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How can a government designed by and for flawed human beings of diverse philosophies and beliefs be anything but flawed itself? If truth and justice must be submitted to a committee for approval, how will either survive? These are the kinds of questions that this staunch supporter of our American government and Constitution wrestles with. Our founders recognized the enormity of the task before them and did an excellent job of crafting a system of checks and balances that they imagined could keep human nature in check. Yet even they realized it was not really up to the task. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We get angry when our leaders compromise, but everything we have is built on compromise. Compromise is both the boon and the bane of any system that relies on democratic procedure. When the people can vote for what they want, the system only works when the people want what they should. Someone always loses, and if the majority turns their hearts to evil, it will be those on the side of truth. The fall of the society is not far behind, because whatever the prevailing belief system is, nations that neglect truth and justice eventually destroy themselves.
If I am to be ruled by men, I would prefer to live under a government where at least some mechanism exists to keep evil in check. Ours comes closer than anything that has gone before. If there is an argument against that statement it is God’s design for the nation of Israel before they demanded a king, but again that only worked when the people were willing to obey Him. The same is true for us, and that is the dilemma that confronts the Christian in our society. We stand for freedom, but that same freedom works just as well for the believer in lies as it does the believer in the truth. I say that in a political sense.
How far does our freedom go? The vast majority of us would agree that it is limited at minimum by things that would cause harm to others. We are all against murder, though some of us don’t seem to mind it too much as long as the victim is an innocent unborn child. We’re all against theft unless we can get the government to do it for us. Somehow it isn’t a crime anymore if we do not personally assault or even see the victim. We could free up a lot of jail space if we applied this principle uniformly.
What are we to do when the truth and the law are in conflict? We’re told to obey the law, but is that obedience unconditional? For example, does God require a Christian mother living in China to abort her second child because the law says she must? Where do we take a stand? I think that our founders would say it was long before now. Read The Declaration of Independence. This isn’t China, but if some among us have their way someday it could be.
I do not suggest we take up arms, but I do suggest that it is well past the time for the church to become unashamedly involved in government. Contrary to what you may have been taught, our Constitution does not forbid this. It only prevents government from establishing a national religion, understood at the time to refer to a particular sect of the Christian religion. I keep saying this because I believe it is essential to our survival. We have not only the right but the obligation as Christians to steward well the power afforded us by our Constitution. Stand for the truth, remembering always that the real solutions lie in the hearts of the people. Be involved in government from the local to the national, but always be ready with the message of the Gospel, where our true salvation is found.
We’ve all heard that, or something like it. It probably came from your mom as she watched you swinging from that tree or flying down the street on your bike with your hands proudly waving in the air. Maybe she demanded that you stop immediately. Sometimes parents can be a little too protective, but we grow to understand the motivation. When you got older, the messages may have become more complex, but the underlying meaning was still the same. “Don’t eat too much candy.” “Don’t forget your homework.” “Be home before midnight.” “Stay away from that boy/girl.” Our parents did what they could to help us grow up to be whole and well-adjusted adults and to keep us from the many perils of life in this world until we made it there. Despite their best efforts, some of us don’t quite make it.
I suspect that only one child in the history of humanity accepted His parents’ rules without complaint. We don’t like rules. We don’t like anything that keeps us from having what we want when we want it. Often we rebel and do as we please anyway. When we were children, our parents responded to this rebellion with some form of punishment. In this case the consequence of our action is contrived, but with good reason. If we do not learn that our actions have consequences as children, we will learn it as adults and they will be much more severe. Examine our prison population if you need proof. A majority of the offenders there lacked strong discipline at home.
Why did our parents treat us this way? In most cases, they were not exercising power for its own sake. They did not take pleasure in causing us pain. They did what they did because they loved us. All of the rules, admonishments, lectures, and punishments were intended to shape and protect us. They were saying, “I love you. I want the best for you. Don’t hurt yourself.” Most of us figure that out at some point in our lives. We come to understand that love doesn’t require unrestrained indulgence.
This letter is written to all of us, but in particular to you who for whatever reason may have kept your distance from God or “religion.” Or, maybe you just aren’t comfortable with everything that’s in the Bible. For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume at least an acknowledgement that God exists and has a part in human affairs.
It is no mere accident of language that God defines Himself as our Father. He gives us (though regrettably not including me) children so that we can understand that aspect of His love for us. He sets boundaries for us and gives us instruction to protect and nurture us because He loves us. If you’ve ever read the first few books of the Bible, you saw a whole lot of rules. They are there to help us understand our relationship to a holy God and our abject need for His redemption, but many of them also served to protect His people. In an era when no one could have known about the unseen pathogens that spread sickness and disease, God provided detailed instructions regarding clean and unclean that kept the people as safe as possible. All of the rules were motivated by love.
Though Jesus has made a new and better way (Rom 5:8-9) and we know that salvation cannot be earned (Eph. 28,) He has given us instructions that are for our own good. The ultimate tragedy is to refuse the gift that Jesus offers in Himself. Miss that and nothing else really matters. Yet it remains true that following the principles of living that He laid out for us in the Bible will keep us from much harm. This is the ache that is in my heart when I see people making poor choices. When we share the Gospel message, one of the verses commonly referenced is Romans 6:23, which says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We speak of the final damnation in Hell, but one need not look so far to see the truth in this passage. Most of us will experience the consequences of our sin while we yet live on this earth. This is often true even after we have repented and been forgiven. We may be spared the ultimate consequence, but some things are going to happen just that’s because the way things work. Unless God in his mercy intervenes, we will not be spared earthly repercussions.
Oh loved ones, I wish I could call you by name, but that would not be appropriate here. Choose life! Enough suffering comes to us just because we live in a fallen world. Please do not add to your misery by choosing short term pleasures that will bring you long term pain. Study God’s word and live by it. He makes no promise of freedom from suffering in this life. In fact if you are truly devoted you may find that too brings you grief, but the reward is eternal! Do not turn away from the One who loves you with everything He has. I would see you truly live and not die. In my own poor way I love you, but His love will never fail.
This is one of those articles it was hard to pick a quote from because there’s so much worth repeating. The author approaches from another angle what I’ve said here before. Our problems did not begin when Obama was elected, else we would not have elected him. Our problems began in our own hearts when we turned as a nation from Yahweh and His principles. Nothing short of repentance will redeem us now.
Barack Obama is only one man. A bad man, yes, but he is a symptom more than a cause. Without millions of fawning Americans, he would just be a community agitator, vainly preaching Alinsky principles from a soapbox. Of course, he is a symptom that exacerbates the underlying problem, and symptomatic treatment — to ease immediate pain and hardship — is certainly in order. But it is only the worst of physicians who focuses only on symptoms while ignoring the cancer eating away at the patient’s midst.
It amazes me that intelligent people embrace the idea that truth is a subjective concept. If you are one of those people, I would like to engage you directly. The modern trend is to compartmentalize religious belief, reducing its relevance to the realities of life. Yet most of us acknowledge God in some form. I’m not going to try to address atheism here. That requires a different treatment as a staunch atheist believes he knows the truth. I would speak to you who consider faith a personal matter with no absolutes. I freely admit that I hope to convince you that there is only one source of truth and ultimately that is the God described by the Christian Bible. However, that isn’t the main thrust of this entry. For now, I just want you to think about your beliefs logically.
When we speak of faith in religious terms it somehow becomes less substantial, yet even the Bible uses words such as substance and evidence to describe what faith is. It is no less real for being intangible. We put our faith in things and in people every day. Why should our faith in God be any different? In fact it should be the strongest faith we have, because He will never fail us. That’s not to say that He won’t disappoint us from time to time because being God he doesn’t always do what we think He should, but He has in mind the best for us that we usually cannot see. Yes, I’m now speaking out of my own faith. I wish I could say it does not waiver, but it often does. However, my certainty that truth remains is not shaken. It is faith in my ability to understand it that is really in question.
We have faith because we believe something to be true. It may be as simple as the certainty that the chair upon which you are about to sit will hold you up or as abstract as the trust you put in a person you believe to be of good character. It is when what we believe to be true turns out to be false that our faith is shaken.
How then can truth be relative? How can what is true and what is false vary from person to person? Would we apply this idea to any other area of our lives? If I may borrow a somewhat clichéd example, let’s say I believe the earth is flat. That works for me. It gives me comfort because if it’s flat and I stay away from the edge I can never fall off. It makes me happy to believe that. Is it true? What if I lack the means to prove that the earth is in fact round? Is it flat because I can’t prove it is round with the tools at my disposal?
Some things are admittedly a bit harder to prove, but let’s start by establishing that truth exists whether or not we know what it is. Without that basis, all other argument is worthless. If something is so just because I believe it and it doesn’t have to be so for anyone else, what is the point of discussion? In fact the very idea of relative truth is unsupportable because the idea itself cannot be deemed true. It’s a comforting illusion because it frees us from responsibility, but try that in a court of law.
My heart has been a little heavy this week, but not with the self-absorbed blackness that produced my earlier prose. I don’t want to go into too much detail since this will be available to the world, but I am moved by the personal tragedy that I’ve recently seen. My heart aches and I want to fix it, but it is not within my power to fix such things. I write this publicly because there are so many who can read their own stories into this letter, and I would that all may know the truth.
What can I say? Are there any words that would make a difference? How can I, living as I say that all should live and yet rarely joyful, claim that I know the path to peace, fulfillment, and happiness? I know that if I hold back because of my own imperfection I will never be able to share what little wisdom God has allowed me, so with open acknowledgement that I have not yet managed to fully apply the truth I know, I try to pass it along.
Should I dare to speak to someone whose life and experience are so different than mine? Can I offer anything that someone old enough to be my parent would be able to receive? I have certainly known the pain of loss, but each loss is different. I know what betrayal feels like, but not on the scale that some have seen it. In truth my life has been good. That I cannot see well is a huge frustration but I wouldn’t trade the life I’ve been given to gain the ability to see. What is that against the love of a family, the wisdom of good parents, and most of all the love of Yahweh? If I can point to tragedy in my life it has been that of my own making, and even there God has spared me. I was brought up in the Truth, and that kept me from much that destroys life.
Maybe it is only this that I can offer. I have hope in Yahweh. There is no hope in religious ritual. It may provide the solace of the familiar, but there is no life in it. True worshipers may exist within its context, but in itself it does not promote true worship. Church as most of us define it is no church at all. The church is comprised of true followers of Jesus, not of congregants in a particular building, group, or denomination. It is among such true believers that one may hope to find a small sample of the love that Yahweh intended for us to share. These people are rarer than even the shrinking rolls of church attendees would indicate. Once discovered, they too will fail us at times, because they like us are flawed. The only one in whom we may have unshakeable trust is Yahweh.
But He designed us to operate in community. We were not meant to function in isolation. In isolation we cannot receive His love through His people, nor can we give it. The latter is crucial. When we give Jesus our lives and are thus reborn, we have within us His nature and are compelled to act as He would. We cannot be healthy unless we are doing what He does. As I live my life I become more and more convinced that the only path to consistent and lasting joy is in service to others, which is service to Yahweh. WE love Him by loving each other.
Those are pretty words, but they seem to crumble to dust upon the slightest brush with reality. The best of us fail, and most of us are not the best of us. We tend to be selfish, ungrateful, spiteful, and without real love. To love and give of oneself only to have more demanded without so much as a word of gratitude seems to pull that joy I spoke of well out of reach. This is why we need others around us. We need a community of godly people who will stand with us. It is more blessed to give than to receive, but if one never receives he runs out of anything to give. I for one would rather that everything I need come straight from God. He’s the one who will never fail. But God means for His people to be conduits for His love. By denying others the opportunity to give to me, I deny them the opportunity to be blessed by the giving and act out God’s nature in their own lives. This is tough when trust has been often betrayed, but there is healing in it.
I also hurt for those who choose to reject God’s best for them. What can I say that would help you understand? The love you seek cannot be found in a relationship devoid of commitment. The pain you hope to soothe will only grow worse as your soul becomes further divided among partners who themselves have no notion of love beyond what pleases them or seems to fill their own emptiness. What will you do if you should find true love and discover that you have too little left to share? God does not wish to take love away from you. He wishes to give it to you. He is not out to take all joy from your life, but to show you the way to more joy than you imagine possible. Loving Father that He is, he guides us away from the things that will hurt us and toward that which is best for us. He is also just, and though He would not have it so, He must eventually judge those who will not listen to the truth. This above all I would spare you, for there is no greater sorrow than to be separated forever from the lover who would never have left you. Come to Him. He does not seek religious ritual. He cares little which label you wear. I think He would prefer that you wear no label at all. He wants your heart. If you give yourself to Him, He will guide you to the love you seek. He is known as Jesus, the god of the universe made flesh to die so that you can live. He is Yahweh, the eternal Father who loved you enough to sacrifice His own son to have you back. There is no greater love.