Can We Talk Frankly?


Guest blogger–Stanley Baldwin

I like your blog theme, Sam, of being and becoming. As for becoming, God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ, and that is what he is working toward all the time. When we quote Romans 8:28 and affirm that “all things work together for good,” we need to understand that the “good” God has in mind is our Christ-likeness (see v. 29).

The bedrock base for Christ-likeness has to be authenticity. God is not all about making clever fakes out of us. Indeed, nothing could be more antithetical to Christ-likeness than hypocrisy, pretending to be something we are not.

When Ananias and Sapphira chose to fake generosity, God struck them both dead (Acts 5).  Yet, pretense used to gain favor or deflect criticism persists among Christians. Therefore, we must choose. Will I be authentic or will I pretend to be who and what I think others want?

The wicket gets especially sticky when honest concern for others prompts us to sometimes be less than forthcoming. We doubt that people are of a mind to hear us and we don’t want to alienate them and thus lose both their fellowship and the opportunity to speak truth, as we see it, into their lives, Even Jesus told his disciples, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (John 16:12). This leads me to conclude that authenticity does not mean I have to tell you everything I think.

That said, I choose now to take a stand that I think many of my fellow believers may criticize. I refer to the Occupy Wall Street movement. In cities across the country, protest marches and demonstrations have arisen against Wall Street and corporate greed. I can’t support the movement per se; it’s too soon to know who is behind it and where it is going. However, I do fully support its opposition to corporate greed and to corrupt use of economic power.

Both the overall tone and the specific teaching of Scripture are definitely anti-greed. “You shall not covet” is the Tenth Commandment. The church has historically considered greed one of the seven deadly sins. Jesus regularly took his stand with the poor. For example, his story about the beggar Lazarus and the rich man who neglected him consigned the rich man to hell and Lazarus to eternal recompense (Luke16:19-31).

Jesus could have done the opposite. He could have characterized the rich man as an admirable “job creating” entrepreneur who went to heaven and Lazarus as a worthless bum who lay around begging until he died and went to hell. Jesus could have talked that way but then he would have sounded much like would-be president Herman Cain, who said of the Occupy Wall Street protestors: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” (Wall Street Journal interview, October 5)

Whenever protests of abuse by the rich are voiced, some complain of “class warfare.” As one honorable rich man, Warren Buffett says, “Class warfare has been going on for years and the rich are winning.” He’s right. Economic disparity is rapidly increasing in this country. To raise that issue constitutes class warfare? Then I guess Jesus should have told Lazarus to shut up, stay away from the rich man’s door, and quit bothering the important man.

The Early Church declared that Jewish laws and customs are generally not applicable to Gentile believers, but the duty to help the poor is (Galatians 2:9-10). I believe that duty is a part of the age-old social contract of every civilized society. The United States has long seen it as part of government’s role to nurture acts of charity. That’s why charitable contributions are deductible from one’s taxable income.

The United States is presently a country where the super-rich get ever richer and the rest of the people get ever poorer. Instead of the super-rich willingly seeking to provide better pay and benefits to workers, they hire class warfare mercenaries (lobbyists) to demand more breaks for themselves at the people’s expense. Instead of adequately paying the workers who make their wealth possible, they concentrate ever more wealth in the hands of the few. The judgment of God is against such, and America will not survive as a great country if it continues.

I have written as I have because I am judging that you are fair enough to hear it. If you disagree with what I say, don’t write me off, don’t write an attack, but write a rebuttal, based on Scripture.

Stanley Baldwin has served as a pastor and an editor of periodicals and books. Since 1975, he has authored many non-fiction books including four best-sellers of over 250,000 copies each. His books are in a dozen languages. To receive his monthly free email of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Humans, send name and email address to spch.email@yahoo.com

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About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Risking change/changing the risk and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Can We Talk Frankly?

  1. Sam said speak frankly, so here goes. Herman Cain, to misquote the nice man, “If you don’t like it, get off your butts.” The Occupy Wall Street people are getting off their butts. For that I applaud them. Doesn’t mean I agree with them.

    As far as supporting greedy, who supports the drug cartels the official US and Mexican governments are trying to combat? The American people support them. Pretty tough to stop the greedy cartels when the same people (USA) trying to stop them are the same people (USA) who support them the most. If every American stopped buy illegal drugs… I know, get real, John.

    Same thing about banks. Who do the banks go to for their money, besides the US taxpayers for bailouts? Why, it’s the same group of people, the US taxpayers. People complain about debit card costs, bank fees, surprise service charges, credit card debt, mortgages higher than the value of their houses.

    I don’t. I’ve never used a debit card. Same with bank fees. If you don’t like the bank fees, shop around. In the past four years, I have paid zero bank fees, zero interest, have zero debt, lost zero funds on the stock exchange or through brokers. And it is because I got off my butt thirty years ago, twenty-nine years ago, twenty-eight years ago, etc., and made the decisions to place me in the situation I’m in, including a retirement income that is just about the same as my working income. Cool huh? Or not cool.

    Because this boasting really isn’t of any relative value. Nor is complaining about American greed, or drugs, or anything else of this world. The most important thing to recognize in the story of Lazarus and the rich man is that Lazarus got it right. He kept his focus on what was important, and was rewarded by our Lord.

    So, let the financial rich win. Be the spiritual rich as Lazarus was and win the important war.

    Now, if I could only follow my own suggestion…

    • samuelehall says:

      Wow, John–never used a debit card, no bank fees, etc.? You’re more disciplined than I am.
      Good points about supporting the banks and other essential services. Let us all be as spiritual rich as Lazarus–I like that. And how? Allowing God to govern our time, priorities, and resources. Hard to do, as we habitually go about our lives OUR way.
      I’m convicted by my own words. Right now, I’m leaving this keyboard to do what I need to do.
      Thanks, John. You got things to say; we’d like to hear from you more often.

  2. Dave Carter says:

    I have a little different take on the economic and social unrest that is going on across the globe at this time. I, among many others, feel that this world is winding down and we are nearing the end of the church age. Jesus told us many signs of the end times, and in Luke 22:29-30 he tells us we can recognize these times like knowing that when the trees sprout leaves you know that summer is near. According to God’s word, it’s going to get much worse before it gets a lot better.

    So, as I watch this world winding down, I find it bittersweet. Sad to see the suffering and unrest, but excited and hopeful for Christ’s return.

    Whenever I get too caught up in world unrest, or worry about finances and other worldly things, I remember that no matter how bad things get, God is in control. As my 401K goes up and down, and Social Security unravels, I know that my ultimate retirement plan is fully funded, and I’ll have a nice place to retire to.

    Yes, I hurt for those suffering. I pray that their suffering will end. And if they have Christ as their savior, it will end well for them.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Dave. You’re right, in my view, that this is just a small indicator of end times events foretold by Christ. I’d like to know how Stan Baldwin sees it in the context of Scripture.

    • Stan Baldwin says:

      Certainly our blessed hope for the restoration of all things lies in the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in my view may occur at any moment. Meanwhle, he said to “occupy until I come.” Interesting, occupy is the very term the protesters are using. That doesn’t make them holy of course, and to think so would be jumping to conclusions, as is saying that today’s various “signs of the end times” show Jesus coming is at hand. We don’t know. Why can’t we accept Jesus word that it is not for us to know the times and seasons which the Father has put in his own power? (See Acts 1:7-8).
      As for our calling to minister to this fallen world meanwhile, I have seen nothing written that addresses the issue as well as an article by the late great evangelical pastor John Stott. I am forwarding the article to Sam, and perhaps he will see fit to distribute it to all who read his blog.

  3. Tim Gilman says:

    Thanks Mr. Baldwin . . . Jesus would have been in the first wave to take a stand at Zuccotti Park . . . unfortunately many of His followers are predicatbly late to the party . . .

    It matters little about “who” is behind it . . . the “who” is a valid question for both sides . . .

    What matters is how do you sustain a society that only cares for itself first . . . certainly not a posture Jesus took in any way, shape of form.

    Blessings.

    • samuelehall says:

      And thank you, Tim. Certainly gives me pause, to consider what Jesus would say about this. I’m not so quick to jump one way or the other. The squatters who are clearly manipulating the show for personal advantage do no one any good.
      Has anyone really determined what stand (position) the folks in Zuccotti Park are taking?
      From my sheltered place out here in the country, I get bits and pieces, w/o a great deal of clarity. The media has not shown itself to be trustworthy in unbiased reporting, which is a pity, as we need a lack of bias for something like this.

      • Stan Baldwin says:

        One complaint against the “occupy” movement is that they have no specific aim and no plan to accomplish any specific goal. I say, so what? I view them as expressing their frustration along with some definite opinions about certain entities in our society simply contributing to the problem. Just as prayer is the heart’s sincere desire and need not have a complete agenda for God to solve things in order to be authentic prayer, so are these protests authentic.

        Also, Sam, since you cite the ( I think) rather tired complaint about media bias, I hope you will read my article entitled “The Misinformation Conspiracy,” to be posted this weekend on oregonlive.com and referenced in either the Saturday or Sunday newspaper editorial page. I offer evidence that the “lame stream” bias complaints are themselves an expression of bias.

      • samuelehall says:

        Your points are quite provocative, Stan, and well-stated. Notwithstanding your compelling comparison with prayer, it bothers me that you are not bothered by the occupiers lack of an aim or goal.
        A child who throws a tantrum fits that description, too. After all, he’s expressing his frustration with how things are going in his self-absorbed world. Now, if he expresses intelligible opinions using a vocabulary and behavior that marginally respects the objects of his kicking and screaming, perhaps we should listen to him. Many of the occupiers appear to be focused on nothing more than getting their 15 minutes of fame before a compliant media.
        Freedom of speech and expression–yes, it should be honored. But under the guise of freedom of expression, our courts allow porn shops in every downtown. And now this? This exhibitionism without aim or plan? How much do we have to put up with in the heart of our permissive, tolerant Main Streets of America?
        No, I’ve not forgotten the irritating burr under your saddle, my brother. The excesses of greed. I’m agin it, too. It ain’t right and someone oughta do something about it. And therein is your point, Stan (and Tim and some of the rest of you). Because I think what you’re saying is that the quiet complaint about the excesses of Wall Street in the safety of our pew or parlor counts for nothing … because it offers no action. And at least these occupiers are doing something!
        … so, I grant that they’ve got our attention. Now, before they take too much more of our time–some direction, please.
        Knowing you, Stan, I’m sure you’ll give us much to chew on re media bias in this weekend’s paper. But tired as it is, I still believe media bias is alive and well. Prove me wrong, Brother. You know I love you, anyway. I’ll read your cogent commentary before I carry this further.

  4. Jim Dunn says:

    What you write is true. Greed is a sin. Coveting is a sin. It is also a sin to be unwilling to work (2 Thes. 3:10). Much of what I am seeing and hearing from those who are occupying wall street seems to be greed (I want more), coveting (I want what’s not mine), and laziness (not willing to work) unless I get more. I’m also seeing and hearing the word ‘equality’ bantered around. Let’s take from the rich 1% and redistribute their wealth to the rest ‘equitably’. I’m not trying to defend sin in any form. Both sides of this issue have a sin problem. “If we have food and clothing let us be content” (1 Tim. 6:8). “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” and those who long for it cause themselves much grief (6:10). Rich or poor by any standard should learn to be content, be fair, and trust their creator. Until the Lord returns those of us who love Him should let our lights shine and our good works glorify Him. I recommend David Platt’s book Radical.

    • samuelehall says:

      Hey, Big Jim. Good words from you and good words from The Word. Amazing, isn’t it, how God’s Word penetrates and illuminates.
      Not having a TV, I’ve probably missed a lot of the nuances of what’s going on there. Also, please realize that Stan Baldwin prepared his piece about 2 weeks ago so any rapidly moving events would not be reflected in his blog.
      However, the greed issue is, yes, truly a problem on “both sides,” if we can define what those sides are. I suspect that most people have their own ideas on who the heroes and villains are.

  5. Lanny Sells says:

    Of course this a controversial commentary but it also contains some very important and valid points for consideration. Thank you !

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Lanny. Glad to hear from you. Are there pup tents set up in Stillwater?

      • Lanny Sells says:

        I read where some college students staged a protest in support of the larger group.
        As far as I know that was it and it was a short term thing.
        Personally, I support the “Get the Money Out of Politics” petitions, etc. by Dylan Ratigan and others.
        I am also glad that you allowed Mr. Baldwin’s commentary on your blog.

      • samuelehall says:

        Lanny, I assume you’re talking about there on the OK State campus. Any campus protest would have to be short term, if they expect to keep up with their studies.
        Haven’t heard of Mr. Ratigan. You’re right on–get some severe clamps on political funding but at this point, it’s such a monster that I don’t know how it could be done … Maybe, thru such a protest such as this–IF (and it’s a big if) you could get the self-absorbed narcissists pushed aside so this protest fever would have some real direction. As it is, no single rational focus has emerged.
        I’ll check w/Stan, to remind him how much of a kerfuffle he’s stirred up {;>). He’s a man of ideas so I’ll see if we can get him to return for an encore awhile down the road.

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