If Jesus Had A Press Conference

If Jesus Had A Press Conference

How the Lord would tell us to handle today's frenzy of media overload and staunch opinions.
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In light of recent events there have been countless opinions, some of which being my own, floating around the internet, the news, and even in casual conversations. Everyone is interested in sharing the way that a certain incident makes them feel, and even more interested at proposing a solution, in their minds the only solution, to the many pressing problems of society. I’m not going to lie, it becomes difficult to keep up with which opinion you agree with the most and which solution you feel is the most fair and appropriate.

I’ve found that from day-to-day I often waver on my views of certain issues, and depending on the mood you catch me in when you strike up conversation, the response you’ll get from me could be vastly right or left winged. I find myself overwhelmed at times, I never know how to write in responses to certain current events because I know how unsure I am of how they make me feel.

The other day while brainstorming I had a thought that has just stuck with me: I’m not supposed to know how to specifically feel about all of these issues, because there is a man who has laid out the basis for every issue this world will face. That man is Jesus, and while I’d hate to pretend that I was worthy enough to speak on his behalf, I do believe I know how his press conference to the world and our country would go right now. It would more than likely be boiled down to these four major points:

1. Mark 30:31- Love your neighbor as yourself. {NIV}

2. Luke 6:31- So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you {NIV};

3. James 1:22-25- Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. (MS)

4. Jude 1:22-23- Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.

So, what do those points mean exactly? Well the first two are simple statements we’ve been hearing forever, kind of like "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." They have become so cliche that their meaning is lost and, like eating healthy sometimes is, have been forgotten to be done.

In His first bullet, Jesus would remind us to love others as we love ourselves. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. That statement is mind-blowing. How do you actually love someone like you love yourself? Because in ways, even the most selfless heart instinctively loves itself first, and many of the things we do everyday can be blamed on our love for ourselves. Jesus wants us to take all the longings we have for our own happiness, success and safety and project them onto our neighbor (spoiler alert: this perk is not limited to just the lucky souls living next door). This concept was so insanely impossible to me that I had to do some searching on how I think Jesus would tell us to carry out this commandment.

My biggest help came from a message by John Piper off of the website Desiring God. The love and relationship you have with God is intimate. It is “an internal passion of the soul” and it is not visible to the eyes around you- except for in the witnessed actions of you doing good to others. Loving others is the outward expression and demonstration of your love for God. We are to practically and sacrificially show our love for the Lord by showing love to others. This is where Jesus would bring in his second point, because the most straightforward way of loving others is to treat them as you would like to be treated. Makes it a lot less mind-blowing, huh?

You take all of the things in this world that bring you joy and peace and you go out of your way to give them to someone else. You analyze situations and respond in a way that you would want to be responded to. It’s simple. It’s smiling at the cashier because you know that you could use someone smiling at you. It’s being honest, respectful, and considerate; all virtues we would hope to be bestowed on us once in awhile. It’s having the grace and willingness to do for others want you know could possibly not be returned to you. It’s showing the love of Christ to people and it could be the cornerstone of the way we as a society treat each other- and it’s easy.

So now that He has reminded us of things we learned as children, and seemingly haven’t practiced since then, Jesus moves to the meat of his message. Jesus would pull from James something along the lines of “don’t pretend you are a listener when you clearly aren’t and you should act on what you hear." This is on Jesus’ agenda mostly because of the lack of discipline we have when it comes to holding the Word dear to our hearts, but I also think in part because of our lost concept of the term action. We are so eager to voice our own opinion, or “hear” the opinion of others, but we are so quick to forget what they’re saying or what we’re even fighting for.

We’re unwilling to change our minds about anything and easily distracted by the next news story. Everyone is picketing for some form of change, but no one is actually willing to change themselves and I think that’s something Jesus would have us focus on. He wants us to first read the Bible for direction, catch the counsel of God and stick with it, and then he wants us to cut out our distractions. I love The Message version of this because it uses the word “scatterbrain," a word that I find can usually describe my mental state at any point in time. I jump from idea to idea and I have a hard time sticking to what I know, and I interpret this verse as Jesus reminding me to slow down and listen- then act on what I’ve heard. Not to walk up to a mirror only to walk away and forget what I look like (pretty positive I’ve done this before). We need to entertain the idea of new solutions, we need to entertain the word of God, but we can’t waste our time on ideas and concepts that we aren’t willing to work on. We need to be men and women of action, and find delight in doing what we say.

Finally, Jesus would leave us on one last kick-in-the-stomach line that a vast majority of the Christian nation likes to forget is mentioned (although not verbatim I’m aware) in the bible- to love the sinner and hate the sin.

I won’t claim to be as well versed in the ways of the world to understand just how hard, and sometimes dangerous, it is to love the sinner and stop there. I do know it is hard to deplore something someone does but love them regardless. I think the most simple way to spin it is to compare it to the way Jesus loves us. When we think of this term in radical situations like hating adultery but still loving someone who has committed adulterous acts it seems hypocritical. The line of hypocrisy gets even blurrier when we try to fathom the idea that someone can believe homosexuality is wrong, but also respect a person’s right to chose and love them despite their choices. Yet, Jesus sees all sin.

We all have sins of our own that are of equal weight in the Lord’s eyes, and he loves us regardless. When our faith is wavering he loves us regardless. When we make mistakes he loves us regardless. He absolutely hates what we are doing, and he makes it clear throughout the bible how much he disapproves, but he also loves us. So I think in the midst of all the judgmental hate going around today, Jesus would tell us to go easy on those hesitating in their faith. He would tell us to go easy on those that live lifestyles differently than us. I don’t think he would tell us to just conform to their ways or to not try to share the message with them, but he would tell us to rest up on the harsh words, hasty generalizations, and the misunderstanding.

So there it is, Jesus’ 2,000 word count public speaking assignment. I don’t know if he’d finish with a monsoon of falling balloons or if he’d just drop the mic and evaporate back up to the Heavens, but I do know he would have expected us to take Him seriously. I do know that if we would’ve listened to what the book He turned to for advice and his biography had said in the first place, we probably wouldn’t need Him to take us to the woodshed so often. I know that whenever I can’t decide the stance I should take on a current event that I can look back to this and surely find my answer. Because at the end of the day, the only side I truly care to be on is His.

Cover Image Credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4151/5035177160_c1fb41c351_b.jpg

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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If God Didn’t Intend For Women To Be Equals, Why Did She Make Us So Incredible?

Yeah, I said She.

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An article that absolutely infuriates me has gone viral. As a feminist, as a writer, and simply as a woman, it drives me up a wall to see another woman proclaiming that God's plan for women was to "submit to their husbands."

I don't know where to start with all the issues I found in reading the piece, so I'll start with what a feminist is. It's a subjective term and its connotation varies from person to person.

But to me, feminism is being empowered and expressive individuals with open minds and open hearts. They are activists for change and equality. They have concerns about the environment and global warming. They acknowledge issues within sexism and racism and then try to figure out how to solve them. They see that the world isn't perfect.

Feminists are the reason we can vote. They're the reason birth control is an option for us. They're why we're allowed to wear pants. They're why we have careers. The female pioneers paved the way for anything we're allowed to do, and they are why we celebrate the power of women every March.

But instead, the woman who wrote "I'm A Christian And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals," used our month of pride for clout. And took justification from The Bible to do it.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It was written over many, many years by hordes of sexist men whose existence we have minimal proof of. And over the last thousand years, it's been translated and reinterpreted more times than anyone could ever keep track of. That's not to say it doesn't have some good lessons, but lessons are all they are.

Thinking your worth and capabilities were planned for you thousands of years in advance is ignorant. Religion and The Bible and God are as subjective as feminism. Everything is open-ended. One person's view of who or what God is not going to be the same as the last.

Commonly, God is seen as a man at the center of the universe who holds all existence in his hands. He is the reason why anyone does anything. He is the rule maker. And He is judging us and waiting for our every mistake.

But as a proud feminist, I've chosen to have my own idea of this holy being. I wasn't brought up in church, but I decided to believe in something much greater than myself or anything I've ever seen just because I wanted to. I want to believe that faith has to come from somewhere, and I didn't want a book making the rules for me.

Just by watching life move through time, I happen to believe God is the good in all of us. Not one being, but he beginning and the end of everything. The push and the pull. The conscious and subconscious. And considering that God is the creator, I've concluded God must be a woman because women are the creators.

And in my experience, women have proved themselves to be much stronger and more capable than any man.

As for what She creates, I think She makes no mistakes. I think She tests our patience and beliefs by giving us what we don't expect. There's intent and love in everything She gives us. I think every woman was made to be relentless, imperfect, fearless, and even a little rebellious.

And if we're saying Adam and Eve were the start of it all, then God proved that right off the bat. God saved the best for last, and then made her a badass. Yes, the first woman came into this world as a rule breaker. She questioned authority. And since the beginning of time, authority has been a snake. The world is our forbidden fruit to bite.

The sole purpose of a woman isn't to submit to anyone. A woman can do whatever she damn well pleases, just as any man. A woman's worth isn't tied to what kind of wife or mother she is and how closely she follows the rules. I was raised by the most incredible mom and wife. She did happen to stay at home with me and be the traditional woman. But while she was home, she taught me how great it is to be a woman. She made sure I knew I could be whoever I wanted and would pay no consequences for that.

My parents didn't raise me in a church. And I never saw that as a flaw or lack of judgment. My southern home was like a church; full of faith and love. But on Sundays, we would sleep in and have a big breakfast at noon because we had too much fun staying up late Saturday night dancing around our living room to music. Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Madonna led the choir — singing about independence and the power of being empowered as women.

As a feminist, I will not judge those who haven't accepted all the honors of being female. I can just tell everyone how wonderful it is to stand for something. I can set an example so that more women will go forward.

And despite what anyone thinks of feminism, there's nothing exclusive about it. Feminists don't think they're any better than men, they just want the chance to prove their capabilities. It's so much bigger than thinking men suck. The truth is, we should have men at our side, not in front of or behind us. And not for romantic partnerships, but as allies. The best men are feminists too. We can make this walk alone, but there's power in numbers and in diversity.

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