Archive for October 10th, 2008

I read an interesting article in my home congregation’s bulletin a couple of Sundays ago. The theme of the article was that Christians should not worry about the current state of our slumping economy, and I remember this very clearly, because “there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.” Now, if the admonition here is not to worry about tomorrow, I agree. Jesus told us very clearly in Matthew 6:31 ff. that the Father will provide for our needs. But if the idea is that Christians can or should not be effective as participants and leaders in the politics of government, then I strongly disagree.

In my experience, two Biblical passages are often cited as grounds for an argument that Christians should not be involved in politics. The first is Matthew 22:16-22:

16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17 “Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19 “Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away. (NASB)

Christ knows that the Pharisees and Herodians are trying to trick him into making anti-Roman statements, thus giving them a basis for charges of treason against him. Jesus does not fall for their trap. It seems to me that he makes a distinction here, something like this: while on earth, Christians should do their earthly civic duty (paying taxes) without losing sight of their main heavenly focus (serving God). Jesus is not telling us not to be involved, he is showing us that we can be involved as long as our lives remain God-centered. Is it possible to be active in government and remain a faithful Christian? I think so. I am constantly hearing pleas during public prayer for God to “raise up Christian leaders” for our country and for God to “turn our nation back to Him.” Where are these Christian leaders supposed to come from if not from our midst?

Another passage I often hear quoted to demonstrate that Christians should not be government leaders is 1 Peter 2:13-17:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (NASB)

Peter is writing to Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia who have “been scattered” (1:1) and are being “distressed by various trials” (1:6). It is very possible that, given the above advice, some of these trials may have been political persecutions. Peter is giving specific instructions on how to act respectfully in response to these faith-based trials. He is not saying that Christians should always remain subservient to non-Christian political leaders. In fact, we have record of Paul attempting to convert the high-ranking political officials Festus and Agrippa in the book of Acts. In neither case does he suggest that they would have to give up their office should they become Christians.

We need Christians in government today, but not for the reasons many people think. When most people think of the role of a Christian in politics, they concentrate on the concept of “legislated morality.” That goes something like this: “We need to get Christians elected so that we can pass laws that make sinful behavior a crime. That way everybody will act as we think they should, and we can be a Christian nation again.” In my opinion, this is wrong and it will not work. An example from our own history springs to mind.

Prohibition was a flat failure in the United States. We even went so far as to amend our Constitution (the 18th) to prevent the consumption of alcohol by American citizens. As we know from history, people continued to drink alcohol and an entire new form of organized crime was born that plagues our major cities to this very day. Making alcohol illegal did not make our country more moral; it had the opposite effect. This was a very real example of how morality can’t be enforced by law. There are many others.

I think Christians are needed in government for two main reasons: ethics and stewardship. This is not to say that non-Christians cannot be ethical people or good stewards, but, rather that ethical behavior and stewardship are the natural fruits of a Biblically-based Christian life. As shown by the events of the past few weeks, some high officials in our government are sorely lacking in both of these qualities. The two major party candidates running for president, while perhaps ethical, are also short on stewardship. As followers of Christ, we have been taught by our Lord to do right, lead by example, use our talents, and be good stewards of the blessings God has given us. Imagine what a difference we could make if a few (or many) more Christians got involved in the political process, and instead of “not worrying about what we can’t change” we start actively changing things for the better. We might just end up with a government we could really be proud of.

Cross-posted to Facebook


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The Build: Part 1

A few months ago my friend Shawn and I thought it might be fun to build a couple of AR-15 rifles from parts. With the election of Barack Obama becoming more and more likely, we decided it was a really good idea to build them soon, while we still could. I have never been good at putting things with lots of small breakable parts together, but these are uncertain times. So, last night, stripped lower receiver and parts kit in hand, I went over to Shawn’s house to attempt the impossible.

For any of you who have never built an AR-15 lower, here are the parts you need:

Stripped lower receiver

Lower receiver parts kit (holy cow, look at all the little pieces!)

Big dummy

After 45 minutes of coaching from Shawn (he has built these before) and scrutinizing tiny diagrams, my receiver was fully assembled. Here is picture of me trying in vain to figure out how the trigger and the disconnector go together:

And here is the finished product (I didn’t even have any mystery parts left over):

For those of you who are not mechanically inclined but still want to attempt this process, there is a wealth of information online (but don’t believe them when they say, "It’s so easy, even a Democrat could do it!").  I suggest you get a helpful friend with some first hand experience to assist you.  Anyway, now all I need is a buttstock, barreled upper receiver, bolt assembly, and charging handle to have a functioning firearm. Stay tuned for the next fun-filled episode of The Build, in which I attempt to attach an AR-15 buttstock without amputating any of my digits.

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