God and Government

120 bucks is all it will take to allow you to hobnob among others as you listen to speeches from the cream of Religious Right political activists for this year’s “Values Voter Summit”.  As in the past, I’m sure it’s got an impressive lineup of speakers.

I imagine I’m not the only one who still gets multitudes of e mails, snail mail and phone calls asking for donations to help organizations, political and religious, and imploring government to protect our religious freedoms.  Most of mine go into trash or delete mode these days.

It’s not that I’ve given up, and not that I’m not willing to fight to preserve what God has already given us- it’s that God has given us the freedom of belief, speech and thought, and it’s not up to government to protect those rights.  They may be protected by the Constitution, but ultimately it’s up to each individual believer to protect their God given rights, or at least be bold in the face of government intrusion.

I’ve had so many thoughts over the past few years about the role of religion in government, and how for years politically religious groups have implored Christians to vote in a way that would keep things ‘comfortable’ in our country.  Don’t get me wrong, I prefer comfort as much as the next person, but is that what Christians are called to?

Over the years my mind has gone to Christians around the world who have been persecuted, even to the point of death for their faith.  More and more, I can’t seem to reconcile the basic western ideas, even among Christians that we deserve to worship in comfort and live our best lives now when people are being driven from their homes and loved ones, suffering and dying for their faith.  I know I touched on this already, and forgive me for repeating myself, but this has weighed so much on me for so long, it’s worth repeating.

A large portion of Western Christians for the most part don’t read the Bible, if they go to church, they usually go to what a good friend calls “touchy feely” service or only go at Christmas and Easter.  Christianity in our country has become so watered down and secularized that there are more unsaved than ever before even while we have every available Bible translation in Christian bookstores coast to coast, the internet and “televangelism” not to mention all the other religious organizations and church institutions. Does anyone realize how many missionaries from countries the United States once sent missionaries to with the gospel are coming here now to share the gospel?

America in particular has always been viewed as a Christian nation as I wrote an article pointing out numerous examples 2 years ago.   And while the religious right has been ‘fighting’ for religious freedoms for as long as I’ve been alive, culturally and socially our country has been continuing in the slippery slide of moral relativity, secularism and anti-Christian attitudes. Abortion is still rampant, I won’t even go into all the sexual orientation stuff, and the battles over heritage and history continue. Our younger generations have never been taught about things such as creation in schools, and many have grown up in secular homes even if their parents consider themselves Christians.

It’s not surprising that a society that is ignorant of or is intolerant of the Bible, that they wouldn’t know what it means to be a Christ follower, nor would they behave as if they are.  I realize America has always been a bastion of freedom- the Constitution, patriotism, heritage and the right of voting in free elections has made this nation a much desired hope for millions of people for two hundred and more years.

Unfortunately generations of Christians have turned more to government to reign in immorality than they have themselves turned to the sharing the Gospel and being socially active through faith.   Yet is it really surprising that with a growing post Christian society, where if it feels good- do it mentality permeates every segment of our culture and even among some religious denominations and churches that our government reflects we the people?

I know America is unique, has offered more patriotic sons and daughters to fight for ours and others’ freedoms, and being a refuge from the beginning for religious freedom, it’s hard not to expect us to be able to appeal to government or through the electoral process to retain our comfortable Christian livelihoods.

I guess I can’t help but wonder what our country would be like if generations of Christians and religious right political groups and leaders and Christian PAC organizations would be as patriotic about heaven as they are about our country?   Imagine the difference in our society if we put as much effort to get out the Gospel as we get out the vote,  or invest as much time, money and effort into sharing the good news as we do political campaigns and promises.

Please let it be known, I am talking to Christians here, not unbelievers.

Remember when Jesus preached to build mega churches so we could learn how to live our best life now and implored Pilate to appeal to Caesar to allow Christians to be free to worship?  Or how about Paul when he asked Rome to change the laws and demand that certain unbiblical behaviors be outlawed? And look at Peter and the other early believers when they appealed to the Supreme Court when they were put in prison for preaching the gospel in public.

Oh wait. No they didn’t.

Jesus loved the tax collectors- and all the lost, not tolerating their sin, but by loving them in spite of their sin. Hearts are changed by His love. A changed heart is a repentant heart.  “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.…”  He didn’t take over the government or try to legislate morality through the courts and congress.  Instead he repeatedly told everyone that His kingdom was not of this world.

 

As for Paul, who spent numerous times and years in prison before being martyred, one only need to read Acts 26 to see how he witnessed to authority, not imploring those in authority to make life easy and comfortable for Christians. The other early Christians did likewise, preached the gospel to the authorities whatever the consequences.  Even before Paul was saved, he was one of the persecutors. One only needs to check out the Bible account of Stephen, the first martyr to die for Christ.

But yeah, those were the olden days. Surly we have it better now because we’re afforded by God and government to avoid such extreme intolerance right?

Years ago I used to have a blog called the Persecution Pages. I never closed it down, but I haven’t written there for a long time.  It was a way to add a voice to those persecuted in the faith, but no one cared to listen. I guess reading about torture and death of unknown people on the far side of the globe isn’t uplifting, or really encouraging. Not much fun either. And definitely a little more than uncomfortable.

I still keep tabs and try and write about persecution when I can. It’s been a little more encouraging that more people have started paying attention, at least after Islamic terrorists started ramping up the beheadings, but can you imagine how frustratingly ironic it is that I would write an article called “And the World Turns Away” about silence in the face of persecution and genocide of Christian believers, and still get less than 100 shares on social media?

Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors USA are still two of my go to sites for information on latest persecution and world hot spots for suffering for Christ. While I can’t imagine the level of persecution that hundreds of thousands go through yearly, I know that in some of the worst countries where death is a real daily threat, many of these brothers and sisters in Christ ask for prayers for strength and continued persecution! Does that shock you?  It actually shouldn’t- because they know firsthand that persecution strengthens the body of Christ.

They  live on the edge every day, but they also live Paul’s words– “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

To those who haven’t a democratic or sympathetic government to turn to, turn to their Lord and Savior.  For those who have not the best life now, they will be rewarded beyond our imagination for spreading the Gospel message in spite of governments and ungodly societies.

 

How can we as Christ followers expect more comfort by votes and government when others are so willing to forgo it all for furthering the glorious Good News of Jesus our Lord and Savior?  He tells us of persecution for those who follow Him. Millions around the world have been incredible examples for the rest of us and witnesses for unbelievers.

Our call as Christians, our mandate from Jesus is to share the gospel; even leading to or under persecution.  Does it seem that the growth of the body of Christ is growing and thriving under dictatorships and despots, or under the American ideal of mixing God and government?  I don’t want the persecution that so many have gone through, but if it saves a dying world and brings them to Jesus, that would be so much more worth than any comfort I might find through politics and government.