Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fighting the Good Fight: living as a citizen of Heaven and United States

There is a well-known Bible character who was known for his readiness to speak the truth and defend God.  His name was Peter, one of the 12 men who spent the most time with Jesus while He walked the earth.  When the soldiers came to bring Jesus to the cross, Peter immediately reacts, draws his sword and cuts off a soldier’s ear.  Jesus wasn’t happy with the way His friend stood up for him.  You see, Jesus is a big boy.  He can defend Himself.  He didn’t need Peter, or me, or you to rise up and save His name.  Jesus laid His life down willingly to save ours.

I am learning the hard way, like Peter, that God doesn’t need defending.  Most people are not impressed by my ability to “wield the sword,” quote Scripture, stand for a cause, defend a political position, or tell everyone what’s wrong with them.  There are conversations I wish I could re-do.   There are statuses that I would fine-tune or re-write. There are blog posts that I have re-written.  I wouldn’t re-do the conversations, fine-tune the statuses or re-write the blog posts because I believe what I once said was wrong, but because I was more concerned with defending what was “right” than loving a person and trying to keep them out of harm’s way.

Jesus set the bar high when it came to living on earth while being a citizen of Heaven. The power structure of His day did not like Him.  When a group wanted to stone Jesus, He would often retreat and find another group of people to teach.  He would continue to heal people, gently oppose wrong thinking, and serve the people.  Jesus was never afraid to engage in conversation—He would answer questions with questions and tell vague stories to illustrate a point no one thought He’d make.  He spent the most time with his inner circle of friends and disciples, but always made time to love on and teach both the Pharisees and prostitutes of His day.  And then, at the proper time, when people wanted to get rid of Jesus, He laid down his rights and died to save them.

Jesus does not need to be defended.  But He does want to be displayed.  He displays Himself through the Word of God, creation, and the hearts of His people. So as Christians who bear his name, we have to be careful, not always about what we do, but how we do it.  As a citizen of the United States, we are free to enjoy the benefits of being an American.  As an alien of this world, we are still free to enjoy the benefits of being an American--engaging in political affairs, becoming a politician, taking advantage of free speech, working hard to make successful businesses, and supporting those who do.  But please remember, our primary citizenship should always affect the way we carry out our secondary citizenship.
Here are some things to consider as we live in the world and not of it:

1.  God has never been concerned with majority rule.
  •  Sin entered the world through one man.  God overcame the world by One man.
  • When Peter came to protect Jesus while He was arrested, Jesus said “Put your sword back in its place…..Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
  • God dwindled massive armies in the Old Testament to prove that God’s wars are not won by numbers, but by His power.  (See Judges)

  1. Support of God’s design for marriage is primarily done by having a God-glorifying marriage.
  • Vote.  Teach.  Advocate. But spend the majority of time helping others understand the Bible, come closer to Christ, and apply biblical principles to marriage. 
  • The mockers are correct: selfishness, adultery and divorce are the first threats to marriage.  Be a part of lessening these.
  •  If you want to expose the darkness, make sure you point to the light.  If you want to label something as “wrong”, give hope for a way out.  Provide direction.  People are not motivated to change JUST by seeing the negative, but by being able to visualize the positive.
  3.    There is a difference between “exclusion” and “persecution”.
  • If Christians get on their megaphones and whine about the government excluding them, THEN they need to be worried about persecution. Drama invites hatred.  Be very careful about the use of words—“persecution” is usually associated with those being beaten and killed for their faith.  Americans experience some forms or types of persecution, but we need to be careful with vocalizing those words to the world.   
  1. Be careful about who or what you fight against.
  • Eph 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
  • Attack ideas, call sin out, oppose policies.  Do not label all liberals or conservatives the same.  Be kind.  Be wise.  Understand the people who oppose you.  Love others.  Concern yourself with keeping people out of harm’s way.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're right. It can be difficult to live with "dual citizenship" if you will. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, and we must always remember to follow God's law, the law of grace. We should also be firm in our beliefs, unwilling to compromise on the essentials. Because we are also phyically citizens of the U.S. we have to remember that those whose beliefs differ from our have just as much right to those beliefs as we do to ours. In a similar way to how God lets us all choose or deny him, our earthly government allows us to choose who and what we want to believe.

    We as Christians must remember that we should always treat others, even those with vastly different beliefs, with love and respect. Because we live in a country with so many freedoms, we have every right to choose to support a particular company, and other people have just as much right to choose NOT to support that same company.

    Rather than focusing soley on the negatives (telling others what they are doing is wrong), we should be pointing them towards what is right, or more accurately, WHO is right. Christ died for all while we were all STILL sinning. There is nobody who needs Christ any more than or any less than anybody else. Yes, if somebody asks us if we think homosexuality is wrong, we should rightly reply that it is, because that is what the Bible says. But more importantly than that, we should point out that we all need Jesus. And when we do call out sin as wrong, we should be careful to do so in a loving way. Perhaps the best example of doing so in a NON-loving way is that of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). They may be technically correct in saying that homosexuality is a sin, but I would much rather stand arm-in-arm with a gay man showing support for a fallen soldier or giving that gay man support for his freedom of speech than support WBC in their hate-filled rhetoric. Loving a person in a Godly way does not mean you condone their beliefs. Personally, I think Jesus would do the same thing.

    There is a TON that could be said on this topic. I actually started a blog post on it a while back but never posted, I'm considering finishing it up now. This whole topic is probably one of the biggest cultural challenges that Christians in the U.S. face today simply because the sides are so vocal, polarizing, and it is a VERY important issue to many.