Christian In Action vs. Christian Inaction
Pt 1-Worldview as Christians ~ Politically
Although it says "politically" I want to state up front that this isn't a political post by any means, instead, it's a "call to Christians" as a means of "checking" oneself and balance. I'm not calling anyone "on the carpet" so to speak, this is more of something thats been weighing on my heart and possibly will connect with the heart(s) of others.
I've written often about how we as a nation have become obsessed with entertainment. What the "market" pays many musicians, actors and athletes shows us that, especially compared to what we pay soldiers, police, fire and of course teachers. Heck, even the President of the USA, the leader of the free world only gets 400K. For what the "job" requires and demands, thats not a lot. Heres a question though, it's geared at professing Christians. Have we, as Christians gone to far in this as well? Have we "sold out" for entertainment? America is in a tough place right now in many ways, are we partly or even mostly to blame? Think what Christians are called to do, how we are supposed to live, what were supposed to think, feel, and where our head & heart are supposed to be. Once again, not judging anyone, I don't know any of you well enough to do that, and wouldn't even if I did know you. I took a look at myself and drew some conclusions. I hope that this writing doesn't upset anyone, but if need be I hope that it convicts those that need it.
The point, well my point, drawn from several recent incidents and situations is this. As Christians we are called to be a certain way, a different way, a loving way. For me, when asked, I define myself as follows Christian Conservative Constitutionalist, thus defining by my beliefs, note the order of the words. I'll get to Christian in a sec, when I say Conservative, yes the assumption that it's a political affiliation is correct, but it's also my view of life preference, kind of "Andy Griffith or Leave it to Beaver", I'm old fashioned. I won't go into all the ways and details but I'm sure you get it. I'm kinda "Old School". Then there's Constitutionalist, this means that I believe FIRMLY in the Constitution and everything it stands for, especially Freedom of Speech - mine and YOURS. I will allow anyone a polite forum, beyond that I'll still not squelch their forum, if it's that offensive I just won't listen. But I'll not deny their Freedom, nor will I surrender mine. I'm not gonna go into a lot of detail, but there is a fine line of decency surronding this too.
OK, all of that covered so we go back to the first word - Christian, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we become a new person, a new being in essence. This becomes the primary facet of us as human beings. Being a new person in Christ, properly "activated", makes everything else secondary. The word Christian in itself is defined as "little Christ" as we are called to be like Him. Were created in Gods image, born into sin, given free will by the Father to accept or deny His offer of Salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Once we become a "Christian" we are a changed being as Jesus fills our heart and the Holy Spirit our soul, our "inner being". With this transformation should come change, that change is where my convictions come in, especially the more recent ones. Let me clarify for anyone reading this that isn't a Christian that we are no better than you and no less a sinner, we are merely forgiven by Gods love and grace. We should however become different than we were, usually with time, although some have had radical conversions going from one bound in sin, to repentant sinner almost overnight. Not that we don't struggle with the "old self" daily, but with Gods grace and strength we grow in Him and His Word.
Sadly far to often we get over confident and "backslide", many common areas are things like alchol, pornography and mindset. Because we have free will by and of God, we are subject, if not grounded in the Word, in fellowship with God and other believers to "slip up". Unfortunately I think another way this can come about is with politics, I know it's happened to me. I'll hit on a few different ways I've seen it in my life as well as things others have expressed to me too. Just ask yourself (and be honest) if any of these "strike a chord" with you. You don't have to tell anyone, you don't have to comment and say so, it's just a little personal discretion question. We all want to always continue to grow in God and His Word and Law correct? As for me I'm always looking for ways to understand Gods Word better and to assess myself in my own personal walk with Him.
Christians often get aligned with one political party or the other. The problem, is that the politicians and pundits don't always say or feel the same way that we do, also, we can to easily allow ourselves to get carried away with or wrapped up in the political landscape. Like any addiction this can become consuming, because of the deep seated emotion behind many political topics it can also affect our judgement, mood, attitude and outlook. It can greatly affect what we say, how we treat others and what we relay to the world as being or defining Christians. This can be dangerous, back to the opening statements about America being a nation obsessed with "entertainment", most of the pundits (and quite a few of the politicians!) can be very entertaining, they seek to illict emotion and feeling. Even though some might be Christians, they can still get "wrapped up" in the "lifestyle" of Washington or television / radio, the to be entertaining is crucial to their success by keeping viewers and listeners coming back. If were all truly created in Gods own image (which I believe we are) then many of the derogatory remarks made by many on both sides about the opposition is just plain wrong. We are called to uplift one another, to pray for one another, to communicate and fellowship with one another. Many of these things don't happen because of the tension and friction. Once again, this is prevalant on BOTH sides, we need to set ourselves apart and act as called to a higher standard of love and support.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't be informed, heck I'm not even saying what you should or shouldn't watch or listen to, just be fair about it, be balanced. If we as Christians spend more time watching and listening to the mouthpieces than we do with God, were gonna end up unbalanced. Sadly I think many of us do, it's easy to do, to fall into. Another issue with some or many of these is "idolization", some get so wrapped up in a certian politician or pundit that it may seem they seek that persons opinion or ideals over Gods. As to the emotions incited, anger isn't always a bad thing, there are things that go wrong in the world that we should be angry about, but some of the friendships I've seen ruined over differing political opinion is crazy. We are called to love one another. Years ago there was an adage that Religion and Politics were taboo subjects, you didn't have public discussion about them because it always led to arguements. I'm not saying that its time to bring that back, but keep it in mind so as to be respectful and aware. It's all about balance, there are some issues that we are just SO passionate about and we HAVE to do something about them, then what?
Heres the thing, and keep in mind it's just my take on this, I could be wrong, but I think I know at least part of the problem. The reason the World and America inparticular is "going to hell in a handbasket" as many put it, is the fault of Christianity and Christians, at least in part. Stay with me here, it gets better. Over the years as change and progress have taken place we all as citizens have gotten quite complacent, especially when it comes to Christianity, many of the ideals were lost along the way. Remember, we are sinful by nature and that encompasses a whole bunch of things, we "give" on issues little by little without realizing it, it happens over time, slowly. An inch here, an inch there is a mile before you know it. Satan is a patient and tricky being, patient being the key word.
Our desire to be entertained, even if by political people, can distract us. We may get caught up in a career, chasing money, fame or glory, we often want and desire to go out and about. Bigger homes, nicer neighborhoods - better school districts (or private schools) (or homeschooling) fellowshipping within the Church we attend, nicer things etc. All of the above take our focus and priority off God and His call upon our heart. Much of what I listed pulled the Christians out of the "public" community, hence without our involvement things went a different way. If we are not charitable with our time and money then we are not having an impact that way either. JC Penny's founder had made a promise to God that if God would oversee his business he would give 90% to God and live on 10% for himself. Think of the amount of Ministry that produced. Yet how many of us get caught up in a "keeping up with the Jones's" mentality and give a mere 10% if that. Many of the "problems" we see in the world, especially America, have taken place due to a lack of options, many of those missing options are voids that Christians could fill. Adoption centers, pregnancy outreach centers, food banks, Faith based "free" community education centers etc. I mean, there is serious talent and ability in Gods family, yet to often, we don't have a community presence as we should. Can't get our "messages" in the public school system? Well do we reach out to our neighborhood's? Reach people where they are - many won't just walk into a Church. So many ways to reach people, limited only by money and time. These don't seem like issues that should be a problem for God's family do they? What are we so busy with? What do we need all our money for? I'm a fiscal and financial conservative through and through, I don't believe in the Gov't taking our hard earned money and redisributing it at all, I don't care how much you make. But, I do believe in honoring God if your a Chrisitan, and helping others with what He blesses us with. Realize that Christians and people of Faith in general are usually pretty giving people, yet we could do more. America is the most giving country in the world, always there to help others in time of need, we've even done it for countrys that aren't our "friends", because we know it boils down to the people, not the Gov't.
To summarize, I don't think as Christians we should be making fun of or mocking people of opposing views, I think that God should be our "idol", not celebrity, politician or pundit. I think before we gripe about the state of the world we should offer ourselves to the problem, and that we should be giving more of ourselves. I'm not saying this applies to everyone, some of you may go way above and beyond, thats great, some of you may sacrifice to the last penny, thats great too. But lets be honest, many of us, self included, have gotten a little taste of "the good life", and it's comfortable. God however doesn't call us to be comfortable, He calls us to die to self for sake of others.
A personal note, and by no means am I patting myself on the back here, it's just an example. My wife and kids and I live in a small house - really small! Many people have told us we should get a bigger house, one day, maybe - but, I think of any given missionary family and often they all live in a 1 room hut or something along that line. We have it SO good here in America - even our "poor" are like royalty to many countries. As to time, many of us, self included get our kids all wrapped up in "activitys", what is that all about? We didn't do all that stuff growing up and we turned out ok, why do so many families spend nearly every night running after work and school for dance, soccer, scouts etc. I mean some kids are in 6 or 7 things - meanwhile other kids go hungry even in this country - it's a personal choice I guess, but could our kids learn a better quality or lesson by "helping out " in an outreach? The story goes that you can't outgive God, it's worth a try.
Pt 2 - Murder, Prostitution & Faith Defined
The "plan" for this post following off of the previous which was a "challenge" to look deeper within and see if all the time spent in the political arena was "right" or not, or if "the field" is where we should be. If we as Christians are out in the Community offering alternatives to things like abortion, truly helping others in a spirit of genuine Christian love and service, would there be as much that we are "fighting against"? When one really digs into the Word and what we are called to do, serve, do we then get a different perspective? Is anything really accomplished with assault and insults? Do we carry the right to pass judgement and condemn another person? We are to be a witness, not judge, juror and especially not executioner.
The news yesterday of the slain abortion Dr at the Church where he was a member was very disheartening. Sadly one of our brothers in Christ "lost sight or focus" of the true calling. I know the headline struck many, self included, as odd in many ways. The sadness and wrongness of the Dr being killed, the fact that it happened at a Church, the fact that the Dr was an active member of said Church. All of these points struck different chords with different people. The Church I'm not familiar with, Reformed Lutheran so I don't know their stand on abortion, however no Church should ever not allow someone to attend, so that point is to the side. The fact that he was a member and worked as an Usher was surprising to many, as most Churches won't allow someone to hold any position if they are not in-line with doctrine, however the position of usher could be a bit more lax. That isn't the point of all of this though. The fact that this man was executed by another man, in Gods house no less. Wow, we aren't called to murder or kill - not even to avenge murder. It's to be left to God to judge, and I'm sure ya'll like myself cannot condone this behaviour.
The original intent or plan of this writing was to further challenge myself and others to look deeper within to our own personal view of God. How strong our Faith is, or how "big" our God is in our eyes, what are God's abilities as you see it? Is it limited or limitless? Do you allow Him His role fully in your life? I believe the shooter in the above referenced story got "impatient" for what he wanted God to do, yet, whos to say that God would have taken that Dr's life. There are many former abortion Dr's out there fighting in the Pro-Life movement, we are all God's children, and all desired by Him to be with Him in His kingdom. No sin is greater than any other, and all are eligible to be forgiven, often those who sinned, erred or failed the most in our eyes are the ones who can have the biggest or largest impact after conversion. I wonder if the shooter Prayed regularly for the Dr?, as he's called to do. I wonder if the shooter thought about the Dr's family or the impact that this wrong and negative act would have on the Pro-Life movement. I wonder if he realized that what he was doing was the same evil sin as viewed by the Pro-Life movement?
Where do you "limit" God? At what point in your life, career, dreams and goals do you say "it's all in Gods hands" and truly let it go, or do you hold onto it and kinda work it your way, even though God tells us in His Word to give it all to Him. Do you trust God with everything? When you pray and surrender it to Him, do you stop worrying about it? Do you trust Him with your very life? do you trust His control over all aspects of world events - including elections? lol Sorry couldn't resist, that one challenges though huh? Who do you trust more, your Dr or God? Where is your provision reliance? Is it with God or your employer and your paycheck? Your ability to go and earn a living, do you thank God or feel that it's of your own ability? I'm not advocating dropping your Dr, quitting your job or not believing in yourself to some level - but instead challenging myself and others to look deep into if we've truly trusted God with our very survival or put it in the hands of others. Do you not think that God had control over the elections. Do you have more faith in a political figure than God to "right what you see as wrong".
God calls us to go and make disciples of all nations (which means everybody). Do we vest more time, money and energy in trying to fix and change things our way than Gods way? The story that follows is a true story, I don't have the "hard copy" of it but am trying to track it down, the gentleman that I heard it from awhile back & I, have lost contact with and need to connect with him again to get a copy. It really hit home and opened my eyes to a few things. Read it for what it is, but then broaden the scope of the idea and see if it doesn't apply other ways too. I'll do the best I can to relay this as well as when I heard it and saw it. The Pastors 1st name was Tony, I believe, and it happened in Nevada.
~A prostitute was hit by a car and died, she was an employee of a brothel, the madame and all the girls from the brothel were greatly saddened and upset with the loss of their friend and co-worker. The madame began calling around to different Churches to try to find a Pastor or Reverand to do a service for the girls to honor their lost friend, sadlt most declined any involement. A few offered to do the service at their Church but the madame expressed that most of the girls would not be comfortable going to a Church, she wondered if their was any possible way that the Preacher could come to the brothel home and perform the service in the foyer / living room? All declined, some rudely...
~Finally, a last attempt at one more name in the phone book, a Pastor named Tony (I believe), his initial shock and automatic reaction almost allowed him to decline, but something in him and something in the madames voice struck a chord with him and he agreed. Then Tony had a thought, a friend of his played guitar, he thought it might be nice to have a little music there and sing a song or two in the deceased girls honor, he called the madame back and as this news touched her heart she agreed that it'd be a great idea. So the day came and Pastor Tony and his guitar playing friend went to the brothel and did a lovely service for the deceased prostitiutes friends and co-workers, everyone, including the madame was touched, first by the service, but also knowing the opposition she'd gotten from others touched by the fact that Tony and his friend were able to "get over it" and do this deed for them.
~As Tony and his friend were getting ready to leave, the madame and girls were talking about how much they enjoyed the worshipful gathering. The madame had an idea, she asked Tony if he and his friend would mind doing a service there everyweek for the girls as many of them desired in their hearts to worship, but felt out of place at a Church (oh, if they only knew!). Tony and friend agreed and began a weekly service on Sunday afternoons after concluding regular services at the Church, they'd go to the brothel and Minister to the girls. You'll be happy to know though that this Ministry came to an end in the months following it's inception as the girls one by one and the madame as well commited their hearts and lives to Christ as Saviour. There is no longer a brothel as there are no more employees and those girls now attend Church regularly where they feel very comfortable. Sometimes sitting in Church waiting for the people to come to you isn't going to work. The "Church" needs arms and legs for one, and not always in the way of protest. I'm sure many Christians could have picketed that brothel for years and never changed to much.
A side note here, not only did Tony do a nice thing for the girls, he also covered himself by taking his guitarist friend, it gave him accountability and credibility with others that might question him (rightfully so) had they seen him going to a brothel. Hope this story helps someone, it opened my eyes further when I first heard it and still brings a chilling little water droplet to my eye(s) when I recant it now. Oh the pain those girls were in from their friends death and to be denied closure and a service because of their jobs. Yet, so many do what they do everyday either for free or for "merchandise" and somehow call it different, and sadly yes, at times even within the Church.
Pt 3 - Enviornment & Praise the Church/Redemption!
The final point, "takin it to the streets", This has been a great series, I caught on to a couple of things that "clicked" for me that I hadn't considered before - at least not as deeply as I now see it. One of those points will be a future post. Now off to the last point, and they counter balance.
In Ministering to others one thing to always remember is that although we are ultimately responsible for our own actions, we are also products of our enviornment and upbringing. We had an incident here at our home this week with a couple of kids from our neighborhood, the situation challenged our attitude and outlook. I try not to make snap judgement calls, I believe in innocent till proven guilty. Those points stated something was stolen and it was one of 2 people - who happened to be together, and related. Was one of them "guilty" - yes, and maybe both. The "evidence" was rock solid. I don't want to spend much time on this incident other than to give a backdrop for this point. As much as I wanted to handle this in whatever matter would resolve it to it's conclusion of recovery, I also knew that we are seen as Christians by these people AND it is my desire to do "what Jesus would do" in any given situation, truly it is only stuff, but theft is also wrong. The point of this being we needed to recognize before going forward that these are still "kids" and in being kids, their a product of their envionment.
Sadly, these children grow into adults often times with the same bad or negative behaviors they learned as kids, this is a key point to remember as Christians. Often, the people that we'll come across that may "test our Faith" are products of homes and behaviours that we may not be accustomed to. As I've mentioned before the Church we attend has a great youth outreach program so we get a good cross section of youth there, my wife and I each have a group and see the results often of broken homes, our hearts truly ache sometimes for the things we see, we do what we can to make a difference, or to offer help, but you can only do so much. My daughter, the "victim" in the theft was both hurt, saddened and angered. I guess the encouraging part for my wife and I as parents was her "shock" or lack of understanding that someone would do that, especially someone that claimed to be a friend. The fact that she "couldn't think that way" showed us that we did ok on that point of raising her, it was also a teachable moment on what our involved parenting does to make a difference.
Someone asked about the death penalty, all my life I've been a supporter of it, i still am, but my outlook has changed a LOT, I see it hopefully as a deterent, but at the same time would not want to pull the switch. I've noticed in studying the Old Testament that God allowed a lot of provision for prisoners. As I see more and more "products of broken homes" and realize that most molesters were once molested, things of that nature help me to realize that learned behaviours have a long effect.
On the same note, anyone that would hold someones beliefs against them be it conservative or liberal is in essence saying that the life they've had which made them what they are is invalid. I lost one acquintance because of my beliefs even though I accepted theirs, consider that "to me" abortion is murder, yet I accepted that person, as I do many who support it. Yet because of my deep beliefs and feelings about certain other issues they could not know or communicate with me. I have never in my life, that I can remember, turned my back on someone because of their beliefs - unless they were part of a hate group (like the KKK or something). Even at that I'd try to keep a line of communication open in hopes of making a difference, it just couldn't be a close or regular assossiation due to the rhetoric.
Recognize people for who they are (God's children), not for what they are (the worlds medley) and live to serve. We covered all the "issues" to be addressed within the body of Christ in Pt's I & II and now I want to take the time to Praise the Church, yes, we are flawed like anyone else, but when it comes to it more often than not, when politics and social issues are aside it all works together. We are blessed to have a perfect example right here in our little po dunk town of Holly Hill which was deluged with rain a week and a half ago. It rained for about 8 days straight, I've been here 27 years and had NEVER seen flooding like we got, even in the '04 hurricane season when we got hit with 3 storms. Needless to say many homes were affected and in need of repair, our little Church that we go to was reaching out to congregants and the community right away, several other Ministries from around the country became involved and a great outreach is being done. Many neighborhood homes are already well on there way to being repaired, supplies and volunteers from all over have been working together, no one asking for anything in return, it's been a blessing. And it's the kind of outreach that we discussed here, just go be the arms and legs - the helping hand. It's a no questions asked deal, it doesn't matter if it's the home of gay people or pro-choice people etc. I know that shouldn't matter, and it doesn't thats the point, for all the "fighting" that goes on politically when all is said and done this is, what it's about, and what it should be about all the time. On another note, the Gov't has also stepped in, as well as FEMA, it's progressing through red tape and approvals. By the time they get it figured out many of the homes will already be fixed. I spoke to a Gov't employee in the mix of this and it was hilarious to hear what goes on in these situations. It's ridiculously unorganized and a large waste of money for a lot of the stuff thats done. This is a non-partisan comment by the way, it's Gov't, overblown, bogged down and red taped to restriction.
We all have our issues, we all have our feelings and beliefs, but hopefully at the begining and end of the day we ask ourselves looking forward to and back at our goals and actions, what are our motives and What Would Jesus Do TRULY in this situatuion.