Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christ-less Conservatism

*I originally published these thoughts July 10, 2012. They seem just as appropriate—perhaps even more so—today.*


We must remember that although there are tremendous discrepancies between conservatives and liberals in the political arena, if they are both operating on a humanistic base there will really be no final difference between them. As Christians we must stand absolutely and totally opposed to the whole humanist system, whether it is controlled by conservative or liberal elements. Thus Christians must not become officially aligned with either group just on the basis of the name it uses. (Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, p. 77-78)

The above quote reveals the hypocrisy and futility of Christ-less conservatism. Taking the path of social or economic conservatism, without regard to God and His word, is but a fool’s errand. Rather, the hope of our nation, or any nation, rests upon the Person and teaching of Jesus Christ.

This is a serious discussion which merits our contemplation, and sometimes humor can facilitate such dialogue. A couple of weeks ago [now several years ago], a Facebook friend posted this status: “Signs you’re a conservative but not a Christian.” Below is my contribution to that conversation.

May the Lord bless our thoughtful laughter and may our worldview be Christ-like, not merely conservative.

Signs You’re a Conservative But Not a Christian

You like "In God We Trust" on money but think more of money than God.

You scream bloody murder for removing the 10 Commandments from the public eye but can't name more than 3.

You want your kids to recite the Pledge every morning at school but never considered teaching them the Lord's Prayer.

The Constitution is your “Bible.”

You haven't been to church in years but the separation of church and state makes your blood boil.

You speak of bearing arms more than carrying crosses.

You’re constantly offended by the sex and violence coming over your DVD.

You tell liberals to “go to hell” because you don’t wanna be with them in heaven.

You’re more excited about Ron Paul than Apostle Paul.

You support troops on foreign soil but not missionaries.

You’ve never heard “Be Thou My Vision” but “O say can you see” always brings a tear to your eye.

You think the Battle Hymn of the Republic is a catchy, Christian tune.

You think “retaking” the Whitehouse is America’s only hope.

You always “stand with Israel” but never sit in church. 

You believe the spread of democracy—not the Gospel—is the key to world peace.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas According to Jesus

Christmas. What’s it all about?

Imagine you’re observing Christmas from the outside—say you’re a space alien or a Jehovah’s Witness. What would you conclude?

You’d most likely think it has to do with economics: spending money, making money, giving and receiving things.

It’s possible you would surmise it has to do with religion: symbols, decorations, songs, and rituals about the birth of a holy Child.

You may come to believe it’s about relationships: friends and family fellowshipping.

You could decide it’s primarily about children and magic.

Obviously, most of us don’t have an outsider’s view of Christmas. Rather, we’ve experienced it from the inside for as long as we can remember.

What’s it about really?
                       
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of the above answers, per se. And it may be that there’s no definitive answer to our query because Christmas means different things to different people.

So let’s be more specific. What about the birth of God’s Son?

There’s no need to speculate when we can go straight to the source. The Son of God says,

The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me. ~John 18:37

Christmas, according to Jesus, is about His bearing witness to the truth. He reveals the truth in all He is, says, and does. It’s why He was born. What truth is He speaking of?

The truth of who God is.

The truth of who we are.

The truth of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We celebrate Christmas according to Jesus when we listen to Him and bear witness to the same truth that He bears witness to; when we believe and purposefully live His truth as His intimate followers.

There’s been much “concern” and, of course, conflict over the commercialization and secularization of Christmas.

I get it.

But maybe we’ll truly have more Christ in our Christmas as we put more Christ in our Christianity. At least think about it, won’t you? 

And while you’re ruminating…have a Merry Christmas, dear reader. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Divine Disappointment

A dear friend asked me, “Is God disappointed in me?” He answered his own query by saying (basically): I don’t think so, but how can I know?

Below is my response.

****************

Is God disappointed in you?

I think you're right to think He isn't.

Disappointment comes when reality fails to meet expectations—you expect to open a box of St. Louis Cardinals season tickets but in reality open a box of Arizona Cardinals trading cards. Disappointment.

I doubt that God gets disappointed like this—at least not often.

I think we begin to ponder God's being disappointed with us when we are in fact disappointed with ourselves. The perceived reality of our lives is not what we expected. Hence the disappointment is ours not His.

It is here, in the throes of disappointment, that we can begin learning to receive all of our identity, self-worth, and value from Jesus. Rather than getting these things from what we think we are doing (which is where we are conditioned to get such things), we begin to understand and love ourselves and others based upon what He did and does for us and within us.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~Galatians 2:20

True spiritual progress (accompanied by love, joy, and peace) comes to the one who centers upon Jesus Christ, not the self. This is undoubtedly something that most of us can only begin to do and only accomplish in fits and starts. 

It's a long journey but we've a long time—an eternity—to enjoy it.