America’s public square is in dire straits. The public square is the public discussion of all things cultural, political, religious, and societal. The people who participate in this discussion in America are citizens from every walk of life, background, gender, race, economic status, and from a vast variety of theological and political thought. This square becomes broken when conversation deteriorates into group think, quarrelling, and emotional attacks against thinkers with which we disagree.Read more
HOW we say something can be as important as WHAT we say. It is not enough that what we say is true. We can say it in a way that is brash or in a way that is kind. Sharing the truth in love does not mean that we share the truth because we love, but that we share truth in the way that love shares truth. Love always hopes. When we share what is true we are not rattling off the negative facts like a pessimist. We share the truth with hope.
When we speak of a problem it is not the end of the world (or the nation), it is an opportunity for a solution. Before you call me an optimist, neither optimism nor pessimism is Christian. To hope is Christian. Without biblical hope, all we are left with is the world’s philosophies of optimism or pessimism based on our personal preference. Truth carries a substance that is otherworldly. It is the reality of heaven infused in our very words. It is the power to release hope where there was fear. It is the power to give life where there was death. It is the power to give freedom where there was bondage.
Love does not dishonor others. Just because something is true does not mean we can speak it in a manner that brings dishonor. Love always protects. It does not just protect family and friends, but the stranger we have never met that we are talking about on social media. It does not just protect the one whose name we know, but the whole group we may be discussing. It protects celebrities and governing leaders too. I Corinthians 13 is not only how we are to treat those in our inner circle it is how we conduct ourselves in the way of love. A mature believer is one who speaks truth in love (Eph 4). Love is the way truth is shared not merely the reason truth is communicated.
Love is not easily angered nor easily offended. It speaks in such a way as to set people free, not to keep them bound by their wayward ways. It does not point fingers, it shields the one under attack. Not because the one has merited the love, but because Jesus did the same while we were yet sinners. “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Truth is not communicated in offense. Offense is communicated, and the truth becomes secondary.
Politics is not an excuse for negativity, dishonor, anger, offense, or ridicule. While truth can be partisan, love is not. This means that we still have the responsibility to communicate truth in love no matter what the position of the other may be. They are not idiots. They are not imbeciles. It is possible “they” are the ones who see something we need to see. It is possible “they” have never seen what we see and therefore cannot know what we know and think like we think. Most likely “they” are not doing anything to us on purpose. It is important not to assign motives to people. It only serves to maintain the culture of “us” versus “them” when we do that.
Governing how we communicate truth will require that we slow down and listen to ourselves and how we may sound to others. It also necessitates that we listen to how others hear what we are saying. I have found that communicating my ideas to people who do not believe them help me to learn how I sound to them. It matters. If I fail to understand how I sound to others, I cannot do better at letting truth be heard in a way that honors the one listening.
To be continued . . .
Jesus said that the world will know that we are His by the way that we vote. Jesus said He would one day separate the elephants from the donkeys. Anyone with any Bible knowledge at all will recognize the blatant misquotes above, but now I have your attention.
The Bible gives us theology for nations, government, law, justice, etc. However, the Kingdom is neither synonymous with a particular nation nor a repudiation of all nations into one big globe.
The Bible provides the theology for nations. The Kingdom provides the supernatural power to reform nations to the reality of heaven. It brings the transformative power of truth to the natural undiscipled infrastructure of a nation. The Kingdom of God does not just heal a sick person, but also a sick institution or nation. Read more
I have loved American history since I was a child. Preserving the stability of my nation is a deep passion of mine. America is my homeland. In so doing, I wish to address a topic that we face today in modern theology. There are always ditches on either side of truth.
One ditch is to equate all things Christian with all things American. When we do this, we make America the center of God’s plan and its strength or weakness the barometer of our end time theology. Doing so creates fear at elections, and at the moral climate of our nation for we think it directly tied to God’s count-down to the end of the world as we know it. We tend to spiritualize everything to the extent where we are uncertain where politics end and Christianity begins. The two get so intertwined and lost in each other that we equate our Christianity with a political party making the “other party” not Christian in comparison. We are then judged, not by our works, but by our votes.
Now here is the rub. There is a ditch on the other side. Read more
The nation will be tuning in to watch the first Presidential Debate tonight. Chances are most of us have already chosen who we will vote for. For many of us the debate is more like a boxing ring to see how well our candidate of choice will dominate the floor.
There is a segment of the population that will be chagrined at the election of either nominee. Their candidate of choice will not be on the platform tonight. Others are fearfully voting one way to avoid voting another. Some people are firmly aligned with one candidate or the other.
Regardless of what group we are a part of, we can apply a few guiding principles when watching the Presidential debates. Read more
The Western world has run amok, but I am not going to react to it. We have all heard of the violent acts in Florida, Dallas, France, Baton Rouge, Germany, and now Florida again.
The best thing I can do in response is to stay the course that God has called me to travel. I will continue teaching people to honor those in authority and to respect all people regardless of race, class, gender, or religion. I will not become reactive, distracted, or intolerable in response to current events.
Before the families have been notified, social media surges with political opinions and demands. We can denounce such violence all we want, but it will not stop it.
Frankly, I am more concerned with the responses and lives of Christians in this nation than I am the damage wrought by terrorism. Read more
Facebook is not real. It does not give us a real picture of real life. It is manufactured. It is an imitation of socializing. It provides a false sense of community. It provides a daily dose of drama. It can also provide amusement, social networking, and helpful information. But it often takes more than it gives.
Topics of great import fade away as quickly as a summer thunderstorm. They clamor for attention with mighty displays of hype and drama only to be replaced by the next storm unleashing its fury against our walls. One day it is threats of missiles from North Korea, the next day it is the war in the Ukraine, then it is the horrific acts of ISIS, then it is the sale of baby parts by Planned Parenthood, then it is Cecil the Lion, then bathroom laws, then a Gorilla takes center stage for a few days. Now it’s Orlando and with it the hotly debated Second Amendment. As each matter demands our attention the last one fades into obscurity. Read more
If we all thought the same way, we would be in trouble. When we are free to think for ourselves, we are free to think poorly as well as rightly. We are free to think sideways, backwards, or not at all. If we are not free to think worse, we are not free to think better.
When I watch debates raging across social media, I think we have all gone mad. We seldom debate to reach truth. We debate to dominate and stamp out the opposition. I’m free to share my opinion, but your opinion should not exist. This is proven when we are angry at someone for saying something we interpret as stupid. Read more
During the political season it is easy to adopt an us versus them mentality. Such a mentality leads to polarized thinking where “we” are the good guys and “they” are the bad guys. All “their” ideas are hogwash and all of “our” ideas are the hallmark of wisdom. Soon the ideas themselves are sacrificed to the greater cause of party politics. We demonize the “other” and glorify the one we identify as the only wise choice.
Though in this political season, some feel that no one candidate is the wise choice and all are sorely lacking as leaders. Regardless, when all the dust settles one of these candidates will be chosen as President. The one that is chosen will need to be respected as President.
On one hand, this political season has brought voters out of the woodwork and interest in the political process has soared compared to what has been normal. This is a very good thing. America needs her citizens to be interested and invested in the political process. The Republic is strengthened the more citizens become active participants in choosing their representatives. Read more
In the world of American politics, it can be as dangerous to go too far right as it can be to go too far to the left. When any system becomes corrupt and ineffective in its current state, it becomes in danger of being mistaken for a bad system.
We do this in all areas of life. We have bad church experiences so we separate from the organization as a whole. We have bad marriage experiences, so we distance ourselves from the institution of marriage. So naturally when we have bad experiences with government, we begin to wonder if government is the problem.
While there are times that a system itself is the problem, it is more often the case that the people in the system are the problem. But here we often make the mistake in thinking that different people will correct the problem. We practice this thinking when we leave the people who hurt us in one church to find a new church where people will behave more like proper Christians. We do this when we leave one marriage to find a better spouse who will make a better marriage. We do this when we think that replacing those in government with new people will result in a better government. We do this when we think that removing government altogether would be an even better solution.
The problem is not that the system is broken. The problem is that the culture is broken. Read more