Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Semantics of Submission

I do not want to write this blog entry. God asked me to write this last week and I begged for something more cheerful to say at Easter. Thankfully, He gave me a different message then, but He has also continued to tell me all week long that He has not released me from this current message, so I am struggling to say the right thing here, to take a stand where many have just stepped aside, to help you as Christian understand what you are being called upon to do in the America in which you live.

First, know that I respect the office of the presidency; I pray for the President (1 Tim. 2:2); and I know without a doubt that God places the President of His choice into that office. As Paul states, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1, my italics). As a result, President Obama has my prayers and support: if He succeeds, America succeeds. However, since I base all my political views on The Bible (which isn’t too popular a stance in our present culture), I am disconcerted by several of his beliefs and think all Christians should be concerned as well.

As most all of you probably know, this past month, President Obama’s words from last year have come back to haunt him. Presently under scrutiny is his statement, "Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” Obama later clarified this statement in an e-mail to CBN News senior national correspondent David Brody: "We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community." He further stated, “My intention was to contrast the heated partisan rhetoric of a distinct minority of Christian leaders with the vast majority of Evangelical Christians – conservatives included – who believe that hate has no place in our politics.”

I refuse to get into a debate about whether we are a Christian nation at present (much less into a debate about whether the founding fathers were truly Christians or Deists or whatever). I think such discussions are fruitless and are masking the real problem behind President Obama’s words—a problem where Christians are called upon to no longer be “divisive” but to come together and basically accept everybody’s beliefs for the good of all people.

This problem is two-fold. First, our President is depicting anyone who wants to base our country’s “policies” on a single religion as divisive and guilty of “hate.” President Obama tactfully describes these divisive haters as “a distinct minority of Christian leaders” versus the “vast majority of Evangelical Christians.” This is an attempt to put in our minds a vision of the nutty religious extremists versus “normal Christians” or “Christians like us.” While this psychology might make us feel good that “well at least we’re not like that,” this is an extreme danger for us as Christians. We should not be comfortable with being just the “vast majority” that is acceptable.

If all Evangelical Christians were standing up for their values, then they, too, should want America’s policies to reflect their moral values, and, thus, would be labeled as religious extremists by our present administration. Do you see the scary logic behind this? To truly follow Christ’s commands and stand up for what His word teaches (on gay marriage, abortion, divorce, etc.) is to be criticized by the highest office in our land as a person of hate and divisiveness.

You are being given a choice here—to be an extremist for Jesus or to be a part of the “vast majority” who are the “lukewarm—neither hot nor cold” Christians that Jesus says He will “spit…out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16). These Christians have lived under the mantle of political correctness, apathy, and a “let’s all get along” attitude for their entire lives such that their views can no longer be said to be Jesus’ views. A true belief (moral, religious, or otherwise) will permeate every fiber of our being and, thus, impact everything we do. In other words, our actions, what political views we support, where we spend our money, etc. show what we really think, who we really love.

Secondly, the problem is that our President is encouraging Christians (especially those in politics) to basically “just get along” with all others, to sacrifice their moral and religious beliefs for the good of the whole, for the good of peace. As President Obama puts it, “translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.” This request implies that one’s commitment to Jesus and one’s commitment to world unity (or at least “American unity”) can coexist in one’s heart. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity is and always has been a divisive religion; it’s all about separating the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:32).

Jesus, Himself, warned us that following Him would cause division: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD” (Matthew 10:34-36).

To truly follow Christ is to be at odds with the world, to be considered a religious extremist, a fanatic, a hater. Jesus warns us of this happening: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matthew 10:16-21).

But Jesus also gives us hope when we are persecuted for allowing our beliefs to permeate every aspect of our lives: “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:26-28).

As Christians, we should pray that God convicts our President of these facts. No matter what, though, we should not make apologies for our beliefs. We should not bow to the winds of political correctness or a desire for peace and unity in the world. We can love all people of all creeds like Christ loves them yet still stand firm that their beliefs and choices are wrong and will ultimately result in God’s wrath upon them. You have a choice—be lukewarm and be accepted by the world but rejected by Jesus or be an extreme lover of Christ and be called one who hates by the world but accepted by Jesus as His child.

There is coming a day when you will likely be called upon to make a decision, will have to choose a side. As Joshua 24:15 says, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

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