Today being Memorial Day here in the U.S. I thought I would spend this post mourning all the children of God who have died in the world’s wars. This includes both the soldiers and those innocent civilians called “collateral damage” by the military complexes. Unfortunately wars and killing have been a fact of life for all of our existence. But this killing each other complex did not come from Jesus. He made it clear that we are to love even our enemies. I totally mourn all the times that people have rushed to war instead of trying all the other possible alternatives.
We seem to constantly send our young men and woman to the killing fields whenever our governments disagree with each other. It is also so strange to me that we write much of our history around the wars we have engaged in. We seem to celebrate them instead of mourn them for their abject failure and the loss of human life that occurred. Every person who has ever lived on this earth has been totally loved by God. Whenever a life is extinguished God also mourns.
We humans just can’t seem to get our hands wrapped around the idea of alternatives to going to war with each other. To that end every generation has invented machines that make the killing easier. Shame on us. Lord bless all those millions and millions whom have lost their lives during the wars of our country and the rest of the world.
I know the above is not from a Christian person but it is certainly Christian in nature and principle. I found it under a pile on my desk. I wish it had remained on top but that was not the case. Anyway, it will now reside in a reserved section of my bulletin board above my desk. Of course this is a play off of “The Seven Deadly Sins” that played out in the Christian church in the middle ages. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:
The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices which has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man’s tendency to sin. It consists of “Lust“, “Gluttony“, “Greed“, “Sloth“, “Wrath”, “Envy“, and “Pride“.
Most of us know that Martin Luther King patterned his civil rights movement based on Gandhi’s non-violence protests. His list was at the foundation of that protest.
Gandhi was born a Hindu and practised it all his life, deriving most of his principles from Hinduism. As a common Hindu, he believed all religions to be equal, and rejected all efforts to convert him to a different faith. He was an avid theologian and read extensively about all major religions. With so much of history about different religions going to war with each other over their personal view of God it is kind of refreshing to find a religion that is not like that. I guess I will need to put the study of Hinduism on my post seeds list too 🙂 . I remember watching the movie (Gandhi) about him that came out about 25 years ago. It was very inspiring and helped shape much of my initial beliefs about nonviolence. Gandhi was indeed a very inspiring person.
Let’s always remember that other religions may have insights into God that Christianity doesn’t. We should learn what we can from them. Next time I am going to show you a list that the Catholic church recently released related to their, or at least Pope Benedict’s, list of social sins in the 21st century.
I just wanted to make a quick post in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy. It’s a shame that his life long passionate goal of making healthcare a right instead of a privledge for ALL Americans did not become a reality while he was with us. I know he was an honorable Christian and a good Catholic. Here’s to you Ted I hope your dream becomes a reality soon.
I know there are those out there who would like to trash his memory over issues you disagreed with him on. But, this is not the appropriate time and since I won’t approve them on this blog today, this is not the appropriate place.
In the last post I brought forth the proposition that God loves all of humanity and does not particularly bless one world government more than another. I also pointed out that many today think that if we could just turn the US into a Christian theocracy everything would be wonderful. I pointed out that we have had Christian theocracies in the past and they were no more like Jesus (i.e.. The kingdom of God) than those pagan governments around them. And many times even worse!
This post I will spend some time talking about how I believe that a follower of Jesus should interact with kingdoms of this world (the United States in particular). Jesus made it clear that we are to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. To me that means keeping the two somewhat separate but that does not mean Christians should have total indifference to world kingdoms?
In the early centuries of the Christian phenomenon government officials were actually told to find another profession after they converted to the “Way”. The same went for soldiers. But, I don’t think that meant that we Christians were meant to stay out of the politics of this world entirely. Obviously Jesus said leave to Caesar what is Creaser’s and to God what is God’s. I earlier stated that I don’t think Jesus was political but you should not infer that he was not interested in things that are handled in the political sphere. John Howard Yoder in his book the Politics of Jesus does a good job of pointing this out. The problems we Christians get into today is that we latch on to some kingdom issues in politics and then somehow buy the whole package of that political party. For some it is abortion and therefore the Republican party. For others it is issues such as healthcare or safety net issues and therefore it is the Democratic party. We have to be very aware of such allegiances of accepting the bad with the good. It reflects poorly on the Kingdom of God and possibly drives many away. We should not be strict Republicans or Democrats but should instead back Kingdom related issues in whichever party they occur. As Jim Wallis and Sojourners bumper sticker says “God is NOT a Republican, or a Democrat”.
But Jesus also indicated that where Caesar conflicted with God, God must win out for all Christians. In my mind it is kind of tricky just how involved we Christians should be in political affairs. The two extremes seem to be to stay out of it entirely or to reach for a Christian Theocracy. The optimum point is obviously somewhere between these two extremes. I don’t know personally where the ideal point is so I tend to try to stay closer to the non-involvement end but where safety net issues are concerned I tend to be very active.
Greg Boyd’s post on his blog entitled “The Patriot’s Bible – Really” is very insightful in this area. That is why it is in the “inspiring” block on the right side of this blog”. Just click on that link to see the text. One ironic point that Dr. Boyd made is that the early Christians were persecuted for being unpatriotic. They would not bow to Caesar or other such things. That seems to be the opposite of today where so many Christians are thoroughly attached to world kingdoms and not so much to the Kingdom of God. At least that is how I see it.
The book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Pastor Boyd did a lot in shaping my thoughts in this area. I would highly recommend the book to anyone. But, if you are one to believe that Jesus particularly blesses America then be prepared to have that myth thoroughly destroyed by his biblical insight. To some it will be uncomfortable reading but well worth it if your current worldview eventually gives way to the kingdom of God view.
Last time I pointed out a couple of reasons why I believe that the phrase Taking America back for God to be erroneous statement. This time I will expand my thoughts on this topic and talk about allegiances.
Does God recognize governments and give some more blessings than others? — Except for Israel of course there is little evidence of that in Jesus’ words. And even for Israel, in my mind, refers to the people who have a relationship with God and not the political nation either then or now. God infinitely loves all his children no matter what their nationality or politics is. He loves that child who died of starvation within the last 30 seconds in an African country just as much as he loves you or your children. I don’t think Jesus is much on national identities. After all he even associated with Samaritans! That was a definite political no-no in his days.
Christian Theocracies – We have had Christian Theocracies at various times in world history but we never see them end up acting Christ like. In fact they usually ended up looking pretty much like all the other pagan nations around them. We waste a lot of our energy as Christians today in the United States trying to establish a political kingdom that is Christ like. Jesus rejected that idea when he was walking this earth so I don’t think he would condone it now. Not even for the United States of America.
Where should our allegiances be?
Next time I will talk more about Jesus and politics and summarize this discussion. As usual I welcome any comments you wish to post as long as they remain civil.
At first glance this post might not seem like one on outreach but, in my mind, it really is. Like it or not our actions put a face on Christianity to the current crop of unbelievers.
There was a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html%3E .
In it the author is described as: Michael Spencer is a writer and communicator living and working in a Christian community in Kentucky. He describes himself as “a postevangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality.”
He lays out multiple reasons why Christians known as evangelicals will soon be part of lost history. One of the primary reasons he says it that evangelicals are just too strongly associated with the political conservative movement in the United States and that they seem to be against much more than they seem to be for. Another is that they simply have not been able to convince their children that the evangelical movement should be a life long pursuit. Although I discount much of what is in the article I do believe there is some truth to the political realities. Given the significant Obama victory the conservative movement has taken quite a hit. And in the press the evangelicals are most often reported on what they are against rather than what they are for. Will these facts affect how successful they are in Christian outreach? Of course it will! Will this result in a shrinking evangelical population? That is very likely unless they can reverse the current trends.
I to believe that Evangelicals are just too closely linked to radical right political agenda. To many current unbelievers Christians, particularly Evangelicals, are known for Gods, Guns, and Gays. (for, for, and against).
There are just too many red letters in the Bible to even try to associate a follower of Jesus Christ to the social conservative political agenda. Jesus did not tell us to shun, blame, and scorn the least of these as the radical right seem to do. He, instead, told us to embrace them and to treat them as our brothers with love and compassion.
No, I don’t think that the Evangelical community is on the verge of imminent collapse but I do think that it is possible that they will become much less significant in the Christian community if they insist on continuing to attach themselves so closely to a radical political movement. Jesus taught us to be in the world but not of the world. This message seems to have been lost on those Christians who espouse the radical right political agenda.