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So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” — John 20:25 ESV

The world is full of skeptics. I know because I’m one of them. I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were good and loving people for which I am always increasingly grateful. Even so, from a very early age I saw the angry, noisy, pettiness of my mother, and the morose, silent, petulance of my father, and concluded (like only an adolescent can do) that hypocrisy was everywhere. I reasoned that if my parents, who in my mind, exemplified good Christians, could behave with such duplicity, then perhaps everything they taught me was suspect, including who and what Jesus was. Continue reading

Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” — Matthew 23:23–24 ESV

From our enlightened twenty-first century vantage point we can look back on the period of history that Jesus lived and cheerfully take our pick of horrors and injustices perpetrated by a host of groups starting with the Romans, Herodeons, Zealots, unjust tax collectors, and numerous other rapscallions and scalawags. They were known for murdering innocents, enslaving the helpless, brutalizing women, and worse yet — they mistreated defenseless animals! Now one would think, with God walking among us, daily exposed to this repressive and brutish world, we would at the very least, expect stern indignation expressed toward these hellish outrages.

But Jesus never overtly deplored slavery, never publicly decried the plight of women, and much to our surprise, never expressed support for animal rights. Continue reading