The Periodic Musings of Matt Davis

September 29, 2010

On Politics and the Church… pt. 2 (or God Bless America – How???)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kcillini77 @ 2:37 am

Much of what I hear out of evangelicals as it regards politics these days has to do with the notion of America as a Christian nation.  There are all sorts of websites, books, etc. dedicated to proving or denying the Christian heritage of our nation, and frankly, that’s not the debate I want to get into.

What interests me more is the prevalent idea that God has blessed America because of this national relationship.  Much of the propaganda I hear being pushed by evangelicals declares that we as a nation are losing our favor with God, and we need to get back to the ideals of the Founding Fathers.  Get back to God, or else God will not show us the favor he has shown us to this point.

Even if I were to concede that the religious beliefs of the Founders had somehow forged a special relationship between the United States of America and God, I still would find issue with this line of thinking.  Here’s why.  What are the evidences that God has blessed America?  Well, let’s see:  We are the most powerful nation in the world.  We are the wealthiest nation in the world.  As a whole, we individually enjoy prosperity and freedom to degrees that no one else on Earth enjoys.  Sweet!  America is the best country on earth – there’s no denying it.

BUT – what do the red letters of the Gospel say constitute a blessing?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:3-12, NIV)

The Gospel of Jesus turned upside down what was meant to be blessed.  The followers of Jesus shortly after his Resurrection lived in the Roman Empire, a culture that was full of many of the “blessings” of wealth and prosperity that we claim as our own today.  But Jesus didn’t consider the wealthy the blessed.  No, He would say it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  The people that Jesus said were blessed were those who would soon undergo torture and death at the hands of Nero and the Roman Empire.

In theory we (evangelicals) agree.  We applaud the underground Chinese churches and all of our fellow believers around the world who are persecuted.  But meanwhile we devote our efforts here in America to ensuring our rights are preserved.  To keeping our tax exempt status.  To posting Ten Commandments in public spaces (despite the fact that the Law brings condemnation, and our message is Jesus, not the law).

The Gospel of Jesus says that we have fallen far short of God, and that only through Christ’s atonement for our personal sin can we be redeemed.  That Gospel is the GOOD news because it means that our effort to bridge the gap to God is all for naught.  Our behavior modification and attempts to please him have failed and will always fail.  But Jesus is the answer.

So why do we, as Evangelicals, continue to propagate a message that God is angry with our country for our sins and that the only way to make sure we continue to be “blessed” by wealth, prosperity, freedom, and power is to stop sinning and have better morals?  A blessing of that sort is the antithesis of the Gospel.  It’s its own reward.  If we truly believe the Gospel is the hope for the nations that should be our primary focus – not the sustainability of our own freedom and prosperity.  If the fear-mongers are right and we are headed toward socialism, well, what are we worried about?  We may just lose a fortune – and gain a soul.


January 27, 2010

I admit it, I heart Facebook

Filed under: Uncategorized — kcillini77 @ 3:00 am

I was a Facebook holdout for a long time.  I figured it would pretty much be an endless barage of updates like, “eating a hamburger now”, “sitting on the runway”, or “just got off the pot – do not go in there.”  And there is a lot of that.

But since becoming a convert, there is one aspect of Facebook that fascinates me.  People can choose to be as open or closed as they want to be, but whether you are a sharer or a lurker a lot of walls come down on Facebook.  Specifically I’m talking about our tendency in “real life” to compartmentalize our friends and acquaintances.  I have work friends, relatives, church friends, drinkin’ buddies, and people that I watch Illini games with, neighbors, and acquaintances.  Usually, our relationship is defined on what we have in common.  And that’s fine.

But on Facebook, friends are friends (even if they’re really acquaintances).  When I post my theological musings, my work friends and Illini buddies see that too.  When I post my beer geek stuff my church friends see that too.  If you want to share, you share with all.  You can’t really hide who you are unless you decide just not to post.

I for one think that’s great.  I know that I may post something that some (or most) of my friends will ignore.  I might post something that they don’t care about.  Maybe they just ignore me some or most of the time.  But if they choose to read it they know more about who I really am than they would otherwise.  Sure, there’s a risk that it may lead them to make unfair or incorrect assumptions about me.  But mostly I like the fact that they know more about where I’m coming from and vice versa.  They probably think I’m weirder than they used to, but that just means they know the truth.  And truth is good.

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