Do unto others…

You may have heard about the new pagan worship circle recently constructed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. The Academy is already known for its unique chapel, as well as for providing worship sites for various religions (including a Jewish synagogue, a Buddhist chapel, and a Muslim prayer room). In this military institution’s efforts to protect the rights of United States citizens, including freedom of religion, they have gradually provided such outlets for their own cadets.

You may have also heard about a recent incident at the pagan worship circle at the Academy: a large wooden cross was left at the site. Adherents and proponents of the pagan group have responded with outrage, calling it a “hate crime” and “destructive behavior,” among other things. They have compared it to placing a menorah near a nativity scene, or a pentagram or other pagan symbol at the altar in Cadet Chapel.

My opinion on the matter (whatever the opinion of one, lowly preacher is worth) is this: they are right.

Can you imagine the response if the roles in the incident were reversed, if a pagan symbol had been placed in the chapel? Christians would be outraged! We (they) would demand investigations and justice and apologies. But, a cross is placed at a pagan worship circle, and I expect many if not most Christians will either scoff at the pagan response, or wholeheartedly approve of the placement of the cross.

This is, I believe, Golden Rule territory: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,” (Matthew 7:12). This is, I believe, Paul’s Rule territory: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some,” (1Corinthians 9:22). In the very least, I believe that all this act has accomplished is to produce harder hearts–on both sides of the religious fence.

I pray that we can learn to show the love Paul showed to the Greek philosophers as he complimented and respected them while he attempted to influence them for good. I pray that we can return to the love of the early church, when they had “favor with all the people.” I pray that we Christians stop making these mistakes that can only further alienate us from the rest of the world. Our job is just too important.

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11 thoughts on “Do unto others…

  1. breaaire,

    Thank you for reading. I really appreciate when people of other religions/faiths take the time to read and comment. It says a lot about you, that you were willing to do that. Thanks again.

    Clint

  2. So much foolishness and damage could be avoided if we only stopped to consider the consequences of our actions. Whoever placed the cross in the pagan space accomplished absolutely nothing except to provoke negative consequences.
    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  3. I thank you as well. I takes courage to see the fault in ourselves regardless of whether we are pagan or christian. The golden rule follows all of us, I just wish more people would remember that.

  4. Clint, I always enjoy reading your thoughts. I especially appreciate your reference to the biblical example of Paul and his sermon on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22ff). If those who claim the name of Christ would love and respect their neighbors the way Paul acted toward those in Athens it would minimize controversy, engage dialogue, and lead some to see Jesus for who he really is. Thanks for showing us the heart of ministry.

  5. Mark: Thanks. I’ll email you soon (probably next week).

    Dwight: You are right. Too much damage has already been done. We forget that in our spiritual battle we are not fighting against others, but for others.

    Mary: Congrats on your pagan chaplaincy. I hope it gives you and the others in your office opportunities for honest, civil dialogue.

    Kevin: Agreed…Paul is such a great example. And I believe you hit the two primary topics on the head. This is all about LOVE and RESPECT. Those are what caused people to listen to Paul.

  6. This topic reminded me of something else along the same line. Many Christians still believe that we should fight to have prayer allowed in the schools. In our age, if prayer were allowed in the schools, our children and grandchildren would be led in prayer to every kind of god. It would be nothing like 50 years ago. Times have changed in USA. Our reactions still come from the minds of those who think that the USA is the same today with the Christians being in the religious majority. Many of us think that we would like to go back to that time, but we can’t. I pray that we can live gracefully in this day and time following God’s directives.

  7. Karen,

    I am so glad to hear you say that. I agree. It does us very little good to kick and scream over what we have lost. Even if we were to “win” the battle and get prayer back in schools it would most likely be at the expense of our influence (not to mention, as you said, at the expense of true prayer). I love how you summed up our proper response: to “live gracefully in this day and time.” Prayer in schools, politics, and nativity scenes on government property are not the answers to our cultural problems…Jesus is. And the world needs to see Him through us.

    Thanks for your insight.

    Clint

  8. I’m just catching up, Clint. I really appreciate the sentiment you expressed here, and you followed up nicely with the post on Arrogance. Unless “conservative” Christianity takes on a strong flavor of Christ’s love, our influence will continue to wane until it becomes totally irrelavent in a “postmodern” society.

    • I think at this point it will take a little more than a “strong flavor” of Christ. We need a new recipe altogether, with Christ as the main (only?) ingredient. 🙂

      We are losing our audience…

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