Monday, August 07, 2006

Still Not Of This World

A little while back, I wrote a post called, "We Are Not Of This World". This is in part a continuation of that post, maybe some of it overlaps, but it's something I'm still kicking around. It started when I began reading Greg Boyd's book, "The Myth of a Christian Nation."

If you agree that what we as Christians are all about is bringing the kingdom of God to a world lost in darkness, both for their salvation and for God's glory, then (practically, I mean) how do we do that? I say that murder is wrong (duh) but does making murder illegal bring God's kingdom to Earth? Apply that question to any issue. Does making abortion or gay marriage illegal advance the kingdom of God, or does it advance a "Christianized version" of this world instead? Does it bring about God's perfect will, or just a world that we're more comfortable with?

I think that abortion and gay marriage should be illegal (and that murder should STAY illegal!) but my point is that making laws doesn't change people's hearts. Just because abortion is a crime doesn't mean that women who avoid abortions will spend eternity in Heaven. In the same way, making gay marriage invalid doesn't save anyone's soul. Why do I think these things should be outlawed then? I think there's value in society saying, "This is wrong." I think it's a good thing that homosexuality is thought of as weird, because it discourages people from pursuing that lifestyle. There's still a sense of taboo surrounding abortion that some want to dispel, but I'd like to keep. I don't want it to be cool to have an abortion. I don't think it should be an easy decision to make.
It's good that there are laws in place to discourage murder, not to mention that people in general frown on it. If murder were socially acceptable, you can bet that it would be more common, too. (Don't take that as an endorsement on gambling though...)

I've picked on murder, abortion and gay marriage just because they're hot topics with emotions running high on both sides. Well not murder so much. Pick your issue though.

Having said all that, my (and Boyd's) point remains that even though outlawing these things or mandating others (that goes back to homosexuality again. "Man-dating?" Anyway.) may make for a better society, that's the best it can do. If we enforce God's law on the masses, and achieve perfect compliance, that doesn't save anyone's soul . There may be benefits, but not eternal ones in my opinion. It would have nothing to do with the blood of Jesus, nothing to do with God's love for the lost, nothing to do with grace or everlasting life. It might even promote a sense of self-righteousness on a national scale, which would distract people from their need for grace.

What it comes down to is this: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " (Matt 22:37-39)

We're followers of Jesus, remember? We need to live the way He did.


Anonymous Your IBTTBS - San said...

This was one of the comments posted after that article from the NY Times...
There is no question that at the birth of our nation, its inhabitants were predominantly of one Christian denomination or another. But it is one thing to say that were founded by Christians and quite another to state that we were founded as a Christian nation. While the former is most certainly true, the latter is decidedly not. The Christian Bible was not instituted as the law of the land or as a blueprint for our form of government. Rather, we have a Constitution that has, over our entire existence, sought to maintain a separation between church and state. Indeed, if we were were founded as a "Christian nation", then why wasn't Christianity formally instated as our national religion?
My take on this is that it makes it hard to inforce "Christian Law" in a "Freedom of Religion/or Not" nation. We can (and should) stand up for our moral beliefs by voting for the candidate that best represents how we believe as long as we still have that priviledge. We just can't say "You have to make this law because the Bible says so..." because the Bible itself does not dictate the law of this country, but our votes still do...I like what Greg Boyd says here:
One woman asked: “So why NOT us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn’t we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?”
Mr. Boyd responded: “I don’t think there’s a particular angle we have on society that others lack. All good, decent people want good and order and justice. Just don’t slap the label ‘Christian’ on it.”

Again....I think that we CAN be involved in politics and setting laws...we have the right to our opinion...and that's what matters on election day.

August 08, 2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger DErifter said...

That's kinda funny. That particular quote from him was one of the ones I liked least!
I like to think that we DO have a little something that others lack, called the new nature, and the mind of Christ. Maybe the fruit of the Spirit?

I'm not disagreeing with you. We absolutely should be involved in the political process, and vote our conscience and all, but no matter what we can achieve through that process, it's limited to reforming this world. A Christian nation? We can't hope to bring eternal life to the lost through politics. But we can allow babies to have temporal life if we can discourage abortion. The thing is, political action, even if it accomplishes good things, isn't the same as living the gospel. On the other hand, that doesn't mean it's bad. It's just limited.

I'm not sure yet what this concept actually changes. Maybe I'll continue to do everything the same, but with a different understanding of what I'm doing. Maybe I'll be more open-minded. Maybe it won't change anything at all. I need to roll it around some more. It's really pretty deep isn't it?

By the way, do you ever WORK?

August 08, 2006 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

derifter, I was pumped to see that you read this book. I first heard Greg talk on this subject in his "Cross and the Sword" series a couple of years ago. It's one of the only sermon series that I can truthfully say changed my entire life and outlook. I was thrilled when he released the book, and I've already encouraged a lot of people to read it.

I agree with Greg that Americans are extremely guilty of fusing our faith with our politics. We have (in large part) become entrenched in the Republican party, and we have begun to see our political activiy as being synonymous with the things we do for the kingdom. We wrap God in our national flag and we celebrate Iraqi body bags while morning American ones. We have an extremely nationalistic view of the world and forget that Christ really did die as much for Iraqis as He did for Americans; therefore it is a tragedy when anyone's life is cut short before trusting in Jesus.

I have become increasingly sensitive to this in our churches. I can't count how many times I've seen people sit there with blank expressions while a choir sings of the love and mercy of the Lord, and then stand proudly when some patriotic song is sung. Where is the reverence and respect for our creator? Why are we more inspired by the stars and stripes than the nail pierced hands and the stripes by which we are healed?

When you start to grab ahold of this vision, it changes everything. It allows you to see the world more closely to how God must see it, and all life becomes so very precious. You can stop getting dragged down by the battles and politics of the earthly kingdom and begin reaching out in Christ like love to all people and all nations regardless of their opinion on government.

I thank God for Greg Boyd and the way in which He has used him to open my eyes. Keep me updated on your thoughts on this issue as I am always excited to discuss it. Love you, buddy!

August 14, 2006 4:02 AM  
Blogger DErifter said...

Wait a minute Josh, did I read that right? Did you say you agree with Greg Boyd??

Haha, I knew you did. I think you agree with him more than most, certainly more than I do, and I love him! Even when I disagree with him (which I often do) I love his passion, and the way he arrives at his conclusions, even when he's wrong.

August 14, 2006 5:52 PM  

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