J-E's blog

Monday, August 11, 2008

Taking America Back for God?

I recently finished listening to a message serious titled The Cross and the Sword by Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills church. This sermon series has forever changed my views of the role of the church in culture, politics and everything else related to this world. The audio files are available below if you want to check them out, but I've taken some notes to explain the things that stood out to me the most, it's a little scattered right now, but I'm putting it up anyway.


The overall message was that we need to take back America by going to the cross, not by forcing people to change their actions. "Don't ever think you can take the murdering out of the murderer's heart by passing a law". Jesus came into this world to change people's hearts, not to stop people from committing abortions, to ban homosexual marriage, or to win over congress for Christ. Our goal is to change people's heart and the way to do that is not through force, but through love.

You might say to yourself "But we as Christians know what's best for the people, because God has told us, so shouldn't we vote for laws that follow the morals laid out by God?" We can vote for these things, but they have no impact on the kingdom of God, and this thought process is a little off. When we tell people what's best for them we take the morally superior ground. We come in from above, with guilt, shame and force to tell the world how to live their lives. This is exactly the opposite of Christ did. He saw a need, he met a need and he proclaimed the kingdom of God is at hand. He came in from under people and lifted them up with love, sacrifice and serving. We as church are coming across as prideful know-it-all's instead of being humble servants. "Aren't we called to stand against sin? Jesus took a stand against sin by going to the cross and dying for sinners. We need to take a stand by loving sinners."

God never said America was a theocracy, America was founded on people escaping theocracies. Israel's theocracy was temporary and conditional, it was made to reach the whole world. God's kingdom is identitcal to Christ, wherever there are people acting like Christ, there is the kingdom of God, not based on any social status, nation or ethnicity. America is not the hope of the world. The reputation of the church is not we're morally superior, it will be these are the most self-defacing, humble people on the planet. We're not gonna throw stones, because we're the chiefest of sinners.

So what we need to do is, "Take a stand against sin in your own life, treat it as a tree trunk, everyone else's sin is a speck of dust. Hold one another accountable if someone has asked for your help, that's how they did it biblically. Nowhere in the NT do you find the church as a whole holding the culture accountable."

John 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." It is not our place to fight against this world through military or political force, but through love and grace. A person's politics have nothing to do with the kingdom of God, that's why Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector were able to both be disciples of Christ. It says more about Jesus' views that no words are stated about their political views, because it does not matter to the kingdom of God! How someone believes a country should be run can be completely contrary to how they believe the kingdom of God should be furthered.

I leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters about patriotism being confused with furthering the kingdom of God. We can turn our cause into religion and believe that it's what God wants to achieve.

"Your best plan, in that case, would be to attempt a sudden, confused, emotional crisis from which he might emerge as an uneasy convert to patriotism. Such things can often be managed. But if he is the man I take him to be, try Pacifism. Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the "cause", in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more "religious" (on those terms) the more securely ours."


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