My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Friday, July 3, 2009

So, When Do We Fight

One thing I come across, or am confronted by, on a regular basis when talking/listening to Christians talk is this concept that we need to "get angry". People are advocating laws which go against Biblical teaching. People are trying to remove God from schools, city offices, and anything else they can think of. We need to get "angry". We should be grossly indignant.

Wrong.

The Roman Empire was hardly a godly civilization, and yet that was the civilization in in place where Jesus walked the earth. So what did Jesus have to say about the godless nation in which he lived? I'm only aware of Jesus making one reference to the government.

"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's". Matthew 22:21 Revised Standard Version

Jesus did not concern himself with the government. He obeyed the government, but he did not try to influence policy. Even when he stood before Pilate he made no arguments. When asked if he is a king.

"My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." John 19:36 Revised Standard Version

Too often we humans get to thinking God somehow needs our help in matters he has told us to leave alone. God does not need our help. What is more, he does not want us trying to help. Certainly, he does not want us getting angry and acting out in anger.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with is brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire." Matthew 5:21-22 Revised Standard Version

Personally, I think there are several things going on. Take your choice where you fall, if you are one who is prone to get angry at those who behave other than you think they should.

First, there are people in power who seek to use religion and religious zeal and fervor to further their selfish aims. Get people worked up. Get them afraid. Such people are easy to manipulate, for they are not thinking.

Second, there are people who are worked up and afraid. They desperately want to serve God, but they're afraid they're not doing enough. They're so afraid God is angry with them for not doing enough they are willing to follow any charismatic leader, even if those leaders lead them into anger, hatred, and murder.

Third, there are people who aren't sure they really believe. These people react angrily, and even violently when anything happens which threatens their well-being. They're afraid they can be made to cease believing because they aren't even sure they believe in the first place. These people do not understand what faith is. They think it's how they feel about things. It's what our society teaches. Our preachers don't say it, but so many imply it with the words they use. They keep talking about the senses. Faith has nothing to do with the senses. Faith is a decision. It's an act of will. That's why someone who is completely terrified can act in faith.

Allow me to try and explain.

My son used to be terrified of thunderstorms. He would become so frightened he would physically shake. He wanted to run, but I told him to relax and trust me. I would take him in my arms and he would hang on to me tightly. He trusted me - but he was still afraid. Acting in faith will banish fear - eventually. Just as acting in fear will banish faith - right away. The two are mutually incompatible.

Sometimes, we are like the father who sought Jesus' help when the disciples were not able.

And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:23-24 Revised Standard Version

Sometimes that's all we have: faith in the midst of fear. Sometimes, to act in faith is to do nothing at all. God is not violence. We are taught from our youth that he is. But God is not violence. Read what happened with Elijah.

And there he came to a cave, and lodge there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." And he said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind and earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, sand said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:9-13 Revised Standard Version

We like to say that God is in nature. According to the Holy Scriptures, that is not true. God is not in earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, firestorms, and other forms of destruction. God is quiet and gentle. Those other things are tools in God's hands. They are not God.

Do not fear because there are powerful elements seeking to remove God from existence. They cannot succeed. For one thing, as long as you believe God will have people here. Right? So you keep believing. Do you not understand that NO ONE can make anyone believe - or not believe - in God? Only the Holy Spirit can touch someone's heart.

So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and yo do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand." (emphasis mine) John 10:24-28 Revised Standard Version

No matter what happens, you cannot be made to not believe. So do not fret over what others are doing. Just continue believing. Do not get angry. That only confirms in the minds of others that you are a hypocrite. And it takes away your reward in heaven.

Keep the faith. Keep the peace. Let God deal with those who would try to get rid of him.

PSALM 2

[1] Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?

[2] The kings of the earth set themselves, and teh rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying,

[3] "Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us."

[4] He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.

[5] Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

[6] "I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill."

2 comments:

Silver said...

I like the part where you used the analogy of holding your son in your arms and to trust you when he was afraid..

It's a powerful analogy to think of how our loving Father will do too.. if we tell Him of our fears.

Have a blessed weekend, Bev!

~Silver

Bevie said...

Thanks. Having a son has taught me more about God's dealings with us than anything else I've ever learned.