Jun. 13, 2016

Either or - And also

Once again, in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando as with all the social, political tension and unrest in our nation, we see the polarization of views and opinions. We see the tendency on the part of both sides of nearly every debate to focus on the either or. It’s either a gun problem or a terrorism problem. We are either compassionate toward the victims of the tragedy or we seek to identify and oppose the source of the violence. Polarization, the focus and emphasis on the extremes of either side impacts nearly every facet of our culture and society. We focus on all that separates us rather than looking at what we can come together and agree on. We should lay aside the either or mentality and look toward an and also mindset. We have a gun problem and also a terrorism problem. We need to be compassionate toward all victims and we also  need to aggressively identify and pursue those who act in violence.

I think it is important perhaps imperative that the church, believers, followers of Christ understand the mandate we have as Christians. We are mandated, commanded to:  Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44) In today’s Daily Nuggets, @veinsoftruth.com,  I reflected on the obedience of Ananias, responding to God’s direction to pray for Saul the enemy and persecutor of the church. Through the obedience and the love of Ananias, Saul the enemy of the church became Paul, perhaps the greatest agent of change next to Jesus Himself that the world and the church have ever known.  We as believers need to recognize and live as though we truly are first and foremost citizens of the kingdom of heaven, so first and foremost our responsibility is to live in and up to the mandate we have as believers.

We are though also citizens of a national and a local government. While our first responsibility is to our citizenship in God’s kingdom, we as citizens should participate in and with our government and its processes. Our first responsibility to our government is for:  entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4)    We need to recognize,  in our prayers and in our participation with political processes the mandate of government is not the same as the mandate of the church. In Romans 13:3-4 Paul describes the mandate of government authority:     For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;  for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.     It is not the government’s responsibility to love its enemies. It is the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens from its enemies.

As believers we must follow the mandate of Christ and be agents and ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven, demonstrating the love, the light and the truth of Christ to the world. We should also pray for and encourage our leaders to uphold their mandate to protect and defend its citizens. May we not fail God, our nation or ourselves in either of these important mandates.