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Can Anything Good Come Out of …

Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth or New York City

Jesus began his public ministry by choosing some people to go along with him. Phillip, of Bethsaida, was one of those people. Philip, in turn, reached out to Nathanael and in John 1:45 it says that “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”  But Nathanaels response was very interesting. In John 1:46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”.  Nathanael responded much the way the Pharisees responded to the notion of Jesus being from Nazareth of Galilee. The Pharisees mocked Jesus in John 7:52 “…‘You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.’” Perhaps Nathanael was aspiring to be a Pharisee. No one knows but his response to Phillip was, none-the-less, a blanket statement about people from Nazareth.

imageRecently, in a presidential debate one of the candidates made a blanket statement. He said “everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage, focused around money and the media.” Now, in many cases that well may be true. Progressive liberals are in firm political control of not only New York City but also the state of New York.

But the question is this:

Does the blanket statement about New York City apply to everyone in New York City? Is a blanket statement like that even appropriate for a candidate to levy against another candidate?

In the story in John 1, Nathanael soon recanted his blanket statement. Jesus addressed Nathanael in John 1:47-48 ‘Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’” Nathanael was shocked as noted by his answer in John 1:49 “…’Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’”

So Nathanael stood corrected on his blanket view of Nazareth. Unlike the Pharisees Nathanael recognized who Jesus was and responded appropriately. If you search the New York City yellow pages for “Evangelical” Church fellowships you’ll find that there are literally hundreds of Bible preaching, gospel reaching, evangelical fellowships of every nationality. None of whom can be attributed the blanket statement “everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro- gay-marriage, focus around money and the media.” The interesting thing is that the political opponent responded in a very humble way. The candidate calmly reminded everyone of the triumph that emerged from tragedy which was rooted in a deepest notion of self sacrifice. Supporters of the first candidate opined that it was a cheap shot. But the response, no matter what else you want to believe, was, in fact, true. On 9/11 New Yorkers forgot about all of petty differences and rallied to one another’s support selflessly. Since that time the culture of dependency has driven the political landscape in that city but the statement definitely does not apply to everyone in New York City.

The intriguing thing about this blanket “New York City Values” statement emerges when you dig a little deeper into the first candidates history. Before making this statement that very same candidate attended a fundraiser in New York City hosted by two gay Hoteliers. This candidate made a blanket statement about New York City values that was intended to cast aspersions at another candidates conservative credibility after having leveraged those very same New York City values to further his own political campaign. While this candidate is a Tea Party favorite and a self-professed evangelical, I cannot support a man who would make such an accusatory values statement while taking advantage of those very same values for his own benefit.

I am reminded, in light of this kind of hypocrisy, of the scorching reprimand that Jesus levied against the Pharisees in Matthew 23

  • “they say things and do not do them.They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Barry Goldwater (anyone remember him?) used a quote from an unknown source that goes something like this:

Politics [is] the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.

Values are rooted in moral standards and if a politician wants to garner my support their actions must reflect their rhetoric. My feeling is that we must hold our Godly values before candidates and insure that they adhere to those values in order to garner our support.

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