If there’s one thing I don’t like doing, yet I seem to do a lot of, is write about myself. Whenever I use my own life experiences I don’t write about myself for sympathy or necessarily advice, but because I believe that God uses our circumstances and changes to help others.
A lot of people have probably seen changes in me, at least those who have known me for 5 or more years. More has happened in the past 4 years, almost 5 since Michael died. It wasn’t only his death that effected me, but losing our home and losing four more family members and a friend within the 2 years following. Add onto that all the things I’ve had to ‘take on’, and still raising a very strong willed teen boy, is it any wonder why I have a much deeper faith in God now than I used to?
There are things that no one can convince another person of, when it comes to personal faith, and knowledge of salvation- or the miracles and blessings that God provides through times of severe testing. And yet there are outward signs that people can see, and know something has changed.
That something is what Russian novelist, political dissident and gulag survivor, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described this way, “…When you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power — he’s free again.”
It’s often through tremendous loss that we can gain freedom and a certain contentment and peace knowing that the Lord will be with you through anything. Some times we learn these lessons the hard way. Others may come to the simple conclusion even when life is already content and at peace at a young age. Whatever the case may be, my realization came through the hardest and deepest valley I’ve known yet.
Still even now that life is seemingly leveling out a little, I have to literally depend and trust in God for everything every day. There is still a ton of uncertainty in my life, still major daily struggles, and the anxieties that come with all of it- but I know without a doubt that He is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. He literally is my strength. And the more I lean on His understanding (because often times I have none) He is directing my paths.
So, now you’re probably wondering what in the heck am I rambling on about now?
There’s still the issue on my heart that I’ve had for quite a long time now, with politics and how do we as Christians live for Christ.
While I was once active in politics, and writing and moderating, I’ve demonstrated, I hope, how much I love this country. Learning about the history, people and ideals which made this country the most blessed great country, was more than just ‘studying’ for citizenship, because I fell in love with this country before I moved here. And I still love this country, one of the most amazing days of my life was the day I swore my citizenship oath, and waving my flag once it was over.
But how much does patriotism and Christian identity go together? This past July 4th weekend, our pastor- A US Veteran, who had been stationed in numerous countries over his military career, and who appreciates America as only someone who has lived outside of it can understand, and loves it enough to serve in uniform… asked a hard question during his sermon on “To Whom much is given, Much is required”.
Are you enough of a patriot to be a Christian first?
Since Jesus was willing to die for us, what’s it going to take for us to live for Him? 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 and gender 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. Christianity in this country is more involved in politics and social justice to be effective or grow. And yet, the church is thriving in places where Christians who haven’t a democratic or sympathetic government, turn to and trust in their Lord and Savior. They depend on their first love, yet many American Christians have forgotten Him.
Our Commandment from Jesus is to love God, and love others as He loves us. Our Commission from Jesus is to share His Gospel message, and to be light in a darkened world.
Folks who may remember me moderating on other sites might remember sometimes when I’d find myself immersed in converations with someone who started on the thread as a troll. In my early years, I was as sarcastic as usual, sometimes little patience and didn’t care much about my attitude, gave them no time and kicked them to the curb. Yet other times, I’d carry on a civil conversation trying to see where they were coming from. It was interesting in those times when folks would see me conversing and tell me, “It’s a troll duckie, just ignore it”, as if I didn’t know. But sometimes there was a lot to learn about folks, and one thing I realized (not with all of them, but more often than not) the other person was quite civil when they were shown civility.
I’ve noticed over the years that while the ‘shouting’ becomes louder, the more one person is trying to show how “we are right” “your side is wrong”, and in the end all everyone has is a lot of frustration, anger and a headache with no solutions, and no one listening to anyone.
We are never going to see hearts changed if we keep a “US vs Them” attitude, especially in politics and social issues.
We are to be light… and although I still go on over there sometimes, a lot of times I back out because it’s pretty dim. The witness they show is about as much as I see anywhere else these days- anger, mean spirit and dog piling on “them”, while patting “us” on the back.
I don’t want to point fingers at people, I just want folks to think about this, that we ought to be about our Father’s business, following Jesus and trusting in Him while leaving the arguing, name calling and vitriol. Sharing the Gospel with someone, or caring about someone who doesn’t share the same views as we do. Not to compromise, but not to condemn either. Love in truth goes a long way, and also opens up avenues for conversation with civility.
Again, something lawngren said a couple of weeks ago comes to mind so clearly, ” It may be that we would never have changed anyone’s mind by humility and reasonableness, but we certainly had no success by responding with anger and harsh words.”
If I can trust God for everything in my life, I can trust Him to work His will for our country. I’ve heard a lot of people saying over the years that God picked so in so, and it is true whether He picks someone we agree with or not. God builds up kingdoms for His purpose, and He also tears them down for His purpose.
I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics, and not have an opinion, but when we spend more time arguing, opining and mixing it up on political boards than we do in talking to someone one on one, or sharing about Jesus, that’s not being much of a Christian patriot.
One thing I do appreciate about having a longer commute time from work and church, is that after church, there’s a longer time for American boy and I to talk about what we heard. I found it kind of odd, yet a major teachable moment, not for him, but for me, when he asked me a question after that 4th of July sermon about patriotism and responsibility, “What is a conscientious observer?”
I explained to him what it meant, and then I used an example from the story of Hacksaw Ridge. Desmond Doss was a conscientious observer because he was against using weapons and violence against another person, and yet he still wanted to serve our country when our country and world was at war. He did serve, but in a different way which had amazing outcomes while also being a witness in faith. NO ONE expected him to do what he did up there, he was mocked for being a coward and unAmerican. But He trusted God to do the impossible, in ways no one could have imagined. Not only did it strengthen his witness, it made others want the same kind of faith he had.
People think I quit politics, some think I’ve lost it or am uninformed or whatever. They probably think the same about a lot of us who focus more on the spiritual than political- but I now see that Hacksaw Ridge as an example of how God can move hugely on a different battlefield, if we trust Him enough to. We are in a spiritual battle- our nation’s problems are spiritual, not political.
When we face adversity we have to ask, OK do I believe or not? If I do, then God is doing something I have to trust Him. And by going through, building character, that’s when we become more like Him and we learn to do things on His terms which are often contrary to what the world thinks is wise.
Last thought on all of this. People here know how much I love to share Ravi Zacharius, and all who’ve watched, read or listened to him know he is an incredibly gifted and strong witness for truth and the Lord. Now let me ask something. Could you picture Ravi spending hours on a blog arguing politics or other social issues with people and still have the influence and impact on this culture, political arena and society that he has now?
One of the main things which makes him so respected among people of all views, whether or not they agree with him, is that he treats everyone with respect and dignity, whether they agree with him or not, and whether he agrees with them or not. He doesn’t use anger, name calling or political action to change hearts around him. He is an example of what standing on the truth, sharing the truth in love is all about.
I’ve had to examine myself much over the past few years, and had a pretty harsh view of myself and much of my behavior and witness. But that’s part of what change has done, as I learn to follow Jesus’ commandment and commission. It’s what it takes to make me more like Jesus, and changing my own heart, so hopefully I can help others’ hearts change too.
Until we can learn to look at “them” as individuals- whether they need Jesus or reminders of Who He Is, we’ll never have unity- within or without the church. Until we can stop pointing fingers among ourselves and them with an attitude of pride “I’m right, you’re wrong” , hearts will remain hard. And until we start spending as much time praying for our political opponents and having civil discussions with those in our families and circles of acquaintances, the revival and change in our country we yearn and pray for will not come.
Speaking life is a different kind of fight, and it starts with those of us who are called by Jesus’ Name.
Have a blessed day all.