Thursday, February 26, 2009

Warning Signs

Most people notice warning signs: "Bridge Out" or "Wrong Way" or even "Do Not Back Up - Severe Tire Damage". Nobody wants to be featured on the evening news as the person who drove their car off into a ravine because they ignored the signage.

I want to take a minute to write about an important warning sign that can appear in your life. When you consider joining any organization (church, club, society, business, etc.), I beg you to open your baby blues wide & listen carefully. Watch & listen not just to the "sales presentation" but see if what these folks are claiming for their group is reflected in their day-to-day behavior.

Then... ask a question.

Heck, ask a lot of questions. An organization's response to questions will tell you volumes about the environment & personal safety level there.
There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions. (Charles P. Steinmetz)
If you find yourself & others encouraged and/or bullied into "quiet submission," then head for the door as quickly as possible. If the door's locked, leave a hole shaped like you in it - just as if you were a Looney Tune cartoon.

And this doesn't have to be a church, though they can sometimes be the worst offenders. In the last month or so, I've read about the horrors of the Mormon Handcart Tragedy (in the book
Devil's Gate) and the evils of the USSR show trials & purges in pre-WW2 Russia (in the book The Forsaken)... so while I'm neither a Mormon or a Communist, it's pretty easy to figure out that they aren't exactly the same thing. The inference is, of course, that a belief in God is a NOT a reliable warning sign - it's the unwillingness to tolerate questions and/or disagreement.

God isn't afraid of your questions - He spends two whole books of the Bible (Job & Habakkuk) listening to and answering the questions of those who don't understand what He's doing. Jesus answers question after question without striking anyone dead or disfellowshipping them.
One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"

Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these." (Luke 12:28-31 MSG)
The people who are afraid of your questions - be they fundamentalist zealots or left-wing ideologues - are interested not in your drawing close to truth but instead desire your lockstep response to their particular spin on reality. Escape from them as fast as you can - do not pass Go... do not collect $200.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 7:7-8 ESV)

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