With reading through the Old Testament again I am struck with often the Israelites ran after other gods. I remember the mount Sinai episode where they fashion a golden calf. How often they seem to gravitate towards a god with a representation. It requires less faith when I have something within my eyesight. If I can see my god over there at the temple I do not have to worry if he is real or not, right? Is that how it works?
I suppose it does seem easier to worship what we see. It is easier to have an object with which we worship. It is easier to show others our gods if our gods are those that can be displayed. The Israelites had a tendency to run after gods of wood and clay and stone. They were tempted to add an image to their worship.
If god is a physical thing that we can bow down to, then he will always be a physical thing that we can point to. It is easier to stay faithful to something that we can taste, touch, and see rather than the unseen God. At least this was their tendency. Do we share this tendency? Is that which is seen easier to pledge allegiance to?
I know that for the land of the free and home of the brave our stuff is a physical representation of our accomplishments. Out stuff displays how far we have come and how successful we have been. Our stuff displays how safe we are and what our way of life allows. We prosper, we have freedom, we can do what we want. When this is true our allegiances and focus tend to move along the lines of preserving and maintaining that way of life. This is America that makes this all possible. So I wonder is the American way of life that important to your faith?
Hmm…So where is your allegiance? What is important? What is worth fighting for? Now, where do you place God in that list?
Don’t get me wrong, America is a great place to live. But does it define your relationship with God…perhaps a bit? Is having a government that allows you peace while worshipping important for you to remain a Christian? Is having a government that agrees with your morals necessary for you to grow as a Christian? Is having the favor of the people and avoiding persecution a hallmark for your faith? Is America too an important element in your relationship with God? As I said America is great, but with the tide decidedly turning these are questions I have to ask myself.
If America were to fall in a fire of brimstone and ashes would you march out with the angels or would you have a hard time not turning your head to mourn what God has condemned? Then the salt would have truly lost it’s saltiness, no? I hope it doesn’t come to that for America but I ask again could you continue to pursue when your hopes and American dreams for this life fail? Will we simply become another Europe which, when it wasn’t delivered from the evil being enacted on the countryside, decided they were quite done with God?
Unfortunately some churches seem to have decided that yes this American way of life is such an important element to their faith that they capitulate on sin. When unrestrained lust runs rampant in the land and the social justice comes to our church doors, they say “sure we will buy into that cause, as long as you do not reject us.” When this happens we invite another idol of wood, clay and stone into the sanctuary, or in most cases, an idol of flesh. This is the very definition of serving the creature rather than the creator. Why is this easier?
If I honor the gods of the land then the people of the land will welcome me.
We live in post-Christain America, that is not to say many of us are not Christians, but we are no longer in power or with much influence. So do we allow idols into the church to keep the masquerade going? Is the system so important that a little compromise is worth it? If our faith is too tied up in the system what happens when it crashes? If our politics continue to fail, if our laws do not uphold true justice, if we have another liberal in office will we be OK? Will we decide God is more lax with that kind stuff? Or will we threaten to move as they used to do and so many have? Post-Christian America has happened. So what will we do?
We had both the blessings of the land and the blessing of God but we did not separate the two and now the pendulum has swung away and the cracks in our faith are revealed. I know that the easy answer is why can’t we have both? Well I wish we could but we have been doing this already and the only success it had was mucking the whole thing up. We loved the blessings of the government too much that little red, white, and blue idols crept into our churches and now that the winds have turned we are not sure how to continue.
Who is your king? Where is your king?
There is only one kingdom we should be seeking, that way we recognize the privileges of freedom of religion, but we do not fret when they are gone. We do not compromise when the peace is threatened. We know who our redeemer is. God was not calling for a Christian America but he is calling for Christians to rise up within America despite what she looks like.
Does this tendency towards the physical idols of the lands that tempted the Israelites so often tempt us as well? Of course not, we say, “Down with idolatry!” Good. Then we should probably recognize that to dwell in the land of Babylon that America has become requires us to cut the head of the giant that demands our countryside and politics match our conservative Christian preferences. Still vote for sure, but we will probably suffer persecution if we do not adopt the idols of the people. When we do not run after our physical tendencies we will be pariah. So why not prepare? 1 Peter 3 says:
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that,when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Honor the Lord in your hearts and prepare to give an answer to those who would question our backward dated way of thinking. Honor the Lord in your hearts and prepare to answer those who would take away our rights for not agreeing. Honor the Lord in your hearts and prepare for the time of sorrows when we will not enjoy the favor of the Government any longer. Honor the Lord in your hearts and prepare because Jesus told us a time was coming when we would be hated for his name’s sake.
Honor the Lord in your hearts, being prepared, because the hope within you may be all we will have left to stand on. But rest easy, because part of honoring the Lord in your hearts is acknowledging that he’s in there, and that he stands beside his own.