Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sodium Saints

In late October, a new commentator arrived at this blog and chastised me in the comment section for my post against Obama entitled Talk Wisdom Reports - You Decide: White House Scandal to Break Soon?

Donna60 wrote:

donna60 said...
I understand that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian believes that the bible has to be obeyed. As a member of the "restoration movement." I cannot have any other authority on earth that supercedes scripture. That being said, no person who believes in and lays their hopes in the perfection and completeness of NT scripture, can trash-talk our president or any lawfully elected leader of our United States. Romans 13:1-2 "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves."

1 Peter 2:17 "Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king."

October 28, 2010 8:21:00 AM PDT

You can follow the rest of the comments here.

Now, although Donna60 ended up veering a bit off topic, she certainly had a lot of good and correct things to say. However, I don't think that she handled her position about "governing authorities" in the biblical way.

For example. Paul points out that we have both a duty to obey governing authorities when they are following God's laws and not to obey when evil is being proposed by them. As Christian believers we have the duty to disobey when any leader is involved in immoral behavior or governing practices.

As Donna60 had pointed out, Paul DID instruct Christians in Rome to "be subject to the governing authorities" (Romans 13:1) and to pay their taxes. Those who disobey the state, he wrote, resist "the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:2).

The kind of "judgment" rendered could include the temporal kind (i.e. punishment while here on this earth); or, the eternal type (i.e. White Throne Judgment in eternity) at the culmination of all history.

However, what I think was sorely missing in Donna60's arguments in the comment thread is the fact that the Bible also demonstrates that unrighteous decrees are not to be obeyed. For example, recall that the Hebrew midwives feared God more than the king of Egypt so they disobeyed his murderous and absolutely cruel order to kill all newborn Hebrew boys. God blessed them for disobeying this evil leader's mandate and as a result, note what happened: "And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them" (Exodus 1:21).

When I read Donna60's reply, her belief that evil dictators like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao "should be obeyed" shocked me! It was then that I realized that she was making a common mistake that Christians sometimes do (been there, done that!) while reading the Bible. She took one Bible verse (Romans 13:2) and applied it incorrectly to mean that in ALL instances, one should obey one's leader of the state. That is NOT what the Bible tells us!

I am currently reading a little booklet that has been given out by Coral Ridge Ministries called "Ten Truths About Christians and Politics." Truth #3 discusses that the Bible gives guidance for governments and citizens. The following excerpt gives specific Bible verses and commentary that upholds my position in this discussion:

Shortly after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Jewish authorities grew troubled at the growth of His followers and strictly instructed Peter and the other apostles against teaching about Christ. The apostles refused, telling the high priest, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

Along with the duty to disobey unrighteous commands, the Bible indicates that God's people have a duty to control political authorities who stray from God's moral standard. The Old Testament often recounts how the prophets confronted the Jewish monarchs with God's verdict upon their unrighteous behavior. The prophet Samuel announced God's judgment on Kin Saul for his disregard of God's word to him (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Elijah challenged wicked King Ahab over his Baal worship and was called the "troubler of Israel" for his effort (1 Kings 18:17). Nathan confronted David for his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 12).

Besides confronting evil and refusing to go along with it, there is another role outlined for the saints in both the Old and New Testament - to be "salt and light." God, through Jeremiah, told the Jewish exiles in Babylon to "seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace" (Jeremiah 29:7). The exiles were not to withdraw from their ungodly environment into a cultural enclave, but rather to seek its peace or shalom - a Hebrew term also translated as "welfare."

Sodium Saints

Jesus calls his people to be like salt in their influence on the world around them (Matthew 5:13). Just as salt was used in first century Israel to flavor and preserve food or to cleanse wounds, Christ's followers are to bring the flavor of God's grace and the healing and preserving power of His Word into every area of life - including the world of politics.

It is important to remember that when salt is used to cleanse wounds, it stings! When Jesus calls us to be "salt" in this world, I'm sure that pointing out the fact that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" stings the heart, soul, mind and body of every person who then comes to the realization that his/her need to confess sin and repent (turn away) of them HURTS.

But the healing power of the Gospel is worth the initial pain brought to the minds of those who humble themselves before the cross of Christ at Calvary. Our pain is NOTHING compared to the pain and suffering that Christ endured for our sakes on that cross.

Being a Christian often means that not everyone is going to like you. In fact, Jesus warns us that many will hate you (us) because "they first hated Him."

We cannot shy away and shrink away from our Christian duty in the world of politics because people will hate us for speaking out against the evil, sin and death that is often imposed upon us by the unbelievers in this world. We are to stand up and share the truth!

Ephesians 6 instructs us on how to prepare ourselves for this type of spiritual battle. Whenever someone challenges me for my beliefs and how, when or why I share them at this blog I remember these verses:

Eph 6:6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

Eph 6:7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

Ephesians 6 tells us to arm ourselves with:

* The belt of truth girded around your waist.

* The breastplate of righteousness.

* Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

* Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

* And take the helmet of salvation.

* And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Prepared with such equipment we also need to be:

Eph 6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Eph 6:19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Eph 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Hat Tips:

Coral Ridge Ministries

Blue Letter Bible

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