Weekend Reading

In 2011, the Sahara Forest Project signed agreements with influential chemical companies and agribusinesses in Qatar to kick off a pilot program there in 2012. While that project continues, SFP has also been working on plans for its “launch station” in Aqaba, Jordan, a 49-acre test run located seven miles from the sea to demonstrate the economic viability of the concept using all its core components. In June 2014, the SFP signed an agreement with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Amman, with $1.9 million of funding for the launch station provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Grieg Foundation and other philanthropic sources.

2. Here is more information on what "the least of these" may mean in Matthew 25:

MostChristians agree that caring for the poor and marginalized is a central tenet of the gospel. And what better passage to reinforce this principle than Matthew 25:40, where Jesus commands us to care for “the least of these.” Many of us readily assume that “the least of these” refers to the poor and marginalized. But are those who Jesus is really talking about?

That question might seem trivial, but its importance can hardly be overstated. After all, Jesus ties our eternal destiny to how we treat “the least of these brothers of mine.” In the broader context of the passage (Matt. 25:31–46), the sheep and goats represent salvation criteria—who is in and who is out. It’s a stark picture, with the only outcomes being salvation or damnation. In a breathtaking scene, the Son of Man sits on a heavenly throne surrounded by angels and renders his verdict: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (v. 46). One’s eternal security is tied to caring for “the least of these,” whoever they are.

3. Robert Miller at Public Discourse argues that complying with an unjust law does not make one complicit in injustice. Well worth the time to read:

Indeed, a person is under an obligation to disobey an unjust law only if obeying would involve him in moral wrongdoing, which is often not the case. A tax law may impose an unjust confiscatory tax, but a man does not usually sin if he pays the tax. “Offer no resistance to injury. If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give him your cloak as well” (Matt. 5:39-40). Similarly, generations of African Americans who complied with manifestly unjust Jim Crow laws did nothing wrong by complying even though they were not morally obligated to do so. The reason is that there is nothing immoral in sitting in the back of the bus. When African Americans complied with such laws, they suffered injustice; they did not commit it.

4. A reflection on the Reformed African American Network about whether being an orthodox Christian disqualifies someone from public service:

On Thursday, January 10, 2013, Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from offering the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. The reason? A sermon had been discovered—delivered some 20 years prior—in which Giglio called homosexuality a sin. In a statement following the withdrawal, the Presidential Inaugural Committee offered regrets for having invited Giglio and assured an alternate with more accepting views.

Fast forward two years later to Tuesday, January 6, 2015 and the dismissal of Atlanta Fire Chief, Kelvin Cochran. Cochran, a 30-year firefighting veteran, was discharged by Mayor Kasim Reed for sharing a book with three city workers. The book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, was written by Cochran and shared with men he considered fellow Christians. The issue? The book calls homosexual behavior—along with all sexual activity outside of traditional marriage—vile and inappropriate.

Apart from the writing and distribution of the book, there is no evidence of Cochran ever mistreating an employee on the basis of sexual orientation. However, this seems to be a moot point. The New York Times states in its article on the subject, “God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department”: “It should not matter that [an] investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians. His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic…” In other words, simply holding to his views is support enough for his expulsion.