Oswald Chambers on Christian Rights

The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard—we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean on our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

Our culture of self-interest has coined the catch-phrase, “Not my problem.” Chambers seems to agree with that sentiment, but in a somewhat different context. The cultural sense is self-centered, while for Christ-followers it is, or should be, God-centered.

Justice and fairness fall at the top of everyone’s personal priority list, as long as we are on their receiving end. Administering justice and fairness, however, typically falls somewhat lower on that list, even for Christ-followers.

Certain elements in God’s church concern themselves almost exclusively with their, “God-given rights,” and they’re prepared to defend them with their lives. They call themselves Patriots, meaning, “defenders of the Constitution,” or, “proud to be an American.” Many Christians equate patriotism with defending the faith, by force of arms if necessary.

Now, I may be nuts, but I can’t recall any New Testament command to take up arms in defense of Christ. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite:Matthew 26: 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” And in Luke’s account, Jesus underscored his message of love by healing the man’s ear.

As Jesus usually spoke from the eternal perspective, I suspect he meant by “perish,” a far greater significance than mere physical death. Whether or not that is strictly true, we would likely profit by taking his words under advisement.

But, what of patriotic pride? As I’ve often said, “I” is at the center of pride, and sin. Personally, I’m immensely thankful for having been born in this country, but as I didn’t have much choice in my birthplace, I don’t have much ground for pride in that fact. Am I proud of America? You bet I am, to the extent that it seeks the high moral ground. Unfortunately, though, there hasn’t been much of that seeking lately.

As Christ-followers, we must maintain different priorities from those of the world. The prayer attributed to St. Francis has become almost cliché, but it accurately summarizes God’s expressed will for Christ-followers:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Proud of Being White?

AWHMI followed a link to a Facebook page called, “American White History Month.” On it, I found a slogan with which I, though about as white as one can be, cannot agree. With it, however, I found a true statement, which I will quote first, “Never apologize for being white.”

I’ve done many things during my sixty-eight years for which I could indeed apologize, but why would I apologize for being what God made me? That would be like apologizing for being male, or human. Though males and whites, indeed, all humans, do despicable things, we don’t do them because we are a particular sex or color; we do them because we are sinful.

The second slogan on that page proclaims far more than its creators realize. “Proud of our race and heritage,” seems dangerously close to taking credit for God’s creative work. We didn’t choose to be born white, and of European heritage, so how can we be proud of that? We can certainly be glad of it, and thankful for it, just as people of color can be glad and thankful for who they are. Following, are Bible passages that deal with pride and its consequences:

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Pride in something, and gratitude for it, are antithetical, if at once, one takes credit for it, and gives credit for it. So, which will it be? The passages above, and many more, command gratitude, but never does God’s Word tell us to take pride in what he gave us; even though we may have worked hard for something, or even invented it, we didn’t create it. Such pride is most certainly one form of evil.

As for our heritage, we are a nation born of Christian principles, and that, according to our Constitution’s Establishment Clause, is where our national Christianity ends. As Premier Obama said, America was never a Christian nation. Fact is, we can take pride in no nation governed by fallen human beings, as everything they do is based in sin, even if it seems noble. But we can, and must, remain thankful for it.

Patriotism

Our Founding Fathers tried to make totalitarianism impossible in the United States.

I happened to watch an old episode of BREAKOUT KINGS, where the team encountered a group of “patriots.” While I agree in principle with the fictitious group’s position on governmental overreach, I can’t stomach the terrorist-style violence employed to make their point. When true American patriots descend into the bloody gutter of aggressive violence and hate crimes, they abdicate the moral high-ground, and become just another corrupt band of bullies as bad as, or worse than, the bully government they’re fighting.

But the producers’ almost-subliminal, secondary message came even closer to turning my stomach; the fictitious “patriots” were militant racists. While some “patriots” hold that sick, hateful world view, true  patriots hold to our Founding Fathers’ Biblical world view that mandates equality under law for everyone, even if it’s still a dream.

The religious-right’s myth that the United States of America is, or ever was, a Christian nation clouds uncountable issues. Our founding fathers suffered and died to prevent that from happening. The last thing they wanted to establish was a theocracy, where Christianity, or any other religion, could be established as the state religion. That’s why they included the Establishment Clause in our Bill of Rights. After all their efforts, however, our usurpers’ government has established an official, state religion.

Our Constitution included a then revolutionary process called checks-and-balances, where one arm of government could not hold sway over the other two. But the religion of Secular Humanism invaded our government through the back door of judicial activism, and hasn’t stopped since. It’s already weakened our nation, and will eventually end our form of government. Unlike fictional accounts of that inevitable failure, we’ll probably keep our national name, while the usurpers’ government quietly dispatches dissenters everywhere.

“In a democracy, the people deserve the government they get.”

Shooting At Newtown Connecticut School

Tragically, shock, but not surprise, reflect my reaction to this morning’s wanton, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Predictably, our government will blame this calamity on America’s failure to control guns, screen unbalanced people and detect their reprehensible intentions, and monitor dissident groups such as Evangelical Bible-believers. But oddly, accusations aimed at Christians and patriots will at once, be 180° off, and right on target.

God’s church may not have physically pulled the fatal triggers during this carnage, but the fundamental responsibility for those terrible events falls squarely on our apathetic, Christian shoulders. If Christ-followers were truly obeying their Savior, tragedies such as mass-murders and bombings would be rare, rather than the stuff of daily headlines. Christ’s Great Commission should have been all the instruction we needed to minister His redeeming love and grace to fallen mankind. Instead, grass-fires of error and disobedience began consuming the young churches, as they still do today.

We American evangelicals pride ourselves in our patriotism, clinging to our Constitutional rights as if they were holy writ. When we see those rights threatened, as they are today, we get irate, even hateful, toward those “accursed” liberals who want to rain on our 200 year old parade. So we spend far more time finger-pointing and name-calling than searching out our own responsibility in society’s moral decline.

Church, we’ve not only dropped the ball, but we’ve picked it up and begun running toward the wrong goal line(Ephesians 6:12). So we must not simply wring our hands in despair over today’s horrible events, but rather, fall to our knees in prayer, getting to know the lovely Savior who died to redeem us, and our sinful, broken world.