Reflections by someone trying to learn what it means to live under God's Reign
Saturday, July 29, 2006
If you know me well, then you know that one of my heroes is Martin Luther King Jr. I am facinated by the civil rights movement under his leadership. He took the teachings of Christ and helped change the fortunes of African Americans living in the south. He did it by loving his enemy even when his enemy jailed and beat on him and his followers. Growing up hearing about Dr. King, I always placed him on this huge pedastal, like God was speaking directly to him and he was just carrying out the plan. In reading about him though, Dr. King was human. He made mistakes and at times got depressed. Before he died, and the riots of '68 were happening, he fell into a great depression. The voting rights act and the civil rights acts had been signed, and he really did not know where to go from there. Within the African American community, he had been losing influence to the Black Power movement. But then, according to Jesse Jackson, he would preach himself out of depression. He realized something. He realized that he could not do things on his own. He said in one of his last speeches "And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God's universe is made; this is the way it is structured." What he said was that we all have struggles, we all have sins, and what we do affects the world around us. But together we must press on together to overcome our struggles.
I am such a hypocrit. I have a confession to make. I do not have any problems with women being pastors. I really don't. I'm fully aware of the I Timothy passage, and the argument that since men are supposed to be the head of the household, then they are supposed to head the church as well. Both I think don't take into consideration the culture of the day. However, in Acts all the gifts of the spirit are given out to both the sons and daughters of God, including preaching or prophecy. Knowing this though, and even believing it, a woman still has to be twice as good as a man for me to listen to her, or take her seriously. There are women out there who do that, such as my mother. She gets our congregation focused every Sunday morning and she's incredible. Though she would never say so, my mother is the best speaker in my family (and the best Christian as well). There are very few women like my mother (and I realize I'm biased). So to all you women out there, I'm all for you in any kind of role in ministry, but I just can't listen to you. What a hypocrit!
We throw the word "faith" around. We say we are a people of faith, or we live by faith. What does it truly mean to live by faith? Is it just believing or saying you believe in something? I'm all about seeing people receive Christ and getting baptized. I love it when that happens, but I always wonder in the back of my mind "Is it real, or is it fire insurance?" (to quote Dr. Mullins). In the Luke 7:36-50 passage, Jesus tells the sinful woman that her faith has saved her, and for her to go in peace. What was her faith? Was it the tears she cried, the perfume she brought, or was it something else? I think when Jesus referred to her faith, it was the response she gave to who Jesus was. Simon the Pharisee and his friends had heard the same message about Jesus, had probably seen him do the miracles written about in chapter 7, but they did not respond. This sinful woman however, saw the miracles, heard Jesus claim about himself and responded with tears. Because of this response Jesus said "Go in peace." She was a changed woman. Faith then, according to this story, is a response to God. Because of her willingness to respond to God, Jesus forgave her sins and gave her a life of peace, something that the pharisee's interpretation of religion could never give.
I'm reading a book that all Christian American's should read. It is American Gospel by Jon Meacham. Meacham explores the use of religion and its effect upon the political situation throughout American history. Our Founding Fathers, while not all Christians, all had a sense of America being guided by a Divine Force. Therefore the author argues "Given that a large majority do believe in a transcendent power, and given that the evocations of a transcendent power grew organically from the habits and hearts of the early Americans, it would be as unsound to ban the use of the word God from all public life as it would be to require every American to attend church services every Sunday." Finally somebody has realized that there are a lot of shades of grey. The problem I have with both extreme liberals and the religious right is that there is no room in the middle. Our Founding Fathers on the other hand understood the importance of balance between the political and religion. They did not disregard religion by becoming a secular government, but allowed it to flourish and to not become corrupt by staying out of religion. At the same time, they understood that this country needs religion in order for this country to maintain a sense of purpose. I am grateful for the stands our Founding Fathers took on the Freedom of Religion.
Since blogging is the new sensation in America today I thought I would get involved as well. Bloggers have effected the outcomes in political races both in the government and more recently in the Southern Baptist Convention. Some of you may be wondering what politia basileias means. It is Greek (if you know me that is no surprise) and it means "Citizen of the Kingdom." This summer I have been doing sermon research for my dad in Beaumont, TX for an upcoming series on Kingdom Living. In studying for these sermons, I have become convicted that I need to "Seek first the Kingdom of God," hince the name. It is my prayer that we all will experience the reign of God in our lives.