Pro Studio – Week of 11/28

Pro Studio – Latin meaning “For Study”

Where Has Critical Appreciation Gone? – “The death of John Stott has led to a veritable flood of accolades and uncritical adulation over the last few months. A recent example was the memorial service for him at Wheaton College which raised a number of questions in my mind. One was the issue of what Stott himself would have thought of it.”

Christians and Alcohol – “The relationship of Christians to alcohol is one of those perennial issues. It has often been the source of heated disagreement and even separation. It is a particularly important topic in the United States, but, since much of the rest of the world is culturally downstream from the U.S., it affects every Christian to some degree.”

Q&A With Horton: Politics – “What is the relationship between Christianity and politics? What danger comes from confusing the two?” See also, Ancient Israel’s Government Today? and Faith and Voting.

What the Tolerant Must Tolerate – “To be a serious Christian in modern Western culture is to be the favoured easy target of every progressive thinker and every half-witted comedian. It is to have your sensibilities and your deepest beliefs on perpetual call for taunts, mockery and desecration. At a time when all progressives preach full volume for inclusivity and sensitivity, for the utmost care in speech when speaking of others with differing views or hues, Christians, as Christians, are under a constant hail of abuse and disregard. There is nothing too low or too vulgar.”

Character Does Not End at the Bedroom Door – “We do not yet know if Herman Cain had the affair with which he is charged. We do know, however, that the argument put forth by his attorney is shameful. When charges like these are made, a candidate cannot hide behind the bedroom door.”

How to Shrink Your Church – “So, God save us from the successful church.”

The Christian Martyr’s Last Prayer

This painting by Leon Gerome is such a challenging message. Everytime I gaze upon it I am reminded not only of those who suffered for the Gospel during the persecution in Rome but also of those around the world who are currently enduring persecution. Further, this image challenges me in my own walk because it reminds me of Acts 5:40-42 which states: “They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

May this image challenge you as much as it challenges me on a regular basis.

When the Christians, upon these occasions, received martyrdom, they were ornamented, and crowned with garlands of flowers; for which they, in heaven, received eternal crowns of glory.
John Foxe

 

 

100% American and 100% Christian: Can it be done?

I am finding myself in an increasingly difficult position. I have discovered that I am incredibly passionate about politics. If I were this passionate for what Christ has called me to, what would happen? So I face this question: do I continue in the path of political activism or do I focus my passions towards the church? I, of course, cannot do both. Of course the ‘Sunday School’ answer would be to focus my energies on the church. But to me it is not that easy. I constantly find myself faced with this question: Can I be both 100% devoted to America and 100% devoted to Christ? Are these two even compatible?

I love the country that I was born in. I fully realize that I have freedoms that others will never have. I am incredibly thankful for the sacrifice others have made that have allowed me to keep this freedom. However, I am saddened by the state the my Government is in. I am fearful of the path that the government seems to be heading. I feel that as an American citizen I have an obligation to keep my government in check, since this is the freedom afforded me. So political activism seems a natural option to me. And for many months, this is exactly what I have done.

Yet, tonight I was struck with an interesting thought. For starters, I know what the Bible promises: God will take care of us, God is with us, etc. This I am sure of. Yet, when the government takes the course it seems bent on taking, I grow fearful and feel as if the circumstance is indeed beyond God’s control, but at the same time I know it isn’t. (Trust me, this is as difficult to process for me as it probably is for you to understand)

At the same time, I feel a deep obligation to focus my energies on the church. The church, in my eyes, is way off course and does not adequately serve as the church was designed to. I feel a great burden when I hear/watch/see teachers who consistently misuse scripture or promote a false Gospel. This to me is my calling: to expel these false teachings from the church and help bring the church back to her true calling.

 As I sat in Bible study, I began thinking of this subject again. (Trust me, it has been on my mind increasingly in recent days) I thought of the example of Paul and Peter and how we never see them in the public square opposing the government over them. Even when this government was responsible for killing hundreds of their brothers and sisters in Christ. And if you look, God used the platform of Government persecution to increase the effectiveness of the Gospel.(1 Peter 3:17; Matthew 10:19) Is there a better place to stand for Christ and spread the word than the courtroom where all ears will be yours? As Jesus said: Render to Ceasar what is his, and to God what is Gods (Matt. 22:21). Christians are not called to revolt against their government.

As I have thought about this and really tried to search out the Lord’s will, this is the conclusion I have now come to. It is not possible to be both 100% devoted to America and 100% devoted to Christ. The government is run by fallen men, and we cannot stop the innevitable decline of man and the return of Christ. For me, this means that a political route is in a way, a dead end. There will only be so far you can go because in the big scheme of things, governments will not last. However, I do not think it wrong for an individual to engage in politics for the sake of being a strong Christian leader. And I think this is a noble thing to persue since Christian leaders are exactly what this country needs.

Let me explain. The ultimate goal and call of the church is to bring people to Christ by being a light to the world. We are “Fishers of Men” afterall, and this means that in whatever we do, this must be our goal. Whether it is through theatre, music, movies, writing, teaching, preaching, or even politics. This means that wherever we are, the light of Christ must shine. So if the way for an individual to be the most effective for Christ is to be in the political arena, more power to them. But their alignment must first be to Christ. For me, politics is not my calling. For me, I must revert back to the example in Paul and Peter. Even when the government they were under sought to kill them, they did their civic duty and focused on the work they were called to. This meant that when push came to shove, Christ was above their civic obligation. (For me civic duties = voting and paying taxes)

For me, I can no longer waste my energies on politics. My energies must be focused where I have been called: the church. Despite what this government may due, I must press forward in being the citizen I should be, but ultimately aligning myself with Christ, even if it means what it meant for Paul, Peter, and countless others. In this, I will both honor and bring glory to God (1 Peter 3:13-17).

As I see it, I have wasted too much time worrying about what the government is doing, debating those of opposite views, and in a way rebelling aginst those God has placed in authority above me. What do I have to fear of the government anyway? (Matthew 10:28) Sure times may get tough, living may be hard, but when I look at those who have gone on before me and see their example of trusting God with everything, including their lives, what do I have to worry about?

Through all of this I have determined that I have wasted too much precious time on things that ultimately do not matter. All at the cost of not doing what I have been called to do. It is time for me to refocus and get to working. If the world kills me simply because I am doing what Christ has called me to do, well, that just places me at Jesus’ feet one day sooner.