Category Archives: Contemporary Issues

Why do Christians sometimes seem fake to the outside world?

Not only do Christians seem fake to the outside world, they can also seem fake to other Christians, too.

The reason for fakery in the lives of those who claim to follow Jesus often comes down to expectations of perfection within church communities and a lack of authentic humility among churchgoing people. Courage and humility can begin to correct the pandemic of fakeness in the church.

Christians often feel a cultural pressure to appear as holy and perfect as possible to one another and to the world. The trouble is that we are neither holy nor perfect. This can lead to a fake witness. We are strongly motivated by two impulses to try to keep up this front: fear and pride. For example, I fear what others may think of me if I behave authentically, or show a little of the everyday-still-in-need-of-a-Savior-self to others. I’m afraid that somehow I might be judged by others if I don’t act like I think a “good” Christian should. Yet, oddly, I’m proud, because acting this way usually results in compliments and admiration for me because of my good behavior.

What am I to do?

Jesus calls his followers to tell others about his work in the world. He is our redeemer and the fullest expression of a life faithfully lived. Personally, I am far from the fully faithful person Christ is calling me to become; however, as his redemption is being worked out in my life, I can point to him and what he is doing rather than trying to fake my own holiness. The tools available to bear this witness are two deeply Christian virtues: courage and humility.

It takes great courage to be truly humble. True humility leads, almost automatically, to authenticity, and the ability to be authentic will bear a great witness to the One who invites us to become more like him.

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Is poverty the result of sin in my life?

It’s true that bad choices can make us poor.[1] But in a world damaged by everyone’s sin, there are all kinds of reasons for poverty. To view it as a sign of specific sin in our lives is neither helpful nor accurate.

If poverty means there is sin in our lives, why would Paul say this about the churches in Macedonia: “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”[2] Later Paul wrote, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.”[3]

If Jesus was poor, would we dare say that his poverty was a sign of sin in his life? Of course not! Yet Jesus claimed to be homeless. “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head,” he said.[4]

Significantly, many passages in the Bible warn against ill-gotten riches. So we might just as easily ask: Is wealth a sign of sin in my life?

The prophet Jeremiah warned, “Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid, so are those who get their wealth by unjust means.”[5] And the book of Proverbs says, “Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”[6]

The apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”[7] Yet he too warned against the dangers of wealth. “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth,” he said.[8] Then he warned, “People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”[9]

Jesus said, “Don’t store your treasures here on earth.” Instead, he urged, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”[10]

It’s dangerous and unfair to generalize, especially when making assumptions about rich or poor people — including ourselves. Material wealth (or the lack of it) is a poor indicator of whether we are following God’s ways. God is building his kingdom with people from across the economic spectrum. What matters most is how we use what he has given us.

[1]. Proverbs 10:4

[2]. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2

[3]. 2 Corinthians 8:9

[4]. Matthew 8:20

[5]. Jeremiah 17:11

[6]. Proverbs 11:18

[7]. Philippians 4:12

[8]. 1Timothy 6:6

[9]. 1 Timothy 6:9-10

[10]. Matthew 6:19-21

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Why do women stay with abusive men?

The reasons women stay in abusive relationships are varied and complicated. If we are going help those who suffer in domestic abuse situations, we must first recognize that these women need someone who will listen to their story, not re-victimize them with questions and innuendos. Sometimes we do more harm than good when we say things like:

  • Why doesn’t she just leave?
  • Why would anybody in their right mind stay with him?
  • She must like the abuse; she keeps going back!

A woman who is being abused may leave several times in her mind and actually attempt to move out more than five times before she is finally successful. Often it is dangerous for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, but there are also many other reasons that she doesn’t just walk or run away.

Sometimes women stay because they are afraid. She fears:

  • Greater physical danger to herself and her children if she tries to leave.
  • Being hunted down and suffering a worse beating than before.
  • Negative responses or lack of understanding from family, friends, police, ministers, counselors, courts, etc.

Sometimes women stay because they do not have the resources to leave. They do not have:

  • Employment or a source of income.
  • Knowledge of shelters, advocacy groups, or support.
  • Spiritual strength, wisdom, discernment, or a loving community.

Sometimes women stay because they believe things will get better if they just try harder. They think:

  • “I need to keep the family together no matter what. Kids need a father.”
  • “I swore to stay married till death do us part. I promised to stay with him in sickness and in health, for better or worse. I can’t just leave him because he has a problem.”
  • “I can help him get better if we stay. No one understands him like I do.”
  • “It’s really not that bad. Other people have it worse.”
  • “I am the cause of the violence and it’s all my fault.” She may feel as though she deserves the abuse.

And sometimes she stays, as strange as it sounds, because she loves her abuser.

  • Often the abuser is quite loving and lovable when he is not being abusive.
  • He really does make her feel good and he knows what she likes.

She remembers what he used to be like, especially during the makeup phase.

(adapted from Live Right Now)

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Why are there so many English Translations of the Bible?

We have a variety of English translations for several reasons. The first is that whenever a document is translated from one language to another, it is impossible to do a word-for-word translation. Different languages seldom have identical word meanings or grammatical structures. Therefore, different translations usually represent different styles of translation. Using some popular English translations as examples: the King James Version uses elegant but often old-fashioned English; the New American Standard Bible strives to be as close as possible to a word-for-word translation while still retaining normal English syntax; the Living Bible uses paraphrasing to communicate the meaning of the text; and the NIV utilizes a thought-for-thought or idea-for-idea method of translation called dynamic equivalence.

A second reason for new translations is that languages are constantly changing. Meanings of individual words and ways of expressing concepts are always in flux. This is why the original King James Version (written in the 1600s) is difficult for many modern readers to understand. In fact, the English language changed so much over the next 150 years, that the King James Version we read today underwent numerous modifications until 1769.

Finally, there are large numbers of ancient manuscripts in the original languages, and they contain some minor differences. Nearly all conservative scholars agree that these differences affect word choices, but not major doctrines.

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Why do women stay with abusive men?

The reasons women stay in abusive relationships are varied and complicated. If we are going help those who suffer in domestic abuse situations, we must first recognize that these women need someone who will listen to their story, not re-victimize them with questions and innuendos. Sometimes we do more harm than good when we say things like:

  • Why doesn’t she just leave?
  • Why would anybody in their right mind stay with him?
  • She must like the abuse; she keeps going back!

A woman who is being abused may leave several times in her mind and actually attempt to move out more than five times before she is finally successful. Often it is dangerous for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, but there are also many other reasons that she doesn’t just walk or run away.

Sometimes women stay because they are afraid. They fear:

  • Greater physical danger to herself and her children if she tries to leave.
  • Being hunted down and suffering a worse beating than before.
  • Negative responses or lack of understanding from family, friends, police, ministers, counselors, courts, etc.

Sometimes women stay because they do not have the resources to leave. They do not have:

  • Employment or a source of income.
  • Knowledge of shelters, advocacy groups, or support.
  • Spiritual strength, wisdom, discernment, or a loving community.

Sometimes women stay because they believe things will get better if they just try harder. They think:

  • “I need to keep the family together no matter what. Kids need a father.”
  • “I swore to stay married till death do us part. I promised to stay with him in sickness and in health, for better or worse. I can’t just leave him because he has a problem.”
  • “I can help him get better if we stay. No one understands him like I do.”
  • “It’s really not that bad. Other people have it worse.”
  • “I am the cause of the violence and it’s all my fault.” She may feel as though she deserves the abuse.

And sometimes she stays, as strange as it sounds, because she loves her abuser.

  • Often the abuser is quite loving and lovable when he is not being abusive.
  • He really does make her feel good and he knows what she likes.
  • She remembers what he used to be like, especially during the makeup phase.

(Adapted from Dr. Sabrina Black’s book, Live Right Now).

Additional Resources:

Discovery House Publishers, When Love Hurts (DVD)

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