Good Reads

Okay, sorry about my ranting yesterday… I’ve calmed down.

I have two blog posts you need to read from Mike Cope’s blog.

Go to http://www.preachermike.com and read the two posts from earlier this month entitled “Pledging Allegiance in the Assembly?” & “The Myth of a Christian Nation”

Also I strongly suggest everyone pick up a copy of N.T. Wright’s book Simply Christian.

Comments

  1. Forgiven!

    Anyways, visited Mike Cope’s page and read the suggested articles, both are very, very good.

    My immediate question is “how do we maintain the balance we need in all of this?”

    Do we become as guilty when we strongly oppose as those who strong support such things? How do we maintain balance and keep focus?

    Reply
  2. Good question Chris! My question is SHOULD we strike a balance in all this? I think I understand what you mean though.

    As far as I can see in scripture, Christians are to be good citizens and good community members (above reproach sort of thing.) Also, Paul tells Timothy to offer prayer for “everyone – for kings and all those in authority…” I think what we (American Christians) tend to miss is that word “all.” American’s struggle with the egocentrism thing and, at least in my opinion, it is no different in Christian circles. It seems to me that saying your pro-America these days is a subtle way of saying I am anti-Iraq or anti-Iran. When we ask God to “bless” us, what are we asking Him for? Not that I can speak for God, but wouldn’t it be a “blessing” if he stripped us of our image-saturated, sex-driven, movie-watching, car-driving, got places to go and people to meet, type of culture? And when we thank God for “all we have,” aren’t we thanking Him for things He doesn’t necessarily condone?

    Look, my whole point is this: It seems to me a dangerous game to think of ourselves as American Christians. I think it is time to make a stand for “This world is not my home.” We are Christians called to be salt of the earth and love EVERYONE. I think of myself as a Christian who happens to live in America. I respect my country, appreciate my veterans, obey the laws of the land, and I submit to my government. I also pray for those in authority everywhere else.

    What I will not do is this: I refuse to stand up in an assembly and (where I am suppose to be praising and exalting God) and pledge my allegiance to a nation. Nor will I sing God Bless America without an equal awareness being given to all other nations. There is a time and a place – and to me, at least, church isn’t it.

    Sorry, Chris, for rambling so long! Perhaps, you can straighten me out! (haha!)

    Reply
  3. Joe, I hope you don’t feel like I was trying to straighten you out, as if I were capable of doing that anyways. Because, if I came across that way then I wasn’ t able to express my thoughts well enough to be understood.

    I agree with you in that we as Americans feel that the universe revolves around us. We have lost sight of the God who gives and takes away and in many ways have developed th Nebuchadnezzar spirit of “look what I have done, by my own power.”

    I also agree that our allegiance belongs to God — PERIOD. As such, we are to live as children of the king, allowing his love and grace to be seen in us.

    Anyways, to keep me from rambling, just know that I understand your passion and know your heart. I don’t think you need straightened out, but if you do, call your mom, I am sure she will be glad to help.

    Reply
  4. Good point, Chris!

    Joe, I am confused about what it is that you are against! Do you not feel God has blessed you immensely to be able to choose to worship, work, play, live as you do? Are you wondering why God would grant us such a lavish life style and shun other places on this earth by not being so lavish with them? Remember, God did, in fact, allow some folks in the bible to live more lavishly than others.

    I believe He has a plan for ALL of us regardless of where we live on this planet or what we have. I also believe that He has set things in motion and given us Free Will. Not to say that He is not in control, but to say that This is the WAY He controls, by not controlling. He didn’t create puppets. He created people in His own likeness and provided us with different talents, abilities, as well as, means. Now as far as WHY He gave the good ole USA more than others, I cannot answer that. (I tend to believe that He expects more from us, however. ) But I will tell you that I DO PRAY to give God thanks for all that I have been blessed with and for giving me, a very weak person, the priviledge to live as I do. I AM thank ful for our country and I do pray for those who are in charge of our country that they will be given wisdom to lead us properly and to take care of what we have so richly been given. I do not have a problem with giving my allegiance to the flag, which really means to my country. I do not have a problem because I do not feel that I am slighting God. I am simply saying thank you, God. The pledge does say, “Under God”, which means that nothing is more exalting than God. Does that make sense?

    Also, I need to tell you that as a student in high school, I, too, challenged the very idea that our country should think so highly of itself. I challenged my social studies teacher when she brought up the fact that the Soviet Union used propaganda against the United States to make their people believe that the USA was BAD. I raised my hand and asked, “How do I know that you aren’t doing that to me? Using propaganda to make me think that the Soviet Union is BAD?” She did not have an answer, but sure did get VERY mad at me for being so disrespectful to our country. I bring that up to say that I know where you’re coming from…and to say that in time, you’ll understand more about what God’s plans were, are and will be for us as United States citizens. Don’t be afraid to be thankful and , at the same time, don’t be afraid to be leary. I love it that you have such an inquisitive mind.

    Love,
    Mom

    Reply
  5. I am against declaring allegience to a flag, a country, or a man – or any other institution than Christ’s kingdom in church.
    Declaring allegience to a flag has more implications than I dare even list. For example, are you dedicated to the lust of America? Are you declaring allegience to a money-saturated culture that praises the rich and demeans the poor? Are you proud to be an American before God – or are you proud to be a child of God before God? Are you 100% certain that simply living in America means that you are favored by God?
    I simply cannot find evidence in scripture or in my mind, or elsewhere that supports such allegience when God’s people gather to worship Him. Sorry. Make a case for country honoring in the assembly and I will consider the implications.
    We would never honor a man or woman in our assembly that had a few good character traits that somewhat resembled Christ, but all in all hates purity, despises true love, shelves God’s law and worships false gods of money, sex, and power! Nor would we exalt such a nation as such.
    On the other hand, I think you have several valid points that need to be talked out. The problem is that people get emotionally attached to these points and cannot separate themselves from their own opinions. Therefore when I call an opinion into question, they get angry and defensive, so it is almost impossible to have a real conversation with people about this matter and related matters.
    Here is the bottom line.
    I am white. I am middle-class. I am a husband. I am a son. I am a brother. I am a minister. I am an American. I am an Arkansan. I am English-Speaking. I am a lot of things. Some by choice-most by birth. But I am none of these things BEFORE I am a follower of Jesus Christ – the Teacher who teaches his followers this:
    “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love you enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who are cruel to you. If anyone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other cheek, too. If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and when someone takes something that is yours, don’t ask for it back. Do to others what you would want them to do for you. If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? Even sinners love the people who love them. If you do good to only those that do good to you, what praise should you get? Even sinners do that! If you lend things to people, always hoping to get something back, what praise should you get? Even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount! But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be called children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy.”

    Thank you Mom, for challenging me to think and encouraging me even though we don’t see completely eye to eye. Although, I have a feeling if we discussed this longer, we are closer than you may realize on this matter!

    Reply

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