THIS DESERVES ANOTHER LOOK

PREACHING, POLITICS, POWER & PASSION

(Reprinted from Oct. 2, 2009)

I’ve been a Christian all my life, and a committed one since 1974. Raised by Godly, Roman Catholic parents and educated in parochial schools, I’ve always had a sense of God’s love and always accepted that Jesus died for me, paying the price for my sins. I thank the IHM nuns and Jesuit priests for instilling that in me, even if by “forceful” means occasionally!

HappyNuns

Since joining the ranks of evangelical, pentecostal, conservative Christianity, however, I’ve been immersed in a hypnotic state of “Christian culture” that I now see as a Grand Diversion from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christian leaders in the western world have by and large, through the centuries, embraced the ways of the world and used its methods to gain power, prestige, respect and financial security. Many prominent Christians – and you would know them if I named them – have looked to church and national politics as a pretense to influence the world for Jesus, while building constituencies, churches, denominations, legalistic doctrines and fortunes.

We need to be very careful here, because the Word of God says that “The love of money is the root of all evil.” That’s an incredible statement, isn’t it?

ALL Evil. All evil comes from the love of money. That’s heavy.

I take that to mean that if a person  loves money – if gathering financial resources to himself is his chief concern – then evil has a foothold in his heart. But what if seeking money is one’s second aim in life, or third, fourth or even fifth?

30 Pieces of Silver

30 Pieces of Silver

Can you place your love for money in fifth place and say that it has no hold on you? I think not. No matter where that lust is placed, it is still lust. Lust after money, mammon, wealth and riches is still a stronghold that Satan uses to entice us away from God’s plan for our lives. And it’s one that divides Christians, often causing leaders to control people so that resources can continue to flow their way.

We’ve all seen it. Remember Jim and Tammy Bakker? Jim Bakker would be the first one to tell you that he used people and their money to build a kingdom here on earth. Then it collapsed and he went to prison for it. What a disgrace to the name of Jesus.

What kind of witness is that?

As Christians, our witness must be unassailable and without guile. When we build relationships with others, especially the unsaved, we must not have any ulterior motives other than to “love them as ourselves.”

If a minister, “prophet” or any Christian leader aims to add people to his business team so he can achieve “seven streams of revenue” to defeat the “spirit of poverty,” watch out!

Is that how Jesus acted? Is that how He wants us to act? I’m not saying we shouldn’t make a decent living and provide for our families – far from it. But was Jesus a capitalist?

dominionAnd why do western Christians think we should “take a city for God” or a nation? Why are we always on a war footing, when the two commandments Jesus gave us are to love God with all of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls; and to love our neighbors as ourselves?

I’ve seen more passion for politics in the Body of Christ than I’ve seen for unreached people – by far. Whether the issue is abortion, Muslim domination of the world, single-payer health care or selections for the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s amazing how much energy, preaching, money and sheer spiritual force is directed at this stuff by Christians.

And none of it is ever going to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God anyway, so what the hell are we doing with what God has given us?

I can’t begin to tell you the number of emails I get on a regular basis, warning me of the imminent danger of Islam, or the evils of homosexuality or the depravity of abortion. “We must rise together to fight this menace!”

No – we must not. That is just so much smoke from arrogant people trying to build their base of power by uniting us against a common enemy, a favorite tactic of tyrants through the centuries. How about we stop passing these emails around and see if the world falls apart! That will prove that they do no good anyway – all they accomplish is to engender fear in the Body of Christ, and to create a sense in us that other human beings – like Muslims and homosexuals – are evil and worthy of our hatred, not our love.

If we think that our weapons are carnal, worldly and of this earthly realm, we are sadly mistaken. There is no way we will ever stop abortion until people’s hearts are changed and they just don’t want to get an abortion because it’s evil. There’s no way we will ever ensure justice by fighting for “conservative” judges on the Supreme Court. There is no way that we will stop the spread of Islam until we show people a better way. And we will never see homosexuals gracing the doors of our churches until we begin to love them.

MenKissingThat means we must stop alienating them and acting like we’re better than they are. Have we forgotten that Jesus died for us too? Yeah, while we were dead in our sins.

So what makes us any different than Chuck and Stephen who live together a few doors down the street – as lovers? In fact, now that we’ve been forgiven, we have a mandate to love them, not judge them.

How do we win the Muslim world – or even one Muslim – for Jesus Christ?

Not by bombing nuclear facilities in Iran, killing scores of innocent people!! Yet that’s what many American Christians propose today, in order to protect Israel. That’s the justification.

Since when did a temporal, worldly goal supersede a Godly, eternal one?

Do we think that by killing people we will win them for Christ? Are we crazy? We have got to think about these things and reorient ourselves to what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. Is it about being a Republican or Democrat? Are Republicans good and Democrats evil? Why?

C’mon, you know this is how most of us feel or have been told to believe. How many times from the pulpit have we heard: “I can’t legally tell you who to vote for, but remember to vote for the platform that’s closer to what we believe.” Wink-wink. What? What kind of Godly instruction is that?

Why should we align ourselves with any worldly system?

Take a good look at yourself and ask yourself this: Am I a follower of Jesus or of conservative principles?

Look, all I’m trying to do here is get us all to think differently than what we’ve been trained to do as good, submissive Christian followers for our entire born-again lives. Yes, we should follow humble men and women of God into spiritual battle, and for eternal purposes.

But the day is coming when Christians around the world will unite in a spirit of sacrificial love to reach those who have never heard the Gospel. There are still two billion people on this planet who need to hear the Good News for the very first time. How do we justify spending most of our time “fellowshipping” when people are dying and going to Hell? Are we sipping spiritual cocktails while millions are drowning all around us?

Who cares?

Are we fellowshipping while people are dying?

How do we justify NOT going to the hard places in the world, to places no evangelist has gone before? What exempts us from that Call?

Nothing but our spiritual laziness and fear. And it’s sin. It’s so much sin.

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT by Keith Green

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Posted on January 19, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Article on : Was Jesus a Pacifist ?

    http://www.hoshuha.com/articles/pacifism.html

  2. NM.
    Well said , i like everything you posted ,
    As far as your question,
    to seek peace first is always the priority…

    I believe we have inalienable rights because we were made in Gods image, that we have the right to live in peace , therefore to defend ourselves if necessary…this is what our forefathers wrote in the declaration of independence…
    i agree with them….

    Peace

  3. The Early Church position ruled out violence as an option, even in self-defense. The evidence for this includes the story of Stephen found in Acts 7:59-60. In the story Stephen is stoned to death for his faith, but even at the moment before death, he forgives his assailants for their crime. A similar story is found later in the book of Acts when Paul is also violently attacked for his beliefs, and yet does not seek revenge:
    “The crowd stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.” – Acts 14:19-22 NIV

    In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church, he writes of the importance of nonretaliation, even in the face of death:
    “It seems to me that God has put us on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. Yet when we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” – 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 NIV

    As demonstrated by the following quotes, no Early Church father interpreted Jesus’ teachings as advocating anything but strict nonviolence:
    “The Lord, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.” – Tertullian’s On Idolatry

    “Christians could never slay their enemies. For the more that kings, rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more Christians have increased in number and grown in strength.” – Origen Contra Celsius Book VII

    “Wherever arms have glittered, they must be banished and exterminated from thence.” – Lactantius’ Divine Institutes IV

    “As simple and quiet sisters, peace and love require no arms. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.” – Clement of Alexandria Chapter 12 of Book 1

    “In their wars, therefore, the Etruscans use the trumpet, the Arcadians the pipe, the Sicilians the pectides, the Cretans the lyre, the Lacedaemonians the flute, the Thracians the horn, the Egyptians the drum, and the Arabians the cymbal. The one instrument of peace, the Word alone by which we honor God, is what we employ.” – Clement of Alexandria Chapter 4 of Book 2

    “Above all, Christians are not allowed to correct with violence.” – Clement of Alexandria

    “I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command … Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it.” – Tatian’s Address to the Greeks 11[7]

    “We who formerly used to murder one another now refrain from even making war upon our enemies.” – The First Apology of Justin Martyr

    “Whatever Christians would not wish others to do to them, they do not to others. And they comfort their oppressors and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies. … Through love towards their oppressors, they persuade them to become Christians.” – The Apology of Aristides

    “A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God.” – Hippolytus of Rome

    “There is nothing better than peace, in which all warfare of things in heaven and things on earth is abolished.” – Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians 13

    The new covenant that brings back peace and the law that gives life have gone forth over the whole earth, as the prophets said:
    “For out of Zion will go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; and he will instruct many people; and they will break down their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and they will no longer learn to make war. These people formed their swords and war lances into plowshares, that is, into instruments used for peaceful purposes. So now, they are unaccustomed to fighting, so when they are struck, they offer also the other cheek.” – Irenaeus

    “We would rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another. As a result, an ungrateful world is now enjoying – and for a long period has enjoyed – a benefit from Christ. For by his means, the rage of savage ferocity has been softened and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow creature. In fact, if all men without exception … would lend an ear for a while to his salutary and peaceful rules, … the whole world would be living in the most peaceful tranquility. The world would have turned the use of steel into more peaceful uses and would unite together in blessed harmony.” – Arnobius

    “Wars are scattered all over the earth with the bloody horror of camps. The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder – which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual – is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless, but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!” – Cyprian of Carthage

    “Those soldiers were filled with wonder and admiration at the grandeur of the man’s piety and generosity and were struck with amazement. They felt the force of this example of pity. As a result, many of them were added to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and threw off the belt of military service.” – Disputation of Archelaus and Manes[12]

    “We have rejected such spectacles as the Coliseum. How then, when we do not even look on killing lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death?” – Athenagoras of Athens’ A Plea for the Christians 35

  4. Dog, I don’t really understand your last paragraph ?
    If the peacemakers are blessed, and those who actively seek to unite parties at odds with one another, how can a person justify the State killing one it is at odds with ?

    Funny that C.S. and Paul Copan both write as if Jesus was not a Pacifist.

    It brings back the stories that I heard of Missionaries from 100 years ago that would ship a casket with their luggage when they went abroad because they knew that they would be giving their lives for the Gospel.
    You notice that they shipped a casket not a rifle…!!

  5. Let us reason together …….

    C.S. Lewis, writing during WWII, said that “war is very disagreeable.”9 Be that as it may, evil and aggression are a reality, and we may be doing more harm by ignoring or not stopping evil. He said that a society of pacifists won’t remain pacifistic long!

    Only liberal societies tolerate Pacifists. In the liberal society, the number of Pacifists will either be large enough to cripple the state as a belligerent, or not. If not, you have done nothing. If it is large enough, then you have handed over the state which does tolerate Pacifists to its totalitarian neighbor who does not. Pacifism of this kind is taking the straight road to a world in which there will be no Pacifists.10

    Jesus said that those who are peacemakers are blessed — not just peacekeepers, but those who actively seek to unite parties at odds with one another. In the Christian faith, this is best exemplified by Jesus, in whose death we see, in the words of St. Paul, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”

    © Paul Copan, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

  6. Yeah – let’s “use overwhelming force to accomplish our mission.” In other words, let’s kill, kill, kill our enemies. Yaaaaayyy for Christian politicians – let’s all rally alongside them!

    By the way, has anyone ever heard of the Sermon on the Mount? And I quote:

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:43-45

    http://huckabeescorner.blogspot.com/2007/10/mike-huckabee-war-on-terrornational.html

  7. Just give a listen as Rush Limbaugh instructs millions of radio listeners as to why we need to aggressively bomb Iran. Heil Hitler! – oops, I mean Heil America!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/18/limbaugh-calls-for-massiv_n_397715.html

  8. We weep and protest at abortion clinics but don’t weep for the thousands of innocent lives lost in Iraq or Afghanistan due to ‘collateral’ damage. In some sick way people feel that the Muslim’s deserve it because they are not on ‘our’ team. The deeper issue here is whom and what do we ‘swear’ our allegiance too? Do we swear our allegiance to the STATE or to the Kingdom of God ?

    In the shadow of MLK Jr. day I am reminded of his words:

    “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

    I would go on further to demonstrate Dr. King’s opinions on the war in Viet Nam, which does not differ much from the war in Iraq:

    “Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

    In his speech in Detroit in 1963 Dr. King reminded the congregation that we are to Love those who hate us and who lash out to hurt us. This is the way of Jesus, and God’s Kingdom.

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