Monday, July 17, 2006

When is the Right Wrong?

I've been hearing a lot of talk, with recent events, on the responsibility of good Christians everywhere to pray for Israel as God's chosen nation. This talk kind of irks me a little, not because they call for prayer for Israel - which I find to be very relevant and very necessary - but because of their assertions that Israel is God's one chosen people and nation. Some even go as far as saying that Jehovah set the boundaries of the nation of Israel and they should not be changed by man today. Now, I want no one to begin accusing me of being anti-Semitic; far from it, I believe and act to treat all people the same, in light of the love of God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - and we should look through His eyes to see our world. But the special protections and allowances we (the U.S.A.) have granted to Israel comes in great part from our strong Christian heritage and the belief that they should be protected because of their chosen status. (Here is an example of the attitude to which I am referring.) But should we view Israel in this way?

Have we forgotten the attitude with which Jehovah treated His people? God blessed Abraham, so that through his lineage the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 22:18), because Abraham was obedient. But the point was to bless the world (with the Christ), not to bless Abraham. Look at the nations of Israel and Judah; they constantly fell away from Jehovah (as we do, also) and when Jehovah would spare them it would be "for My own sake and for My servant David's sake." (1 Kings 15:4, 2 Kings 19:34, 20:6). Israel was preserved so that Jesus would be born, as God planned, and the man after His own heart would be honored - not for Israel's sake, but for His sake. Have we also forgotten "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9, also earlier in verse 5) where Peter refers to all followers of Christ as a chosen people. So, what is my point? I guess it is that we seem to idolize the nation of Israel because of their role in history, in the same way that we idolize the men and women who have worked beautifully in the name of the Lord. We should honor these people and recognize their role, but we should not place them in honor above others and we should not place anyone above the Creator in whose plan they have merely played a small part.

I read an excerpt from
a new book that seems worth at least checking out. In it, Balmer describes his version of how the modern Religious Right movement arose in the late seventies and early eighties. It did not form around the issue of abortion and the Roe v. Wade ruling, as is commonly believed, but around the financial threat of losing tax exempt status against Bob Jones University and other religious institutions which maintained severe discriminatory practices. It expanded to include abortion and other issues to provide a robust base to stand to movement upon. I do not know if his conclusions are good or not, but it is interesting if true. Are we motivated to action today based on the compelling message of Christ or is our motivation coming from self-interest, our prejudices, and from our pocketbooks? This is a serious question we should be asking ourselves, striving to keep aligned with the mind of Christ, and it is why I ask when is the Right wrong?

Balmer, in his book, seems to lament the loss of the evangelical Christian’s action to help people (as with abolition, suffrage, and education in the 19th century) and the shift to hindering people from sinful actions. At some point, I have to ask myself if we should be forcing people to not sin in their actions; the forced action or inhibited action brings a heart no closer to God and sets us on a path that Jehovah Himself has not taken. I do not wish to see these things (abortion, pornography, rampant individualism) as a part of my society and our government allows for the opportunity to change such things, yet those issues which have been left behind in the quest to eliminate sins are those issues to which Christ gave us a direct calling – food for the hungry, help for the needy, encouragement to those in distress. I find myself less willing to crusade against people than I do to crusade for people. I find less desire to honor and idolize people and nations because of their history and more desire to honor those who have been “lost” – as Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

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