I fear that we may have lost sight of our calling as Jesus followers. It’s the whole reason I started this blog to begin with. I told Lindsey (my wife) before creating this blog that I “feel compelled to write. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how big of an impact I can really make, but I have to try.” As I’ve composed these posts, the reasons become more and more clear.
The early posts were rough – for me and for you. I can assure you that my heart was/is for you, but I came across as a pretentious jerk. I still stand by the meat of those posts, and that’s why I haven’t taken them down or revised them; however, my goal now is to speak that message with a loving voice.
There will still be times I speak with righteous indignation, but it’s not because I’m right and you’re wrong. Rather, it’s because there are areas I see that we are missing the target. Of course it’s not always the collective whole, and that’s where I previously made my error. There are many Jesus followers getting it right.
I’ll do my best to point that out along the way, but I’m not going to stand by and not point out the places where we can make significant improvements. In my public apology, I made the comment, “Don’t opt for the liferaft when you can right the ship.” To that end, and to avoid jumping ship, posts like this one (and others to follow) will be written in an effort to call the Church back from the liferafts.
America, The Beautiful.
I’ll begin by stating that I am apolitical. I certainly have my beliefs and convictions, but I don’t believe that it’s our job as Christians to “occupy our government.” I’m not saying that Christians can’t be employed by the government. Certainly Christian influence should be a part of it, but so should opposing beliefs. Let me explain.
The reason the Founding Fathers established our government the way they did wasn’t for Christians to monopolize our country’s belief system. Quite frankly, it was the exact opposite of that. They knew that a government operating from a religious platform would be dangerous and capable of terrible things. They knew this better than most because they came from such a government.
When government makes decisions based on religious ideals, it ceases to work “for the people.” As much as it may pain you to hear this, President Obama was correct in his assessment of the U.S. Government when he said, “We are no longer a Christian nation – at least not only a Christian nation…” He’s absolutely right, and anyone trying to change that and monopolize our government with one set of religious beliefs or ideals would be going against everything our country was founded upon.
Just as adamantly as Christians remain true to their beliefs, others follow their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in kind. There is no way that I can logically explain that the way I believe is right, and their way is wrong (nor would I anyway). People have tried for thousands of years, and it’s why war exists today.
War isn’t about the struggle for land, oil, or the expansion of empires – at least not entirely. Generally speaking, wars are fought because one side believes their way to God is correct, while the other side believes they’ve got it all figured out – the disagreement can’t be settled amicably, so fighting ensues. The refusal to respect fellow human life over a belief system leads to dehumanization (sin) – to death.
The Crusades were based on this belief, as were the Roman rule, the Holocaust, the never-ending war between Israel and their enemies, and even ISIS/IS/ISIL/SIC/Da’ish. Those are just a handful of examples of a history littered with war in the name of God. Let me again point out that they all completely believe(d) that God is/was on their side. There’s no talking them out of it, just as there’s no talking you out of your personal beliefs. I don’t mean that to be taken negatively. Rather, my intention is to point out just how strongly everyone – no matter which side of the aisle they stand – believes the way they do.
I will happily argue against any Christian or other religious group wanting to “take this country (back?) for God” — jumping on liferafts. I understand that what they mean by that isn’t that they want a war; instead they want their idea of morality to reign supreme. I get it. But separation of church and state was instated for a reason.
Peaceable protests are also legal for this reason. If you don’t agree with a decision the government is making, let them know! Call your congress leaders and tell them, start a petition, hold respectful rallies, but don’t do it in the name of God. God can take care of himself. He is Love, and any display parading him otherwise only causes hurt, bullying, fights, hate, and discord. That’s a rather powerless and antagonistic representation of Love.
America simply cannot be a Christian-only nation, and I hope it never is. The day America caves on the issue of separation of church and state is the day we become exactly what we had been liberated from.
The multiculturalism – the melting pot that is America – is what makes it beautiful. It’s the very thing that the Founding Fathers thought of when they spoke of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s what provides us the opportunity to disagree with one another while still allowing for a reciprocating love and respect for the life of each person or group of people to be expressed.
It’s a beautiful thing to honor and respect each person and the beliefs they’ve spent a lifetime cultivating. We all have those liberties. Let’s keep America beautiful.