Bob Tamasy: Enough Evidence To Convict?

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Compared to other parts of the world, people professing to be Christians in the United States have it pretty good.

Yes, the entertainment media typically portray followers of Christ and those who believe the Bible as buffoons, bigots or worse. The mainstream news media often don’t seem to know how to fairly report on someone that’s devoted to Jesus Christ. And angry atheists and freedom from religion types would rather people of faith be closeted, much as people of alternative lifestyles used to be. But looking around the globe, it seems clear American believers could have it much worse. 

One of the most under-reported international scandals – at least as far as the U.S. media are concerned – is the intense persecution and slaughter of Christians in Iraq and Syria, as well as other nations, by Islamic extremists. Followers of Christ are systematically, and savagely, being purged from lands they have inhabited for 2,000 years.

Numerous media sources outside the United States say the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken control of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, giving Christians three choices – renounce their faith and convert to Islam, pay a hefty tax, or be killed. Most have fled, leaving a region with more than 20 centuries of biblical heritage. 

Across the river from modern-day Mosul lie ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh, where the Bible states the reluctant prophet Jonah was directed by God to spur a massive spiritual revival. Jonah’s tomb supposedly is housed in a mosque in the city. Yet today, having been expelled from their homes, Christians are virtually non-existent in that historic area.

I’m not an international affairs reporter, so all I know about this tragic situation comes from the BBC, Canadian news and other media sources. But it causes me to wonder: What if similar persecution occurred in the United States? Given the direction things seem to be taking, it could happen. What if all who professed faith in Jesus were told either to deny their faith or die? How would we respond? 

Perhaps there’s an even greater question: If such persecution arose, would some of us as individuals be ignored, with the oppressors reasoning, “That person can’t be a Christ follower. There’s no evidence that he (or she) believes in Jesus. Nothing to indicate that at all. They’re harmless.”

In a court of law, the verdict is usually determined by the burden of proof. Therefore, if charged with being a follower of Jesus Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict any of us? 

This question comes to mind because of a discussion I had recently with friends. James 2:17 declares, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by deeds, is dead.” Historians report this passage troubled reformer Martin Luther because he had been protesting the works orientation of the Roman Catholic church he was leaving. And Ephesians 2:8-9 does tell us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

But this doesn’t erase the responsibility for Jesus’ disciples to properly and consistently represent the Lord we claim to follow. If the Spirit of Christ lives in us, as the Bible asserts, shouldn’t there be outward evidence of what’s happening inside of us? 

The next verse in the passage cited above says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus doesn’t just offer the hope of life after death, but also life before death – with a purpose.

He told His disciples and other listeners during the so-called “Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). 

Jesus wasn’t instructing us to generate light of our own, but to reflect His light. The best way, He said, is through our actions. And if we’re not reflecting the light of Christ in our homes, at our jobs, in the classroom, the athletic field or wherever we happen to be, it might be reasonable to doubt whether we truly know Him at all.

We each need to honestly ask ourselves, if charged with being a Christian, genuine followers of Jesus Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict us.

* * * 

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.

St. Timothy's Holds Blessing Of The Animals Service

St. Timothy's will hold a blessing of the animals service on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. Please share your blessings by bringing an unopened bag or cans of pet food to be donated to the local shelter. (click for more)

Women Moving Forward Seminar This Saturday At Second Missionary Baptist

Second Missionary Baptist Church will be holding a Women Moving Forward Seminar on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for their 69th  Annual Women's Day Celebration. The event is free but participants will need to register by calling the church office at 423-624-3275. The sessions available will be Grief & Healing, Caregiving, Christian Parenting, Health & Healthy Choices ... (click for more)

Erlanger Finishes Fiscal Year With $18 Million Profit

After a major loss the year before, Erlanger Health System finished the fiscal year with an $18 million profit, officials announced Monday night. It was well ahead of the $2 million gain that Erlanger had budgeted for, and far better than last year's $8 million loss. The profit was boosted by a first-time $19,587,000 from a Public Hospital Supplemental payment and essential ... (click for more)

Chancellor Rules That IDB Must Reimburse Attorney Fees, Other Legal Costs For Helen Burns Sharp On TIF Lawsuit

Chancellor Pam Fleenor has ruled that Helen Burns Sharp, who sued over the validity of a $9 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for a planned major development on Aetna Mountain, should be reimbursed her discretionary costs as well as her attorney fees. Ms. Sharp said in a recent court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka were $74,427 at the time. The ... (click for more)

ChattaData Is A Real Advance For The City

This past Tuesday, the city of Chattanooga's new performance management tool called ChattaData was unveiled. As the chairman of the City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, I am excited to witness the city putting this important information online in a way that is accessible and transparent to all taxpayers. This approach shines light on how we as a city prioritize our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Apollos Hester’s Way

East View High was trailing at halftime by a pair of touchdowns in last Friday night’s game against unbeaten Vandegrift. But the players at the Georgetown, Texas, school each have a sticker on the back of their helmets that says “TPW” which is a constant reminder that “Tough People Win.” Then there is “attitude” and that is where running back Apollos Hester steps in. In what ... (click for more)