Monday, July 31, 2006

Politics and Patriotism / Retatliation and Reconciliation

The subsequent picture is from an article from the New York Times. Click the link for full story.

The Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members after Rev. Gregory Boyd urged in June an end to sexual moralizing and military glorification and said America should not be proclaimed a "Christian nation."

My father-in-law operates an amature radio from his study on the second floor of his home in northwestern Ohio. He connected with a man in Norway who asked, "Why does America always have to be in everyone else's business? Why did you go to Iraq? Why are you still in Iraq? Why do you guys have to have our hands in everything?"
My father-in-law responded, "If you had some bunch of terrorists fly planes into major economic buildings in Norway, killing thousands of innocent people, wouldn't your country retaliate as well?"
"Maybe so. But what were you doing there in the first place? In Norway, we use our own oil. We don't depend on Middle Eastern oil. You guys were over there for oil, money, for financial gain."
My father-in-law didn't know how to respond.

My responsibility as a follower of Christ is to love the Lord with my heart, soul, mind, and strength - to become as much like Christ as I possibly can (that's what the disciples did in 1st Century Israel). In doing so, I am able to love my neighbor. My neighbor is not just the white, middle-class guy that lives across the street. My neighbors live in Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Oklahoma, India, Portugal, New Zealand, and Norway. I have a global responsibility as a follower of Christ. Let's now assume that this guy from Norway has heard that America is the "Christian Nation." He sees how America operates and begins to associate Christ with retaliation. He begins to see Christ as someone who is intersted in obtaining more oil for his own consumption and financial gain. Christ then becomes someone who the Norweigian veiws as arrogant, power-hungry, selfish, and materialistic - someone who does not love his neighbor - who does not care about the death of so many innocent people.

Along with Gregroy Boyd, I cannot claim America as a Christian nation. Sometimes I don't even like to say that I'm a Christian because of all the negative, non-biblical connotations that go with it. It is not a matter of being ashamed of being a Christ follower, it's being ashamed of what Christianity has become. Too many Christians support war - and for what? For our religious rights? What religious rights? Christ never promised religious rights? He only promised and taught a better way to live: a life of forgiveness and reconciliation. May we consider our tactics and polical positioning and consider our global responsibily to love our neighbors.

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Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."