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.

Steve Ellison: When Your Pot Runs Dry

Jesus made His first public appearance and performed His first miracle at a wedding.  John 2:2 tells us that He showed up there because He was invited.  Jesus ought to be invited to every wedding, keeping in mind that it is up to the creature to conform his ideas of marriage to those of the Creator.  With that in mind, Jesus should be a welcomed guest at every wedding.  ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: Forgiveness - The Gift You Give Yourself

The response by some family members and friends of the victims of the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, along with members of the congregation, has heartened many, confused some, and confounded others. One day after the shooter (whom I won’t name, since he’s already gotten enough notoriety) killed nine men and women, despite sitting among them for about an hour ... (click for more)

Thousands Line Route For Funeral Procession Of Sailor Slain In Chattanooga Shooting; Wife Sings Song At Funeral She Was Singing When They Met

Thousands of people waving flags and signs again lined the streets and highways of Chattanooga for the second of two local funerals for military personnel slain by a gunman on July 16. And at the funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, his wife, Angie, sang the song she was singing the first time they met. She said she was singing "You say it best when ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Declared He Was "An Innocent Man" On Child Pornography Charges Gets Conviction, 24-Year Sentence Overturned

The Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Chattanooga man who claimed at his trial and sentencing that he was wrongfully convicted by a jury of possession and distribution of child pornography. James Paul Lowe had been sentenced in May to serve 24 years in federal prison. After the sentencing, he had bid his family goodbye and told them to ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Strong

The hearts, minds and prayers of Tennesseans, and of the entire nation, have been turned toward Chattanooga this month.  We are sickened and saddened by the senseless tragedy, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Could Obama Win Again?

When President Barack Obama spoke to the African Union yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he made a pretty brash statement: “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he told the African leaders. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t.” While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I don’t think that’s true. Obviously, term limits keep Obama from running, but as I sit ... (click for more)