Tuesday, February 7, 2017
I've gotta be honest: I don't know who my audience is anymore.
When I started this blog, I figured I'd get some readership from a variety of audiences. Soft liberals, for example, who don't generally attend evangelical churches, but don't discount the existence of God, or at least a "god." I figured I'd get more readership among conservatives who regularly attend church and have a fairly accurate understanding of Who God is. And for a while, I used to have a small but loyal following of hard-core Christ-followers who appreciated the challenges I brought to our faith table, even if they didn't always agree with me.
These days, however, in the Era of Trump, my blog's only reliable Audience is the only One that's ever really mattered anyway; the One for Whom I've tried to most honor since I started: the holy, sovereign God of the Bible. The God Who has told us not to put our trust in war and weapons of war (Psalm 33:17-19). The God Who is supposed to be our confidence, not a nation's might (Psalm 20:7). The God Who does not keep us from harm, but protects us from anything that would be outside of His providential will for us (if you need a Scripture reference for that, perhaps you should start with the entire book of John).
My God is the One Who tells us to forsake houses, family, and property for His sake, even if the only thing we get in return - as if we're actually sacrificing anything of ours in the first place - is eternal life in Heaven with Him (Matthew 19:29).
I'm not being sanctimonious here, or pious. I'm just trying to be faithful, and to be that, I have to be truthful, and the most truthful I can get is Scripture.
It's not that President Trump discourages me. He does, but not nearly as much as the fact that, aside from God, the rest of my audience generally seems to get a lot of their theology (or their impression of Christian theology) from Breitbart, Drudge Report, and Rush Limbaugh.
So I feel like I'm left with an Audience of One. Maybe I forgot that my audience should have consisted only of Him all this time. It sure is easy to slip into a mindset and attitude of feeling like I need to convince mere mortals like myself. But God cannot be convinced of anything. He knows everything. A pastor delivering the eulogy at a funeral recently claimed that Christ took a risk by coming to Earth. But that's heresy, isn't it, since Christ can't risk anything. Risk involves an element of the unknown, but what doesn't Christ know?
Of what does God need to be convinced?
You and I, on the other hand, think we know quite a bit. We hate being wrong, we hate being corrected, we hate appearing weak, we hate being fearful. But when we're afraid, in what or Whom should be our confidence? In a politician? In capitalism? In our standard of living? In our family, or our spouse, or our job, or our military?
If I am not willing to pursue the matters of life from a starting point of God's supremacy over everything, then I'm starting off on the wrong foot, and the journey will veer off course as long as my focus is off-center.
It's not that I'm not afraid. I have many personal fears, both with my chronic clinical depression, and as a result of bad decisions I've made in my life. I also fear the terrorism that may come as a result of radical Islam. I fear losing my already lower-middle-class standard of living. I fear getting old, and what maladies might rack my body and my brain, especially since dementia has ravaged my paternal lineage.
Some might say that, because of my lack of children, my own home, and a sizable financial portfolio, I have a lot less to lose than other Americans. So maybe that explains why others see ambivalence in what I consider to be my altruism regarding religious freedom. Still, if I'm afraid of anything of consequence, since I have so little, shouldn't I at least be genuinely fearful of a repeat of 9-11?
Yet 9-11 didn't deprive any American of their Constitutionally-protected freedoms. It deprived us of a sense of security and safety, but not even the Founding Fathers elevated national security to a position of greater importance than free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures. Check out the Bill of Rights to see that I'm correct.
Yes, radical Islam indeed represents a threat against our nation, but here in the United States, at least, individual human beings remain innocent until proven guilty. Yes, it's a delicate dilemma in times like these that requires careful parsing of rights and responsibilities. And yes, it's something our government has gotten wrong plenty of times in the past, but should it be something which professing Christ-followers so eagerly want to see repeated? Yes, God has given us common sense, but that common sense needs to operate on a spectrum of Biblical integrity, including the Fruit of the Spirit. Not so we Christ-followers become exploitable, but so we bring glory to God by respecting His authority, and trusting His providence, even if our government acquiesces to neither.
After all, even President Trump cannot escape the Apostle Paul's mandate in Romans 13:1-2: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."
Notice that the word "authorities" is in the plural. And as a grateful American, I acknowledge the clever tripartite system of government our Founding Fathers established for us, which includes the judicial branch, which acts as a check and balance against both the legislative and executive branches.
If a law is made that could be considered unConstitutional, then even the president needs to let the courts decide, as they are doing now with Trump's immigration action.
But even if a law is legal, that doesn't make it right. Look at abortion, for example.
As it is, I'm grateful to live in a country where I have the right to praise God for His truth, even when that truth conflicts with the way I want to live, or when that truth conflicts with the fears that pervade my life. For, you see, the freedom that Christ offers in the Bible isn't a political freedom, even though many Americans mistakenly believe it is. Christ's freedom is greater than anything Trump or our military can secure for us.
May He judge us poor people with righteousness and justice (Psalm 72:2), whether that's the politically incorrect thing to do or not!
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
- Text: Edward Mote, 1797-1874