May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rethinking How We Christians Respond to the Majority Secular Society's Attacks and Bigotry

I get this sense of doom, about Western Civilization, America’s constitutional republic, and Christianity. The end game is here, we’ve past the tipping point, we’re past the point of no return. The goodness of all these things have their foundation in Christianity. I read a comment a few months ago that Christianity has been in worse positions, and we will survive this too.

We bemoan that traditional religious practices and churches are fading away. Well, there are a lot of them still going strong; let’s acknowledge that. For the rebels among us, what could be more rebellious or revolutionary than being a practicing, churchgoing Christian these days? Nearly half or more of Americans are hostile to and attack Christians. Much of it is government sanctioned.

I get so caught up reading, writing, talking about this hostility that until the past few days I hadn’t thought about the antidote. I rail about the zeitgeist of victimology, and it dawned on me that constantly laying out the attacks and things against Christians, that I was seeing myself and fellow Christians a victims. That’s not good.

I ask myself, who or what are examples of how to maintain one’s religion during times of persecution (though now in Amerika persecution is exercised through prosecution). Think about what practicing (or Orthodox) Jews have put up with; way more than we Christians, even taking into account the things ancient Christians suffered.

Those Jews were and are practicing their faith, living their principals, acting in accordance with Scripture. We Christians must do the same. A majority of Jews in America have put the State, worshipping it, before God. It looks to me that some, maybe a majority of American Christians have done the same (which I've railed about several times in this blog). Yet Jews through pogroms and the Holocaust remained steadfast. Scriptural Christians must do the same.  

I started this essay about the sense of doom because so much is aligned against us. Part of the answer is from a Theodore Roosevelt speech, and many have heard this part:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

A must read if you’ve never read the whole thing here "Citizenship in a Republic".

Christians must be in the arena. We must be sure too that we live by Holy Scripture. Spending ourselves in a worthy cause does no good if we don’t live according to Holy Scripture, we only leave ourselves open to critics.

Our religious liberty is partly diminishing because we aren’t standing up to criticism and attacks. Those external forces attacking us are a part of it, but our playing the victimology card is not any part of the answer. The victimology card is what much of our culture plays now.

From scripture, James has some helpful observations. “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

When we deviate from Scripture: “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever. And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.”

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also,
“If the righteous are barely saved,
what will happen to godless sinners?”

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

I have friends saying what’s the point of the fight? Major jerks gain wealth and power, which is always true since forever. But we have a constitutional republic here, and if enough of us reject the ‘we are doomed’ victimology, not all those voted into public office will be of the sort we have now. If enough in our personal lives publicly walk the Christian walk, we will influence enough people to turn this mess around.

What we are experiencing, mostly from outside the Christian community (and a little from within by those who listen to Screwtape), from James: “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”

Pretty much describes our culture and politics doesn’t it?

Let’s change how we respond to that meme.

Peter: "For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls."

And this is the way, tough as it is, to turn this hot mess around.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “It is more sensible to be pessimistic; disappointments are left behind, and one can face people unembarrassed. Hence, the clever frown upon optimism. In its essence optimism is not a way of looking at the present situation but a power of life, a power of hope when others resign, a power to hold our heads high when all seems to have come to naught, a power to tolerate setbacks, a power that never abandons the future to the opponent but lays claim to it. Certainly, there is a stupid, cowardly optimism that must be frowned upon. But no one ought to despise optimism as the will for the future, however many times it is mistaken. It is the health of life that the ill dare not infect. There are people who think it frivolous and Christians who think it impious to hope for a better future on earth and to prepare for it. They believe in chaos, disorder, and catastrophe, perceiving it in what is happening now. They withdraw in resignation or pious flight from the world, from the responsibility for ongoing life, for building anew, for the coming generations. It may be that the Day of Judgment will dawn tomorrow; only then and no earlier will we readily lay down our work for a better future.”

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