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Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Decree Went Out From Caesar......

(c) 2010 by Tom King

As most of the readers of this weblog and my more political weblog "An Apocalypse Observed" know, I'm fairly opinionated on the subject of politics.  A friend made a comment today that nothing happens without God's will and therefore, he chose not to be involved in politics.

I do understand his feelings about politics. So much of political discourse is pointless thrashing back and forth, arguing over a point the two sides will never agree upon as in this recent discussion on Open Salon.  I knew arguing with PJ, Oahu and Mark was pointless. I did want to hear their arguments, though, just in case I had missed something new.  I hadn't.  It was the "same old, same old", "you-are-stupid-and-I-am-not" closed cell argument throughout--pointless so far as reasoned debate is concerned. Rather like the "battles" the Zulus used to have where they gathered on the battlefield, beat their chests, threw a few spears, then went home feeling all macho without anything being settled.

So why do I do it?  Hey, once in a while someone with real intelligence engages me in a reasoned and thoughtful discussion. It's nice when it happens. We may not come to an agreement, but we often learn something from it--usually that we want the same things, but differ only on how to get those things.  But in that discovery that we have the same purpose is hope for a solution to the problems we both seek to solve.

But didn't Jesus always counsel a "render unto Caesar" policy?  Yes, He did and that's my policy too. Unfortunately, simply because we render unto Caesar and keep our mouths shut, doesn't mean Caesar is going to leave us alone (see 'Good' Friday). Doing what is consistently right will inevitably bring you into conflict with those who do what consistently gains them power.

Every disciple got into trouble with some government somewhere that didn't want them to do what they were doing--converting people to Christianity. In the United States, the government is set up to be "Of the people, by the people and for the people".  This means we personally have a responsibility to be part of the governing process.  We don't shuffle that responsibility off onto kings or princes or a special ruling class, whatever the progressive Democrats and country club Republicans might believe. Our responsibility is to defend the very constitution that allows our churches to practice their beliefs freely, to convert people, to take them into membership and encourage them to live by a code of conduct.  This right and privilege does not exist in all countries. It will cease to exist here if the people allow it. 

It is true that the king's heart is in the hands of the Lord.  Nothing happens in Washington that God does not allow. That does not mean that God wanted things to happen the way they did.  Look at the history of Israel, how when they rejected God's protection, He removed his protecting hand and let terrible things happpen that broke His heart.  God allows us to choose and we have the power to make an unholy mess of the gifts God has bestowed upon us in this "land of the free".

God sometimes places his servants before the rulers of the land and bids them speak.  If God's will brings you before the powerful, you are obliged to speak the truth. This does not always end well for the speaker. Check out the history of the prophets and the disciples.  How many died at the hands of government--most dying in particularly brutal ways.  It is true that nothing happens that God does not allow.  It is also true that sometimes God allows things to happen because of what we do or do not do, because of how we choose, or because it suits His purpose. The Israelites were repeatedly allowed to be overcome by their enemies because they allowed Baal worship, pitched their kids through the fires to Molech and tolerated the hilltop shrines because they didn't want to say anything, what with the pagan worship services being so popular and all. God may have wanted a message delivered at a certain time and place. Often the death of the messenger was part of the message. There's nothing like an angry, murderous response by a king or a government to reveal the true nature of that ruling power to the people who allow themselves to be ruled by it.  When it's behavior causes its people to recoil in disgust and fear, the martyrdom of the prophet marks the end of the ruler who murdered him or her. Tough for the prophet, but a blessing to those who are freed as a consequence of his sacrifice. Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than that he die for a brother." If anyone would know about that, He would.

I'm not sure remaining silent while our own government builds shrines to Baal is the best policy if you're a Christian. Okay, I know they aren't building literal shrines to Baal, but they do seem to be making policies that threaten the free exercise of the Christian religion, free speech and free assembly. The Internet would potentially lose free speech and assembly rights if some of these policies are enacted. Proponents of so-called Net Neutrality, for instance, also openly advocate adding a government controlled "kill" switch to turn off certain "disruptive" websites, servers or networks that might, in government's opinion, harm the public.

Politicians, in my experience, are like children. If you present them with a switch, they will not be able to resist flipping it.

So, I'm just sayin'.....................that's all.

The poet Dylan Thomas wasn't talking about political speech or rights or liberties when he wrote, "Do not go gentle into that good night.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light."  But he could have been. In my reading of history, the loss of liberty immediately precedes massive loss of life.

Another wise man said, "You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed for these things must take place, but the end is not yet......They will hand you over for persecution and they will kill you. You will be be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another....but the one who endures to the end will be delivered."

Sounds like the politics is going to get a bit rough, huh?

Merry Christmas to all, while I can still say it without adding a disclaimer, or being forced to pile on every other holiday greeting you can imagine in order to stay out of trouble with the authorities.

A Fearless Christmas to all and to all a good life!


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