"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." - From Article 1 Section 2 of the United States Constitution.That remained in effect until the 14th Amendment passed by congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868. This stands in contrast to a particular line from the Declaration of Independence -
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"- which only applied if you were white. African slaves and indigenous Americans (American Indians, not European colonists) were not endowed with these rights. Human trafficking is not a Christian value. Breaking every single treaty ever made with the indigenous peoples, driving them from their lands, and slaughtering them is not a Christian value. Institutional racism, still to this day observable in many lily-white churches every Sunday, is not a Christian value. We have played the Christian card to our benefit for centuries without suffering the suffering promised us by Jesus. We have lived a safe and prosperous existence which is neither promised nor deserved. Jesus told us to pick up our cross and follow him, not sit down and kick our feet up while expanding our waistlines. If you are not willing to give up or lose everything - EVERY SINGLE THING - in this life then you are not really following Christ. Are you so concerned with your personal comfort and your entitlement to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that you lack compassion for others who are created in God's image just as you are? Do you think you are better than Jesus who laid aside his divinity to live and suffer as a poor man and die for you when you hated him?
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)There are many many people in this country who need to know the love of Christ and they aren't getting it because they are treated as the enemy. And we as Christians pat ourselves on the back for telling them their place. Then we piss and moan and play the victim when they fight back. We have forgotten that but for the Grace of God, there go we. The Cross is offensive enough. There is no reason to heap on extra offensiveness just to stroke our own egos and make ourselves believe that we are any better. We aren't. We never will be on our own. And we certainly can't berate and bully other people into our image. God doesn't do that. He gave up his Son to atone for our sins as well as theirs. God doesn't save and protect countries for the comfort of people. He saves and protects people for His glory. And not good people because before a holy God, there are no good people.
Luke 7:36-50 New International Version (NIV) Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman 36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)I think that we Americans are sort of hard-wired to fight for our rights (to paaaaartay! - Had to. Squirrel!). But I think that somewhere along the line as American Christians we blurred the line (if not completely removed it) between our United States citizenship and our citizenship in heaven. So many of us have been taught (whether explicitly or implicitly) that the United States is the new Israel ordained by God as a favored Christian nation. As such, we have elevated our nation's leaders beyond their clearly laid out constitutional mandate as leading our nation to be spiritual leaders of our nation also contrary to what is laid out in our constitution. We demand our leaders to proclaim they are Christian before we will vote for them, and then we cry and rage when they don't live up to what is really an unconstitutional standard. It is absolutely not a constitutional requirement for our elected officials to be Christians. It is also not a constitutional requirement of US citizenship to be Christian. Therefore it stands to reason that we are going to have leaders who are not Christians serving an electorate who either aren't Christians or aren't conservative Christians or are nominal/cultural Christians. Most importantly, not any of our elected officials are perfect (Christian or not) and every single earthly government makes a crummy god.
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV)Nero was emperor when Peter wrote that. No one in our government is an emperor nor does our government as a whole entity equate with being an emperor. Is our government corrupt? Absolutely, and so are we who elect our officials to office to serve us. So pray for them. Yes, be informed of their character. Yes, vote your conscience. Pray for your elected officials the same way you would pray for your best friend or family member. Don't demonize them because they don't do things the way you think you would if you were in their shoes. Don't demonize the people who vote differently than you do. Don't demonize unbelievers because they don't follow the American Christian moral code. Pray for everyone who doesn't think or believe the way you do not so they will become a clone of you but that if they don't know Jesus as Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to the Truth. Not what you think is true, but what is really and truly capital T Truth. Quit just throwing salt.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESVRather than include the Beastie Boys, here's how Pastor Benji preached this concept. Hopefully I didn't lift too much of his material. ;)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, ESV)There is quite a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Country-clubbing your church isn't fruit of the Spirit. Constantly telling the single mother that she is living in sin and then gossiping about her is not a fruit of the Spirit. Having an angry outburst at a former member who has been picking up food for your food bank every other Wednesday for the last 5 years even AFTER leaving your church because he dared to pick up a bag of food for his son is not displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is why we need people in the church being counter culture to the church culture so that the church can be salt and light instead of just another one of the world's exclusive clubs that treats the Word of God as merely a rulebook.
Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. (Daniel 2:20-22 ESV)The President of the United States is not a king, nor is he the supreme ruler. His power is shared equally with that of Congress and the Supreme Court. In 2008, Republicans ridiculed the Democrats saying that they raised Barack Obama up as their messiah. After the lamenting I saw yesterday, Republicans did the same thing with Mitt Romney, and were therefore crushed by his loss as if the world is now going to end. There was (and still is) a plethora of derisive blaming and name-calling by defeated Republicans that is nothing short of vile and mean-spirited. And what’s worse is that many of the awful remarks I have seen are from professing Christians. I think what the Christians lamenting the direction our nation is heading fail to realize is that we are not going to be judged for what is happening now or what is going to come now that the Republican messiah wasn’t elected (because apparently now if you are a Christian you have to be a Republican). We ARE being judged for what we have done for decades with our legalistic moralism and prosperity gospel teachings. The legalistic moralism focuses on sins that good Christians don’t do while the prosperity gospel promises us material wealth and happiness in the here and now. So what we are left with is either the self-righteous critical Christian or the selfish materialistic country club Christian, the latter of which pretty much prescribes to moral relativism and only as much backbone as to protect their possessions and personal comfort. So to my fellow Christians I ask this: Which are you? Or are you a combination of both? I think as a whole, Christians here in the US, particularly among the Bible Belt, are known more for what we are against than what we are for. We will attend political rallies disguised as prayer walks, and we will support entrepreneurs when they offend homosexuals, and then pat ourselves on our backs for standing up for our faith and our freedom of speech. But where is Christ in that? We want to pass laws to protect human life and protect marriage, but when has the law ever changed the human heart? We rail against homosexual marriage but turn a blind eye or even justify no-fault divorce. We may not be quite as vile as the Westboro Cult, but we still point the finger at homosexuals telling them that they are going to hell for their sin as if being homosexual is THE sin that will send them to hell, yet we are largely silent about fornication and adultery. Therefore, homosexuals see us just as they see the Westboro clowns because while we don’t picket funerals with “God hates fags” signs, we are just as guilty of not showing the love we are commanded to show to our neighbors. So Christians, you want to “turn our country back to God”? You can’t do that through political means. Once social issues are political issues, the culture war on that issue has already been lost. Laws don’t change hearts; only the Holy Spirit can do that. Engage the culture instead of just condemning and avoiding it. Disciple instead of pressing for a quick decision that amounts to offering a “get out of hell free” card that produces no fruit. Stop looking at evangelism as a way to fill up your church building on Sunday mornings so you can continue to pay for it, and instead be willing to give up the comforts of an elaborate building in order to actually lead the lost to Christ and build his kingdom instead of filling our pews. Pray for a heart that is broken for the lost, and repent of your own self-righteousness. And pray for your duly elected leaders, whether you voted for them or not - not for your comfort, but for God’s glory.
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)
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Matthew 6:1-4 (NASB)
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. BUY SYNTHROID NO PRESCRIPTION, 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
What if, instead of exclusively reaching out to the poor, we also went to the rich and powerful, and shared the gospel with them also. How are they going to stop being full of the greed we accuse them without Christ. Have we become so self-righteous as to believe that only we and the poor deserve forgiveness and not all people everywhere.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
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I read Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand about a year ago, and he said something that stuck with me.
He pleaded with the reader to share the Gospel with the rich and the powerful because it is they who make policies. (I will double-check I read that right and properly cite later.) He wrote:
"We must win rulers, leaders in politics, economics, science, and the arts. They mold the souls of men. BUY SYNTHROID NO PRESCRIPTION, Winning them, you win the people they lead and influence."
The divide between rich and poor will only grow unless we share Jesus with all people and not exclusively the poor.
1. Wurmbrand, R. (1998). Tortured for Christ - 30th Anniversary Ed. Living Sacrifice Book Company: Bartlesville, OK. pg 59.
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