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)
- 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.
- 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.