And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…
Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people
This is an open letter to my fellow Christians. I’ve had most of this on my mind for a while, but the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and 18 others this week, finally made me sit down and compose my thoughts. Most of this is random so forgive me if I ramble.
You may or may not identify as conservative, you may or may not be a Fox News viewer. Fox News isn’t the issue so much as how we consume, digest, and react to current events in the world, and whether or not it lines up biblically as to what is expected of us as Christians. I use Fox News as an example mostly because they are seen as the news outlet for the “religious right”. Much of the anger I hear about tends to stem from stories they put forth with the notion that Christians and our nation are under siege via a concerted effort on the part of the present administration to put other faiths above Christians, or an effort to turn us away from being a “Christian Nation”. Also because, in my opinion, they have been the source of much of the chaos, confusion and disinformation floating around in the political arena and spilling over into our daily lives. What I’m about to say applies to all sources of information, not just Fox.
Now, you may already be put off. I’ve noticed a habit of automatically going on the defensive when it comes to discussing Fox News, however Fox News is not sacred. What they say is not gospel. We must be careful not to be deceived. Not everyone who uses a Christian cause, or calls to rally Christians to a cause, has good intentions. If we are instructed to test and try the things of God (Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:14) then certainly it is not unreasonable to vet that which is of the world. It is our responsibility to use wisdom to discern truth.
The first thing I’d like to do is make a distinction between news and commentary. As commentary can be used to manipulate us, it is important to make this distinction. I consider news to be “just the facts ma’am”: Who, what, where, when, why and how. Just straight reporting. Commentary digests (hopefully) the facts, and then explains or interprets and basically puts out an opinion on those facts and can include thoughts as to what that means, opinions on motives or how you should react. Commentary can advance a personal agenda, issue a call for action, among other things, for good or for ill. There is nothing wrong with commentary in and of itself. There are several news personalities who are also commentators whom I enjoy. In the case of Fox News, the station is labeled “news” but much of what is said is commentary. The problem comes in when we cease to think for ourselves. I think we have gotten mentally lazy. I think sometimes we are so over worked and overwhelmed that we want someone to tell us what happened and what to think about it. There is no harm in getting counsel to form opinions and make good judgements. The danger lies in allowing others to think for us, therefore controlling our minds and actions, taking away our free will.
The next thing I’d like to do is cover some basics as to how we are to walk in the world.
First, we are to fear not. The God we serve is not a God of fear. In the bible we are told over and over to “fear not”. (There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18; The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1)
God is not the source of fear. We are not to live under a spirit of fear, which is a form of bondage. Jesus died to free us from bondage. Therefore, if anyone is using fear to get results, this is manipulation, some might say Satanic manipulation. This is not to say there are not things to have concern or even alarm over, this is not to say we should be passive in the face of evil or true threats. It is to say we need to think clearly and rationally, which a fearful mind cannot do. Our nation is so ginned up on fear, that it is being burnt out. By the time something shows up that we should truly be alarmed about, we will either be too numb or over saturated with fear about other things to discern it.
We are to be known for the love we have for one another. ( We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14; If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20; A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34)
The God we serve is a God of Abundance. He created all things, He is the Source of all things. He is the source of the blessings in our lives. He delights in blessing us. (The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10; Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17; Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5; For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11) We do not need to fear lack, or have fear of someone depriving us of the good God has for us.
We are expected to do good for others. We are expected to look after the poor. We are expected to be kind to strangers/foreigners. (This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3; if there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. Deuteronomy 15:7; You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. Deuteronomy 15:10,11)
We are to seek wisdom and knowledge. We are to value learning, study and be curious about the world around us. (Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7; The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace. Proverbs 3:35; He that gets wisdom loves his own soul: he that keeps understanding shall find good. Proverbs 19:8; My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. Hosea 4:6 this refers to knowledge of God but the principle applies to all things. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20; Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1; An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge Proverbs 18:15)
One thing that has been disturbing to me lately is the apparent embrace of ignorance by Christians. There seems to be an almost concerted effort to keep us fearful, ignorant, and anti-science. I’ve seen people say we should be distrustful of anyone who speaks a foreign language. Schools in some states are eliminating “ethnic studies”. There has been an attack on science, as though it is in conflict with Gods word. I wasn’t raised this way. I don’t know where this meme came from or when it originated, but it is so main-stream that even non-Christians have taken note. Let me first say, there is nothing in the creation that will disprove the Creator. If you fear this, see my earlier take on fear, and examine your faith. The bible says that nature declares the glory of God. My mom always told me that science was man’s way of discovering what God had already created. God is a God of order. He is the Creator of both spiritual and physical laws. Being a God of order, it only makes sense that there are laws that can be observed, patterns that can discerned. As God is constant, His laws are constant. Actions and reactions can be studied, and reproduced. (science). God had given the Jews many laws and rituals, some were cleanliness rituals that included the washing of hands in running water. I read once that in the 14th century when the plague was prevalent, the Jews were not as greatly affected because of the laws that they followed regarding cleanliness. As we advanced, through science, we learned about germs, bacteria and viruses that are naked to the human eye, but which can cause illness and often be avoided by basic hygiene. Science saves lives. Science does not negate the benefit of God’s wisdom. It can even allow us to understand it, and through this understanding, all can benefit, Christian and non-Christian alike. God is a Creator. We are children of God in His image. We have the mind of Christ. How can we not be creative, build and discover new things? Christians, if no one else, should be able to observe and break down the structure of the world to it’s smallest molecule and explain to the rest of the world the marvelous order of God.
The great commission that we have is to go out into all the world and preach the gospel of Christ. How do you do that if you cannot communicate? Do we wait until others learn our language? Americans in general can be very arrogant. We expect to be catered to, we expect to have a level of comfort and acceptance. I’m guilty of this, too. Most missionaries go out and live among a people. They learn their ways, earn their trust. Let their character be revealed, do good, (including bringing lifesaving science and medical help) and share God. Even Paul did this back in his day. (As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9) Stop fearing people. We can’t share God if we don’t get to learn and know one another, we can’t get to know one another if we separate ourselves.
We are to pray for our leaders. (I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness 1 Timothy 2:1-2) One of the most hateful things I had seen was the call for Christians to pray “for” President Obama using Psalm 109:8. (May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.) I’ve yet to see someone explain how this represented the love of God, or was in line with the meaning of the original scripture. One of the most idiotic things I’ve seen was the call for Christians to pray for Obama, a self-professed Christian, to give up his Muslim ways and convert to Christianity. Actually, that is tied with Obama having to be stopped because he is the anti-christ. Let me start by saying that NO ONE IS BORN CHRISTIAN. Christian is not a race or nationality. Your parents Christianity will not grant you salvation by birth. Being born American does not equate to being born Christian. We all must accept Christ on our own. That said, there is no stamp on the forehead that identifies one as a Christian. We know each other by our fruits, but the only thing you have is someone’s word that they have accepted Christ. President Obama says he is Christian. He may not be “Christian enough” for your satisfaction, but that is your problem not his. Running around with a cross pin, bible in hand and a fish sticker on your car does not make one Christian. I do pray for President Obama. I pray that he and his family are protected. I pray that he is given and heeds Godly wisdom, and that decisions that are made come out to be the best for our country and in God’s will, even if I cannot at first see the wisdom or logic in them myself. Now for years every bible prophecy expert worth their salt has said the anti-christ will emerge from the European union. Suddenly Obama shows up and he’s the anti-christ. Ok. Let’s assume he is. Now, tell me what we as Christians are supposed to do about it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
If he is the anti-christ, we can’t destroy him. There is a bunch of ugliness that is foretold which cannot be changed, the coming of the anti-christ is one of those things. If you truly believe he is the anti-christ, that means you should be doubling down on your efforts to bring the word of God to the world. This is not to mean we are not to resist evil in the world, we should always work for good, but fearing the anti-christ, like fear in general, is another one of those things that should not be on our agenda.
We are to spread the gospel of Christ to help others be reconciled to God and represent the love of God to others. (And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:15,16) One thing I don’t think many Christians recognize is the amount of harm that has been done to people in the name of Christianity. Whether or not the perpetrators were “true Christians” can be argued until the end of time, but the fact remains, there are people who have been scarred for life because of experiences at the hands of Christians or other representatives of our faith. Whether it is the molestation of children by priests, psychological scars from a legalistic guardian that didn’t understand the love of Christ, someone who had the word “beaten” into to them, punished for not learning scripture or any other number other reasons, for some the church equals pain. It takes time to get past this, sadly some never will. You have your own experience that may be glorious. They also have theirs which may be the stuff of nightmares. How many homosexuals see the bumper sticker “GOD HATES FAGGOTS” or hear “kill the gays”? God doesn’t hate “faggots” or anyone else. This is against scripture. (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16; But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8) He hates SIN. Sin keeps us separated from and out of fellowship with God. What incentive does one have to seek God if they already think up front that He won’t accept them? There is not one sin greater than another. You are not less sinful if you are cheating with someone of the same sex vs “bumping uglies” man to man. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Stop acting like there are degrees of sin. Either you miss the mark or you don’t. You are not helping bring the lost to Christ so stop. Just stop. That goes triple for Westboro Church.
Words have power. We can also know a persons character by the words they use. (You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34; The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45; The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 12:23,24; Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21; There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18; Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29; I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37) I saved this for last but it is really what is uppermost in my mind at the moment. Over the past 2-3 years I have seen an onslaught of lies, hatred, bigotry, racism, etc. spewing from our national discourse, with Christians leading the chorus. Most of the outcry was based on outright lies and distortions, lies and distortions that could have easily been rebuked with a 30 second google search, or the viewing of an actual news report sans commentary. I’ve seen calls for “second amendment remedies”, “the ballot or the bullet”, calls to water the tree of liberty with the blood of our elected representatives. We’ve seen the emergence of a “tea party” who say they are modeled on the original tea party (no taxation without representation) against higher taxes. Well, if we are in fact paying fewer taxes than at anytime ever before, and have elected representation, they may have legitimate reasons to organize, but it can’t be for that reason. I have to take breaks from the news at time, and I don’t watch the shows that would bombard me 24/7 with hatred and fear. We’ve been asked not to “politicize” the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, but she was a political target and as the majority of this hate is rooted and being spread in a political arena, to gain political advantage, I don’t think we can or even should separate it. There is a saying:
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
We know that the repetition of affirmations work. We know that reading the bible renews our mind. We have come out against rap music and violent video games because being exposed over and over can have an effect on our mindsets. Why is the hatred and calls to violence uttered by commentators on Fox News and other right ring radio stations day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, any different? You know someone by the fruit they bear. (Love, joy, peach, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) Well Satan (the accuser of the brethren) has traits too. (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8; The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy John 10:10) Use your minds. Are you listening to a news report, or a list of criminal charges?
~We are stewards of the earth. Yes, God said he would not destroy the world by flood again, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have the free will to make it virtually uninhabitable in the mean time. I’m not against oil drilling, but if we don’t drill responsibly we will destroy the food supply. Bee’s are dying. Birds are dropping out of the sky. The nature we have been entrusted to protect (not worship) is being destroyed. Whole towns have poisoned drinking water, yet we want to be against epa and other regulations that would keep us safe. The oil is not going to last forever. Most agree that every dollar we spend is helping terrorists who want to destroy us, yet we are against green energy. Why would we reasonably be against something that would create jobs, meet our needs without damaging the earth, and keep us independent so that we can actually remain sovereign since we profess to value sovereignty so much? God gave us other resources: wind, water, sun. Why not use them?
~Jobs are scarce. When this happens people blame other people. We become cliquish. God is abundant, He can supply our needs, and I truly believe if He has a blessing for me no one can block it. That said we also need to be conscious of what is going on in our country. The jobs are leaving our country, and every effort to correct this is being opposed by (mostly GOP) congress members. The 9/11 bill for first responders was not passed before because it closed a tax loop hole for corporations that send jobs overseas. It only passed after they found another way to pay for it. We need know why our representatives are looking out for the welfare of other countries but not our own. Well, we already know, it’s about money. We have a problem and blaming the average fellow American is not going to work. Our representatives aren’t working on our behalf to make our lives better.
~Our representatives are elected by the entire USA, not just the Christian electorate. They are there to serve all of us. There are some agendas they are pushing toward that I don’t agree with. There are some things going forward that I do think could cause spiritual repercussions for our country, however it is not our place to subject non-Christians to a code of conduct of a God they don’t serve. This does not mean we should not fight for our values, or fight to keep a moral conduct, or raise our children to think that anything goes, but we need to realize that we aren’t the only faith being served by our government. We need to stay out of people’s bed rooms. Their sins, like our sin, is no one’s business but God.
~We also need to get a grip on some of the freedoms we have let get stripped away as a result of the terrorist attacks on our country.
I’m sure I’ll have other thoughts later, but I want to stress to you to examine what is presented to you. Even trusted sources get it wrong once in a while. No man is perfect. Pastors fall into sin. Even those with good intentions can use scripture to their own ends. Weigh what you see and what you hear against the word of God, be mindful of what you expose yourself to. If your thoughts are fearful, you don’t just stop thinking them. Replace the fear with the word of God so that you may see and hear clearly. I strongly suggest a study of Galatians: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.