It seems an appropriate week to reflect on our role as Followers of Christ as citizens in a secular nation. Immediately in our rear-view mirror is our Martin Luther King Jr. day and the Inauguration of our President-elect is fully upon us. These two events are powerful symbols that we as Christ Followers in the USA are a part of culture where we do have a say/role in trying to change what is wrong and build what is right. Biblically, we have a responsibility before God to be good citizens and do what we can in a gracious, righteous way to influence our country for the Kingdom.
However, I have no doubt that many of us just want to steer clear of the whole thing. We are tired of how much energy it takes to stay engaged in a process that has become extremely hostile, filled with name calling and consistent efforts to cast those who disagree with us in the worst possible light. And this can apply to either side of whatever debate is currently the focus of conversation. But I urge you not to withdraw and to not grow weary in doing good. Engage. But engage following these guidelines.
1) Before God you are always responsible for your own behavior. No matter what anyone else says or does, we are still responsible for the content and tone of our words, as well as for our actions and inactions. Everything we do must be done as to the Lord.
2) We do have an obligation to others. We have a mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves that we cannot and should not escape. We are to engage those who need us. Each of us must decide for ourselves how it is that God is calling us to serve the sick, hungry, and poor. We must define before God what is fair, just and right as well as righteous. What we commit to might vary, but we must be committed.
3) Every person deserves our respect. Each one is made in the image of God. Each is loved by God. God longs to redeem each one. To demonize a person is in some way to dishonor God. That is not to say we affirm everything a person believes or does, but we must still treat them with respect. No one ever becomes sub-human.
4) No matter what the world does, teaches, promotes, or elevates, we must do what is right in God’s eyes. This is why it is critical we know and live the Word. We cannot extend God’s Kingdom in the world when we are not standing in the Light, even if the world hates the Light.
5) Faith does. Faith acts. But it is action bathed in prayer.
Well, I feel like I am pontificating just a little bit, so I will stop there. But do take a moment to appreciate afresh the country you live in and the role God has called you to play in it.
PS – And thanks for all the birthday wishes this week!