Friday, October 31, 2008

A Pilgrim at Peace

Long time not see! It's been a couple of months since my last post! I haven't had much time. Well, the election has been weighing on my mind. This post is based on an article I wrote for Regenerated Magazine (link to side) that will be posted on November 10. Enjoy and I hope you are challenged as much as I have been.

A Pilgrim at Peace

Ok. I confess. I’m an addict. I am addicted to politics. Every day, I often do school until noon and then take my lunch break listening to Rush Limbaugh. After lunch, I finish my school in time to listen to Shawn Hannity and Mark Levin. My mind is dominated by politics—and the constant immersion in the mud pit that is Election 2008 has left me drowning.

I am constantly daydreaming about what I would say to that House Speaker, that presidential candidate, that party, or that Congress if I ever had the chance to give them a piece of my mind. The state of the union has not just been dominating my mind, however. It’s been weighing it down.

As a Christian, I fear the direction that the country is going—and not just in the paranoid, doomsday socialism/loss of freedom light. America is rapidly turning into a modern day manifestation of the Pilgrim’s Progress city Vanity Fair. No one need look farther than the political scene to see this. However, on the possibly more alarming ideological note, Christianity is rapidly losing favor in the eyes of the populous, some radicals in academia terming it “intellectual terrorism” (courtesy of a scientist interviewed in Ben Stein’s Expelled, in reference to teaching Christianity to children).

I am addicted—and there needs to be an intervention. I need—perhaps we all need—a change in perspective.

In the tribute to faith section of the epistle to the Hebrews, we read, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). How can we do that when so much in America is looking bad for the Christian? Two chapters before, we read that “the just shall live by faith” ( Hebrews 10:38).

By faith, Abraham left the great and prosperous America of his day and set out on a journey, not knowing where he was going, but trusting God (Hebrews 11:8). He confessed that he was but a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (11:13). Can we learn from his example? Certainly.

The times are truly dark. To me, the American dream hangs by a thread. All the freedoms that our Founding Fathers fought for—and we take for granted—are on a shifting and unsound foundation. I worry for my grandchildren. However, Abraham teaches us this: this world was not his home. Neither is it ours. Here are some things that we too often forget.

Firstly, as just said, this world is not our home. Abraham looked “for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). So should we. Abraham, as Paul in Philippians 3, recognized this and gave up all for God and Christ. Abraham even more, did not receive the promise in his lifetime.

Secondly, although I love this country and hate to see its downturn, we are commanded, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (I John 2:15). Abraham did not esteem his country over God’s and trusted God to fulfill his promise. America is temporary, not eternal. “The world is passing away” (I John 2:17).

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly: God is in control. We often forget that we are still blessed more than anyone ever has been in history—and everything we do have is a gift from God in the first place. No matter where we fear things are going, however, we read that God raises up leaders and brings them down (various passages). We read that all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). We read that God will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). Abraham, Paul, and all our “great cloud of witnesses” recognized this. So should we.

Don’t misunderstand. This by no means authorizes us to be Corinthian Christians: to quit our jobs and do nothing but wait for Jesus. We can love our country and care about it. We can stand up for what is right, as our responsibility is in being salt and light—aided greatly by the voice we have in a free country. We are also instructed to be preaching the Gospel and living and serving—not sitting or, in my case, sulking—for the glory of God.

Let none of us forget, however, that God is sovereign and everything is in His hands. Let none of us forget that America won’t last forever and that what happens to America has no bearing on eternity. Let us also not forget that we are looking forward to something much better.

This world is not our home. We are “just passing through.” Let it be said of us as it was said of Abraham and his family: “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).