Security System?

It doesn’t matter how good your security system is if you leave your front door open.

I got a letter from a company I’d never heard of telling me that they’d been monitoring my credit for me and they thought that there was a problem. They said that it looked to them like someone had been using my credit. Their remedy – fill out this form and include my social security number and send it to yet another company I’d never heard of.

The bad part is that I suspect that a lot of people will fall for this trick.

This is an elaborate pfishing attempt. Instead of an email from a bogus company with a suspicious link, this was mailed. Instead of giving away my email password, they wanted my social security number. The letter was well written – there were no grammatical errors.

I could have the best credit protection that money could buy and it would mean nothing if I just handed over my social security number to these jokers. Now, this doesn’t even address the idea that we shouldn’t be using social security numbers for anything other than social security, but we do, all the time. That may be the topic of another post.

My first clue that something was amiss was that it was written to one of my aliases. I’d subscribed to something, perhaps a magazine, a long time ago and used a bogus middle initial. They used this one. The bad part is that I don’t remember who I started that with so I can’t track down who sold my mailing address. But what if it had been my real middle initial?

I suspect that older people will fall for this. They are often a little more worried about their security and more trusting of authority figures. They don’t know that they need to check things out for themselves. They are used to teachers and doctors and ministers telling them what to do. If my Mom were still alive she would have filled that out and not even questioned it.

Filling out that form is exactly the same as opening my door to a thief. I pay for home security. Every day when I leave I turn the alarm on. The smart thief wouldn’t even have to wait for a day when I forgot to turn it on. The smart thief would just knock on my door and be dressed like a UPS driver. I’d open the door and he’d kick his way in and it would be all over.

Failure to think for yourself or check things out on your own is the same as leaving your front door open.

Be smart. Question everything. Don’t trust authority just because it is authority. Read the rules for yourself. Read the fine print. Read the Bible for yourself. Don’t agree just for the sake of agreeing, and certainly don’t take my word for it.

Any person who expects you to take what they say without question is highly suspect.

Unclean!

I’ve heard a lot of testimonies about people who have become Christian. They say that their lives have become easier. They gave their lives over to God and it all got easier.

I don’t know what they are talking about. I think it gets harder.

In my opinion, when you become a Christian, you become awake. You are aware of the awesome responsibility that you have to be a force for good in the world. You switch from being passive to active.

Yes, there is a sense of your “Higher Power” as they say in AA. You aren’t in charge (and you never were), and you know that God is in charge. You can relax in that sense. And there is the sense that once you are saved, you are then set for when you die. You know where you will go.

But what about in between now and then? Do you just get to sit back and be smugly happy that you’ve got “it” and others don’t? Is being Christian some ugly game of musical chairs, where the loser gets condemned to an eternity in Hell? That doesn’t sound very nice. It also doesn’t sound very Christian. Not really. Not in the true sense of the word.

It does sound like the modern brand of Christian, unfortunately. There are plenty of folks who wear that name like a shield against the rest of the world. They use it like a “get out of jail free” card. They feel like it means they are set – they will live forever. But they then are arrogant about it. They lord The Lord over people. But life isn’t a game of Monopoly. It really isn’t about getting and buying more stuff and about screwing over other people on the way.

When I became Christian I didn’t get a full grasp of what it meant, and I suspect that I still don’t know the full depth of what my responsibilities are. I certainly don’t feel like I do it right all the time. I feel like it is a process, and instead of “Being” Christian, it is more like I’m “Becoming” Christian. It feels like every year I grow deeper into my faith and closer to understanding what the Bible means. I still find the idea of Jesus as “The WORD made flesh” really interesting and I think I have no real clue what that means. I think I have a glimmer of a hope of understanding it.

I feel like the most important thing about being a Christian is that it isn’t a free pass to Heaven. It is marching orders to the front lines of Hell. We are called to be Christ’s Body in this world. Literally. We are His arms and His legs. When folks say “How could God let that happen”, the real answer is “How can we, agents of God, let that happen?” We are to be a force for good. We are to bring forth God’s love. We are to let God work through us.

Jesus didn’t hang out in the swank part of town. He didn’t buy a huge mansion and wall himself off from the world. He was a man of the people. He walked out among average, everyday people who were lost and hungry and sick. He got right in the middle of the tangled knots of life and untangled them. He was a hands-on kind of guy.

He touched lepers. Nobody did that. Lepers were “unclean” in all the ways possible. They had an infectious skin disease that meant they had to live outside of the camp with other lepers. They didn’t get to see their families. They didn’t get to hang out with their friends. It was a lonely existence. They had to wear bells to announce they were lepers to anyone who might come near. If you touched a leper, then you too were considered “unclean.”

But Jesus didn’t care about that. He not only associated with lepers, He touched them, and He didn’t catch leprosy. He healed them.

It makes me wonder, how much of their healing was just being acknowledged by another person? How much of the healing was just being noticed AS a person? Every single person Jesus healed was precious to Him. He violated so many rules that were in place at that time – touching lepers, dead people, women who had menstrual problems. Any one of these conditions would render a person unclean in those days. None of these rules stopped him.

Jesus not only showed us what to do, he empowered us to do it. He showed us that we are to heal others. He gave power to heal to His disciples and through the power of apostolic succession we have that power too. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we have it. Be assured – if you are Christian, you have that power.

So what is our modern day leprosy? What are the conditions that people find themselves in that make them excluded from society? What conditions make people pariahs? What conditions create invisible social walls that make people “unclean” in our society’s eyes? Thus – what places are we called to break down those walls and build bridges?

How about mental illness? How about being a single mother? How about AIDS? How about being gay? There are others, but this is a good start.

If you are a Christian, you have the power to heal. You have within you the means to bring forth God’s mercy and healing. All you have to do is let it happen. You don’t need special training. Just pray, and Jesus will show you how. It is that easy, and that hard. It is terrifying at first. It goes against all of our social rules. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t get involved. Don’t make a scene. We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. The rules of society no longer apply. Jesus broke rules all the time. We are called to do the same. This often means getting out of your comfort zone. This often means taking a risk. It isn’t easy, but it is essential.

Now, it isn’t about passing judgment, and it certainly isn’t about passing laws against people. These actions create separation. We are called to bring together all the lost sheep. We are to show love and kindness and mercy to everyone. We are not to tell others that what they are doing is wrong in our opinion. We are to love them. By loving them, we are healing them. We are healing the rifts that divide people into “us” and “them”.

How do you bring forth healing? One way is to treat every person as if they are Jesus in disguise. This is how Mother Theresa acted. She felt that it was her honor to wash Jesus’ wounds when she washed a leper. She held Jesus in her arms when a frail elderly person died. You don’t have to work at a non-profit to do this. You can do this in your everyday job. Treat each person fairly and kindly. Don’t gossip. Be patient. Show actual interest in each person. Give each person your full attention and your time. When you start doing this you may find it is a little overwhelming and exhausting. Keep it up. It gets easier. It is just like exercise – you get stronger the more you do it.

We are given two commandments – love God, and similarly, love your neighbor as yourself. Every person is a child of God. Every person has within her or him a spark of the light of God. So, treat every person with kindness and respect and love. In Matthew 22:37 we hear these words from Jesus – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” We, as Christians, are called to show the same focus and intensity to “the least of these”, to the “unclean”, to everyone.