Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Biblical Strategy for Christians in Today's World

There is no doubt that our world is becoming more hostile to Christians. Oh, sure, I wouldn't classify it as "persecution". I mean, we're being told we can't practice our faith in some instances, but it's not like other places in the world where they're being tortured and killed for it. I don't even know if it would ever come to that here. But we are long past the days when people thought America was "a Christian nation" and Christian morality was good for everyone. And there are more and louder voices out there calling for our suppression, repression, and oppression. It is undeniable. So, in a world more inclined to "only evil continually" (Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21) and rising in hostility towards Christians, what are we to do? Is there a biblical strategy for dealing with this kind of thing? Good news! There is.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:11-15)
Maybe not what you expected?

First, dear Christian, remember this above all. We are not at home here. In this world we are aliens, strangers. If you're in the business of getting comfortable in this life, you might want to rethink that plan.

Okay, keeping in mind that we are only visiting, what else? "Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11) I highlighted the last phrase there because Peter tells not only what we are to do, but why. That is, it isn't "Ew! Fleshly lusts are bad! Don't do that!" No, he says that they are something to avoid because they "wage war against the soul". They aren't merely "evil"; they're harmful. Paul says that the flesh is "waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." (Rom 7:23) Indulging our primal lusts simply twists the brain and enslaves us to sin. That's not helpful. That's not good for us. Instead of indulging lusts, then, Peter says to "Keep your behavior excellent." (1 Peter 2:12) Peter is clear that this won't make people think more warmly about you. They will, for your good behavior, slander you as evildoers. However, in the final account, they will glorify God. And, after all, isn't that our highest priority?

Okay, so far, based on our alien status, we are to avoid indulging our lusts and, instead, live lives of excellent behavior. Next?

Well, of course, next thing we need to do is to do all we can to make this world a better place. Vote out bad people; vote in good people. Change laws in favor of our views when we can and protest when we can't. Make a stink. Make sure we get our rights -- what's coming to us. Right there in 1 Peter 2 ... oh, wait ... it's not, is it? No. It says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution." (1 Peter 2:13) Wow! Not what we were thinking. He says that after we avoid indulging our desires and live exemplary lives, we are to submit to the human authorities around us. Christian, hear me. That means that we are supposed to submit to President Obama and, potentially, to a President Hillary if God so wills. I knew a Christian that protested when Clinton was elected president. "He's not my president," he told me. "I voted for someone else and he's my president." Setting aside the insanity (We don't each get to have our own individual president; it doesn't work that way.), Scripture tells us that we are not to operate in that mindset. We are to submit to the authority we encounter, whether it's the federal government, the state government, the city government, or your boss at work. Worse, Peter says to submit to human authorities not for their own sakes, but "for the Lord's sake." Big. Really big.

For Christians in a 21st century world where anti-Christian forces are killing Christians in some parts and menacing them elsewhere, where the political climate is becoming increasingly hostile to God's people, where the morality of society is degrading so far that following Christ faithfully is classified as "evil", God's strategy, then, is this. Avoid indulging your fleshly lusts; instead, live exemplary lives. Be examples of obedience by submitting to human authorities for the Lord's sake. This will ultimately bring glory to God and silence foolish men.

Was that your strategy?

5 comments:

Bob said...

when i was young i always had a reactionary spirit in me. i wanted to fight back and derive some satisfaction from conquering the enemy. this attitude has caused more frustration and disappointment in my spirit. because such an attitude is seldom satisfied and satiated.
on the other hand God's plan offers peace for the soul. by resting in the understanding that God is still in control, provides comfort for the soul, while we sojourn in this broken world.

Bob said...

God's reaction to the world's problems are insufficient.
i used to have the mindset that no matter what happens in the world, God can fix it.
well now i realize that God cannot fix it. i know how crazy this sounds but consider the fallout from faulty thinking.
1.If i am waiting for God to react, then by implication, i am admitting that God was not in control in the first place. and as such now i am hoping that God will respond after the fact. then when God does not respond according to my expectations, i am confused.
2. God cannot fix the worlds problems.
the concept that God can fix the world assumes that the problems of the world are problems for God to solve. God does not need to fix that which he ordained. the world and its course are doing exactly what God has ordained it to do.
3. so rather then getting frustrated and confused about what is happening in the world, rest assured that everything is going according to God's plan.

Stan said...

So let me see if I understand your (second) point. God cannot fix the world's problems not because He lacks the ability, but because the world's problems are part of His plan and, therefore, to "fix" them would be to deviate from His plans. Did I get that right? (If that's right, perhaps "will not" is better than "cannot" since one refers to His will and the other to His capabilities.)

By this standard, "God's reaction to the world's problems are insufficient" would be only by my own standard of sufficiency, where "sufficient" would be "what makes ME feel good" and which, it follows, would be a foolish standard for me to hold Him to.

Bob said...

i used the play on words to show that if the words are not correctly considered, then the result is a faulty conclusion. yes you are correct in saying that "will not" is better than "cannot". my intention was to offend the mind by presenting a contradiction.
to say that God cannot fix the world, is suppose to caused consternation on behalf of the reader. this so that i may point out the greater truth. as you have already done. that God "will not" because his plan is on track. from our perspective everything is out of control and needs to be fixed, from his perspective everything is working according to his plan.
He cannot fix what he ordained to come to pass.

Stan said...

Yeah, I got that. I mentioned "will not" because it references His "will". There are other perfectly good possibilities. He "cannot" in the sense that He lacks the ability to violate His own best interests. He "must not" in the sense that doing anything except His own will would be bad. And on and on.

And it IS important that Christians realize that "God can fix our world" is true but pointless. If that was His plan, He would have done it. But we know His plan. It is to destroy the existing one and make a new one. So let's not ask Him or hope for Him to do what He doesn't intend to do.