(Originally printed in the Winter 2005 Issue of the MCOI Journal)
The morning of November 3, 2004, which dawned darkly upon liberals, offered a ray of hope to conservatives. George W. Bush was re-elected as the President of the United States. With his re-election a new psychological disorder was born— dubbed PEST (Post Election Selection Trauma):
More shocked John Kerry supporters on Wednesday sought psychological help with “post-election selection trauma” in South Florida, prompting the American Health Association to officially release symptoms of the disorder and open its doors for free counseling.1Post Election Selection Syndrome, Sean Salai, Boca Raton News, November 10, 2004; http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1300571/ posts
Some conservatives may wonder why the American Health Association did not offer free counseling after the 1996 election, when Bill Clinton was reelected against the wishes of so many. We say PEST SHMEST— everyone who has participated in the electoral process has felt the sting of defeat at one time or another. Elections are, by their very nature, risky, and the outcome is not assured. In an essentially two-way race, it stands to reason that someone is going to be disappointed. A big part of life is learning to deal with disappointment. Historically, American elections have always been fiercely contested affairs; but now more than ever, it seems some people are unwilling or unable to come to grips with the results of this one and move on. Speaking of “moving on,” we have somehow been added to the e-mail list of a liberal organization called Move-on.org. Shortly after this past election, they sent out a very bitter e-mail message about the results and asked their e-mail list respondents their opinions of how they should now proceed. We sent them back a response, in which we helpfully suggested that, since the long and bitter election thankfully is over, can’t we just put it all behind us for a time and move on? We never heard back whether our idea was given serious consideration, but since they continue to churn out bitterness and wrath, we must conclude that Move-on is not for moving on.
Far from moving on, many of our liberal countrymen threatened they would be moving out-seeking refuge in Canada away from the lesser evolved “Red State” folks-while many of the “lesser evolved” took a sort of “here’s-your-hat, what’s-your-hurry” attitude towards any potential emigrants. Alternatively, some “Blue Staters” thought it would be a fine thing to take their states with them when they left, along with their underwear and other personal possessions. Talk of “Blue State” secession was swirling.
Secession, which didn’t work very well when it was tried once before, is suddenly red hot in the blue states. In certain precincts, anyway. One popular map circulating on the Internet shows the 19 blue states won by Sen. John Kerry — Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland and the Northeastern states — conjoined with Canada to form the “United States of Canada.” The 31 red states carried by Mr. Bush are depicted as a separate nation dubbed “Jesusland.”2Blue States Buzz Over Secession, Joseph Curl, The Washington Times, November 9, 2004; http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20041109-122753-5113r.htm
Since we live in a Blue State, we had to wonder what was to become of us. Would we be exiled to Missouri? Offered a free stay in a re-education camp? In actual point of fact, we were not too worried, because we don’t see anything like that happening any time soon. Sure enough, talk of secession seems to have abated, but lest some are tempted to be too hard on our secessationist liberal countrymen, we must point out that some fed-up conservatives proposed similar ideas in the not-too-distant past.
Earlier in 2004, Cory Burnell, who is president of the non-profit organization ChristianExodus.org, suggested that at least one state should secede from the Union and selected South Carolina as the likely candidate.3Christians Look to Form ‘New Nation’ Within U.S., Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily, May 24, 2004; http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38571 This is an interesting choice as South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union after the election of President Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and, in hindsight, it seems not to have worked out all that well.
Meeting in Charleston on December 20, that convention passed unanimously the first ordinance of secession, which stated, “We, the people of the State of South Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain… that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of ‘the United States of America,’ is hereby dissolved,” making South Carolina a free and independent country. The people of Charleston went wild with joy amid fireworks, booming cannon, and ringing bells. Within six weeks, six other states in the Deep South followed South Carolina out of the Union. Southern diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote, “We are divorced, North and South, because we have hated each other so.”4Secession Crisis: South Carolina Secedes “The First To Act” December 20, 1860: http:// civilwar.bluegrass.net/secessioncrisis/601220.html
The sobering and sad words of Mary Chestnut seem to ring as true today of liberals and conservatives and they did in 1860 between north and south. The issues at stake were similar then as now: Who gets to set the moral agenda for the nation? Whose ideals should prevail? In 1860, Democrats were essentially the “pro-choice” party—not willing to let the moralist abolitionists deprive them of their “right to choose” to own slaves (slaves were not considered “persons,” but property), while Republicans were predominantly the party of abolition. Not to be too simplistic, it must be said that the issues went beyond this bitter “tinderbox” controversy. Southerners believed they were fighting for self-rule and state’s rights, and then because their “homeland” was being invaded. Northerners believed they were fighting to preserve the Union. The election of Abraham Lincoln was the last straw for the southern states, because it was clear that their “side” would never be able to prevail at the ballot box, and Lincoln was seen as a dire threat to their perceived rights. Nearly a year-and-a-half earlier, Lincoln had voiced his concerns over the ideological division of the nation in his “House Divided” speech:
In my opinion, [that agitation] will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States.5Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Springfield, IL, June 16, 1858, A House Divided
His analysis was only partly correct. The Union didn’t dissolve, the “house” didn’t fall, and it did cease to be divided; but it took a bitter and bloody civil war to resolve the issue. Trying to resolve the issue through discussion, debate, and vote failed because each side seemingly spoke a different language. Most in the southern states didn’t own slaves but defined personhood on the basis of skin color and argued for “choice.” Many northerners were not particularly enthused about giving their own lives to put an end to slavery. The majority of the citizenry South and North would probably fit into the category of “middle America.” Generally, they didn’t see that these issues affected them directly. They were busy trying to keep body and soul together, keep their families fed and cared for, raise their kids, and trying to get through life as best they could. Their choice to follow their respective leadership may have had less to do with being particularly for or against slavery and more to do with being opposed to the radicals on the other side of the issue. The result was the initiation of a very bloody divorce and the deaths of between 618,000 and 700,000 Americans.
Although it seems unlikely to us that either side of the cultural divide today will actually opt for secession and another bloody Civil War, it is also difficult to see how our deep cultural differences will ever be resolved. Americans used to “meet around the tube,” where everyone received the same basic slant on the news. And the media—both print and broadcast journalism-strove to maintain, at least outwardly, neutrality in its presentation of the facts. While we didn’t always see things the same way, we all saw the same things. That is no longer true. Each side now has its own sources of information—the liberals own the mainstream media (and have owned it for a very long time), but many if not most conservatives have “opted out” of the mainstream media and look to the internet or talk radio to get their information. This is a positive development, in our opinion, in the sense that now liberals are not the only voices out there; yet it doesn’t bring us any closer to resolution of our differences, assuming that resolution is even possible at this stage of our discord. Even more so than during the 1860s, many families are finding themselves bitterly divided over the issues of abortion, war in Iraq, homosexual rights, the UN, and the list goes on and on. And it is clearly becoming more and more an openly religious divide, as the sneering reference to “Jesusland” makes clear. It brings to mind Jesus’ words at Matthew 10:34-35:
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.
If you are a Christian in a divided family, you already know it is not necessary to seek out the battle—the battle will come to you, no matter how you may try to avoid the fray.
Is God a Democrat or a Republican?
Contrary to at least some popular thinking, God is not affiliated with any particular party. In fact, ultimately He will carry out His will in spite of which party is in power. Properly seen, this is a great comfort. He is not a respecter of persons, (Rom. 2:11) nor is He a respecter of parties. It should also be noted that not all Democrats are liberal nor are all Republicans conservative. Many blue-collar union members are quite conservative in their thinking and living, but vote Democrat because they perceive it as the party of labor. Many people are very liberal concerning social issues, but vote Republican for fiscal reasons. Older Americans are, as a group, the most conservative on social issues, but many have been convinced by liberals that Republicans are going to take away their Social Security checks-sentencing them to a life of dire poverty. Similarly, blacks are quite conservative on the issues of homosexual special rights and abortion, but they consistently vote Democrat because they perceive it as the party of “civil rights,” or because they continually have been told that Republicans are “racists” at heart. Conservatives often find themselves at odds with the Republican Party on such issues as amnesty for illegal aliens, etc., but feel they have no choice but to vote Republican over the more liberal Democratic candidate. In short, most of us have our specific reasons for supporting one party over the other and do not necessarily champion the total party platform. Many of us probably vote for the person (or party) whom we perceive to be the lesser of two “undesirables.”
Yet it cannot be denied the Republican Party is more ideologically conservative than the Democratic Party. For one example, if you needed one, the state of Illinois (where we reside) recently passed a law guaranteeing equal (really special) rights to homosexuals. The liberal Democrats in the state legislature have been trying to pass such a law for years, but they were blocked by the Republican majority. Now that the legislature is controlled by the Democrats, the roadblock was gone and the measure passed easily with 12 liberal Republicans voting with the Democratic majority.
One backer of the new law optimistically noted that “the last bastion” of discrimination now has been removed from the state. But, of course, that will only be true until the next “last bastion” of “discrimination” is brought front and center—such as denying homosexuals the right to “marry” a person of the same sex. That is, in fact, what the Republicans who stood in opposition of the new law are afraid of—that this is just the first step towards legalizing gay marriage. But, of course, there will be more “last bastions” to come to light in the future—likely involving supposed “discrimination” against pedophiles, polygamists, rapists, etc. After all, these are “sexual orientations” as well. If homosexuals were created by God to be the way they are and have no choice in the matter, then pedophiles can certainly make the same claim about their “lifestyle.” They could just as easily say, “I never made the decision to be this way—I was created this way. No one gets hurt, and I have a right to pursue happiness in my own way.” Anyone who disagrees someday will be seen as a rightwing religious bigot who is trying to “force their religious views” on everyone else. Rape may be a harder sell, but in time, enlightened people will come to see that the rapist also has a right to pursue his “lifestyle”—it is not his fault that he derives pleasure from forcing himself/herself/whatever self upon another person—he was created that way. Should we discriminate against him/her/it because he/she/whatever is different?
We must be “inclusive,” non-judgmental, and progressive in our thinking. We must “outgrow” our prejudices. And we can be confident that if we do not voluntarily outgrow our prejudices, the ACLU will be there to sue us into submission. Do you think that NOW or other so-called “women’s groups” will stand in the way of equal rights for rapists? Think again—they will do what is expedient—as they did when President Clinton was credibly accused of rape, and they closed ranks around him, because he was a liberal and could be counted on to protect a “woman’s right to choose.” Do you hear them speaking up today for their truly oppressed Muslim “sisters” around the world? Just like prominent “civil rights leaders” who care not a whit for the enforced slavery of Christian and Animist blacks in the Sudan, they have been exposed for the phonies they are—they do not truly stand up for “women’s rights”—their primary purpose today is to protect “abortion rights.”
Middle American “Values”
In the 2004 election, both sides of the ideological divide were vying for the authority to set the moral tone and agenda for the nation. This election had the highest actual number of people voting than have ever voted in an American election and possibly the highest percentage of registered voters since the 1960s. The predominant reason given in exit polls (if we can believe them) for how people voted was said to be “values.” Liberals took umbrage at this, pointing out that they too have values. That is true, but the majority of voters seem to have rejected these liberal “values” in favor of the conservative variety. The tide was turned largely by the vote of “middle America”—more a state of mind than a geographical location. Middle America has been conditioned over time to believe that it is wrong to “force one’s views” on others, but they generally hold to at least a residue of Judeo-Christian beliefs. To the consternation of the New York Times, this group is more likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus than in Darwinian evolution:
So here’s a fact appropriate for the day: Americans are three times as likely to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus (83 percent) as in evolution (28 percent).6Believe it or Not, Nicholas D. Kristof, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times, August 15, 2003, http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/08/15/nyt.kristof/
This does not mean that middle Americans are strongly ideological—indeed, they tend to react negatively to the “radicalism” of either side of the ideological spectrum. If groups such as the Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS and his outreach www.godhatesfags.com or Jason Storms of www.repentamerica.com had been the major focus of the media prior to the election, it is quite possible that middle America would have tried to distance themselves from such harsh rhetoric and moved more left of center in their vote. These groups make it a point to arrive at as many media events as possible in order to publicly condemn non-Christians to Hell with signs such as “God Hates Fags” and “No Fags in Heaven.” Phelps, Storms, et. al., are wrong-dead wrong–when they say God does not love homosexuals. We do well to remember that clearly God loves homosexuals, radical feminists, abortion providers, and all people. Christians, themselves, are merely sinners saved by grace. We remember with personal gratitude the Scripture that says:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
We believe Christians certainly should be prepared personally to dialog respectfully with non-Christians about these issues when the opportunity presents itself. We should feel Christian compassion for those who are outside of God’s family and have not experienced His forgiveness. There is a day of reckoning coming and, perhaps, soon. If there is no love in our hearts for the lost, there is something wrong in our relationship with God.
But these misguided people-who believe it is their duty to viciously condemn to Hell those for whom Christ died-serve as convenient “lightning rods” and poster boys for the radical left in the media. These are the types the media portrays as representing mainstream Christian attitudes and behaviors. This works well in downplaying the media’s own radicalism in the opposite direction. The leftwing ideologues appear nightly, speaking in careful measured tones, and giving the impression that they are neutral observers and reporters on the news of the day. In truth, most of our trusted network anchors, along with such program hosts such as Ted Koppel, Andy Rooney, et al, have simply exchanged the banners of Phelps and Storms for a news desk, hair stylist, and airwaves. True, there is now Fox News Network, which the liberals hate and condemn as leaning to the right—although we think that Fox is far more balanced with liberal viewpoints than the other networks are with conservative ones. We suggest that Fox should admit its rightward bias as soon as CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC are prepared to admit their leftward one. Don’t hold your breath.
Middle America Shifted Right
In a very real sense, the “values” question was brought to the front and center of the election campaign in early 2004, when the radical left threw common sense to the wind and started pushing very hard for so-called “gay marriage,” Like the Confederate states of old, the left in this country know well that their agenda cannot prevail at the ballot box, at least not at present, so they count on the courts and activist judges to do their bidding; and the courts usually oblige them as they did in the past with “abortion rights” and other popular left wing causes. In the case of “gay marriage,” however, it was probably not such a good idea to get so far ahead of the electorate.
On February 4, 2004, activist judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court mandated the state to rewrite their marriage laws to allow for same sex marriage. What followed was an assault on a number of different states and the sensibilities of its citizens who deeply resented the attempt by these extreme leftwing justices to force their immoral will on everyone else. The backlash which resulted was that 11 states placed anti-same-sex marriage amendments on their November ballots, with the result that there was a resounding defeat for “gay marriage” in all 11 states. Interestingly, these “marriage protection” amendments received overwhelming support even from Democratic voters, proving the point we made earlier that not nearly all Democrats embrace the radical leftwing agenda.
In late February of 2004, the ACLU (the Atheist’s Civil Licentiousness Union, or All Crooks Love Us, whichever you prefer) defended NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association), a group which openly advocates pedophilia, while at the same time they attacked the Boy Scouts of America, a traditionally popular group which teaches Middle American morals.7No Boy Scouts: The ACLU Defends NAMBLA, Deroy Murdock, National Review Online, February 27, 2004; http://www.nationalreview.com/murdock/murdock200402270920.asp “Values” lines were being drawn in concrete, not in the sand.
March 29 saw federal trials begin in Nebraska, New York, and California to overturn the ban on the especially heinous practice of partial birth abortion-where an infant’s skull is punctured in the womb, their brain sucked out, and their little skull crushed to ease the delivery of the now-dead, late-term baby. This case forcefully illustrates again that activist liberal judges care nothing for the will of the people, who overwhelmingly reject this procedure as barbaric and inhuman. Though the majority of Christians see abortion at any stage as being patently evil, Middle Americans may accept destroying little “bundles of cells” in Petrie dishes or wombs, but they balk at what is obviously a wantonly cruel murder of infants.
In July, the ACLU made news again as they filed suit against Baltimore and four counties for denying same-sex couples the right to marry. The fact that same-sex marriage is against the law didn’t seem to cross the minds of the justices.
It was a case of the liberals pushing their radical agenda too much, too soon, and too openly. The Boy Scouts are evil? NAMBLA is good? Partial birth abortion is necessary? Gay marriage is a civil right? Even non-ideologues could discern the muzzle of the wolf peeking out of the sheepskin covering the beast of liberal decadence. Middle America does not like being pushed, and they were pushed hard. Middle American morality and values were put on public trial. Being pushed hard by radicals, they pushed back and voted accordingly.
Window on the Worldview
Looking at the big picture, there is a fundamental “worldview” difference between ideological liberals and conservatives. Liberals tend to see human beings as inherently good. From this view the role of government and legislation becomes one of protecting the individual from society, and securing his individual “rights” against the “tyranny” of the majority. Conservatives, on the other hand, see individuals as flawed and the role of government and legislation as protecting society from the individual. To be honest, both views have their strong points and flaws. We are witnessing what it is like to live in a society of rampant individual rights over the good of society, let alone basic decency and common sense. However, a strong “law and order” society with no individual rights would not be ideal either, to say the least. One leads to anarchy, the other to state tyranny, but both lead ultimately to violence and death. The ideal society would simultaneously protect the individual and society, but the ideal society is very difficult to create and even harder to keep.
That said, we are scratching our heads at why the liberals-staunch defenders of civil rights-are allying themselves with radical Islamists who would destroy all of those rights if they could. It has to be spiritual blindness, there is no other explanation.
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently has predicted there will be a religious war in our country to decide our future. Commenting on Reich’s rather startling statements, Ted Olson of Christianity Today quotes Reich:
The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face.8Former Labor Secretary Predicts Religious War in America, Ted Olson, Christianity Today, 07/09/2004; http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/127/51.0.html
Notice that Reich has not demonized Republicans here, but all who believe they owe their allegiance to God, and who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture. The war is no longer merely political, but primarily a religious conflict. Any Christian who does not yet understand this needs to wake up. It will become increasingly apparent that it is not what you think about the war in Iraq, or your opinion of affirmative action, or how you think the Social Security system should be funded that truly matters. What you believe about Jesus Christ will be the dividing line in our world. “Who do men say that I am,” (Luke 9:18) is as relevant today as ever.
The false belief that there is essentially no difference between Islamic fundamentalists promoting terror and Christian believers in God has been openly promulgated by liberals since 9-11. Now, however, it is increasingly common to see high profile people like Robert Reich put forward the idea that biblical Christianity is even more dangerous than radical Islam! And when portraying terrorists in movies or on TV, the “powers that be” seem to bend over backward to avoid suggesting even the hint of Muslim involvement, while portraying the villainous terrorists as Bible-believing nut cakes.
As one recent example, the fictional docudrama “Smallpox,” which aired on FX on Sunday, January 2, 2005, demonstrated how deeply rooted this thinking is within the liberal establishment. The story, done in a documentary style, is a fictional account of a smallpox attack released by terrorists upon New York City, which resulted in a worldwide epidemic in which millions of innocent men, women, and children were killed. The story was well done and compelling. But in the final scene, it is revealed that the terrorist is a Bible-reading individual who is attempting to fulfill biblical plagues. Although never explicitly stated, the viewer is dramatically led to the conclusion that Christianity is dangerous and a threat to the entire world. Radical Islamists had nothing to do with it; but, of course, the tale had to include the storyline that some wrongheaded people prematurely jumped to the prejudiced conclusion that Muslims might be responsible for the terrorist attack. (Now why would any rational individual jump to the conclusion that the terrorists might be linked to radical Islam? It has to be prejudice, pure and simple …). The producers of this docudrama bent over backwards to shield Islam while pointing the finger of blame at Christianity! This is beyond absurd, but hardly unusual today. As aforementioned, it is bizarre that liberals would bend over backwards to defend a religious system that is diametrically opposed to all the civil liberties they hold dear. Muslim societies do not protect the rights of minorities—they subjugate women, kill homosexuals, and keep their populace absolutely under their heel. Yet to liberals such as Reich and so many others, Bible-believing Christians are the truly dangerous enemy. If it wasn’t such a dangerous delusion, it might even be amusing.
Needless to say, liberals have declared war on Christians, whether we care to acknowledge it or not.
Politics Will Not Save Us
Contrary to liberal thinking, democratic (or even Democratic) government will not bring about Utopia—Heaven on earth. And not to burst anyone’s bubble, but a Republican-controlled Congress or president will not be able to “turn back the clock” on social issues that are tearing our beloved country apart—assuming that all of them even truly want to. Once the feathers are sown to the wind, we’ll not get them back in the pillow.
But we feel that this is no reason to quit voting for whomever one believes best represents Godly morals, and will best fulfill God’s design for government to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, as well as doing our best to legally influence our society’s direction for as long and as well as we are able. We should not vote according to our race, gender, or our pocketbook. We should vote as Christians to the best of our knowledge and ability.
There are Christians who are opposed to involvement in the political system. In this article, we do not have the space to address the reasons as to why they hold these views. The Bible doesn’t speak directly to whether or not believers should be involved in the political process, so any views on this must be formulated by implicit rather than explicit teaching. Each one of us must make our decisions on these “gray areas” based on our understanding of how the people of God intersected with their particular culture and act according to our conscience as outlined by the Apostle Paul in Romans 14. Politics can be a dirty business, filled with compromise and temptations, but then, so are most human endeavors. Family is not perfect, yet we do not abandon it; and that seems to us to hold for government as well as another institution established by God for our well-being.
Beyond The Voting Booth
The deep division we are seeing is nothing less than the political manifestation of an ancient conflict. One side maintains faith that “God has said.” The other sneeringly asks, “… has God said?”9Genesis 3:1 These three little words in two slightly different arrangements bring a separation which is wider than the sky.
In writing to those in the first century whose worldview was based on “God has said” but who resided in a world which predominately lived out the “… has God said?” worldview, the Apostle Peter carefully laid out how to challenge and transform the thinking of those around them. He started out with what amounts to an appeal to their heart and mind:
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
As believers, we have to learn to think differently. We live in the world, but are not to be of the world. Our true citizenship is in Heaven, not here on this earth (Phil. 3:20). Although we as believers live in this world, it isn’t our “home country.” We are just visiting. Moreover, as the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are to be “ambassadors for Christ.” Therefore, we shouldn’t expect the unbelievers around us to live like believers, and it is not our job to try to force them to do so. Robert Reich, for example, is acting fully within his worldview as we should expect him to act (cf. 1John 4:5). He views Evangelicals as the main enemies of progress and enlightenment, and so makes false accusations against and declares war on believers. We in America are incredibly blessed to have the freedoms and privileges that we currently enjoy, but in that blessing, we should not forget that false accusations and even outright persecution are not historically alien to the Christian experience. False accusation is a theme which recurs from 1 Peter 2:11 through the end of chapter four. Unbelievers may falsely accuse us, but at the same time they take note of how we live, act, and react. As they observe our behavior, they may come to a place of glorifying God; or they may reject God based upon what they see in us.
Believers are to be good citizens (2:13-17), good “servants,” or in twenty-first century terms, good employees (2:18-25), promoting solid caring families (3:1-7). It is our Christian love and good conduct that will lead some to inquire about the faith that motivates us. This will give us the opportunity to articulate why we believe what we believe and act as we act:
… but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (1 Peter 3:15).
Usurping God’s place in the judgment of non-believers with picket signs and condemning rhetoric is clearly not the focus of the Apostles Peter or Paul’s thinking. Cultures cannot be converted—only people can be converted—one heart and mind at a time, not by “in-your-face” sanctimony. Christians should take the time and trouble to prepare themselves to respond to the issues in a gentle and compelling way. Even though believers are strangers, aliens and ambassadors on this earth, we have the God-given opportunity to be involved in the discussions, debates and even the politics of America. We do not see this as a privilege to be eschewed or an opportunity to be wasted.
Scripture teaches that God is the One Who set up governments and grants authority to those who rule. Paul says in Romans 13:1:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (NIV)
God is also the One Who ultimately brings authorities down and sets things right.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written; ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:18-21)
So we should do what good we can and then trust God—and rest easy in the thought that He is still in control of our twenty-first century lives and world.
Daniel was given the opportunity to influence the government of ancient Babylon. The ruler of Babylon at the time-King Darius-respected him greatly, while others spoke evil of and plotted against him. Daniel lived out his faith, earned a hearing with some, and was hated by others. We all know the story. In living out his faith, he came to a crossroad where he had to choose whether to remain true to God and disobey the law, even if it meant persecution for himself. We know what he did—he chose God. The king was obligated to carry out the law and had Daniel thrown into a den of lions, though he was loathe to do so. In the end though, God delivered Daniel, and the fate which Daniel’s enemies had planned for him became their own fate (see Daniel 6). But even if Daniel had not been delivered, he was determined to do the right thing, whatever the cost. This should be our determination as well, as we live out our lives in “Babylon.”
Will our society continue down the path to destruction? Only God knows, but to us it sadly seems likely. After all, people have free will to listen to reason or to go their own way, to follow God or to follow their own willful desires. But whatever results from our efforts, we are only responsible to be faithful to do what God wants us to do. We know there are many Christians whose theology informs them that the world will get better and better as Christians transform it, and that Christ will return after Christians have brought about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth by their own efforts, but we do not subscribe to that theological perspective. We believe that this world will get worse and worse until Jesus returns and sets things right. (2 Peter 3:7-13) We should not feel defeated or as if our efforts are wasted. Ask yourselves how much worse shape the nation (and the world) might be in if Christians were not exerting a preservative influence on the culture?
…The Hope That Is In You
Let not your heart be troubled. Our lives, our nation, and our future are in His hands—the Lord Jesus Christ. He is still transforming people, one heart at a time, and we as Christians are blessed to take part in this work. When the full measure of the harvest is gathered among mankind, He will return for us, and “so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:16-17). That is our hope, and we can rest in it.Ω
All Scripture quoted is from the NASB unless otherwise noted.
© 2016, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
End Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Post Election Selection Syndrome, Sean Salai, Boca Raton News, November 10, 2004; http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1300571/ posts|
|2.||↑||Blue States Buzz Over Secession, Joseph Curl, The Washington Times, November 9, 2004; http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20041109-122753-5113r.htm|
|3.||↑||Christians Look to Form ‘New Nation’ Within U.S., Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily, May 24, 2004; http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38571|
|4.||↑||Secession Crisis: South Carolina Secedes “The First To Act” December 20, 1860: http:// civilwar.bluegrass.net/secessioncrisis/601220.html|
|5.||↑||Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Springfield, IL, June 16, 1858, A House Divided|
|6.||↑||Believe it or Not, Nicholas D. Kristof, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times, August 15, 2003, http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/08/15/nyt.kristof/|
|7.||↑||No Boy Scouts: The ACLU Defends NAMBLA, Deroy Murdock, National Review Online, February 27, 2004; http://www.nationalreview.com/murdock/murdock200402270920.asp|
|8.||↑||Former Labor Secretary Predicts Religious War in America, Ted Olson, Christianity Today, 07/09/2004; http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/127/51.0.html|