Monday, January 30, 2017

Godly Passion

This last year of politics left me feeling a host of unpleasant emotions. Some were caused by the fake news presented as truth and the frustration of trying to discern what was real and what wasn't. Some of the emotions were due to the polarization of the political parties, which in itself could be an awesome system of checks and balances if people listened to one another and wanted what is best for all. Some of them were due to the manipulation tactics used by people to sway voters. Many believed the loudest voice, the crudest words, the most hateful labels, and the most unrelenting gas lighting techniques could create enough fear, obligation, and guilt to sway people to vote for their candidate--qualified or not. Some of it was due to the demonizing of the main players in the political arena. If you believe one side, you believe President Trump is a demon possessed man incapable of doing any good and if you believe the other side, you believe both Obama and Hillary were Satan's cohorts doing his bidding. But when we take off the blinders of misplaced passion we see they are humans who each have both weaknesses and strengths. They are people who have accomplished some good and who have made some serious mistakes and made some poor, sinful choices, just like you and just like me.

Now that the election is over and the new president has taken office, I've been trying to decide how to respond in a godly way to the government we have in place. To be honest, as a survivor, Trump's moral character and objectification of women grieved my heart as did the nation's and the churches varied responses to it. As much as I was bothered by the information that came out during the elections on both sides I realize President Trump is not the worst of the worst and neither was Obama and Hillary. Just think about Pharaoh--he was known for his enslavement and mistreatment of the Jewish nation and the murder of innocent babes. Nebuchadnezzar--he took captive many of Israel's finest young men and attempted to turn their hearts from their God and their homes and to use them for his own purposes. Herod--he was an infamous murderer who ordered the killing of all male children under the age of two in an attempt to thwart the life of Christ, the promised Messiah. Then there was Nero who was known for slaughtering Christians in an attempt to thwart the spread of Christianity and the worship of the King of kings. And then there was Hitler--he attempted to destroy the Jews, encamping, starving, experimenting on, and the mass murdering of Jews and those who gave them refuge.

Because Christ's Kingdom, the church, is not a visible kingdom, I know this world and even this country, as much as I love it, is not my true home. My loyalty and my deepest affections are to lie with Christ and His heavenly Kingdom. In fact, all the hate and the accusations being spewed back and forth have made me long for His return and made me a bit homesick for Home. In a perfect world, we would live in a Theocracy under the rule of a perfect, benevolent King. But that is not the case right now. But, as long as I have breath I am Christ's ambassador, representing Him as I navigate this life in this world. My allegiance, like any other ambassador, lies with the King and the living out of His word as I represent Him here in this world.

To do this and to remain in joy, I realized I need to change my expectations. President Trump isn't the Savior and if I expect him and the ruling party to fully embrace Christian thinking and Christian values, I will live in a constant state of disappointment and dissatisfaction. And I have been afraid that people demanding ruling parties do so don't realize there is danger in demanding that. I was relieved that John Piper expressed that danger, "The linking of the Christian church with the ruling political regimes has more often proven to corrupt the essential spirit of Christ." I think he is right on.

So the question, I wrestle with is, "How do I passionately live this life of ambassadorship?

First, I need to keep in mind my heavenly citizenship and the King I represent. Because of this, I can follow what He has laid out in His word. He has promised that any suffering and discomfort in this present time including suffering under worldly leadership is minute compared to the glory I will experience when I go home. For now I just want to represent Him well and if suffering is a part of that, I want to suffer well so that my life would continue to draw people to Him.

Second, I can pray for the government, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to officials what righteousness truly looks like and convict them of sin and wrong doing and their need for a Savior. I can pray that God would cause them to be sensitive to His leading and that He would fill them with humility, patience, and godly wisdom. At the same time, I can hold on to the truth of God's Word and remember God's providence has always ruled and continues to rule over the ungodly kings of this earth. He has and still can use even the most rebellious rulers to fulfill His purposes. He sets them up, He takes them down, and He turns them around. Their hearts are like flowing waters in His hands. I can rest in the fact that God is always good and that ungodly leaders who believe they are in control cannot ever negate His goodness and His sovereignty.

Third, regardless of the person(s) in office, I can demonstrate godly respect towards the positions they bear and obedience to Christ at the same time. I can maintain values consistent with my faith just as Joseph did when He was sold into slavery by his brothers. I can remain faithful to God, always keeping in mind that my identity is in Christ and humbly and assertively relate to those over me just as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego did while living captive in Persia.

Fourth, I can choose to remember my true calling is to worship God and to love others well no matter what is going on around me. I can pray and look for opportunities to serve, support, and witness to people from every economic class, every ethnic people group, and every educational background because I know with out a doubt that it is God's will that His church be a beautiful blend of diverse people united by a common faith in an awe inspiring God. It is His desire we love each other well and keep ourselves unstained by the corruption is in this world. I can choose to walk in the joy that comes from knowing Him and having the greatest message to share.

Fifth, though President Trump's character leaves something to be desired, I refuse to worry and to complain about every nuance of His presidency. I refuse to look at him as either all good or all bad. I refuse to buy into the lie that I am powerless over the next 4-8 years because I find both love and prayer to be empowering. I refuse to buy into the passion turned hate of so many that tends to drain the soul of energy. I prefer to have His passion--the life-giving passion that drove Christ to sacrifice His life for me--be the passion that fills and energizes the soul. I prefer to have His passion driving me to my knees, driving me to share the gospel, driving me to love well, and driving me to to serve the wounded women God brings our way so that their stories can be redeemed and they can walk in godly passion, loving well, experiencing unexplainable, uncontainable, and unimaginable joy that comes from trusting in a merciful, gracious God.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!