Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Sin Tax: Economic Boost?

Government leaders and businessmen around the world are pulling out their collective hair trying to find quick fixes and long-term solutions to the world economic crisis. One solution in the US for certain states and municipalities is creating or increasing the “Sin Tax.”

For those who think you need to be more careful about sinning in light of this, don’t worry. This means that certain things like the sale of cigarettes, alcohol and casino profits are taxed more. These are the “sins” that society is talking about.

Also in the news is a resurgence of the practice of
granting Indulgences by some Catholic Churches. You used to have to pay hard cash for this, but now the renewed practice of acts of penance in this life can supposedly shave days or years from your time or the time of a friend in purgatory. All I have to say about this it that it makes Christianity look like a divine comedy. What a perversion of Christian truth!

Anyway, back to the sin tax. Imagine for a moment a real sin tax. Every time you sinned there would be a price to pay, and if you did not pay it now you would really have to pay later, but I am getting ahead of myself. Mind you, I really mean a payment for every sin, and if this was levied against all human beings for every sin I think it would vastly increase the economic reserves of every nation on earth.

However, this would also cause catastrophic bankruptcy for every individual on earth, so this is not a good economic plan at all. Still, if it were enacted we would see all sorts of human mechanisms come into being that either redefined sin, or we would see new forms of tax corruption and tax shelters -
indulgences and absolvences - that would let people skate through life without any worries. Allow me summarize these under the category of “Other Religions”.

But there is a fundamental problem with all of this. There is no Sin Tax. There is simply a payment. The payment for every sin is the same, flat tax if you will, and the payment is not monetary. It is death,
eternal separation from God.

Here we see humanity’s bankruptcy in its basest state. We can’t pay because it cost more than we have or more than we are. We need to plead – ask – for bankruptcy protection. God will forgive our debt by buying back our lives with the life of His Son. The only stipulation is that ownership is ceded to God. Your life will no longer belong to you. Don’t worry though. God takes very good care of what He purchases.

God is not a banker, but He is able to cancel out the debt of the entire world with one grand payment. It is free to us, but it cost Him dearly.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:23

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Christian Glue: Trust

In my 25 years of walking with Jesus I have also been walking alongside people who are themselves walking with Jesus. I have seen friendships come and go as well as ministries come and go.

As I have pondered the joining and breaking of relationships I have noticed some unexpected characteristics. There are many who believe that the main bond that ties friends and even ministries together is a common belief, and for Christians to walk together it is essential to have the same foundations and goals. However, within Christendom there is another bond that can be neither taught nor bought. It is trust.

Some of my best friends are also those with whom I argue the most. We usually have the same goals, but differ on how to get there. We also differ on how to solve certain problems, but we agree on what the solution looks like.

Yet I know others who are more closely aligned ideologically, but they can’t seem to walk together. The reason more often than not is a lack of trust or broken trust. In light of this I see a few areas of trust that act as a strong glue when the forces of this world and the work that we are trying to do try to tear us apart.

Respect & Honor: There are fewer things more empowering for a man than being respected by his friends. This means both public and private respect. It is strong glue, but when it is violated it often damages things beyond repair. We need to watch over our words so that they always build up and not tear down.

Integrity: This does not imply perfection, but it does imply that the person is the same in private as in public. Some leaders strive to look good; however, good leaders strive to actually do good.

Ambition: I trust people who foster a collective ambition, and the greatest collective ambition is for God and His kingdom. I believe in a good kind of ambition for a ministry, but not when it is competing with another ministry to be more prominent. The worst kind of ambition is a personal ambition that will use others for self promotion rather than promoting others over themselves. When a person positions others as pawns only to sacrifice them later for personal gain he might become king, but he will never be trusted again.

Honesty: I had an argument with a friend not long ago about a new evangelistic method that I did not like. We both later admitted that we were both wrong and that the other had good points. I simply love and trust this brother. Nothing is hidden at the end of the day.

Catastrophe: When a man is in the midst of trials, falls or fails, his circle of “friends” sometimes distance themselves from the calamity so that they do not lose some kind of public status by having been associated with that person. They may even consider it expedient to sacrifice that relationship, but there is no such concept in God’s word. God seeks, saves, redeems and restores.

No one really trusts people who do this, but sometimes we hear of people who risk scandal by associating with a friend who is in real trouble. Which would you trust?

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Prov 17:17