Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Need for Humility

What would you say if I told you that starting tomorrow, all public displays of Christianity were to be outlawed?

What if I told you that the penalty for breaking the law was not death or jail, but confiscation of your savings and raising your taxes to 75%?

What if I told you that you would, for as long as you practiced Christianity or showed you were a Christian, live in abject poverty with nothing to show for it and die in obscurity?

Would you still hold fast to what you believed, attend worship and live a life that showed your faith?

Now I use these unrealistic, extreme examples to make a point: how far would you go to truly live the faith you have been called to live?

To me, it is relatively easier to say I would die for my faith than to live for it. As Paul says, "to die is gain." I know that when I leave this plane of existence, I am in Paradise. No more suffering, no more sorrow, no more pain.

To live for my faith however, is something very different. Though I know that this life is "but a passing shadow" and a brief span in the grand scheme of things, it can feel like it takes forever. Now Paul also writes that "to live is Christ," but consider the kind of life that Christ lived. He was rejected, hated and crucified. Paul writes that he hope that he will be ashamed in nothing, but that Christ would be magnified in his body by either his life or death. He was willing to take whatever came in any form and live or die for his faith in Christ.

This is why we need so desperately to live in a state of humility. To be humble. It is so easy to get so worked up over what we see as assaults on our freedom and liberty that we will turn to someone, anyone, who will claim to put us back on top. The human need to take back what we feel was stolen from us is strong, but that is not the way of Christ.

Now don't mistake what I am saying for complete and utter pacifism in the face of one who desires to bury us. I am not saying sit back and do nothing. I am saying that whatever we do, we must remain driven first by Christ and our desire to walk as He walked. Our integrity must remain in Him and no one else.

Don't misunderstand, if we desire to live this way, to walk in the steps Jesus walked in, it affects everything in our lives. It affects our work, our homes, our entertainment and our motivations. It changes what we say. It even changes how we vote.

In August, Ann Coulter said of Donald Trump's immigration plan, 
"I don't care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortions in White House after this immigration policy paper."
Now she said that as hyperbole. Its what she does. She is a shock-jock of the highest order. But saying this so denigrates the reality of what abortion is and what it does, that it taints any statement or sentiment attached to it. It's up there with Sara Palin comparing waterboarding to baptizing terrorists. It runs on the same sentiment where politics overtake faith.

Politics is not the only area to be careful in though. We as Christians must be the kind of people who will take any hit, pay any price to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When our culture lifts up sin as goodness and goodness as sin, the answer is not a letter-writing campaign or petitions or even boycotts. The answer is to go out and make more followers of Christ. That is where the real difference will be made.

Can you imagine what would happen, how upside-down this country would be turned, if the millions and millions of dollars spent fighting the "culture wars" was spent on bringing people to Christ? How many people could be reached and saved if the finances, overhead, time and energy spent fighting companies, celebrities and politicians was being quietly used to bring as many people as possible into the Christian faith?

I would wager than within 5 years people would not even recognize this country, and within 10 years Christians would make up such an enormous segment of the population that the culture would shift right along with it (because culture companies like movie studios, clothing companies, etc. love nothing so much as making money).

But in the likely event where that does not happen, we must be those who stand firm and faithful to what we are called. To be modest in dress and action, to be kind in word and deed, to be genuine in our dealings and generous with our resources. Above all, we must be the kind of people who submit ourselves to the will of Christ, who turn away from people we know are evil (even when they say the right things), and who are willing to give up those things which flail against our Savior at every given opportunity.

Instead of screaming from the mountaintops, may we go into the valleys of hurt and reach the lost. Instead of flooding the coffers of political machines, may we fill the needs of those in poverty. Instead of desiring the world to look at us, may we become as nothing so that we may become all things to all men.

May we let go of ourselves, and walk humbly with our Savior.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Donald Trump and 2 Corinthians 3:17

Trump speaks at Liberty University.

Yesterday at Liberty College, Donald Trump said this:

"2 Corinthians 3:17. That’s the whole ballgame. 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' Here there is Liberty College. Liberty University but it is so true. Is that the one you like. I think it is. I love it. And it is so representative of what is taking place. But we are going to protect Christianity."

Now I am not going to launch into a tirade about Trump saying "Two Corinthians" instead of "Second Corinthians." Honestly, I believe that is just a red herring distracting from the real problem. In fact, I am not going to launch into a tirade against Trump at all. Matt Walsh already did a pretty solid job at that, and I don't see the need to repeat it.

I also do not plan to discuss the dangers of making politics your religion, because I have already written about that.

What I do want to discuss is the true meaning behind 2 Corinthians 3:17, because it is so much more than what Trump used it as. It is a beautiful, wonderful statement about the glory of the new covenant we have in Christ in comparison to the old law of Moses. It speaks of the freedom we have to come into the very presence of God because the veil separating sinful man from Him has been removed for those who are in Christ. It parallels Hebrews 4:16 and 10:19-22. You want liberty? 2 Corinthians 3:17 has your liberty. Just maybe not in the way you were expecting.

Under the old covenant Israel in the wilderness was separated by 2 veils. The first was the outer veil of the tabernacle which separated the general population from the work of the priests in the temple, and the inner veil inside the temple that separated the priests from God's presence. The only time that veil was opened was once per year, and only by the High Priest with very specific instructions and for a very specific purpose: atonement for the nation.

This is not the same set of rules that those in Christ are under. As we are covered by Christ's blood, we are made holy and worthy to come into the very presence of God, in His throne room, to make our requests known. Paul, in 2 Corinthians tells us that because since the Lord is the Spirit, and we have the Spirit in us (Acts 2:38), then we have liberty in being free from the old law and its rules, regulations and separation from God. Instead, "we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).

Talk about freedom! Talk about liberty! True acceptance by God because of how the blood of Christ washes away our sins! This surpasses by far any twisting of these words to talk about freedom from government or government interference. We are talking about freedom from the penalty of sin. We are talking about freedom from the death sentence under law. We are talking about freedom in the truest, fullest sense that we could possibly talk about it in.

It is because of that freedom and that opportunity that any lesser use of these verses pales so much as to be useless. There is a great and glorious truth here, and we would do well to see the true beauty in it.

So know, dear Christian, that these words were not penned in order to set you free from something as insignificant as the ruling class in this world. They were penned to show you the freedom you have in Christ to belong to the Father. They were penned to show you the right you have to come before and behold the glory of God in the life He has saved.

And that is true liberty.