Worried about the country? How should Christians respond?

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Many of my friends tell me they alternate between grief, anger and fear regarding America.  Four years ago, a different group of friends experienced the very same emotions and confided in me.  So, just how are Christians to respond like Jesus when their country’s rulers seem to act contrary to their values? 

Backing up, what should shape our values?  The Bible, of course.  But what do we do when the Bible is silent on current issues? Did I say ‘current’ as though today’s matters are new?   Really? What did King Solomon write but that when it comes to people, there is nothing new!

This week’s reflections dovetail to address what I am seeing and hearing. By the way, I am enjoying the gift I gave myself in November: the challenge of writing daily, while keeping to a 175-word budget!

January 22

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I am the worst of them all. 1 Timothy 1:5 NLT

I have friends and family members on both sides of the political spectrum.  Yesterday, listening to a family member ‘demonize’ former President Trump bothered me. I’m neither a Trump supporter nor a Biden fan. But to hate someone and not be able to see anything good in a person is unfair. Just look at that word – ‘demonize’.  What is it but acting like the Chief of Demons, Satan himself?

Are we to ‘hate’ anyone? Peter teaches that we are to… Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17 NIV

Consider Paul.  He doesn’t mention a single evil leader governing during his time.  He focuses only on his sin.

Two facts remain: First, I have plenty of sin to confess daily to Jesus. Two, I don’t have all the facts about what is ‘best’ for God’s glory and the spread of His Kingdom.

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January 26

Do everything without complaining or arguing… shining like bright lights….as you hold forth the word of life…Philippians 2:14-16 BSB

Each Tuesday morning, I head off to the local pregnancy resource center.  My morning study and prayers shape my heart and mind as I search for one Truth to take with me.

Paul’s words highlight what might cause the world to notice Christians. If people pause to notice us, they might listen to what we have to say.

What will catch their attention? Our lack of complaining and arguing.

Not many days have passed since the 2021 presidential inauguration.  Many Americans are complaining loudly.  Most are arguing in an ugly manner.

The Father has given us words of LIFE and called us to offer them to everyone we meet. Many around us live captive to words of death and despair.

But they won’t listen to us unless something startles them.

What can be simpler than a restful, gentle smile that comes from trusting the King of Kings?

We Christians should not complain or argue!

No more taking pride in those bleak ‘Ecclesiastes’ moments!

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“The specific quality of faith is extraspective and in that respect is the diametric opposite of works. …….Faith looks to what God does; works have respect to what we are……,” John Murray on Romans

Psalm 131:2 – Instead, I have kept my soul calm and quiet. My soul is content as a weaned child is content in its mother’s arms.

I think I was approaching 50 when I started occasionally detaching and viewing myself and others around me in a kind of surprise.  I’d be at a red-light at a major commercial intersection looking at fellow drivers to the left and right.

drivers all together

 

 

 

 

I would start to wonder, “What is the point of life? ”  Now, don’t get me wrong; I was a Christian then, well-grounded in my Bible.  I’m just sharing how I was feeling.

Ennui animal

Soon I started going further down this ‘pseudo-sophisticated’ and semi-existential path.  It was a kind of mild depression. It had to do with the daily sameness of an ordinary life, thinking that there was nothing exciting to look forward to.  Maybe it was a kind of weariness of life.

I would even indulge in a bit of superiority in my own special ennui, knowing that buying new stuff  or going on a vacation wouldn’t satisfy me, like it would many of my mid-life peers.  I was one of those ‘deep thinkers who needed much more!’

I infected my husband.  He was in a similar boat in a job that brought no joy.  And when I named my feelings, my unoriginal term, ‘Eccleasisates Moment’ (as in ‘all is vanity’ à la King Solomon) resonated with him.

Not much good comes from all that introspection except for the helpful and salubrious-to-the-budget realization that spending money is no antidote to what is immaterial, namely a feeling.

Recently I have been helped by God’s word to me about taking joy in the simple provisions of life.  I have stepped down from indulging in those super-serious but unfruitful thoughts about the meaning of life.  More and more I am content to settle into and accept  what God says is the meaning of life.

If all life is a gift from God, no matter the form it comes in, then I am meant to live moment by moment with the anticipation that little kids have who are about to receive a treat.  God the good Father via His Spirit implanted in me is growing my feelings of love, joy, and peace.  He is giving me practice (through trying circumstances) to develop the habits of restful waiting, of being kind, of offering grace, of faithfulness in work, of  gentle words and responses to others and most of all teaching me how to control my emotional reactions to life.

Peace - Dove

 

 

So just as the Psalmist himself had finally realized, I am finally learning as a young weaned child of God simply to rest my head on Him.  It is enough to know that I belong to the Eternal God as an adopted daughter.  My good Father plans out my daily events and walks by my side to provide the helping hand and steadying I need as I depend on Him and practice keeping pace with Him.  Our Father is very much like Corrie Ten Boom’s dad who quieted her anxiety about an upcoming train trip and her need of a ticket. He assured his young daughter that he would hand her ticket when she was about to board the train.  So too, God – our Father will give us what we need when we need it, not before. I don’t have to know more than what He has told me and shown me today.

And when I start to fret about the seeming ordinariness of life, I try to remember that Jesus celebrated daily life by living it with bickering fishermen and complaining housewives and restless children.  He didn’t hang out too often with the Important People who were doing ‘big stuff’. He liked good food and physical labor and walking over hill and dale and camping out.  He celebrated with the wedding party and accepted people’s gifts.  He was a mensch.  May we be ones too!

Jesus and kids

 

Being more kind than we think necessary

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Kindness is more than they deserve

It wasn’t until I got married that I learned of my poor sense of  judgment.

What I mean, is that I invariably pull out a container far too small to hold dinner’s leftovers.  Mike chalks it up to a false sense of economy.  He has me nailed correctly.  For this is how my flawed thinking goes:  “If all this will fit into a smaller pot/bowl/storage unit, then there will be LESS to clean (I’m lazy!)

I have learned, over the years, NOT to trust my judgment, but to automatically select a receptacle LARGER than I think necessary.  I’m sure you can point to similar circumstances where you have learned not to trust your intuition, but to go with your training.  Pilots routinely navigate this way.

Picture an airplane that has to crab into the wind, in order to fly straight.  This means that the pilot POINTS the nose off-center (not in the direction she wants to go), so that the body of the plane will actually TRACK in the intended direction.

crabbing into the wind

So it was with a sense of recognition for this principle of purposeful über- sizing that I read the following quote:

In this world, you must be a bit too kind to be kind enough.

Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, dramatist and novelist (1688-1763)

I suppose we should not be surprised.  It’s like when you SMILE for a photo, and you think you have pasted on a cheesy monkeyish grin.  But in seeing the picture, you just look…well..happy!  I don’t think we are very good judges of what IS enough!  After all, ‘they’ say it takes 10 deposits into a student’s ‘LOVE BANK’ to balance out 1 correction.

Compliments are hard to come by

And the Bible affirms that what draws ANYONE to us is not how smart we are, how together we look, how neat our homes are, how successful we are in business, school or raising kids.  What attracts others to you is your kindness:

Prov 19:22  – What is desirable in a man is his kindness.

Wow!  God through Solomon,  the King who was known for his wisdom, is instructing us about the most desirable character trait.  This kindness or ‘chesed’ is also translated as MERCY.   Mercy is when you don’t give someone what they deserve; instead you give them something they don’t deserve, like grace.  And in order to do that, it’s going to cost YOU a lot. For God to give us mercy when we deserved punishment, He submitted His Son to our sentence.

The price you and I are going to have to pay to be kind enough and merciful enough is far more than we think we should or even for which we can SEE we have the resources. (But God is more than happy to supply us!) And just like in my silly but frequent misjudging of the large-enough storage container, we will have to be MORE kind than we think necessary.

What a thought: that the only thing someone will really remember about me, if they remember me at all, is that I was kind to them.  And for them to notice kindness, it’s going to have to be MORE than I think I should have to GIVE.

Kindess is wisdom

What were the circumstances of someone’s extravagant  kindness to you?

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