pitbulls, war heros, community activists

I responded to another blogger’s post a moment ago, and thought I would say the same thing on my own blog.  Jim Thompson had a great post about politics and world government.   Unfortunately, though we were at North Greenville at approximately the same time, I never took the chance to even speak to him, much less make friends; however, his blog always has some good things to say and the best part is that he is brief and to the point.  So you should take time to check his blog out, if you don’t already.

God works THROUGH and AGAINST world politics. That is the biblical paradigm. I don’t feel as if many believers live like it is. Yes, render to Caesar what is Caesar’s [Mk 12]. Yes, submit to authority [Rom 13]. But please, don’t rush to the polls as if you are doing God a favor. We must be upstanding citizens, but we are strangers and aliens here [1 Pe 1 and 2] and our true citizenship is in heaven [Phil 3]. We have to live like that is true.

There are people on both sides (republican and democrat) acting as if their candidate and their platform are God’s chosen. It simply isn’t true. The success or failure of America’s economy/war on terror/revenue system/budget is simply a tool which God will use to further his kingdom.

I hear a lot of people saying we should try to figure out who Jesus would vote for and then they give reasons why Jesus would vote for McCain or Obama or Baldwin or Barr or Nader. I’m not yet convinced that Jesus would actually vote.

I’ll say that again, I AM NOT CONVINCED THAT JESUS WOULD VOTE.

He reluctantly paid his taxes. He, along with his early followers, seemed to have little concern for whomever was in political power. If anything, he made it clear that his purpose was not political… his kingdom was not of this earth.

But if he were to vote, he wouldn’t be interested in which candidate would be the most moral or which one would change the moral direction of the US, like so many people suggest. I think he would vote for whomever would allow for the greatest expansion of the kingdom of God, wittingly or unwittingly.

In other words, if a government making Christianity illegal would best foster the growth of the kingdom, I believe that’s what Jesus would do with his votes. If a government that was on a slippery slope to being a communist dictatorship were best for the kingdom, that’s who Jesus would vote for. I cannot say that with certainty, but his purpose was not to further the kingdom through political or governmental means. I think he would have the same bones to pick with James Dobson and Tony Campolo.

I think that seeking to further God’s kingdom or Christian morals, etc. through the government is the antithesis of the biblical model.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”  Samuel 8:4-9

The people wanted a government who would lead them to be a great nation, but God saw it as them rejecting him.  This government set to rule over God’s chosen nation was a horrible failure.  David was a good king.  Then the kingdom split.  Josiah was a decent king.  The vast majority of them were horrible, evil kings.  When we trust in government and politics to lead our country into being a “Christian” nation, we’re doing the same thing that these guys were doing.  Do what you need to in your nation to keep it safe, to be sure that people are taken care of, lessen poverty, crime and disease.  But don’t trust in it.  Our citizenship is in the kingdom of God… the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus is our king and our leader.  Not an old prisoner of war.  Not a young, charismatic community planner.  Not a pitbull wearing lipstick.

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Amos 5:18-24

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?

I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

The thing about fleeing from a lion and then meeting a bear makes me think of the common and pretty ridiculous seen in so many movies and tv shows in which someone barely escapes death by one means only to be killed by something completely different.  Its a little bit of a ridiculous concept, but I can’t help but wonder if a lot of these people who so “excitedly” await Jesus’ return aren’t actually in a similar position as the people that God is speaking of here.  They talk excited about the return of Christ, but in reality, their worship isn’t acceptable to him.

I hope I’m not one of those people.

Bono and the Bailout

I found this quote from Bono about the recent bailout:

“It is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion to save 25,000 children who die every day of preventable treatable disease and hunger…that’s mad, that is mad.”

We’re all worried about the world’s economy and about the price of gas and about our houses and cars and stuff.  There are a lot of people who will not be affected by this economic slump because they did not have anything to be affected.  They never had a house.  They never had a car.  They never had healthcare.  They did have diseases.  They also had dirty water.  They also had lives surrounded by death, disease and war.  But, unlike those of us who have a lot, many of them have contentment.  Many of them have hope.  Many of them live lives that are full of joy and happiness in spite of all of their poverty.  Many of them had no hope before the financial crisis and have no hope after the financial crisis.  If someone wants to help, where to start?

In other news, I befriended a bear on the shoulder of Highway 6 in Manitoba, just south of Devil’s Lake.

the truth really will set you free…

Sometimes I wonder who decided which verses of Scripture would be the most commonly memorized. While some of them are good, many of them are incomplete in what they say about the nature of God or of salvation or of whatever they talk about.

This wouldn’t be so huge of a problem except that a lot of Christians know nothing more of God or of Christianity or of the Bible than those few verses that they memorized as children.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
-Ephesians 2:8-9

This is good. It teaches us about salvation by grace through faith… it clearly denies salvation by works… but in the long run, I think this has been a pretty damaging memory verse because of its incompleteness. Many people take this to be cheap grace–grace that costs nothing and leads, as Bonhoeffer puts it, to the justification of sin, instead of the justification of the sinner.

It continues in verse ten to say, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This verse is rarely, if ever, memorized by Christians. Here Paul is clearly saying that saving faith is followed by “good works.” Of course there are a lot of different ways to interpret what kind of works it is exactly talking about, but I think it probably includes things like service, mercy, love, caring for the poor and downtrodden, that sort of thing, more than it includes things like not smoking, not cussing, not drinking, and handing out tracts.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

I don’t even need to give the reference for that one. I think this verse has caused more of the easy-believeism that plagues evangelicalism today than anything else. Sure, it is true. It is only by grace through faith that we are saved. But what about verse 21? “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” Once again, things concerning the Christians obligation to actually follow Christ in faith are left out. Jesus called his disciples to have faith, sure, but he also expected them to follow him.

John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We’ve all heard that one as well. But it doesn’t really make much sense on its own. The verse before it says, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples… and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We need to abide in his word. Not simply memorize a few random verses. Abide.

I don’t do it nearly enough. God’s word is powerful. God’s word is authoritative. God’s word is the power unto salvation. The whole thing. Period. And it really will set you free.

The Hope of Man

I am tired of politics. And, since I am an American living in Canada, I get twice as much as any of my other American friends. Obama this. Harper that. McCain what? Palin and Layton were making out underneath the bleachers. Biden spent seven years in a Turkish prison. (For those of you who didn’t know, Harper is the current PM of Canada, and Layton is the NDP party leader aka candidate for PM). Seriously, I’m tired of it. Tired of hearing about it. Tired of thinking about it. Tired of reading about it. Tired of Christians being unnecessarily outspoken about it (including myself). Don’t get me wrong, its important. In fact, I’ve already sent in my ballot. But its not THAT important.

Read this post by Scot McKnight. Its really good.

Our hope is in the gospel of God. God’s mission is gospel-shaped. Some today want to reduce gospel to what we find in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, while others want to expand it to bigger proportions (and I’m one of the latter), we would do well at election time to re-align ourselves once again with the gospel as God’s good news for our world. Therein lies our hope.

and then there is this song by Derek Webb:

A Savior on Capitol Hill
I’m so tired of these mortal men
with their hands on their wallets and their hearts full of sin
scared of their enemies, scared of their friends
and always running for re-election
so come to DC if it be thy will
because we’ve never had a savior on Capitol Hill

you can always trust the devil or a politician
to be the devil or a politician
but beyond that friends you’d best beware
’cause at the Pentagon bar they’re an inseparable pair
and as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
we’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill

[Bridge]
all of our problems gonna disappear
when we can whisper right in that President’s ear
he could walk right across the reflection pool
in his combat boots and ten thousand dollar suit

you can render unto Caesar everything that’s his
you can trust in his power to come to your defense
it’s the way of the world, the way of the gun
it’s the trading of an evil for a lesser one
so don’t hold your breath or your vote until
you think you’ve finally found a savior up on Capitol Hill

I am a traitor

So I ran over a bald eagle on friday. Now I am considered a threat to the sovereignty of the United States. I’m just kidding. I really did almost hit one. It was eating a dead skunk with a murder of crows.

On a related note, I only remember one time that I ever saw a bald eagle in the US. I’ve seen 30 or so since I moved to Canada. I also had four maple trees in my yard growing up. There are maple trees all over the US. Of course I’ve only been in two provinces, but I’ve seen about zero maple trees in Canada.

In short I propose that we switch national symbols.