A few things have led me here. First, our senior pastor has been preaching through the book of 1 Peter. Such a lovely little book. So much to take in in only five chapters, that it's taking us a few months to wade through it. Each line is just saturated with deeper meanings that you might miss if you just blow through the text.
Secondly, I have been mulling over and trying to piece together, in my very small and oh-so-not-politically-savvy brain, the presidential address and the debate over how to handle the nation's debt. Man. It has me troubled. What a big decision! Many say that this these speeches were merely to fill the awkward silence between now and D-day, but there are a few things that both inspired and troubled me.
Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.
The entire world is watching. So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth –-
Wait, I take that back. Greatest nation on Earth? Hm. I'm sure at one point, Romans felt the same way. #historyrepeatsitself
(Yes, I just used a hash tag.)
Regardless of your political standpoint on our current president, future candidates, the proposed solutions to raising the debt ceiling, or debt in general, we all have to face facts. This will affect us. And once a decision is made, we will have to accept consequences, good or bad.
What does this have to do with 1 Peter?
At this point in the game, a lot. We as Christians are responsible to help make decisions with our government, but also for our reactions to the the final decisions. More often than not, separation of church and state has proved its failures. Let's remember that the world IS watching after those bills have been passed.
We are active citizens with influence in two kingdoms.
Those kingdoms are often in conflict. How do we handle it?
How are Christians to respond when those in authority over them demand that they do something that would compromise their faith?
The Bible says to submit to authority. However, submitting does not mean compromising. It means we accept any punishments or consequences for obeying Christ in the midst of a worldly government.
1 Peter 2:13-25. Go read it. Or google it. I'll wait:)
So how do we respond to these verses?
First, we need to do just that. We need to RESPOND. In the United States, we are very free people. We have privileges and rights that give us a HUGE advantage for Kingdom purposes.
So many times, I wonder if those suffering for the cause of Christ in other countries are thinking of Americans who believe and just WISH they had the same freedoms they did. Oh, to speak freely about how God is working in your life? And to be able to meet PUBLICLY to worship? And disciple? And serve people ADMITTING it's because Jesus commanded? And to pass out Bibles, let alone CARRY ONE??
Our senior minister, Bob, said it best.
"The worst that can happen is that we make someone really mad."
You're right. I've probably done that pulling into the parking spot before they did, but I wasn't worried about that.
Bob finished his sermon last Sunday mentioning that prayer is the second half of this Kingdom's strategic plan. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters who are living in the parts of the world where persecution is a reality.
He challenged us not to pray for the persecution to be removed, but for the presence of persecution to reveal God's glory.
That's a hard prayer to speak. Of course, we want it easy. We live in America where we think, "They have no right! How dare they persecute!" Well, the fact of the matter is that it exists. And we have a responsibility to react to it. And it may not be to stop it, but to USE it.
So, as our leaders make a great decision next week, I hope you pray. Not that the problems would go away. But that we may be able to respond to the decisions in a way that glorifies God and furthers HIS Kingdom.
You may not agree with much or anything President Obama has ever stated, but he is absolutely right about one thing.
The world is watching.
(several references & notes adapted from Bob Bell's sermon "Kingdoms in Conflict" on July 24, 2011)