Tuesday, June 30, 2015

About laws and hearts

I'm weighing in late on this.

I debated whether I would say anything at all.

Of course, for a person who takes the Bible seriously
and believes that it is the inspired Word of God and the source of all truth,
it is disturbing that our nation is legalizing things that are sin in the sight of God.

This does not make me angry, only sad.  I am sad that people cannot see the beauty of the way of Christ.  I am sad that people are so blinded by their present feelings and conditions that they cannot look ahead to the promise of perfect and complete fulfillment in the future.  Jesus wants to free us from ourselves, yet we want to cling to all of our "selfness" as hard as we can, not understanding how this limits us.  As C.S. Lewis explained, we are so busy playing with a stick in the mud on the street corner, we cannot imagine why a person would leave to go on a holiday at the seashore.

There is no such thing as a "Christian Nation."  We need to get this straight.  God never, never said, "I will create a country and call it the United States of America, and it will be my country, and the people living there will be holy."  He did not say that, did not even hint at it.

Of course, as Christians, we are morally obligated to vote our consciences which, I hope, would be shaped by the truth of God's Word.  However, it is not for us to become angry and vindictive if the majority of people do not agree with us.  We are not called to go out and say, "You are disgusting and bad and stupid, and you are all going to hell."  This is not our calling.  We should not say these things, and we should not even think them.  God makes it quite clear in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 that we are not to judge those outside the church; He will take care of that.  It is His job, not ours.  We are to live holy lives of love and bring glory to God.  We are the salt of the earth.  We need to bring the vision of the seashore to those wallowing in city gutters.

How do we do this?  I am not sure.  But I am quite certain that we do not do it by being angry, unkind and insulting.

We need to stop being surprised when the culture at large departs from Christian principles.  Matthew 7:13-14 tells us that the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and this is the way the majority will go.  The road that leads to life is narrow, and the gate small, and only a few find it.  God's people are not the majority.  We are a rag-tag band, few and weak and only viable because of the Spirit of God at work in us.  As we walk the narrow road, we should be careful not to drive away any who might join us.  I do not think God is pleased by those who would stand at the little entrance to the narrow way and holler angry epitaphs at people who pass us by.

There has never been a Christian nation.  The nation of Israel was the nation of God's special, chosen people.  He called them personally, through their ancestors, and gave them His Law so they could live holy and protected lives.  It didn't work, particularly.  Of course there was always a remnant, and there still is.  That's what we are, we the rag-tag band, the minority, the aliens and strangers, the remnant.  God preserves for Himself a remnant (Romans 9:27, 11:5).  We are growing into the Kingdom of God, like a mustard seed, through faith and the power of the Spirit at work in us.  The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly one.  There never has been and never will be an earthly nation that will successfully follow the Lord and His ways.

If the Biblical history of the ancient nation of Israel proves anything, it proves that laws are insufficient to control behavior, even laws straight from the Lord Himself.  Laws are powerless.  Only the Spirit of God bringing life and light to our souls can affect our choices and make us righteous.  Only through Jesus can we access the power of the Spirit.  Only God Himself can fix the human condition.

Laws do sometimes affect our perception of the difference between right and wrong, and as they are passed and repealed, people become more confused about how to live well.  For instance, most American Christians did not drink alcohol during prohibition, because it was illegal.  Now it is legal to drink alcohol if you are over 21.  Does that make it right?  Many people think that it does, that it is a fine thing to do.  So, if marijuana becomes legal, does that mean it is also a fine thing to smoke marijuana?  How do the laws of the land contribute to the public definition of right and wrong?  What about abortion?  Abortion is legal, but many people do not believe that it is right.  I think that even some people who are not Christians are horrified at the idea of ending a life in the womb.  Yet, it is perfectly legal and people do not go to jail for doing it.

As Christians in a democracy, we need to recognize that our governmental laws do not reflect right and wrong.  Laws reflect how the majority of citizens decide to live and relate to one another.  They are simply a barometer that shows the condition of the heart of the nation.  The majority may make decisions that are contrary to scripture.  Actually, the Bible tells us that this will happen.  The Bible tells us that we will be hated and persecuted for our beliefs.  The Bible does not tell us that we have a right to go around fighting and loudly condemning sin in fallen man.  I suspect that we fight because we are afraid of what will happen to us, afraid that we will be persecuted.  But the Bible is all about standing firm in our faith in the face of persecution.  Perhaps it is in embracing the suffering that comes to us, in sharing in the suffering of Christ, that we will be able, finally, to make a real difference.

We should expect sin in fallen man.  Our responsibility is this: "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us." (1 Peter 2:12 NIV).  Stricter laws will never cure a sin problem.  Only changed hearts will cure a sin problem, and the best way to change someone's heart is by knowing and loving him.

Lord Jesus, please show us how to live lovingly and peacefully in a world that suffers from sin.  Please show us how to share the light and life and hope that we have in You.  Please make us beautiful and holy and pleasing to You.  Please shed Your grace on us.


Anonymous said...

I find your comments about Israel insulting.

You are not one of the chosen people.

You have likely never been to the holy land.

You haven't walked the historic parts in Jerusalem (the Christian areas have a lot of history you could learn from).

Israel stands and survives as a country that is constantly under attack by its neighbours. Attacks that if Mexico or Canada did to the United States would lead to the U.S. Going to war against those countries.

Say what you want about our U.S., but leave a country you can't possibly understand out of your commentary out of respect for what you have never witnessed first hand.

My friend died serving Israel, the country he loved, to uphold the Israeli way of life.

Please have more respect for Israel, or at least recognize that you have no right to judge what you haven't seen first hand.

Ruthie said...

I am very sorry to have insulted you.

I am actually very pro-Israel.

As I carefully consider your comment, it seems to me that perhaps I was unclear in what I meant when I used the phrase, "nation of Israel." I can see why you thought I meant modern Israel as it stands today. However, what I really meant was the Biblical history of the ancient nation of Israel. I am not sure whether this will make a difference to you, but I am editing the post to (I hope) more accurately state what I am trying to say.

I never meant to write any commentary on modern day Israel as she has existed since 1967. If I had been trying to do that, I would have written in staunch support of Israel. I think it is shameful how the world gangs up on Israel and then condemns her for defending herself. I am very sorry about your friend who died in her defense.

I was only trying to differentiate between "national Israel" (defined as the bloodline of Abraham through Isaac), as opposed to "spiritual Israel" (those who share in the faith of Abraham). This is a New Testament Biblical concept that the Apostle Paul explores in the book of Romans, chapters 2-11, and the book of Galatians, chapter 3. You may not be interested in the New Testament.

I could try to clarify further, but I do not want to offend you any more than I already have.

You are right that I have not been to Israel, but it is not for lack of desire. I have researched trips to Israel a number of times. I love Israel, and I am truly grieved that you felt I was disrespectful