Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Christian and This World

I have been reading in Titus lately, as well as reading commentary in the Believer’s Bible Commentary, a gift to me from a respected friend. Today I came across a section titled “The Christian and This World” under Titus 3:1:

Believers should obey the laws, including traffic laws, and pay their taxes and other levies. In general they should be law-abiding, respectful, obedient subjects. However, there are three areas in which Christians differ considerably as to their proper responsibility. These are the matters of voting, of seeking elected office, and of going to war with the armed forces. With regard to the first two, the following helpful guidelines are laid down in the Bible:

  1. Christians are in the world but are not of it (John 17:14-16).
  2. The whole world system is in the hands of the wicked one, and has been condemned by God (1 John 5:19b; 2:17; John 12:31)
  3. The Christian’s mission is not to improve the world, but to see men saved out of it.
  4. While the believer is almost unavoidably a citizen of some earthly country, his primary citizenship is from heaven — so much so that he is to look upon himself as a pilgrim and an alien down here (Phil 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11)
  5. No soldier on active duty should entangle himself with the affairs of this life, lest he displease the one who has enlisted him (2 Timothy 2:4).
  6. The Lord Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). As His ambassadors, we should represent this truth to the world.
  7. Politics tend to become corrupt by their very nature. Christians should separate themselves from iniquity (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18).
  8. In voting, a Christian would normally vote for a man thought to be upright and honest. But sometimes it is God’s will to exalt the lowest of men (Daniel 4:17). How could we know and obey the will of God in such cases?

The other question is whether a believer should go to war when ordered by his country. There are strong arguments on both sides, but it seems to me that the balance of evidence is against participating. The principles listed above bear on the problem, but there are additional ones. (1) Our Lord said, “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight” (John 18:36). (2) He also said, “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). (3) The whole idea of taking human life is opposed to the teaching of Him who said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

Those who are opposed to bearing arms can be grateful if they live in a country where they are allowed to register as conscientious objectors or noncombatants.

On the other hand, many Christian men have served in combat with honor. They have noted that the New Testament presents centurions (e.g. Cornelius and Julius) in a very favorable light. Also, figures of speech from military life are used to illustrate the Christian warefare (e.g. Ephesians 6:10-17).  If soldiering were inherently wrong it is hard to see how Paul could call on us to be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.”  Whichever view a person holds, he should not judge or condemn those who disagree.  There is room for differing opinions.

Many of these thoughts are thoughts I have been struggling with, not only because we are in the midst of the great presidential election, but also because of local political issues, such as whether homeschoolers in Nebraska should be subjected to standardized testing, something I personally vehemently oppose.  In the midst of dealing with this local issue, we visited the state capitol and talked with our senator and heard a speech from our governor, in which the governor vowed to veto the bill if it ever made it to his desk.  All very reassuring stuff.  But while there in the capitol building, I pondered what I could possibly do to make a bigger difference than to pray for the government.  If I engage the governor or senator in a conversation, am I not just as likely to push them away from my cause as I am to persuade them to see things my way?  I am troubled by all this because I have been trained since I was a small child that a good citizen is involved and votes, writes letters to representatives, etc.

Another point I would make about seeking elected office is, to my knowledge, there are no instructions anywhere in the New Testament that cover how to behave if you are an elected official.  There are many Old Testament examples, but few (if any) New Testament directions.

And I still don’t know what to make of a Christian serving in the military, despite my own service record and my attempts at continuing my service as a reservist.  I enjoyed my service to my country.  And it was very rewarding, financially.  But it is a grave entanglement in the affairs of this world.  And as a commissioned officer, I have set myself up as an ambassador of the United States.  I cannot be an ambassador of both the Lord and the United States.

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Quote for the Day

I found this amazing passage today:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 

For the King James or else crowd:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;  who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 

And the Amplified Version provides its own sermon:

For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind.  It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in the present world, awaiting and looking for the [fulfillment, the realization of our] blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One), who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own, people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds.

This passage is Titus 2:11-14 and I think, on initial thought without time to really analyze, that this is a great summary of the Bible and what it means to me.  God’s grace has freed me from the power of sin, empowering me to live a self-controlled life filled with good works.

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First Eggs

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This past week we got our first eggs from our chickens!  Last weekend, I finished with some nest boxes for the chickens, and on Monday, the kids found a little brown ‘pullet egg’ behind one of the trash cans we use to store feed.  Gina fried that first egg and shared it among us and you should have heard the kids rave.  They thought that was the best egg they had ever tasted.  Through the rest of the week, we have found six more eggs.  Five of those eggs were brown, and one was green!  Two of the brown eggs have been broken when found, so we will have to be more careful about finding eggs.  I think they were both broken because they had been left out in the coop for so long that the egg froze.

The chicks turned 20 weeks old this week, so these eggs are coming a bit early.  In won’t be long now before we are drowning in eggs!

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A Book I Am Very Excited About

Apparently there is a new book that has been published by Tyndale House called Pagan Christianity.  I cannot begin to express how exciting this book sounds to me.  You can read one review of it here.  Although I am now a poor man, this is a book that I will make a priority to purchase and read.

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