Our Marching Orders

What do we do depending on how today goes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our country right now is in political turmoil. Assuming the election does end tonight, one side is going to go to bed tonight very very unhappy. As for me, I’m a conservative who has voted Republican all my life and I have kept that up and frankly, today terrifies me. Many of you might not agree, but I do think a Hillary election would be the worst thing to happen to America. Instead of being NeverTrump, I was and am definitely NeverHillary.

Maybe you don’t share my sentiments, but either way, I hope you can understand my own fears. They are fears that have made it difficult for me to sleep at night and left me worrying about the future. We already struggle here economically as it is. Will our situation get worse? This is especially important for those of us, like myself, who are in the non-profit industry. We rely on donations. What happens if those do not come in because people do not have it anymore?

Never mind also that there is a lot of political unrest that I see. Many people, whether they are NeverTrump or not, are angry about the FBI probe and think that we can’t count on the government to look out for us anymore. Add in other concerns like putting justices who will defend abortion on the Supreme Court and the second amendment and our fear of ISIS and there is even greater fear.

What happens if things go negatively? I am fearful that we have reached a boiling point here in America. There is so much unrest that if that one spark comes to light the fuse, I don’t know what will happen to the powder keg that is our country. This election has sadly brought out the worst in us and people on all sides have called into question each other’s Christianity and conservatism.

Yet as I ponder this fear, I try to think back. The early church faced a far worse scene. They had the Roman Empire to deal with and there was no internet they could use to connect to each other, no special advocates for Christianity, and no generations of study on Christianity. They were day-wage earners who for the most part would not have any savings stored up and could often find themselves the target of prison, death, and just outright shaming simply for their religious stance, which was also a direct challenge to Caesar.

Now here’s the sad part.

They probably trusted God far more than you and I do today.

Let’s consider Paul. Paul is in a prison cell and he’s writing letters and what is he writing? He’s writing on how to have joy. Yep. I find it hard enough to do outside of the prison cell. I find it hard to do in a society where I can have pretty much everything that I want. Paul honestly shames me in this regard.

Why is it that Paul could have this attitude? He knew what a difference Jesus made to everything. He saw the world was no longer the same place and the Roman Empire was just a bump on the road to the glory of Jesus. Does that mean he foresaw a day where Constantine, the ruler of the empire, would become a Christian? We cannot know, but we can be sure he was convinced the church of Jesus Christ could never be stomped out. God would not be thwarted.

Why do I not have faith like Paul’s? If I must be honest, and of course that is a requirement for a Christian, I believe it is because I do not really see the difference that Jesus makes. Jesus brought a radical transformation into this world.

Consider what the new atheists often say about morality. If we ask if it’s right for one man to own another as a slave, the new atheists answer the question is obvious. Everyone knows that. The people at the time of Jesus would agree. It’s a simple answer. Certainly, slavery is okay. Our world is built on it. They would be shocked at the new atheists today. Don’t we all know that we have to have this institution?

Why do we accept the idea as obvious today that slavery is wrong? Because we grew up with that Christian background. Many of our moral stances are what we have inherited so long from so many past generations that now we don’t even think about it. Unfortunately, we are seeing this start to come undone. This is especially so in the area of sexual morality with the whole redefining of marriage and the allowance of abortion.

Christianity grew up in a world where slavery, abortion, and homosexual practice were all accepted. Christianity changed it all. If you want to talk about a situation that was hopeless, look at Christianity. If an alien from another planet was watching the world in the first century and was wondering who would be in charge in 300 years, either this ragtag group called Christians or the Roman Empire, they would put their money on the Roman Empire.

They would be wrong.

What did it take for this to happen? The church was the church. Several months ago I was talking with someone who was asking me about where our country was going. What will it take to stop a continual downfall? I gave the answer I always give. The church has to be the church.

What does that mean? We have to literally be Jesus to the world. Now some of you are probably thinking “That means we walk with love and kindness and be good people.” Of course, we should do that, but it is much more than that. We must say Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not and it does not matter who the Caesar is.

The early church worked together in unison and sought to take care of their own and build one another up. We have far more resources to do this today. We have far greater means to do this today. We just don’t have the willpower to do so unfortunately. Too many of us have seen Christianity as an all-about-me scenario.

Despite this, if we are to be the church, we cannot say we will be the church in order to change our country. Christianity is not a means to an end. If we are being Christian and truly living it, the country will change on its own. Why is it that in our country Christianity can be shut down? Because they know that Christians will take it. They won’t dare say the same thing about Radical Islam.

That doesn’t mean we take the Muslim route of using physical violence. Absolutely not. It does mean that we do learn to stand up for ourselves where we can. We don’t be scared to step on toes if we have to. The early church wasn’t. Jesus Himself wasn’t.

Just yesterday, I was dialoguing with someone who I would say is a seeker with questions about Christianity. We talked about the crucifixion of Jesus and the emphasis given was on his teachings, which I think would be his moral teachings. The problem I said is this. Jesus was crucified. If Jesus was just a good moral teacher teaching these feel-good sayings, he would have been at worst a nuisance. He would not be someone that would be worth crucifying.

Yet he was crucified.

Jesus was crucified because He did rock the boat. He was seen as a threat to those in power and He must have done something to earn that attention. He not only was a threat, He went to the direct center of Judaism at the time, Jerusalem, and did it right at the time where He would know He was walking into a death trap. He did it anyway.

If you want to talk about a revolutionary position, Jesus was indeed a revolutionary. He didn’t do it with weapons like a zealot would. He did it by the offering of Himself to fulfill the role of Israel.

Jesus wasn’t afraid to rock a boat. Today, we hesitate to say anything because we are afraid we might “offend someone” or “hurt their feelings.” I do not picture Jesus having this fear at all. I am not at all saying to needlessly offend people, but if you tell the Gospel and tell people they are not in line with Jesus who is the king of this world, then you will offend them.

If we want to see our truly transformed society, it really wouldn’t depend on who got into the White House. It might make it easier for us. It might not. Our marching orders will be the same. We have to be the church.

If Trump wins, what our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

If Clinton wins, what are our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

No matter what happens, the church has to be the church. The Gospel does not need America to flourish, but America needs the Gospel to flourish. Again, we don’t do this because we want our country to flourish if we are Americans, although we certainly should much as the Israelites were even to pray for the well-being of Babylon while in captivity, but we do it because we are Christians. If you are not in America, these are your marching orders wherever you are.

So what will I do tonight? I will strive to be the church. I won’t deny it’s hard. I struggle with my own worry and anxiety and fear, but I have to look at the reality of who God is. He is on the throne. I have to trust and of course, it isn’t easy, but the early church did it with Rome. Why can I not do it here? The problem isn’t with God and it isn’t with Christianity and it isn’t with the government. It is with me.

Today and tomorrow and from now on, be the church. Those are your marching orders.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

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