Thursday, December 31, 2009

Us for them – them against us!

In yesterday’s post I made reference to a remarkable piece of scripture in I Peter 2:11-12. The main idea of this passage is almost too fabulous for words.

Peter wrote to believers in five provinces who were experiencing persecution. We do not have much information concerning this persecution, either internally from Peter’s letter or externally from historical sources. It does not seem to be an official governmental persecution from Rome or the surrounding Roman officials. It may have been local and engineered by the Judaizers.

What do know is the persecution was great enough to cause some to doubt their decision to leave Judaism and declare their allegiance to Christ. It was severe enough to prompt Peter to write his letter of encouragement. Listen again, as Peter writes in I Peter 2:11-12:

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (ESV)

These believers in the midst of severe persecution and hardship are to remain faithful to Christ and to conduct their daily lives in such a manner that the beauty of their profession shines visibly in such a manner that Christ in them is made beautiful and attractive. As a matter of fact as they live in such a manner Christ will be made so attractive that on the day of their judgment they will give the glory to God.

Why do I mention this again? On Wednesday’s I have chosen to pray for those who are in authority. Paul told Timothy to pray for all those who are in authority. (I Timothy 2:1-7) Paul gives us a “grocery list” of things to pray for them. I have posted this list before but let me do once more:

• That we may live a quiet & peaceful life characterized by godliness & fear

• That we may freely share the gospel & evangelized every creature

• That government would be a terror to the wicked & a blessing to the good (Romans)

• That they would exercise their God-given power with the utmost of wisdom

• That they might be drawn to Christ by the HS & experience the blessing of salvation

The next two things weren’t really specified by Paul. I developed them as a result of coming to the understanding of God’s sovereignty concerning government and my response.

• That we would be thankful for God’s wisdom & provision in providing us with government and government officials even when they oppose Christ

• That we would trust God implicitly as He in His sovereignty works out His will and purpose in and through local, state, federal, and global governments

There is the reason for today’s post. As I was praying for those in authority – from the President, our Governor, down to our local mayor and city council it dawned on me how the evangelical community views government: us (meaning evangelical Christians) against them (meaning all government rules, regulations, and restrictions against us.)

It is not us against them! That is what Satan would love for us to think! With that mentality we can become both disobedient to God and distracted from the real deal. You say how?

• First, we become disobedient because we do not pray for them as we are commanded

• Second, we become disobedient of them because we begin to speak evil of them

• Third, we fail to pray for, work towards, and otherwise evangelize them for Christ

• Fourth, we develop the mindset that we can disobey government because it opposes the cause of Christ – (not saying that at times we must disobey in order to obey God)

• Fifth, we lead others astray into hate, disgust, disdain, rather into love, patience, suffering, etc.

So, if it is not us against them, what is it? It is US FOR THEM – THEM AGAINST US!

It doesn’t matter whether they are the President, the Governor, the Mayor, the Senator, or a mere councilman they all have an eternal soul. They have been either specifically raised up or allowed by God’s sovereign will to their respective place of office. They are no different from a middle class housewife in the suburbs who needs redemption to the drunk and homeless “bum” at the local rescue mission who needs redemption.

I guess this is coming on the heels of my devotional readings in Luke 12. I have spent the last three weeks in my morning devotions in Luke 12. The chapter concluded today with the illustration given by Christ of the man who was being dragged before a judge concerning an unpaid debt, probably a tax bill. Christ said that man should settle while even on the way to court with the accuser, lest the judge after hearing the case turns him over to the officer of the court, who in turns books him in prison. As we know you could not come out of debtor’s prison until every last penny of the date had been paid.

That was a warning to the Jews in the crowd that Christ had been addressing since chapter one. After all he taught them he concluded with that illustration. The man represented the crowd, in reality the Jewish nation, the accuser represented Christ, the judge represented God, the debt represented sin, and the prison represented hell. The man, those in the crowd, if they did not settle their spiritual accounts with God the judge; they would be cast into hell and would not come out until their “debt” had been paid.

What does that passage do to you? It gives me the chills. I causes me great grief for those who “are on their way to the judge” and don’t even know it. It impacted me this morning. As I meditated on that passage and then began to pray for those in authority it dawned on me how many believers (and so called believers) view government. It isn’t hard to deduce this, it isn’t a difficult stretch – just read, watch, listen, and pay attention to what they blog, write, say, and do that is captured by the media.

Many believers view government as us against them. It is not to be that way. It is to be us for them as they are against us. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit might move in their hearts that God perhaps might grant them repentance before it is too late and they are thrown into prison from whence they will never exit.

As 2009 ends tonight at midnight and 2010 begins at 12:01 AM lets decide to make an impact on those around us including government officials by first, changing our attitude against them, second, by praying for them biblically and fervently, and thirdly, by conducting our lives in such a manner that the beauty of Christ is made visible and attractive for them to truly see. Let them give God the glory on the Day of Judgment!

What say ye?

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