Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?


“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ~ Jesus, Luke 14:12-14

I have to be honest. The whole “Appreciate Chick-fil-a Day” that’s planned for this coming Wednesday isn’t sitting well with me. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why I have a problem with it, but I think it may be a collection of things.

For starters, anyone who has ever been to a Chick-fil-a at lunch knows that they are not lacking appreciation. Lines are typically out the door to Dine-In and around the building to Drive-thru. We love Chick-fil-a, and they know it.

The fervor with which most are supporting the event gives away that their heart is more speaking out against homosexuality than it is speaking for our First Amendment rights to free speech. Whether it is the intent or not, the whole thing just feels like an “us vs. them” spectacle.

I haven’t said much of anything about the Chick-fil-a kerfuffle. I just haven’t been able to put words to my heart.

But tonight I heard Tony Merida bring a message from the Word about meals and hospitality, and it impressed upon me an urgent need to ask people to consider carefully your decision on Wednesday.

In the Gospels, the method of ministry Jesus used was breaking bread with people. Tony said that you can trace Jesus’ path through Luke, and He is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or leaving a meal. He met people at the dinner table, and we should, too.

In the verses above, Jesus tells his host that the next time he has a party, he needs to invite the marginalized of his society. Those that Jesus describes, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, are those that the Pharisees had declared unclean, unfit to worship with them. They are on the outskirts, they are the marginalized. They are “those people.” Jesus ate with both the Pharisees and with “those people.”

He ate with the Pharisees to call out their sin.

He ate with sinners to call them out of their sin.

The Pharisees rejected Him, but the sinners loved Him.

One thing I’m sure Jesus would never have done was go to a meal specifically held to remind “those people” just how marginalized they are. Jesus invited the marginalized to dine with Him. The lost around you are going to expect you to be one of “those Christians” on Wednesday. They will expect you to exclude them and go with all the other Christians to Eat More Chikn together.

Perhaps a better way of showing Christ to a watching world will be to do the exact opposite of what “everyone else” will be doing on Wednesday. Instead of taking a conservative/Republican/evangelical stance about the Great Chicken Debate, stoop in humble service and meet a marginalized person where they are.

On Wednesday, take Jesus to those who are not invited to Chick-fil-a.

Invite an unbelieving co-worker to join you for lunch. Let them pick the place and you pick up the check. Ask them questions and be genuinely interested in their life.

Take lunch to a shut-in member of your church. Heck, go buy Chick-fil-a for you both and then spend some time in fellowship with someone who knows what it means to be lonely.

Prove to your gay co-worker you’re not one of “those Christians.” Eat lunch with him or her and don’t attempt to convert them to heterosexuality.

Hang out with some homeless people. Spend time at cancer treatment unit. Or an AIDS support center.

If you really want to support the good work Chick-fil-a does with their camps and college scholarships and marriage retreats, take the money you would have spent on your meal and donate it directly to the Winshape Foundation.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2

Instead of counting yourself in the number of good First Amendment-supporting Christians, just consider counting yourself in the company of Jesus. Receive sinners and eat with them. It will speak volumes to those who already know what the church thinks of them. Show them instead what Jesus thinks of them. I think He may care more about who we eat with than where we eat.

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Gender Roles, Submission, and the Image of God: Choose your words carefully


The last few days have seen a small explosion occur online related to a post by Jared C. Wilson on The Gospel Coalition blog site. In what was intended to be a statement against the increasingly popular discussion concerning the sexual practices of bondage and domination that have been poorly represented in works like 50 Shades of Grey, Jared used a quote from a book by Douglas Wilson that was published more than a decade ago. D. Wilson is well known for arguing positions to their logical, and sometimes controversial, end, and he has received a lot of heat for it. You can read Jared’s post, Doug’s quote and the ensuing heated debate here.

This is neither a new nor an isolated debate. In a small part of the evangelical world, it is a long standing debate between two camps concerning the nature of the marriage relationship. What was once a theological debate has become in recent years a smoldering pop culture fire that appears to have exploded in the comment sections of the blog posts of Jared and a writer named Rachel Held Evans. Rachel is a firm egalitarian who has recently become the voice of liberal Christianity in all issues related to gender and sexuality. As I have watched Rachel’s prominence and influence grow over the last couple of years, I have observed her tone shift from being that of one who is offering a grace-filled, alternate perspective to the fundamentalist Bible Belt teaching of her childhood, to that of one who is declaring an all out war on those who hold a complementarian view of gender and the marriage relationship.

Three specific blog posts, Jared’s original post, Rachel’s response and Jared’s rebuttal and clarification of his intent, are a heartbreaking example of the polarization that has developed around this issue.

This current debate reveals, I believe, the telling problem that will leave this issue an open wound rather than a constructive conversation of mutual edification and sharpening. This debate is no longer about the grand theological message of the Gospel and of way in which marriage is to be a picture of that Gospel. This debate has been boiled down to sound bites, generalized points of semantics.

In a Twitter conversation today between Rachel, Jared, and Denny Burke, Rachel tweeted the dictionary.com definition of conquer to which Denny replied, “Did you notice definition number 3?” Rachel and the egalitarian camp are up in arms over the use of the word conquer because they are reading it with the understanding of conquer meaning “to acquire by force of arms; win in war.” This is the first definition listed. Both Jared and Doug have repeatedly responded that this was not their intent in the use of the word, but, as Denny suggested, their intent was more along the lines of “definition number 3”: “to gain, win, or obtain by effort, personal appeal, etc.: conquer the hearts of his audience.” In other words, Doug is not suggesting husbands are to conquer the hearts of their wives by oppression and force, but rather to win them through the hard work of sacrificial servant leadership.

Rachel and her egalitarian supporters are holding to their position that the use of the word conquer refers to definition number one. Jared, Doug, and their complementarian supporters are holding to the fact that they intended the use of the word conquer to imply definition number three. And despite all the clarification offered by Jared and Doug, in this polarized debate, it appears that never the twain shall meet.

Some of you may be thinking, “War of words. What’s the big deal?” But the big deal is that this is telling of a larger trend in our society. Authorial intent no longer bears weight in a postmodern world. Despite the fact that the author has repeatedly clarified his intent, the readers have demanded that their interpretation trumps the author’s intent and refuse to accept his clarification and explanation of intent concerning his own words.

And just as the marriage relationship is described by God as a small picture of the larger relationship of Christ with His Church, so too is this attitude of reader authority a small picture of Rachel’s larger reading of God’s Word. Rachel’s first line in the above-linked post seems to indicate she doesn’t view Scripture as God’s authoritative Word: “Patriarchy is old—so old that the writers of Scripture include it in their creation story.” As far as Rachel is concerned, the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 on, is a collection of writings about God which are written by patriarchal men who have misrepresented what God really meant for His people to know about Him. Apparently, all authors are subject to their reader’s understanding and interpretation, even God himself. And when a reader takes issue with what a writer has communicated, it is the responsibility of the author to acquiesce to the interpretation of the reader. Rachel and others are now demanding for an apology and retraction of something that neither Jared or Doug ever actually said. Because people were hurt and offended by their own misunderstanding of (or disagreement with) Doug’s words. And when Doug clarified what he meant, the clarification was simply not enough for some.

What is most heartbreaking is that, within the the comment section beneath Rachel’s post, Rachel and Jared both expressed that there is much in the debate about which egalitarians and complementarians agree. But, as Nathaniel Simmons noted in a comment on my Facebook page, “It does seem that two sides are largely in agreement, yet feel committed to disagree.” True constructive conversation will never take place if the two sides cannot even agree to the definitions of the words with which they are debating one another.

My thoughts on the whole thing?

The entire debate only serves to confirm that, like it or not, the marriage relationship is THE picture of the Gospel given to us. If relationships and sex were primarily about “mutual pleasure” as some are arguing, we wouldn’t get so up in arms when people disagree with our understanding of it. Generalized statements and polarized debates will never get us to the heart of the complexity of human relationships because those relationships are the image of an infinitely complex God.

Rachel preaches a strong message of “mutual submission” in her mission to redefine the term egalitarian, but there appears to be no mutual submission in her stance that the interpretation of the reader trumps the intent of the author.

Hopefully it doesn’t take a theological scholar to recognize the danger in believing it is the Author who answers to the reader and not the other way around.

UPDATE: Doug Wilson’s response to the “kerfuffle” can be found here.

UPDATE #2: Just to be clear on my own intent, this is not a wholesale attack on Rachel. As I said above, I have followed her work for a couple of years and have interacted with her on a couple of occasions. Her compassion for the bullied, the victimized, and the judged is commendable, and I have appreciated the way in which my own faith has been strengthened and my thought processes sharpened by her work.
That being said, it is with her understanding and treatment of complementarian thought within her campaign of mutualism and with this particular post with which I have the greatest concerns.

Garbage in, Garbage out: How do you know what’s good for you?


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

Growing up, we had a pretty matter of fact standard for what we could and could not watch, read or listen to.

Garbage in, garbage out.

If mom thought something was influencing us negatively, it showed in our behavior, and it was immediately nixed.

Garbage Pail Kids? Burping, farting, snotty kids? Not in the Mason house.

Goosebumps? Fear Street? Anything else written by R.L. Stein? Why would you purposefully read something that’s gonna give you nightmares? We all liked our sleep too much, so they were out.

“What’s the harm?” you may be quick to ask, much like my brothers and I did at the time.

But what my mom and dad knew was that, as kids, we were prone to burp and fart and pick boogers and have nightmares without a bit of external assistance. Those things come naturally, and training generally does not include encouraging the things that come to us naturally.

Some things in life were obviously out. Other things, not so much. They had to be considered carefully and the benefits and detriments weighed out. But without fail, things were either placed in one category or the other.

Because the fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as neutral information intake. Everything we consume impacts us for good or for bad. The results may be subtle, but a lifetime of exposure to things that are against biblical principles shapes our mindset. Even if the negative impact is the fact that we are no longer uncomfortable watching shows with consistent vulgar language or extended sex scenes, those things shift our worldview.

So how do we build a constructive, positive worldview? Scripture doesn’t leave us without guidance on this matter. If you want to know how to make positive and constructive choices for how to spend your leisure time, consider the following questions based on the two Scripture passages above:

First, from Philippians 4:8,

1. Is this true?
This doesn’t mean we should abandon fiction; true also means “loyal, faithful, accurate.” Is what you’re watching or reading or hearing considered faithful, consistent to what you believe about the world?

2. Is it honorable?
To be honorable is to be held in high esteem or respect. Is your favorite brain candy respectable? Is it held in high esteem? I would venture to say we could all agree that watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or Undercover Boss are more honorable ways to spend time than perhaps Jersey Shore. Entertainment that has no redeemable value should be questioned at length in your heart and mind.

3. Is it just?
This is where we lose a lot of television and music. To be just is to be “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.” Anything that objectifies people, glorifies abuse, brutality or immoral behavior isn’t just. And watching it repetitively will numb your heart and mind to the consequences of such behavior.

4. Is it pure?
This is relatively self-explanatory. If your favorite movies and music and shows are sexually explicit or full of foul language, ask yourself, “How is this helping me?” If it’s not helping, what’s the point?

5. Is it lovely?
Simply put, does what you put into your heart and mind consistently show you the best or the worst in humanity? I’m a big fan of shows like Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU. But after a day of watching a marathon on USA, my general outlook on life is depressing. When we consistently feed on the dregs of humanity, we expect the worst from people and can even begin to forget about the goodness of God in this fallen world.

6. Is it commendable?
Can you formally praise it? Do you feel the need to hide what you’re watching or reading or listening to? Could you share with your small group or your family how you spend your time without feeling embarrassed? Would you want a younger family member or someone you mentor to be doing what you’re doing?

7. Is it excellent?
This is the one that I tend, for better or for worse, to get hung up on. Some “brain candy” is just plain bad. Poorly written, poorly acted, poorly sung. All creativity is possible because we as people are created in the image of Creator God. If you’re going to enjoy the creative nature of humanity, spend your time and energy enjoying GOOD creation.

And from 1 Corinthians 6:12,

8. Is it helpful?
Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s beneficial for you. Ask yourself how this thing you like so much is helpful to you. Sure, quoting hours of Insert Favorite Sitcom Character Here is hilarious fun, but if you can quote your favorite show more than you can quote verses that speak truth into your life, you may want to rethink how you spend your time.

9. Is it enslaving me?
Even the best things can become harmful when they control our lives. If something has become such a fixture in your life that it alters how you live, it may be time to evaluate its place in your life. The gift of DVR has helped that issue with our lives being controlled by a tv show, but this idea of idolatry goes beyond just television. If you consider your favorite entertainment when making decisions about relationships or other commitments, you may be enslaved to it.

These questions revolutionized my television watching and music listening. When I began being convicted about the things I was taking into my heart and mind, I did a media “detox” for several weeks and reset my tolerance to questionable material, then I began re-introducing shows and artists into my life. I compared them to these questions and determined what could stay (and in what amount) based on how they held up to the scrutiny of Scripture.

So how do you determine how you spend your time? What entertainment in your life would be kicked to the curb if you examined it under the light of the Word?

Relationships Required, Workshop Notes from Paige Benton Brown


This is, perhaps, the most practically instructive and theologically challenging workshop I have ever attended. It’s been over a week since I heard Paige Benton Brown speak on the relationships required for Gospel ministry, and I am still mulling over and praying through all that I heard.

Here is the most challenging point from the workshop:

Everything about God’s relationship with us is His initiative. He is the initiator. As His ambassadors, we move towards people. Jesus never told His disciples to “be available.” He told them to “Go.” Initiate people as people and not as players in your church or ministry. Get to know them for them and not for what they can do for you.
a. Obvious: Who is immediately around you? Don’t look for new people, look at the same people with new eyes.
Jesus sent Legion and the Woman at the Well back to their people. New testimony with the same people.
Look at your relationships you would have anyway. Are they radically different relationships different because of Christ? Not just interaction, but involvement.
b. Unobvious: Not just available to them, but actively pursuing them. Leaving the 99 for the one who will never come on their own. The ones who are gonna need it most are the ones who will never approach you.
Who needs to be approached who will never approach anyone else?

We are in the service of a Seeking Savior. He does not hang a shingle, but is the Hound of Heaven.

For the rest of my notes from Paige’s workshop, click here.

If you are a believer in relationship with other people, then this is a post for you. Paige’s first point? There should be no relationships that are not ministry.