How foolish I was to think things might calm down after the election. I forgot that we still had the inauguration of Barack Obama.
First off, several friends posted on Facebook concerning a prayer by Merlie Evers, who used the Pledge of Allegiance in her prayer but left out the phrase “Under God”.
Thus began the weeping and gnashing and bashing. Several friends posted about how horrible this was, how the country was going down the drain because we fail to acknowledge God. Let’s deal with that in short order.
First off, Mrs. Evers was using the pledge in a prayer that she offered to God and closed it by offering the prayer in Jesus’ name. But I guess that’s not sufficient, especially when you just get the YouTube version and fail to hear/read the entire thing. Second, it could be that she used those words and maybe assumed that we would be smart enough to see that Under God was clear enough, since she was praying to God and offering that prayer in Jesus’ name.
Finally, it takes a lot of brass to call out Myrlie Evers for not being “Godly” enough or being party to the decline of the nation. I would say that she and her family have sacrificed a great deal more for freedom and justice than most of us could imagine. http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/53/medgar-evers-and-the-origin-of-the-civil-rights-movement-in-mississippi
Then came another chapter in the “Don’t hit send” legacy. I saw a tweet from Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll, who leads a popular megachurch and has been “crowned” as a King in American Evangelicalism:
Our Youth Minister, Josh, had the AUDACITY to re-post this, along with some criticism of Pastor Mark. He was then ripped on Facebook for doing so, for daring to call into question the authority of an elder of the church! Without going too deep into it, let me just say that Josh was absolutely right, and has every reason to call out Driscoll, because Driscoll publicly called out someone that he does not know and offered a judgment that he probably does not have any direct basis to offer.
And Mark Driscoll is no Elder in my church.
So, after thinking we might be at the tail end of the vitriol, it cranks up again with the inauguration. Where does that leave us as followers of Christ? How do we respond in a Christ-centered way when we disagree on political issues or have a problem with our elected officials? Staying silent is not always an option, but we seem to stick our foot right in it when we don’t have the facts or choose to hit “send” without thinking.
Then I saw a re-post from an old college friend, Ruthie Bagnall, that actually restored my faith in the Christian ability to speak on public issues. It also offered some solid guidance on a BETTER way to approach our politics as it meshes with Christian faith. This is from Matt Carter, a friend of Ruthie’s that I do not know and have never met:
“If I had a guess, if Cindy and I were to go out to dinner with Barack and Michelle Obama it would be an amazing evening. I bet the conversation would be extraordinary. I bet we’d laugh and enjoy each others’ company. If I had a guess, (and truly no human being can look into the heart of another and know their motives) I’d be willing to believe that Mr. Obama loves America, has a vision for our nation, and wants what’s best for it.
I strongly disagree with many things that Mr. Obama stands for and has done. That said, as a Christian I have two callings. The first is this, that I will honor and respect his office meaning that I will hold my tongue and not gossip or slander the man, and I will think the best of him to the best of my ability. The second is this, that I will pray for him, for his family, and for our nation. I believe I remained true to that commitment throughout his first term, and I intend to do that again.
Brothers and sisters, if our Christianity looks no better than America’s favorite pastime of hanging around the water cooler bashing those in authority then those who would malign our faith are well-justified in their criticism. Romans 13:1-2 says this: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…. God is either sovereign or he isn’t. You can’t have is both ways. Ultimately, we serve a King and a kingdom that far surpasses anything the United States will ever achieve. If you’re worried about present circumstances you’re focused on the wrong kingdom! Look up, and Rock your day people!”
Matt Carter may not have Mark Driscoll’s popularity. But I wish he was. I’d much rather hear what he has to say, and the rest of us need to hear it as well. And it’s something a lot better to do than just bashing other believers that you don’t happen to like.