianism, while practiced was the exception and was not the rule concerning sexual deviancy among men and women. Whereas homosexuality was more widely practiced among males, in fact, it was quite rampant in the pagan Roman lifestyle. Yet, how clearer could the Word of God be when it speaks about the vile (God’s choices of worlds, not mine’s) practice of a man having sexual relations with another man and a woman having sexual relationship with another woman. There are surely other practices that God reveals that He finds an abomination to be sure and Evangelicals will do well to be as adamantly against those sins as well but there can no dispute what the mind of God regarding sexual expression is.

            So, here we have Mayor de Blasio & Senator Hoylman failing to express what should be obvious gratitude to an organization’s willingness to expose themselves to physical danger, to include death, in the face of the world’s health crisis. You would think the mayor of one of the world’s largest city, whose city is being inundated with more cases that it could handle would be pouring out his heart with thanks and appreciation.

            Yet, listen to what de Blasio had to say to the press in the face of his city’s struggle with the pandemic, “I said immediately to my team that we had to find out exactly what was happening. Was there going to be an approach that was truly consistent with the value [of] New York City?” I am flabbergasted at the high-handedness of someone who desperately needs help. If I was starving, would it be sane if I first wanted to validate the person who was legitimately offering me a piece of bread. I emphasize the words I included in my hypothetical question.  The words are starving and legitimately.

            New York is currently America’s epicenter in both number of cases and amount of deaths associated with COVID-19. There can no dispute as to the legitimacy of Samaritan’s Purse track record of work in the medical field. They have ministered treating Ebola in Africa, treating victims of brutal sectarian warfare in the Balkans, and tornado victims in Tennessee, just to name a few examples.

            This stupidity reminded me of the ignorance and grossly insensitive remarks made by Tom Joyner during the Katrina tragedy experienced in the Louisiana area. Tom Joyner is retired R&B dee-jay who broadcasted a morning talk show that was nationally syndicated. He is a legend and practically an institution in the African American community. I had pretty much grown up having a ton of support for Joyner. He was a brother who has both made it individually and was one who was always promoting education in the African American community with his time, his talents and his treasures.

            So, based on these positive declarations why am I lumping Joyner name with de Blasio and Hoylman? Joyner and his cohorts actually said on national radio African Americans affected by Katrina needed more African Americans to come down to New Orleans because, get this, the majority of people providing aids to the human beings affected by Katrina was Caucasians.

            Mind you, if Joyner was simply requesting more African Americans to get involved in helping that would have been fine and perfectly acceptable. But, Joyner made the actual connection between the race of the person offering the help and the race of the person needing the help as if that would really matter in a time of dire circumstances.

            It was THAT time I quit listening to Tom Joyner and had NO respect whatsoever for him and his crew. What message did that send to the countless Caucasian Americans who volunteered to render aid to those who most desperately needed it? Evangelicals really understand at the most basic level there is only ONE race: the human race.  We all descend from one common ancestor; we derive from one common DNA. What separates us is largely pigmentation and language. Those closer to the equation have a darker hue and those further away from the equation possess a lighter hue. The Tower of Babel reveals how humans came to speak different language but all of humanity are offspring of the three sons of Noah (Genesis 6).

            I seem to remember a refrain my dear mother used to frequently say. She would remind my brothers and I “beggars can’t be choosy” whenever we failed to appreciate the generosity of others or our own dire straits. The gall of anyone who believes they can stay in judgment of anyone sincerely offering to provide help when it is so desperately needed.

            I would literally take help from a KKK member if I could reasonably understand that KKK member was legitimately offering me a lifeline if I was ever in dire circumstances. It would be one thing to be legitimately leery of Samaritan’s Purse if the ministry was a new upstart and you could not easily verify their bona fides but Samaritan’s Purse record speaks for itself.

            Hopefully, you can still remember the images of people, of all races, desperately needing help during Katrina. My parents raised me to always appreciate anytime someone was willing to be nice to me. You have a friend for life with me whenever you choose to be generous to me.  I do so because I understand you didn’t have to be nice and when you choose to be nice you did not have to be nice to me. Funny how help often comes full circle, you adopt as a man what you mock as a child (1 Corinthians 13).

            When humans extend grace to one another it is only derivative of what is done by God. God did not have to extend grace to me today at any point, but He does continuously even as I type the letters for this blog article. The very breath I am taking right now is part and parcel of God’s continual grace. One of God’s necessary attributes would have to be long-suffering because even the best of us fail to give God the thanks for all of the things He does for us on a moment-by-moment basis. There are countless times I get so out of sort I fail to pause to say grace before I eat. There is many a day it is noon and I have failed to express gratitude to God, yet I am still here in the land of the living.  That, my friend, is pure grace!!!!

            We all have our unique pet peeves, things that just rub us the wrong way. Ingratitude has always been at the top of my list. People who do not say thank you or even acknowledge you when you open the door and let them enter first. Drivers who do not acknowledge you when you let them cut in in front of you. Children who do not say thank you when you give them gifts. Without naming names, I refused to give certain children any future gifts because of their crass indifference to the Christmas gifts I gave them one year. They literally took my gift, looked at it for a few seconds and placed it beside themselves and went back to what they were doing. Granted, this is due to a parenting breakdown, but I was not going to take my hard-earned money and spend it on anyone who was so jaded to think they deserved whatever they received.

            The story I just mentioned is most unfortunate, but I cannot be all things to all people. I hope these young people grew out of this self-absorbedness. We would all do well to take Deacon’s Brinker wise words of wisdom to heart.

People, to include God Himself, don’t have to be nice

And when they are nice

They don’t have to be nice to you

            I can almost guarantee you those New Yorkers who are able to receive prompt medical attention because of the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse are not concerned with the theological positions of the doctors and nurse who risk their own personal safety to extend desperately needed medical care.

            When ratioale and sane people are genuinely in need they will take help legitimate help whenever and however they can receive it.  If you disagree I would love to hear you present cogent argument why your position is to be accepted over mine. I believe I have the mind of God in this matter. Let me know what you think. 

            Until then Keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

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