We live in interesting times.
Christians in the United States are becoming somewhat frustrated at the erosion of their religious liberties. Unlike believers in other parts of this world, there has developed within the United States an attitude of entitlement based on legislated freedoms found in the founding documents of the United States.
It seems the very blessings for which we as believers in Jesus Christ enjoy have made us complacent. I find it interesting the number of parallels between our situation in 21st century America and the Israelites under the Law in the Old Testament.
Yahweh-God gave the Ten Commandments (more accurately, the ten words) to the Israelites not as a means for them to perfect themselves, but rather as a stark reminder they were imperfect and could never approach the perfection God demanded. Apart from their relationship with Yahweh-God—demonstrated through the shedding of sacrificial blood through sacrifice (which only covered but did not remove sin)—the Israelites should have realized their innate imperfection and sinfulness the more they attempted to keep the Law!
Unfortunately, this never occurred. The aphorism, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” seems to have come into play in their minds. They had the Law. They were a people chosen by God through Abraham. They measured themselves by a comparison to others who may or may not have the Law. Those without the Law (and a relationship by blood to Abraham) were “dogs” and Gentiles. Those “under” the Law were subjected to a hierarchy of means measuring those who did have Abraham: “I keep seven commands and you keep only four therefore I’m better than you.”
The gift of the Law by Yahweh-God—allowing the Israelites to see their need of God’s grace and their inability to keep the Law—should have caused both humility and a greater dependence on God’s grace. Instead, their response was not an acknowledgement of their need of God; their response was to elevate the importance of the keeping of the “rules” of the Law. They forgot the biblical principle James enunciated in James 2:10: “Whoever keeps the entire Law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.”
Now keep in mind, this was no easy task. Every aspect of their worship spoke of the holiness and majesty of the Lord. From the delineation of the sacrificial system, to the preparation of the sacrifices to the clothing and methodology necessary for the priest to enter into the Holy of Holies—the presence of God—all of their worship emphasized the person of God, His majesty and His holiness!
Yet they ignored it all and focused on themselves, their performance and how they could create a hierarchy in their society and relationships.
Here is the parallel I mentioned earlier: American Christianity has over the course of the years of freedom has forgotten the difference between freedom and grace, between the person of God and the mechanism He provides for blessing.
Yahweh-God in His wisdom has allowed Christianity in America to flourish for almost two full centuries virtually unopposed. God did this by providing founders of this country who were both believers in Jesus Christ and who were deeply influenced by a Judeo-Christian philosophy.
Our Founders even produced something called a “Bill of Rights,” which is a singular example of a clear enunciation of not merely human rights, but the source of those rights. While over the course of the first 200 years there have certainly been times when a complete lack of wisdom has been demonstrated by those we would refer to as “Evangelical Christians,” the United States has been an incredibly effective and fruitful source for worldwide missionary activity.
Yet even acknowledging all of the good American believers have accomplished, now we are seeing a huge swing of the pendulum away from the biblical moorings which traditionally anchored this country to what is nothing more than an emphasis on erotic liberty (which is driving almost all of the changes now).
We in the United States are now seeing the beginnings of the erosion of religious liberty. Should we use all legislative means at our disposal to fight these losses? Yes we should because God has given us all of these; the freedoms, the means and the methods for us to protect laws and to even pass new ones.
Sometimes we as believers act as if we think God is in Heaven looking down and thinking, “Wow, I didn’t see that one coming!” God is sovereign and He is the One who gave us a country rules through the democratic process.
When Jesus Christ was on this earth He stated often, “You have heard,” referring to what the Law stated and then He went on to radically apply the Law in a way emphasizing our relationship with God through Him! There was no “keeping the rules,” people would no more be able to measure themselves against others. Jesus wanted people to see our thoughts and motives is what drive our actions!
I am thankful for the rights we as believers in Jesus Christ have been granted through the Constitution of the United States. Yet I do not worship the Constitution. Through God’s grace and His choice of me, I worship the God who gave us this document and allowed it to exist for this time. There will come a time when God will no longer need this document to aid the furtherance of His kingdom. When that occurs, the Constitution, and perhaps even America, might well be gone.
Yet just as God was active in the first century Church, He will continue to be active in the lives of believers in America—just as He is active in the rest of the World today.
Yet is this what God must allow to happen before we really make Jesus real in this world?
Writing a blog is a labor of love; though going through and dealing with the spam is more often just like labor!
It is humbling when I read the comments many have taken the time to make on this site. The vast majority are exceptionally encouraging, the ones not in the “vast majority” fall under the headings of either “spam” or they are just annoying . . . .
First, let me get the “business” part of this post out of the way!
I am writing using WordPress as my blogging platform. I have received nothing less than excellent support and help from the WordPress staff. They have sent me not just the answers to my immediate questions, but they have also included helpful hints on site management and dealing with the dreaded scourge called “spam!” I have yet to figure out a way to minimize the amount of spam which accumulates in my spam filter. Unfortunately, there are far too many legitimate and good comments which may often get thrown out with the spam.
I pay a very nominal fee for a custom URL (“jimgrieme.com”). If my web traffic continues to increase, I may invest in their “Premium” services which add to the cost, but the value is worth the expense. There are other blogging platforms available, yet since I am very pleased with the service and flexibility I receive from WordPress, I am not motivated to look for another service.
Second, to those of you who take the time to read my posts: I have been getting a significant number of Polish readers and allow me to say (using Google translate here; I’m good but not that good!)
Jestem bardzo wdzięczny za tych z Państwa w Polska, którzy czytają mojego bloga. Moim pragnieniem jest, aby jasno komunikować swoje pomysły i fakt, czytasz to pozwala mi wiedzieć, to jest realizowane! Pokornie dziękuję za czytanie! Jestem Pastor i modlę się Pan nadal będzie chronić Ciebie i Twój kraj w tych czasach niepokojów politycznych na kontynencie. Bożego błogosławieństwa na was!
To my Italian readers:
Grazie per aver letto il mio blog! Ho amato il suo paese da quando ero bambino e il mio desiderio è quello di presentare le idee chiare, Dio onorare in un modo che farà la gente a pensare con la mente e il loro cuore. Sono molto grato per il vostro tempo e attenzione! Molte grazie! Benedizioni di Dio!
And of course there have been a few Russian visitors as well!
Добрый день! Пусть наш Господь продолжать покрывать вас Своей благодатью! Спасибо вам большое за прочитав мои мысли я написал здесь! Я возжелал посетить вашу землю с моих дней в колледже – Я изучал Россию, ее земля и ее народ и лелеяли все это! Время, которое вы потратили читаете этот блог отрадно и унизительно. Спасибо вам большое! Джеймс melvinovich.
In my world, I must struggle to find time to write. Many times I will begin with an idea, write as many as two or three pages then end up deleting all I have written! Yet even when I follow this process, I may end up enunciating an idea which will eventually become the main idea of what I finally write. The very act of putting “words on paper” often allows me to solidify my “final” idea!
Now remember, I am a pastor (No, no, I really am a pastor! I realize very well I do not “act” like most pastors act and I’m good with that!) When someone says to me, “You’re not like most pastors!” I interpret this as a compliment! My desire is not to be either crude or rude or even to act like some “unholy teenager with an attitude problem!” My desire is to be real! I struggle with the same things every other person struggles with: money, politics, thoughts and ideas. I sin, I do not break into a Christian hymn when I hit my finger with a hammer and I get frustrated at the number of proverbial “morons” I encounter while driving!
So what’s the difference? Years ago I encountered a person who has demonstrated He truly loves me. He knows all of my weaknesses and my issues. He has given me the ability to be better than who I am. He has forgiven me, changed me, and if there is anything good in me at all, it is because of the person Jesus Christ!
My desire is to write in a manner which is real and fully human. I would like those who take the time to read to actually enjoy yourself and understand the ideas I am communicating. It is my prayer the Lord will use who I am and what I’ve written in such a way as to draw people to Him.
Grace to all of you!