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29 May 2009

Making a Name for Ourselves

Last night as I was posting a too-long comment on a Facebook status update I'd done, I put my foot in my mouth (or in my hands as I typed) by saying that a couple was being unbiblical by considering legal action. I'd run out of characters and wanted to drive a point home and admittedly used poor and inaccurate wording, which made an incorrect statement.

The case is one in which San Diego County has essentially told a pastor and his wife to stop having an in-home Bible study without a permit. They have to "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit". Here's the story at FOXNews.com.

Honestly, my comment was made while focusing on the fact that the name Christianity seems to be making for itself in a politically-charged climate is one that frequently misrepresents Christ. However, this couple may indeed be doing the very best thing they can do by going to a court and saying, "This is a denial of our Constitutional rights."

My concern comes when we mix our rights as Americans with assumed rights as Christians. We're not promised any liberties or rights as Christ-followers. On the contrary, we're assured that we're going to suffer. Does this mean we should, as one commenter stated, roll over and let the world run over us? Maybe not, but once we apply that mindset to one situation, it becomes easier and easier to let our "Darn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" mentality direct us to stop being meek in every single situation. We begin to look at every issue and say, "If we let this one thing happen, another will happen and it'll get out of control."

Fair enough. I'm just curious to know the point at which we're to start being meek. If it doesn't apply to every situation, maybe it'll apply to one along the way somewhere.

Didn't Jesus have some legal ground to stand on when he was falsely accused and eventually murdered?

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
- Isaiah 53:7 (NLT)

I'm not necessarily stating that Jesus' response here is a drop-in fit for in every situation, but I'm having trouble finding it in any situation today's Christ-follower finds himself in. Maybe balance is all that's required -- to not neglect to love the people who do us wrong while we pursue rightness.

"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven."
- Matthew 5:44-45

God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
- Matthew 5:10

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.
- Matthew 5:38-40

ADDENDUM: I don't consider myself to be above correction on these things, so please don't take all this as belligerent ranting. Friend and Facebook commenter Rob gave some great correction and insight on my original foot-in-mouth Facebook update last night. My goal is to harmonize my life -- and our lives as the Church -- to the Word of God, and to avoid doing it the other way around.

I believe that the Church is at least partially responsible for the climate in which we find ourselves. We're now reactionary in a lot of areas in which proactive lives completely devoted to Christ could have affected our country greatly and positively. We do have our share of people in the Church who are willing to sacrifice their lives for others daily for the sake of Christ. But for every Christ-follower like that, there's at least one more (an understatement) who's willing to attempt to save his God-centered focus for a single day of the week.

Finally, I'm not attempting to take a few selected sentences of Jesus and weave them into a tapestry that supports my opinion, or to try to use them as a tool to try to bludgeon people who disagree with me.

6 comments:

Preston N said...

I think we should not rush too quickly to throw ourselves upon the funeral pyres of martyrdom. Is God more please that we use every legal and reasonable means accessible to us in order to promote the gospel or does he want his to just lay down and rollover the first sign of trouble? Take Paul and King Agrippa, here we have Paul using the legal means available to him (not what we would consider democratic in the least) and tried to appeal to the magistrate that he be set free - SO he could continue the good work of spreading the gospel. Was not Paul taking full advantage of his Roman citizenship in order to be set free from bondage? Are we not expected to do the same? In my opinion, it is every believers right and obligation to use all the means available to them (including the magistrates and court rooms) to maintain a governmental environment that allows the promotion of the gospel - but do so in humility and love. Once those have either been fully exercised or taken away, then we can expect real and genuine suffering to occur. Trust me - we haven't even begun to tip the scales in regards to suffering and persecution folks.

(Side note: I do however fully agree that the church is partially responsible for the climate we're starting to see. We are engaging in spiritual warfare and when one of the opposing armies decides to become lazy and apathetic the other side is expected to take full advantage of the situation!)

Christy said...

You said, "I believe that the Church is at least partially responsible for the climate in which we find ourselves. We're now reactionary in a lot of areas in which proactive lives completely devoted to Christ could have affected our country greatly and positively."

WOW! That's very insightful and right on (or "spot on" as the British would say).

Christy said...

I, however, have to wonder what the whole story is. I have a feeling there's more to it than what was in the article. If it IS the law for them to have a permit (even if it's in their home), then following the law is probably the right way to go about it. Otherwise perhaps they should find a different location for their Bible study. I would like to know all the details.

Dean Lusk said...

Preston, I love this statement: "I think we should not rush too quickly to throw ourselves upon the funeral pyres of martyrdom."Very accurate and it made me smile.

Where we on the outside of the situation are concerned, Christy has a great point. I've read follow-up stories now about 15 cars being parked on the road in a residential area, etc. This is not awful -- we've surely all seen it where we live, but it at least makes the neighbor's complaint (that started all this) a little more pallatable.

Thank you for the excellent observations.

Preston N said...

Dean - you know me I am always up for a good laugh through the use of sarcasm.

Dean Lusk said...

:-)

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