It’s been a year now, and my time in some ways is up. Last June I was given a challenge to explore the wild, where “scary people” often drink and smoke and cuss without so much as a second thought. There, in the wild, parents enroll their kids in parks and rec sports without ever considering the option of Upwards. In the wild, instead of asking for “day sponsors” radio stations air commercials. It’s a delicate ecosystem that simultaneously celebrates diversity and drowns out divergent opinions. I crept softly so as not to spook the inhabitants and consequently be tamped down myself. Research was my disguise and discovery my agenda though I was always forthright about who I am…who I am professionally at least.
Nailed it! After all these years I’ve finally confirmed what skeptics have been telling me for years. The Bible is full of contradictions. In fact, Jesus contradicted himself. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus scolded religious lawyers who taught people it was better to give their money to the local synagogue than use it to care for their aging parents (Matt. 15:4-6). Honor your parents. Don’t gyp them! But how does that square with the account of another individual in the gospel of Luke? Being asked to follow Jesus he responded, “Let me first go and bury my father.” In surprising contrast to Matthew 15 Jesus told him his excuse was unacceptable. “Leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60). That’s harsh…and it contradicts Matthew 15. Thus the Bible is clearly whack.
There is a difference in speaking to middle school students as opposed to middle aged men or elderly women. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. But I’m confident that the middle school demographic is in my wheelhouse, which may tell you something about me but that’s beside the point. Many moons ago I was asked to speak at a middle school retreat in a faraway land. Not that faraway…two states, which in the northeast doesn’t amount to much. Anyway, it was a retreat composed of youth groups from a regional collection of churches in a certain Protestant denomination. By comparison I was from another part of the world, leading my own youth ministry, in a church that was part of a different Protestant denomination.