Wednesday, May 5, 2010

CAUTION: Rant In Progress...

"There are many powerful, popular and famous people who claim to speak in the name of the church.  They would have us believe that Christianity in our nation belongs to a political party.  They tell us what the "church" believes; they tell us what it stands for.  They may speak for the institutional church in USAmerica; I don't really know.  But I do know this-  many of them do not speak in the name of Jesus.  These are the modern day Pharisees, still thinking that the "law" can save us.  If we continue to let them speak on our behalves, we are failing as disciples of the Christ."
                                                                                                                               -WCJ, 1999

The following is just one opinion, offered today to help you think...

For the past several weeks many of my Christian brothers and sisters and fellow bloggers have been caught up in a whirlwind of discussion revolving around the National Day of Prayer, which was scheduled for tomorrow.  On April 15, a U.S. District Judge in Wisconsin ruled that the annual National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.  "It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," wrote Judge Barbara Crabb, who said the Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which bans the creation of a "law respecting an establishment of religion" in the Constitution.  The Internet and talk radio have been all abuzz with stories of how President Obama cancelled the event (which is false) and of plans for protests and assaults on the pagan institutions that would deny us the right to pray on May 6th.  The basic idea is that no one and nothing should be allowed to stop us from praying on our National Day of Prayer.

And you know what?  THEY CAN'T!!!  While I agree that loosing a day specifically set aside for prayer is a bad thing, there is no way in all of heaven and earth that anyone can stop me from praying.  Prayer is between you and God.  It does not have to be sanctioned by the government, the church or any other institution.  In fact, scripture tells us that Jesus will be lifted up through this "persecution" of His people.  But I would argue that for many of the people bemoaning the loss of the NDOP, this has nothing to do with prayer or with following Jesus.  This has to do with politics.  The amount of hatred poured out on President Obama, even though he played no part in this decision, was incredible.  A "prayer" made the rounds on Facebook that hoped for his death.  Threats were aimed at both the White House and the Judge who handed down the ruling.  For many, this decision followed health care reform as another sign of the apocalypse.  Tomorrow, I have no doubt, there will be protests complete with the tearing of clothes and the gnashing of teeth, condemning our leaders, judges and anyone else who may disagree with the viewpoint of certain politician/Christians. 

So here's my question:  Will any of these protesters actually be praying?  Our leaders need and covet our prayers.  Our nation needs our prayers.  If the "Church" (and I include all followers of Christ in this; I cannot conveniently rule out the Christians I don't agree with) wants to make a difference on the NDOP, or any other day for that matter, it will not do so by protesting.  It will not do so by ousting the current President.  It will not do so by threatening a Judge in Wisconsin.  The way to make a difference is to turn this whole mess over to the one who rescues each of us from the mess in our lives- Jesus Christ.  If you want to change the world tomorrow, don't protest-  PRAY!!!  It is a great thing to stand up for a cause in the name of Jesus; you'd better just be darn sure it is a cause that Jesus would stand up for Himself!  Jesus came to save the lost.  Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.  Jesus said blessed are the meek and the peacemakers.  Jesus told us to take care of one another, to feed the hungry and take care of the sick and the poor.  These are the issues Jesus stood up for.  I see none of these ideals being lifted up by the powerful who claim to speak for the church.  What better way to show the world what a Christ-follower looks like than to shower those we don't understand with the love of God?  If we agree with scripture that God is love, then hatred and revenge can have nothing in common with Him.  We can, and MUST, pray for those who would tell us we cannot pray.  We must set aside our desires to have the power to make the laws of this land more Christian, and instead pray for the power of God to open the eyes of the people of our nation so they might see who Jesus really is.  Faith cannot be legislated.

The 21st century church in USAmerica is in danger of being defined by what we are against and the social/political issues that we have allowed ourselves to be co-opted by.  The church can and should be defined by only one thing- Jesus, the Christ.  So tomorrow, join me as I begin a National Year of Prayer.  Quit complaining about the way things are and pray everyday for the will of God to be done "on earth as it is in heaven."  Pray for Judge Barbara Crabb and President Obama.  Pray for our troops and our local leaders.  Pray for the leaders of foreign lands. Pray for people you don't like.  Pray for your friends, your family and everyone you know.  And then trust that God knows more than you do.  Believe that God is in control.  The love and grace of God, as found in the life and teachings of Jesus, are the only things that can save our world.  Set aside the things of this world and put your trust in the things of God.  Pray hard!

Because of Jesus,

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