Filed under: Community, Leadership, Love | Tags: America, American dream, church, faith, Jesus, politics, Tea Party
Most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus. While I am still a train wreck of sin, I do love Jesus Christ and have been overwhelmed by His personal grace for me. He is both Savior and Lord of my life.
Generally speaking, I believe the Scriptures, the Spirit, and fellow believers are to be our guides in the Way of Christ. In the Scriptures specifically, I am usually a literalist in interpreting and abiding to what the Word says. (Some passages seem impossible to understand, interpret, and find unity in. However, that amounts to about .5% of all Scripture.)
Much of what I’ve decided to write about within this post falls in the area of Christian liberty. I usually avoid engaging heavily in areas of Christian liberty, regarding stated public opinions and open dialogue. Definition of Christian Liberty by John MacArthur, “Christian liberty is being free from having to fulfill the legal code to please God, and free from the frustration of not being able to keep an external set of rules…. It is the freedom to function by the internal working of the Spirit.” There is both liberty and diversity in our beliefs on the minor issues.
To avoid any concern, I’m as American as there is. Born and raised a Hoosier, proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance every week in Rotary Club. I have family who have served in every war in the last 100 years and family who’ve served in elected positions in this state. I pay taxes. However, regarding political parties, I carry no personal label (Republican, Democrat, Independent), nor any desire. And yes, I do vote. Overall, I love this country.
Why share my thoughts on the Tea Party, Politics, and the American dream?
- Over the last few months I’ve become increasingly concerned about Christians in my life whose opinions are being distorted by both common media and Christian culture. It’s disturbed me to know so many believers being consumed by these matters and confused about what exactly, is The Main Thing. Many believers need to see these issues from a different “lens.” These matters have stirred me to the point of having to share thoughts on this.
- Many people in my life who wouldn’t label themselves followers of Christ need to hear there is quite a diversity of opinions on these matters from people who are sold out for Jesus, love the Word, and conservative in many ways. The strength of the loud Christian culture/political message seems to follow one collective theme and the broad political media only highlights one “type” of Christian.
I believe in the end Love wins. But, as believers we are to allow love to win through us daily are we not? It’s been exhausting watching so many “Christians” engage in issues of politics, stating beliefs in Christ, though living and speaking as if they are following Malcolm X’s mantra to win “by any means necessary.” Not simply stating opinions and engaging dialogue, but fighting for a political system and willing to stomp on the very people whom Jesus sent us to love and point towards Him in doing so.
I generally believe it is valuable for Christ followers to participate in government, yet not at the cost or separation from building strong local churches which build the Kingdom. Nor do I believe any career, habit, hobby, or group for that matter should reign in place of this. The Lord has promised to come back to redeem His Church, not to redeem any government.
Not meant to be exhaustive in complete doctrine. These thoughts are in some sort of order. Kinda.
While there is a wide range of opinion on where America fits in the end times schedule (Rapture Ready, Pre-Trib Rapture, Jeremiah Project), what we must not miss is the truth from Scripture that the Lord is a respecter of no nations. He is God. And we are not. Since the Tower of Babel, people have been trying to work their way to be like, closer to, or even superior to the Lord. Political systems included. And as many great attributes America has, she is only a country. God reigns over everything. Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
The Scriptures make it clear the Lord is a respecter of no people or nation (Romans 2:11, Phil. 2:9-11). “Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” -Acts 10:34-36 (The Message Bible)
Regarding the Tea Party…
I am flat out in favor of multiple options for Americans to consider “at the polls.” Long overdue. Conceptually, the Tea Party would fit into that for me as well. Specifically, my concern was heightened from the recent rally in Washington, primarily by this massive following and response by self labeled “evangelical” Christians. All being led by Glenn Beck in our “Divine Destiny.”
- An invitation to “Return America back to God” by Glenn Beck: Um, which God is Glenn asking Christ followers to return to? Which God exactly? A Mormon to help shape our political views is one thing, but as a voice to lead Christ followers to unite “back to God?” Is not Jesus the gate to the sheep? In matters of our faith,the issue isn’t that Beck is a Mormon in a position of political influence, the issue is that so many Christians are being tied into this crossover of political/spiritual rhetoric. Are not Christ followers to be led by fellow devoted followers of Christ? For all this talk of the Antichrist, Glenn Beck is deceiving a whole lot of Christ followers through combining our faith in Jesus Christ with political rhetoric.
- While I won’t go as far as some have and claimed racism in the Tea Party: I will say that this is another movement full of white people . More white Christianity. According to my what I see in the early church, if something is a movement of the Gospel and not of man it will be diverse. I’m worn out of black Christianity, white Christianity, etc. in this country. Biblical Christianity is a movement of the living God which includes all tribes and tongues and seeks to reconcile people with one another.
- To return America to our Christian roots: Um, which parts? Safe, comfortable, entitled, or perhaps lazy? I suspect many American Christians would prefer a legislated Christian system so they don’t have to pray as hard, witness as much, give as much, etc. And as I read recently , “On the anniversary and location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech hundreds of thousands gathered to “Restore Honor.” I’m wondering if Native Americans and African Americans would celebrate the former honor of America with the issues of forced relocation and slavery so poignant for the ancestors of many fellow followers of Christ in America. Wasn’t much of that done in the name of Jesus too? White wealthy (middle to upper class) Christians need to be more sensitive to the broader context of how these things come across to diversity brothers and sisters in the faith. Through the Gospel, we are one family which means going the extra mile to consider that the history of American Christianity hasn’t been totally pure. Instead of gathering to restore the honor of our country, perhaps Christians should gather in mass to publicly repent of the things we’ve done in His name both in this country and around the world.
From the Word….
Most often Believers quote the majority of Scripture from the Old Testament in their cause to merge Christianity with politics. The Old Testament is the Word of God too, yet it’s so bothersome to find modern Christians pulling passages out of their context to support their modern day desires. To claim to be “Word” centered from Scripture and ignorant of the context in which the Old Testament (the Prophets in particular) ignores the issue that USA is not ISRAEL. And the Old Testament is interpreted through the lenses of New Testament. Not to mention that Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers go to great lengths to clarify whether they were writing/talking to the Jews or Gentiles (Romans being a great example as chapters 9-11 clearly shifts to Jewish nations). What does the New Testament have to say in support of merging the two together? “Cricket, Cricket.”
However, let’s consider a few things together:
- The Lord Jesus Christ showed us His example in how He rejected being the political King the Jews so wanted Him to be. Political Savior He was not for them when He walked this earth. That is Christianity 101. So why are so many Christians trying to use His name to establish a political kingdom on this earth today?
- The legalization of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire which brought the interweaving of political systems and Christianity for centuries and the damage that was done. The early church spread the Gospel rather quickly without having legal rights and influence. Instead, relying on the movement of the Spirit to lead His people. Through blessing or through hardship.
- Among everything we should be fighting for with love, why are Christians fighting for a strong Christian kingdom on this earth today? Much of the “Christian” resistance in our current political climate is the perceived stripping of our values and “rights. What if the Scriptures ensured to us no “rights” on this earth? So easily many are confusing American nationalism for Christian revival. Confusing Christian values for American conservative values. What if the Lord is trying to show us we can’t be both in the American Dream and His Kingdom. Isn’t this what the Lord is saying to the Rich Young Ruler? Didn’t we hear that we can’t serve two masters? Either we are going to die to have the American Dream or die for the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Church and His Kingdom….
What are the essentials for the Spirit-led, Biblically centered, community oriented follower of Christ will develop to keep a healthier view in these matters?
According to Scripture we are to live like foreigners while living in the earth: Most of us Christians in America have no clue what this means and think persecution is their child not being able to pray in school. We are to live as though we are citizens of Heaven and aliens while here (Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11, Hebrews 11:13). The violation of Christian “rights” should only lead us to be thankful of the Lord’s rewarding genuine faithfulness in our sacrifice. We can only expect hardships as we maintain Gospel centrality in this earth yet count it as a blessing to know the Lord this way (Mark 10:29-30, 2 Corinthians 12:10). Certainly not suggesting to sit on the sidelines politically, to not engage, vote, support candidates who represent your values, etc. However, it concerns me the motives of many Christians who get involved are fighting to have hardship removed. The Lord seeks to mature us through hardship and we often work to have it removed.
According to Scriptures, I believe the best use of the believer’s gifts, abilities, and resources are to be to build a strong Church instead of strong state. A strong Church, manifested through strong local churches centered on the Gospel, brings Glory to the Lord and together seeks to be centered on the Great Commission. Admittedly, aside from my own failures as a follower of Christ in lacking personal purity and living up to my God given abilities, passions, and desires, nothing has broken my heart more the last few years than the church. There is no ignoring that the American church is full of heartbreak, failure, disappointment….etc. Because the church is full of people. And people disappoint. However, as believer’s, we can’t ignore the Biblical mandate and overwhelming joy (most of the time) to serve together with other believer’s and build His Church.
The Gospel spoken and lived out is the main thing. Believer’s must keep the main thing the main thing. Grace centered dialogue in all things. Build bridges not walls.
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