Before You Get Too Excited Or Upset About Election Results

As it write this, the networks are still projecting winners before all the votes are in, but it appears the Republicans will achieve a majority in the House of Representatives and make considerable gains in the Senate. Republicans are calling it a rejection of the Democrats’ big government solutions.

This is an old song.  Democrats believe more government regulation is almost always the answer and Republicans think the opposite.  Christians can watch this left-right tug-of-war and be tempted to pick sides, when really we are being asked to pick between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Any time the government regulates something it is restricting the freedom of someone.  But when people are immoral, greedy and take advantage of others, the government is compelled to act to protect the victims of those who do not exercise their freedom responsibly.  The left-right game is principally an argument over control of the thermostat: more freedom, along with greed and abuse, or more protection for consumers, along with less freedom and higher taxes.  While fighting over the thermostat is probably necessary, neither the left or the right offer a real solution for the problem. Fortunately, there is a third way.

More responsible people need less government regulation.  Less government regulation means more freedom.  Therefore, more responsible people means more freedom. Jesus is in the business of making more responsible people, which is why I’m not particularly rabid about Tweedledee or Tweedledum, but in making disciples.  As more people become obedient to Jesus they become more responsible and require less government regulation, which means more freedom for everyone, even those who don’t know Jesus.

So, give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.  Be informed, get involved in politics, but recognize that fiddling with the thermostat is an adjustment not a solution. GS

False Oaths And Lifetime Scholarships

Perhaps you saw the story yesterday. Faisal Shahzad, the Muslim terrorist who tried to set off a bomb in Times Square, was sentenced to life in prison. When I read it, I had two concerns.

The judge asked Shahzad about the oath of allegiance to the United States he took when he became an American citizen. Shahzad’s answer, “I did swear, but I did not mean it.”

I suppose this means we now have to hire more INS agents to attend swearing-in ceremonies to ensure immigrants don’t have their fingers crossed behind their back when they take the oath.

The other concern had to do with the sentence: life in prison. Does the irony occur to any other Americans that Shahzad tried to kill you, and now you get to pay $23,000/year for the next 50 years to incarcerate him? He breaks the law and now he’s on scholarship for the rest of his life.

This irony is apparently not lost on God because His solution makes a lot more sense. I’m not referring to capital punishment, although that is a small part of it. Tune in tomorrow and I will explain. GS

3 Clarifications About 9/11

Today there will be much talk about 9/11, its causes and the people involved. Because Truth is a virtue, it is incumbent upon citizens of the kingdom of God to speak accurately about 9/11. With that I offer 3 thoughts with the intent of bringing some clarification to the conversation of 9/11.

1. The Terrorists Were Not Cowards. It has become popular to call the 9/11 terrorists cowards. However, a coward is one who succumbs to fear and self-preservation. The terrorists of 9/11 all voluntarily gave their lives for what they perceived as a higher calling or principal. They were, of course, wrong. There was no higher calling or principal, which makes these men fools, misguided and wicked, but they were not cowards.

2. The Victims Were Not Necessarily Heroes. A hero is someone who sacrifices his/her desires, needs or life for others or a higher calling. Being killed may make one a victim, but not necessarily a hero. There were heroes on 9/11. The firefighters and police who entered burning buildings to save others, as well as the people in the buildings who risked their lives to help those around them, are all heroes. But to call everyone who died in 9/11 a hero is to cheapen the word for those to whom it truly applies. We should honor those who died, but let’s do so honestly. Honest honor is better than false praise.

3. The Opportunity Will Always Be Clearer Than The Cause. We can speculate forever about the causes of 9/11. I’m not talking about the direct causes, i.e. that terrorists flew planes into buildings, but the more fundamental causes, whether they be political or divine. What is clear is the opportunity 9/11 created for the kingdom of God. 9/11 shook a nation out of its secular slumber and opened people to the Gospel. It also incited hatred, which gave Kingdom citizens the opportunity to model the love of Christ to Muslims. In short, it was a tremendous opportunity for the advance of the kingdom of God. Only time will tell how well Christians seized that opportunity.

So, if you find yourself in a conversation regarding 9/11 today, speak Truth, give honor where honor is due and seize the opportunity for the kingdom of God. GS

Lessons From Threatened Book Burning

2010 (c)iStockphoto/wildcat78

Pastor Terry Jones’s 15 minutes of fame has stretched into a reality tv mini-series. If you haven’t heard the latest, Pastor Jones met with an imam who, Jones insists, promised him the planned Islamic center near ground zero would relocate if Jones would call off the book burning. Jones says he agreed and announced he was canceling, but not long after the meeting, the imam claimed he had made no such promise. Jones responded by saying the imam had lied and that the book burning was no longer cancelled but suspended.

I blogged on Jones’s inflammatory intentions recently and suggested he may have had more in common with Islamic terrorists than he realized. I also blogged on the proposed Islamic center near ground zero, contending the most popular arguments against are missing the point. But I think there is something more significant here than either individual incident.

In response to his plan to burn a Quran, Jones claims he and his people have received over 100 death threats, and there is concern around the world of bloody repercussions by Muslims against Christians, and even the American military. So serious were these threats, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called Jones and encouraged him to call off the book burning. And all of because Jones threatened to burn a book.

But I don’t recall hearing of death threats against Muslims in response to plans to build an Islamic center near ground zero. Many Christians disagreed for sure, but they tried to reason and persuade. They didn’t threaten to kill people.

Or look at the response of the Christian community to Jones. Christians from every conceivable denomination called on Jones not to go ahead with the book burning, and they did so publicly. They went on the record to make it clear what Jones proposed to do was not representative of Christianity or its Founder.

But in response to plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero, Muslim leaders have been silent. I didn’t hear them calling on their fellow Muslims to build at a different place or suggesting love or respect for the feelings of others is required of them by their Islamic beliefs. If they have spoken publicly its been to claim victim status or first amendment rights.

Obviously, there are exceptions on both sides, but my point is there has been a substantive difference between the response of Christendom and Muslims which reveals more about both than the underlying controversies that spawned them.

What do you think? Do you see moral equivalency here or a difference in the responses? GS

Kingdom Politics

I’ve purposively avoided political issues here because I believe them to be unnecessarily divisive and often a distraction from more important issues of the kingdom of God. But on August 26, 2010, I blogged on the proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero, and that began a stream of conscious of posts on political issues that ended on September 1, 2010, with a post asking whether an abortion advocate could be a Christian.

If there is a common thread in the my recent posts on political issues it is in the attempt to think through these issues outside the left/right political box, more specifically, from the perspective of seeking first the kingdom of God. Continue reading “Kingdom Politics”