Posts Tagged ‘secular’

Hi everybody! I haven’t done much “free writing” here lately; seems like everything has been purpose-driven: sermon texts, bible studies, reblogs of (really great) work by others, and discussions in apologetics – that’s pretty much the index for the whole last month, isn’t it? Well, today I want to ramble a bit, so thanks for reading along, or you can click away…the wonderful freedom of the Internet, that no one is forced to suffer a bore! (But I really hope you aren’t bored by what I say, and if you are, why are you still reading this sentence?)

One thing on my mind is “perception”. This has been pinging at me from a few different directions lately. I live a life with many facets, like most people do, right? But it always amuses me a little when friends from one area seem stunned to learn that there is more than one side to who I am…as if the part they interact with is all there is to me, when they themselves are many-sided people…we all are, aren’t we? Or has TV corrupted our minds to the point that now we think of each other as characters in tiny little reality shows…you’re either Snooki or Honey-Boo-Boo; a ballroom dancer or a guy who makes duck calls; you bake exotic cakes or build exotic motorcycles or wear and create exotic tattoos, and that’s all I need to know. The only exception I can think of is “The Most Interesting Man in the World”, but even he exists only to hawk mediocre Mexican beer (I don’t always seem condescending, but when I do, there’s money in it!)

That last one highlights the confusing flip-side to this: the lengths fiction goes to in creating back stories for characters…imaginary people can be shallow, because they have a limited purpose and don’t need much more than shadows and suggestions for us to decide how we need to view them. Writers know this (or should know it); lazy writers use stereotypes as  a quick and easy way to get the audience where they need to be to understand the plot…who are the “bad guys”, who are the “good guys”, and what are their motives? For the purpose of entertainment, that’s fine…I really don’t want to invest a lot of time and energy “doing life” with a cartoon. But real people are not entertainment – it is very multitude of interests we have that make us worth knowing – yet we are becoming conditioned to treat everyone outside of ourselves as if they exist merely for our own benefit or amusement…and it’s working. This near-sightedness, or tunnel-vision, has direct impact on how we interact with others, but sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who notices it. Let me share two examples from experience.

Recently, I was approached by my employer, who wanted to discuss my future with the company, so he asked me into his office and closed the door. (Does anyone ever enjoy that moment, wondering what is coming next?) He expressed his appreciation for my contributions to the company, and the efforts I have made to improve both communication between office and field, as well as efficiency in the execution of our work. Of course, I am sitting there waiting for the other shoe to drop – in the past, these speeches have proceeded an explanation of why my contributions are no longer needed – and he blows me away by telling me that he wants to invest in my future; he feels I can be of greater benefit to the company by training others in the way I approach a project than by doing the work myself. I am humbled, and grateful…with my wife’s illness, the prospect of losing by job and health insurance fills me with cold dread…and so we begin to discuss some concrete details. He was surprised to learn that I have already been through several of the management and leadership courses he had in mind; that I have previous design, engineering, and CAD experience, going back over twenty years; that I have already purchased some of the collared shirts that office employees wear instead of the logo t-shirts of field crews (out of my own pocket, because the company only provides one set of “uniform” shirts); and that I have public-speaking experience from preaching at my home church…I am much “more” than what he thought I was, and it confuses him…why I am content to “plod along”, when I could be leveraging into higher paying jobs? But I have a checkered history, which limited my options long ago; I still believe that faithfulness and loyalty count for something, even in today’s economy; and these people have been patient, understanding, and supportive of my ministry work and the difficulties of Karen’s illness…how could I receive that, and then leave because someone offered me a dollar or two more an hour?

– – –

Many of my partners in the prison ministry attend a United Methodist mega-church in one of the wealthy enclave communities that surround Houston. They have invited me to participate in any number of the “small group” activities they participate in (I guess 300 men in a discussion group is “small” when Sunday worship attendance is 8,000, but I belong to a church of less than 100, so it’s weird) and I have accepted once or twice, but the “character” disconnect seems to make it strange and uncomfortable for them. These are, by and large, good Christian men and women; but also, by and large, they are white-collar professionals, from good families, with college degrees. So when we shake hands, and they are surprised at how strong and rough my grip is from years of physical labor; or they want to meet at 6am on a weekday for coffee and fellowship, but I must decline because I am either already at the jobsite, or commuting to get there for 7am start time; or when someone asks for a donation to a worthy cause, and they reach for checkbooks and write zeros, while I’m counting cash from my billfold and thinking about how much gas I have in the truck…I am somehow “less than” the person they assume I am, and it confuses them…how can I do this ministry, giving so much to these people, when I have so little of my own?  But while we may serve as brothers and sister in Christ on the teams in the prisons, I have a substantial difference in perspective: they serve in obedience to the call of Jesus to reach “the least of these”,  and while that is also true for me, I do it more because I was once one of those “least”. There is a vast distance between “sympathy” and “empathy”, and the former does not guarantee the latter. I love my friends’ giving hearts, and how they serve because they are richly blessed; but I serve how I do precisely because I have nothing else to give except myself…and I also consider myself richly blessed.

– – –

I don’t know that any of this has a point…I said this was a ramble. So I will leave you with the closest thing to an explanation for how and why I act, work, serve and DO the things I do..I have made this a focus of my devotional time for about two years now, and it continues to inspire me; perhaps it can do the same for you: Colossians 3:23-24, NIV

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

My friend did indeed respond, but the nature of his answer pointed out some defects with the scope and structure of my arguments; here is his response, followed by my attempt to correct and re-orient the conversation.

Well Nick, I see what you’re saying.
But Where exactly are you getting this information from? The “let there be light” comparison you’ve made..
You’re defining my nature or science as a “god” and I guess if you want to say that maybe I’m observing the nature of god, instead of the god of nature(which I guess can define religion).

But I don’t see the proof of god anywhere. Nor has any scientist. But in all fairness here, nor can we rule it out. Nor can we rule out any other god that ever existed for that matter.
The burden of proof lies on religion. You can’t win any court case without evidence being provided. If I make the claim on something then I must follow the scientific method in proving that. And that’s where religion fails. Its faith based.
And if there was a god that created the heavens, the hell, the universe and everything in between… I don’t see why’d he be so concerned about what I do or who I have sex with.. As if he doesn’t have anything else better to do. What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete–it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing that elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

I cannot say what’s after this life.. But I have been studying this stuff called astral projecting. I’m new at it and I don’t know much- but if you do, feel free to correct me.
Basically it’s a spiritual thing. Astral projection is the separation of your spirit from your body. You’re fully aware and everything is actually happening. As crazy as this may sound, I’ve been reading people’s stories about this and what they say really influences me to want to try it. It has nothin to do with religion or god or any of that. But they say it does indeed answer some of life’s big questions. There’s testimonies where people can visit absolutely anywhere at anytime. France, Germany, ocean floors and even space. But what really gets me is when they say they visit other dimensions… They say there’s a higher state of mind at higher frequencies. A serenity- a tranquility. Most call it the heavens, or whatever you classify it as.. It’s there. And everyone can experience it. They also say higher beings with a higher conscience exist- and most call them angles, guardians or spirit guides. And again, it’s nothing to do with religion. It’s actually a new type of science. Now, I’m not sure how true this is, nor am I saying that this is the answer.. But you have to approach it with an open mind. I am doing some research on it. I watch some of these videos on YouTube where a guy talks about this.. And he breaks it down a lot. He gives resources about what he’s saying and really goes into depth with it. His videos are actually animated so to me, they seem less boring lol. I’ll give you a link to his first video.. He breaks the episodes down into chapters. It’s very interesting and he does point out many religions, including Christianity and the bible. Again, I’m not saying this is the answer.. But I think it should be considered ya know.

Here’s the link:

I have not included the link, because it is not germane, as I point out below; if anyone does want to see it, reply in the comments and I will post it for you. Anyway, here is my reply:

OK, this is a very interesting response. I do believe that I see one common error we are both making, and that is that we are over-generalizing, and this is causing the waters to get a little murky…I first defined “religion” as “the response of humans to the concept of a personal creator God”, and then later tried to apply the same term to atheists – obviously I cannot have it both ways, so let me rather use the term “theistic worldview”, and narrow that down to include only those who believe the universe was created by an intelligent, personal Being; the actual nature of that Being may differ from one school of thought to another, but those are differences of style, not of kind. You seem to be using “religion” to mean collectively, all schools of thought which believe in a personal creator God, and that term would better describe the response of a particular “style group” within the larger “theistic” set; because the way any “religion” answers the questions of life will vary according to their particular interpretation of the nature of the Being. A better term for the opposite view to a “theistic worldview” is obviously “atheistic worldview”, which we can then define as “those who deny the existence of any personal Being as the universal creator”; this leaves an equal amount of room for differences of style within the same kind, and a variety of ways to answer those questions of life, which you rightly point out are universal to all humanity. I have a theistic worldview, and within that I have a series of truth statements I use to further make rational distinctions to answer some of the questions of life. I think that you are claiming an atheistic worldview, and you also have a series of truth statements that you use to make rational distinctions about the questions of life. What I am working towards is trying to understand your worldview, not disprove it…so my questions are directed, first to see if I have an accurate understanding of your general worldview, and then towards the nature of your truth statements. I will be happy to reciprocate, but only if you are asking real questions, not making belittling attacks against what you think I believe, and then only if you are willing to answer my questions…a fair dialogue can enhance both our understandings, anything else is a pointless waste of both our time, wouldn’t you agree? I think we should settle these basic questions, before we go off on tangents (like the “Spirit science” videos you link to, or my particular thoughts on morality, as from the previous thread). Let’s deal with one level of our beliefs at a time, OK?

What follows is a Facebook post I made to a young man who once attended church with us, until roughly around the time he graduated high school. Shortly after, he began proclaiming publicly that he had become an atheist, and how glad he was that he no longer had to suffer under the lies and mythology of Christianity;  in essence, he has taken whole-heartedly to the cause of the New Atheists; often cut-and-pasting large swaths of text directly from some leading atheistic websites to his Facebook feed. We had the conversation I refer to, spanning a couple of days, after he posted some particularly offensive (to me) and inflammatory comments concerning the Immaculate Conception; my intent was to try to get him to think about the logical inconsistencies inherent to a relativistic view of morality. (I did not succeed… he has become quite adept at re-direction, avoiding the question, and setting up straw-man arguments to swat down and proclaim “victory” over, when there was not a battle going on in the first place.)

I posted this to his page, and I’m waiting to see how he responds, indeed if he does. I thought I might post it here as well…can anyone suggest how I could improve my position? Reply in the comments, I can always use some help.

(name withheld), I was re-reading the conversation from the other day, and I realized something…we actually have the same basic belief system…only the nature of the creator is different, and thus the logical conclusions we separately arrive at. Let me explain…

My God is benevolent, personal, and intimately involved with His creation; creation was a deliberate act of His will. Despite our indifference to Him, or reluctance to acknowledge Him, He still loves us enough to hold us accountable for our decisions, because we have the free will to choose to respond to Him or not; this process is what many call “religion”, in all it’s many forms. There is more to the world than the merely physical, but I do not expect to understand all of it; I admit that I am not omniscient, and I must trust in a higher intelligence than my own to administer how it works. There is something waiting for us after this phase of existence is over, which gives me reason to hope.

Your god is random chance: indifferent, irresponsible, and impersonal. The creation was an accident (and how does the “big bang” look or function any differently than “Let there be..and there was”, except in the form of intent?); everything since then is either predictable by chemistry and physics, or random occurrences, which may or may not endure; the “religion” of an atheist appears to be either science, mysticism, or some combination: either nothing exists beyond what can be measured, or things exist which we cannot measure, but must nonetheless admit are there, however irrational that may appear, so we must make up stories to explain them. At the end of life is only entropy and nothingness…a most hopeless and bleak prospect: however “good” or “bad” a life you live, by whatever standard you choose to measure that by, it all comes to naught.

Have I been inaccurate in any of this? Can you point out my logical fallacies without bringing in other irrelevancies? I am very interested in your response, please take the time to think it through, and choose your words well…I did.

A Reasonable Faith: Well, OK…, You Wanted it, You Got It.

This week’s Friday Forum is quite personal, and some what longer than usual, but it’s really on my heart to share this. Thanks for your indulgence.

I have written some about the struggles my home church is going through, but I would like to expand on a personal  aspect of that fight, share some thoughts, and get some feedback from people outside the bubble.

We are a small (<100 members) Southern Baptist church, in a neighborhood that has changed dramatically in the 50+ years the church has existed – so much so that (in my opinion) we no longer relate very well to the community. Specifically, we have operated in a cash-intensive manner, with high overhead  and facility costs, that our current membership frankly cannot sustain. So a new approach is obviously required. Concurrent to this, our pastor resigned at the beginning of the year, and moved to another church in another city. Baptist ministers move around a lot; this is natural and expected in our tradition. He had been there over ten years, a relatively long stretch, and in all honesty he knew he was moving on long before he left, he was only unsure of the direction. Unfortunately, his ambiguity left a leadership void, and we as a church ended up with an internal division – about half (generally the seniors) were wanting someone to keep things going the way they always had; about half grouped around the new worship leader, whom they felt had a clear calling from God to restructure. (Full disclosure: I fall into the latter group. Tradition is not evil, and legacies do deserve respect, but “because we’ve always done it that way” is not sufficient justification for anything.)

Lately the issue has come to a head: we are voting in two weeks whether or not to call the worship leader as Pastor; he passed an earlier vote for Interim Pastor a few months ago, but that only stoked the flames of contention. This is a defining moment – if he is not called, he will leave and start a home church, and nearly the entire core leadership of the church will leave with him; most of the teachers, most of the deacons, most of the elders…and most of the money, as well. Let’s not put too fine a point on it – the church is broke. We have made all the cuts and revised the budget as far as we can with the current mission plan, down to about half of previous years, and tithes and offerings cover roughly 2/3 of that new requirement. Without that core group, the bank account will run dry in a matter of months, and that will be the end. (Even with them, something has to give, or we merely extend the inevitable a year or so at best.) A dramatic upheaval will give us a fighting chance, but of course there are no guarantees. I personally believe the new idea is a good idea, and I am voting in that direction, but the issue is going to be close. So what happens if the church votes no? In particular, what happens to those who are left behind, who are anxious to maintain “the church” at any cost? It absolutely breaks my heart to see people who have lost the vision of Christ, and would rather trust in the status quo than in the Spirit of God. OK, so they don’t want to be led in the right direction…does that make it right to leave them to themselves, with no spiritual direction at all? And if not, what am I going to do about it?

This is the hardest part for me. I am absolutely torn, and at a true loss for which way to go. Over the last year, God has opened up inside of me the need to serve Him harder: I began teaching adult Sunday school, and leading seminars; I was called as a deacon by this congregation; I preached the opening message for our students’ summer evangelism retreat, and the Sunday morning main service once, with another scheduled for next month. I was allowed to lead a team for the prison ministry I serve with, and that led to a decision to enter vocational ministry. The seminary application is completed, it only requires a few hundred dollars to enroll the first two prerequisite classes to register my degree plan, and I will be off. (This part is on hold…our finances have cancer, too.) I have stepped out into leadership areas I never imagined I could do, and God has been glorified. So I want to believe that I could step up and serve this need. But is my belief enough? Do I actually have the servant’s heart it will take to help lead a flock away from a cliff they are resolutely determined to jump over? Would they accept me, unqualified as I am, because they will not be able to afford to pay anyone a salary but I have a good job and don’t need to ask for one? Can they or I, afford to risk the effort to find out?

All these thoughts swirl through my mind, making me search for God’s face, for the motives of my heart, for the best way to go. I find myself almost dreading a “Yes” vote, because I won’t find a resolution to my own little crisis…how selfish is that? Lord, forgive me.

So I put it out there for you, Dear Readers. I’m not looking for solutions, I just want to hear some other voices, with a little distance and perspective…I think one of the blessings of fellowship and community is how God can comfort us by His agency in others, speaking into their hearts on our behalf, and I am asking: What is He telling you about my situation? Reply in the comments, I have moderation off so speak freely (don’t be uncivil, I will delete rude and hateful speech right quickly.) I look forward to the discussion.

Following hard after Him,

Nick

I have public conversations on Facebook now and then with a young man who attended our church as a teenager, but has since grown up, moved into the workforce and adult life (with a grace and ease that leaves me a little rueful, thinking back on my time in his place)…and declared himself an atheist. He is very intelligent, and has taken the time to think out his positions, so our “debates” are a challenge for both of us, since we seem to agree on quite a few issues. From what he says, it appears that we only differ on the existence and necessity of the God of the Christian Bible- I affirm both, he denies both. He especially abhors what he calls the “arrogance of Christianity” : the exclusive nature of the Gospel, that Jesus is “The Way, The Truth, The Life.” This resentment (that is what is feels like, coming from him) most often shines out in the realm of politics and personal freedoms…most recently expressed by the statement, “The last thing we need is someone who imposes Christian values on a nation that’s non-Christian.” He later asserts that seeing “In God We Trust” on money is hateful to him, disrespecting his right to NOT trust in God; as well as a government endorsement of a particular religion, and therefore un-Constitutional.

Here is one of those situations where I find myself in agreement with an idea on its face, but not for the same reasons. Other comments in the thread attempted to “defend”  God’s name, both on the currency and as a valid political justification to legislate morality, because the United States  is a Christian nation. Perversely, I find myself arguing against them! So how does it follow that a Christian apologist is agreeing with an affirmed atheist? Let’s look at the beginning of the argument, and examine our premises…where are we starting from, and who is “we”?

The phrase “In God We Trust” seems to originate in the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”, written by Francis Scott Key and inspired by the War of 1812, where it appears in the fourth stanza. Key intends his readers to understand that “we” in this case are the people inside Fort McHenry – waiting, and surely praying, as British warships rained artillery upon them. This motto would be their song of praise to God who saved and preserved them, and appropriated His grace as validation of their cause. The motto was added to US currency during the Civil War, again as a claim of God’s endorsement; this time “we” were the Northern Union, battling the “godless heathens” of the South. So we see that no real reverence or piety is involved – merely political expediency and “spin”. The identity of “we” changes according to who is in power at the moment, and any claims to the contrary overlook a vital truth: Governments are agencies of the world, and while they serve God (often unwillingly; but see Pharaoh in the Old Testament) by no means do they worship Him – they exist to worship themselves, and cause others to do so as well. The REAL problem with thinking that America is a “Christian nation” is that there is no such thing.The bible tells us to honor and obey those who rule over us – nowhere does it tell believers to BE the rulers. Any attempt to blend the two will inevitably lead to compromise…and compromise is something conspicuously absent in how God deals with His creation. So, I agree with my friend that this is not a Christian nation.

So what about the other half of his statement, which rails against the imposition of Christian values upon said secular nation? Who is the “we” now? In common usage, I believe it applies to those who identify themselves first as “Americans”, citizens of the United States.  My response? Here, I have to give my least-favorite answer: yes, and no. Since the primary role of government is to impose some kind of morality (my friend leans Libertarian and would probably not agree with that assessment) the quibble seems to be semantics regarding the source of the values to be imposed.  As a Christian, I believe that morality is a reflection of the essential goodness of God; that His expression of that goodness is what we call “Love”; and that participation in loving behavior is by definition voluntary, not coerced or imposed. (I have no idea where atheists think morality comes from, if not from God; or what would make any moral code worth adhering to, but that is a different post.)

I do not despise or dislike this nation. I am well aware of the specially blessed way of life we enjoy, relatively free from hardship and persecution. I wish no evil to befall this or any other administration – what hurts them, also hurts me. But my true citizenship is not here. It is in the Kingdom of Heaven, and I am here as a foreign national on a resident visa, and someday I will be going home. I am glad of that and await the day – this world is fallen, and the best thing to do while we are waiting is love everyone, help all we can, and stay out of the rest; be in the world, not of the world (see here and here). And that is what I intend to do, with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul, and all my strength. I will not try to tell you what to do, but if you let me, I will be happy to explain why I do what I do. Care to hear it?

Following hard after Him,

Nick

Welcome to the Friday Forum: a place to have some friendly discussion about issues that arise when Christianity and secular life “rub against” each other. There is no right or wrong here, just different ways to deal with things that come up. Each week I will post a topic, and my thoughts on it, and we will see where the comments take us!

I came to faith in God late in life, and only recently moved into a leadership role in my local church. In secular life I have been in construction one way or another since high school, both as employee and as owner, and so I have some knowledge of running a business. The non-profit model is very different, however, and so I find myself caught between conflicting worldviews, with different desired outcomes.

We are a small Southern Baptist church, on the fringe of the city limits – as inner-city as it gets in Houston. Founded in the late 50’s, it served a vastly different community than now exists – one with much less diversity and much more money – and like many small churches, we are shrinking…older members are passing on to glory, and drawing new people is a challenge for everyone today. Many of those who do come are barely getting by themselves. Shrinking membership and shrinking donations mean hard choices need to be made, and we have made them, and will continue to do so…but at some point, doesn’t it reach an end? When you can’t pay the bills, what do you do? How do we serve the people who are coming, who need a spiritual home?

Finances are not the only issue, of course; it’s part of a larger malaise…a clash of generations and of ideologies. I am not going into particulars, because it doesn’t matter… in the end we are divided, and without unity of spirit, no amount of money will ever solve the problems. The breach hinders our fellowship, blunts our prayers, grieves the Holy Spirit of God Himself. We cannot continue like this, but I see no reconciliation, only attrition.

This pains me deeply, because I care for and about these people…my church…my family. I am working hard to learn how to answer the calling God has placed upon me (to shepherd His flock as a pastor) and I am starting right here, as a deacon and teacher, at this church. I don’t want to see it fizzle, and I don’t think it has to; but I am beginning to feel I am in the minority. And if that is true, then maybe it should fizzle, and we should all go serve in a new and different way – maybe we needed a little “dispersion” to shake us out of our complacency. I don’t know, I’m just grasping at straws.

So here is the forum topic for this week:  If  a local church is suffering and struggling due to internal divisions, to such extent that  it can no longer sustain itself financially, is it better to hang on as long as two people are willing to meet in a dark building; or to end the dissent, move on, and find more fruitful opportunities to serve somewhere else?

Post your comments below, I will reply throughout the week, and next Friday we will discuss a different topic.

Following hard after Him,

Nicky

Welcome to the Friday Forum: a place to have some friendly discussion about issues that arise when Christianity and secular life “rub against” each other. There is no right or wrong here, just different ways to deal with things that come up. Each week I will post a topic, and my thoughts on it, and we will see where the comments take us!

I am very blessed to be the father of four young adults; a blended and blurred conglomeration of kids I acquired over the course of  two marriages, with women who had history before my story – only one of the four has my DNA, but they all have me! God has used them to teach me an awful lot about Him, and about myself. I was not the father they should have had, in the beginning, but they lived; and we laughed, cried, loved, and did the best we knew how. They have grown with us in the Lord as well, starting from zero eight years ago, but like many others their ages (23-26) they are restless and straying away from the straight path. Their stories vary, but the common threads span across an entire generation it seems: a profound refusal to accept responsibility for anything, coupled with a bizarre inability to think more than five minutes into the future. This wasn’t learned by example – both I and their mothers  taught, demonstrated, and rewarded hard work and thoughtful planning, including being honest when we didn’t do it, and so becoming the perfect negative illustration. And it worked, sort of… They know the right answers, they just don’t care to take the test. I resist the temptation to feel guilty (mostly), and I pray and plead and talk to them constantly. I set limits and boundaries, because there are limits and boundaries in life, and we all have to learn to abide; they don’t push the boundaries,exactly…they won’t even acknowledge the boundaries exist, or would ever apply to them if they did.

We have run out of options, and frankly out of patience…the two living with us are about to become homeless; the one living away on her own isn’t getting any more money or sympathy; the married one is going to have to learn how to depend on her husband rather than her daddy, even if her husband isn’t all that dependable. I am amazed at the reactions – not the kids, of course they hate it – but friends, family, even church members are shocked:  “How could you turn you back on your children! What kind of a parent are you! God blessed you with them to love and care for, and you aren’t doing it! That doesn’t seem very Christian to me! You’re only thinking about yourself!”

So here is the forum topic for this week:  Is “tough love”, holding your kids accountable for their bad choices, even if it hurts them to do so, a proper Christian attitude? Post your comments below, I will reply throughout the week, and next Friday we will discuss a different topic.

Following hard after Him,

Nicky

Welcome to the Friday Forum: a place to have some friendly discussion about issues that arise when Christianity and secular life “rub against” each other. There is no right or wrong here, just different ways to deal with things that come up. Each week I will post a topic, and my thoughts on it, and we will see where the comments take us!

Elections in this country seem to be the only time that people want to discuss some of the basic assumptions that we operate on a a nation, and this election cycle is no different. The United States is involved in wars, police actions, military interventions…whatever name you want to call them…all over the world, and the politicians are making as much hay from this fact as they can, with both sides claiming to “support the troops” but also trumpeting the need to “protect America’s interests” at home and abroad.

I am no peacenik radical who feels that all things martial are by definition evil; at the same time, I have a real problem with the idea that the best way to serve and protect a nation necessarily involves asking my government to give me a gun and send me to a foreign land with permission to kill people we choose to call “the enemy”. That just doesn’t sound like what Jesus had in mind when He addresses His audience in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-44 –

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

So here is the forum topic for this week:  Should Christians volunteer for military service? Post your comments below, I will reply throughout the week, and next Friday we will discuss a different topic.

Following hard after Him,

Nicky

Friday Forum

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Friday Forum
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Welcome to the Friday Forum: a place to have some friendly discussion about issues that arise when Christianity and secular life “rub against” each other. There is no right or wrong here, just different ways to deal with things that come up. Each week I will post a topic, and my thoughts on it, and we will see where the comments take us!

 

So we have seen both the Democratic and Republican national conventions; the nominees are in and have accepted; and we are on the last leg of the race to the White House. And you know what? I find myself simply unable to care very much about any of it. I used to be rabidly political…a Reagan Republican in high school and college, becoming disillusioned during Bush 41’s term and switching to the other side (and I still think Clinton was a great President, regardless of his personal foibles). But as I grow spiritually, and learn more about the Kingdom of heaven and what it means to be a citizen there,  it is becoming more and more easy to leave “the world” to its own devices, and ignore the rancor, the name-calling, and all the rest of it on the TV. I have no plans to vote in any election again, I do not campaign for any candidate, and in all honesty, I just don’t care. I do not think that as a Christ-follower, I should even want to participate.  Am I alone in this, or do others out there feel the same? Here is the forum topic for this week:  Should Christians be concerned about participating in government, or focus on helping real people instead? Post your comments below, I will reply throughout the week, and next Friday we will discuss a different topic.

 

Following hard after Him,

Nicky