CAN I GET A WITNESS? (AND A BOOK RECOMMENDATION)

By God’s grace in Christ I am a follower of Jesus. The Lord is central to my life here and for all eternity. And as weak a follower as I might be, I trust that I belong to my God.

I want to be a witness for Christ. I want my life to reflect the goodness of God to all God’s creation. The word ‘witness’ originally meant ‘martyr’ and though I have not given my life (literally,) I do want to shed my ego, my selfishness, pride and such to be a more loving example of what following Christ means.

The church as the body of Christ, made up of people wanting to be like Christ in loving and just ways, is a witness too. Like Jesus we want to be loving, compassionate, and just as we care deeply for all people especially the brokenhearted. We want to be fair. We’d like our next generations to grow up with a sense of goodness and love. And we want them to be provided for. I understand all of that.

But something has happened. We have lost our way. We want to be #1. We want our nation to be #1. We want to be strong and make America great. And in the process we have dealt unfairly with the poor, the people of color and the immigrants at our border. Oh, I understand we don’t want too many of ‘them’ coming to America but my own great grandparents came here for the same reasons as others have for coming.

And what grieves me deeply is that we are losing our witness for Christ. Riots in the streets. Lawlessness. Violence. And the example that we are following as Christians is a leader who is lacking in Christian virtue. He is speaking to the basest qualities of our natures. He is a man without a moral compass. His arsenal contains vitriol and incendiary language for those who oppose to him. He is selfish and causes many Christians to take up the sword against those opposed to him and against each other. This can’t be.

Our leader is pharisaical. He aligns himself with religious purposes but inside is full of selfishness. He claims to be pro life but only so he can win the evangelical vote. That is a tarnished witness on the part of evangelicals who side with him on that issue. I am pro life too but pro life for everyone affected by poverty and hunger, oppression and racism and I am pro life for people in other countries that our leader calls ‘shitholes’. That’s not right. It’s not what Christ would do or say.

Some call our leader a ‘Cyrus’ after a pagan that instituted policies on behalf of the Israelites. But as a Christian I cannot be racist, unjust, unloving, and claim that being pro life aligns me with God’s will.

In the world, in our neighborhoods and even inside ourselves our witness is being erased to the point that we even begin to think that what our leaders are doing is all good.  When Germany rose to power in the 30’s the churches for the most part sided with Hitler for strengthening the economy and making Germany a world power to the extreme of rationalizing a take over of the neighboring world at that time. We cannot go in that direction.

We are disciples of Jesus, not of any political leader. We take our cues from Jesus. We are not some kind of exclusive club that determines its membership by allegiance to the current leader. As Christians we don’t make policies. We live by what Jesus said were the two greatest commandments; loving God and loving our neighbor. We are not doing that. We are hating each other, mocking, marginalizing and making it very difficult for others to see Christ in who we are or what we do.

There are serious problems within our country. The prophets of the Old Testament were not afraid to point them out in Israel and ask for forgiveness from God. Jesus saw how law and order along with a lack of love had replaced God and he pointed it out and called for repentance and love. His first words were, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.’

And no we don’t condone the violence we see in the streets but we don’t condone the injustice that leads to such violence and we don’t condone the language and actions that come from the leader of this country.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that when Christ calls someone, he bids that person to come and die. Not make others suffer and die.

The greatest witness we have for Christ is to love one another, to love the least. Even within our churches today there is such a lack of love and respect as evidenced by churches splitting over politics. This can’t be. Let us speak our minds but let us speak the truth in love.

And finally I need to point out a remedy I see for people on the conservative side. Listen, the Democrats are not going to destroy America in four years. So I say, with a degree of seriousness, get rid of the current leader and then in four years choose someone who reflects the goodness of this land, who represents the best of who we are and not the worst. I know that these words won’t please my democrat friends but it’s my practical solution. And then in 2024 let there be a good contest for the soul of this nation.  

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

And finally, the content of this blog in no way reflects the opinion of the leadership of Eagle Bend Community Church in Colorado.


SEE NO EVIL??

After the events of the past few days I feel the need to speak out, not as one associated with any political party, but as a Christian.

I am convinced that the President has given tacit approval to hate groups within our country. Groups like the KKK, the neo-Nazis, White supremacists and others sense the Presidents’ sanction for their behavior. I believe this behavior stems from ‘EVIL’, pure and simple. They wish to take back their country. From whom? We have already taken this country, by extermination, from Native Americans and America has built this country through enslavement of African Americans. And now under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’ these white nationalists are threatening Jews and other minorities against whom they will fight with force if necessary.

We do not have a moral leader at the helm of our nation. We have a power hungry egotist. He is doing virtually nothing to protect the rights of those who have been so downtrodden in our history. And now he is equating the protests of ‘the left’ with the EVIL of the neo-Nazis and others like them.

I cannot speak to the heart of the President but a tree is known by its fruit. Jesus said that. I know for myself that my own words and actions speak at times of a heart and will that needs transformation. I believe that for all Christians and if a leader calls him or herself by the name of a follower of Jesus then let the words hold true for them as well. Words that are spoken reflect a certain character no matter how well those words are then reinterpreted by the speaker or spokespersons.

Christians, I believe, must stand, in the strongest way, against any Nazi expression. While it may be ‘free speech’ it is EVIL and what happened at that Rally and especially to the young woman who was murdered was EVIL. The people ‘on the left’ may have their ‘issues’ but the EVIL perpetrated by hate speech must be fought by the expression and prayers of Christian believers, among others. Behind the EVIL of the neo-Nazis is the Satan who desires to defeat faith and the faithful.

The Christians of today who are as complacent as the Christians were in Nazi Germany are guilty for non-action (myself included) against the EVIL we witnessed. Consider the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who spoke out against the Nazis in Germany. These words in his radio address were censored.

“If the leader tries to become the idol the led are looking for–something the led always hope from their leader–then the image of the leader shifts to one of a mis-leader, then the leader is acting improperly toward the led as well as toward himself. The true leader must always be able to disappoint. This, especially, is part of the leader’s responsibility and objectivity. “ (The day after Hitler came to power.)

 If anything needs to be taken back in America it is the courage of the conviction of Christians to follow God and not Caesar.

Read these words from a French sociologist and political theorist:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

 

 

 

Guns and the President

My initial reaction to Mr. Obama’s executive actions concerning guns?  Wonderful, amazing, astounding, courageous and in line with the Christian ethic.

Whatever this nation can do to save some of the 30,000 lives that were destroyed last year by guns is a step in the right direction and in accord with everything I believe about what it means to follow Christ in this particular matter.

Gun violence is evil whether done agains oneself or another. It destroys life. There are good and proper ways for people to own guns for the right reasons. With all the other laws and resources we use to make life safer in this nation how can anyone deny the moral validity of doing the same things about guns.

And about the evil people who use guns to destroy the lives of others? More enforcement is in line with why God institutes the governments of the earth. Helping people with mental illness is a noble cause to strive for.

I am not a particularly political person and when I have leanings they are usually on the ‘right’ but this matter has no left or right, only what is good in the sight of the Lord, right along with caring for widows and orphans.

To be pro life means to take action with regards to what the President suggested. I will be looking at candidates who are pro life across the board. I will not have many choices, I fear, and wonder exactly why that is.

But I will, as best a Christian can, support the President in this action. I will do so not because of any political affiliation but because my conscience is held captive by God.