Tag Archives: kingdom of God

Everybody Should Rethink Trump

My dad was good at asking me to “think again.” When he said it, he meant that I had not thought enough about the answer to a question.

The question everyone is asking right now is, “Who should be the next president of the USA?” Given the rhetoric of election coverage, I am led to say, “Think again!” because I do not believe that people have given sufficient thought to the consequences of their votes. Yesterday, Erick Erickson said the same thing.

I have learned to respect Erick Erickson over the past two years. He has consistently taken the high ground in the battle over numerous decisions within the Republican party. No matter where he stands, he always tells his readers why he is standing there. When Trump took the Republican nomination, Erickson declared his position and the reasons for his position, and I felt sure that even if I did not agree with his conclusion, I surely could respect the process of decision-making that put him there.

Yesterday Erick wrote another chapter in his ongoing process of determining how he will vote on Election Day. Once again, I was compelled to ask myself the questions Erick asked, and I was compelled to answer them. There is no longer any justification for postponing a decision, because the election is upon us. Early voting will start in about a month. It is time for voters to choose their poison. It is time for everyone to rethink what a vote means, whether cast for Hillary or Donald. (I really can’t compare Hillary to Trump, even though those monikers have become the norm. Maybe it is part of my problem with contemporary culture. For me, it is either Hillary and Donald, or Clinton and Trump.)

As Erickson laid out his concerns for the outcome of the presidential election, he said, “Clinton as President will mean the insane have taken over the asylum.” To be perfectly honest, I thought this sad conclusion had already occurred. When I contemplate same-sex marriage, gender confusion, transgender training for the military, and a federal insistence on the immigration of Islamic terrorists, I truly find myself thinking I have already gone through the looking-glass. Is it even possible that things will get worse?

Sadly, as Erick Erickson points out, the answer is, “We have only just begun.” He discusses the current state of social chaos in great depth. Then he looks closely at Trump, the choice who presumably stands for traditional values, and says,” Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.”

Whoa! That certainly is a problem. What exactly does Scripture say? “Purge the evil person from among you.” Apparently a person who said he never had anything to repent of would be an evil person, because Scripture says, “All have sinned.” It appears that Mr. Trump is guilty both of being a sinner and of lying about it. That is not good.

However, Erickson is not engaging in judgmental hypocrisy, the usual complaint leveled by secular thinkers against Christians. He is not interested in making Donald Trump look like a bad candidate. He says, “The whole purpose of shunning the unrepenant [sic] sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent.” Erickson asks Christians to consider what it means for them to gather around Donald Trump and cheer for his success if it prevents him from repenting and receiving Christ.

Erick Erickson is asking Christians to put the kingdom of God ahead of everything else. He is holding up the words of Jesus “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and who among the Christian community can ignore this warning.

Erickson’s concern for Donald Trump’s soul does not lead him to conclude he should vote for Hillary Clinton. He says, “I think Hillary Clinton will do lasting damage to the country. I cannot vote for her.” Whether I think as a secular voter or as a devoted Christian, I concur with Erickson’s view of Hillary. She is a threat to everything most Americans value.

Yet Erickson says of Donald Trump, “I think Donald Trump will do lasting damage to the witness of the Church in America and I therefore cannot vote for him.” This is not a trivial self-serving judgment. It is the conclusion of a man who has looked into the truth revealed by God himself and tried to apply that truth wisely.

Clearly, Erick is not comforted by this conclusion. Clearly, his fears for the outcome in our nation if Hillary Clinton becomes president drove him to reconsider his #NeverTrump position. Clearly, this thought process was both analytical and prayerful.

It is this process that inspires my emulation. I consider myself a thoughtful, prayerful Christian. I want to be faithful and obedient to God’s truth as revealed in his holy Word. It may not be easy being green, but being green is easier than being an obedient Christian faced with a thorny moral choice.

Before I read this post, I had gone down that thorny path with great trepidation. I had concluded that the real choice for a Christian is, what becomes of our country? I comforted myself by saying, If I cannot ask what is best for our country, I can ask what is worst and do the other thing. However, Erick Erickson has brought me face to face with an important truth: God’s kingdom must come first.

It really is odd how the Holy Spirit works. On Sunday, the children’s sermon at church centered on the question: What comes first? After a number of object lessons about the consequences of putting the wrong thing first, the presenter held up a wooden cross and asked, “What does God want us to put first?” The answer was, “The cross.”

On Wednesday, I read this post and then went to a Bible study. As it turned out, the key verse in that Bible study was. “Seek first the kingdom of God.” It seems to me that God is hammering home a truth: he and his kingdom transcend whatever might happen to the country if either Hillary or Donald becomes president. We all know, or think we know, that one of them is sure to be the president after all the dust settles. We all know, or think we know, that third party candidates never win. Therefore, leaving God out of the equation, we analyze the political situation and then choose the candidate that will, we hope, do the least harm.

Erickson is warning us that this is a stupid way to vote if we are really Christians. The Bible is very clear that a lot of people claim the name without submitting to the Lordship of Christ—that is to say that they join the club, but they do not aspire to its goals; they just like the snacks and jokes after worship on Sunday. Erickson is reminding us that if Christ is Lord, and if we have put God’s kingdom first in our lives, we will not vote—or choose a job or get married or buy shoes or choose summer camp for the kids—without putting God’s kingdom ahead of whatever personal comfort might arise from any of those choices. Erickson is reminding us that all our choices, no matter how small, must be subject to the King of Kings and his kingdom. We are certainly not to choose our president based on whether we would like to be persecuted for our belief in Christ; we are to make our choice by asking, what advances God’s kingdom.

Jesus said that there is more joy in heaven when one sinner repents than over a thousand who do not need to repent. That statement suggests that for the church to suffer persecution, because Hillary becomes president is not sufficient justification for a Christian to vote for Donald Trump if we understand that vote to propel him into continued unwillingness to repent, because he feels he has nothing for which to repent. Erickson seems to believe that Trump’s pride keeps him from confessing and repenting his sin. On that basis he says, “ I will not harm my witness nor risk Trump’s soul to serve my political desires.”

If I reach the conclusion that a vote for Donald Trump harms my witness or risks the candidate’s soul, I will agree with Erickson. I am thinking again, and I am prayerfully considering every word Erick Erickson wrote. I recommend you do the same.

http://theresurgent.com/coming-to-terms-with-trump/

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016.

 

 

 

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I Have a Pen and a Phone

Many Christians despair of what the President of the USA is doing with a pen and a phone.

I am one of them. I see this behavior as completely outrageous from a constitutional standpoint because the Constitution is designed on the principle of separation of powers. As a citizen, who is also a Christian, I reject his justification of his behavior. I also see the behavior as completely outrageous from the standpoint of Christian teaching. The president uses his pen and his phone to make end runs around the will of the voters represented by the House and the will of the states represented by the Senate in order to achieve immoral objectives. The pen and the phone of the president of the USA are being used to destroy both culture and government.

Christians need not despair, even if the culture and the government disintegrate before their eyes, because each of us has a pen and a phone.

As long as Christians have pens and phones, they, too, have power. I am not advocating organized demonstrations. I am advocating that Christians put Christ first and live in true submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit within us leads us to grieve the moral and ethical collapse in the culture. It is the Holy Spirit within us that makes us grit our teeth every time we see executive overreach or judicial activism or legislative inaction that furthers Satan’s agenda on the earth. It is the Holy Spirit active in the hearts of Christians that can give power to the pens and phones of Christian people who commit themselves to be real salt and light in the culture.

Use your phone

I do hope that you will never use your phone in a way that expresses disregard for a person actually in your presence who wants to be your friend, cry on your shoulder, or just have dinner. That intrusive practice is among the things that are working to disintegrate our society. The inventors of smartphones thought of them as ever more skillful servants to humanity, not the bosses. Here are a few things you can do with your phone in order to let loose the power of Christ’s love into the culture:

  • Call and visit with someone who is lonely or sick

  • Call someone in local, state or national government who is influential in a cultural or political problem, and express your view as a citizen, a voter, and a faithful servant of Christ

  • Call and catch up on the news with a friend or family member you have neglected

Use your pen.

Never think for one minute that your phone and your pen are somehow less important than those belonging to the president. You are an ambassador for Christ, and your phone and your pen are very important and very powerful. Every Christian’s phone and pen can spread salt and light, and there are a very large number of Christians in the USA. That fact translates into a lot of salt and light. Here are a few examples of ways to spread that salt and hold high the light of Christ:

  • Write an email to an online friend and let her know that you are praying about her difficult job problem

  • Write to your pastor and say, “I am praying for you.”

  • Post a Facebook update that upholds Christ in the sight of all

  • Write a blog post that expresses thanksgiving to God or praises his all-wise teaching in his holy Word

  • Exercise your right and responsibility of citizenship by expressing your viewpoint on a cultural or political problem to a member of Congress or to your president or even to the editor of your local newspaper

  • Do everything you can do with your pen to flood the public forum with the message of God’s love and grace through Christ

In the USA, everybody has a pen and a phone.

Use yours to exercise the power and influence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you for his good purposes. The pen and the phone of the president of the USA cannot prevail against the kingdom of God when God’s people are working in harmony with God’s purposes.

How Does God’s Kingdom Grow?

The Jews of two thousand years ago thought that when the Messiah came, he would lead them in the overthrow of the Roman Empire. They were completely flummoxed by a person who claimed to be the Messiah while ignoring the tyrannical empire that oppressed Israel. That servant Jesus riding on a borrowed colt, the Jesus who claimed to have brought the kingdom near, confused them. Jesus did not march on Rome. Jesus marched on evil.

The existence and power of evil is a major biblical theme. Evil manifests itself in many places, including government. The Bible is about God’s war with evil and with Satan, who is the origin and power of evil. Ancient Jews were right to regard the Roman government as oppressive in the extreme, evil in many of its manifestations. They were wrong, however, to think that God’s kingdom was about earthly government. The real, and sad, truth was that they did not so much want Roman government gone, as they wanted to be in control of it. They wanted the power, and the crucifixion of Christ demonstrates that they had a good understanding of the way to appropriate that power for their own purposes. The ancient Jewish leadership was not looking for a Messiah who would rescue all people from the power of evil. They wanted a Messiah who would take the power away from Rome and give it to them. They thought that if they just had the power, instead of Rome, then all would be well. Read the books of 1 and 2 Kings or 1 and 2 Chronicles if you want to see how that would have worked out. The religious leaders wanted to march against government. Jesus marched against evil.

The work of Christ’s people may include being salt and light in government, but wherever a Christian exhibits salt and light, the purpose is not to obtain power; the purpose is to defeat evil. It would actually be counter-productive for Christians to seek the power of government since every Christian is a repository of the power of God. The outworking of God’s power in a human life has pushed back against government far more often than government power has ever blessed anyone.

Secular thinkers believe that government is the god-like power that will, by legislation and administration, bring about world peace. They might call it the defeat of evil if they recognized that evil is at the root of the absence of peace, but secularists believe that lack of government rather than the presence of evil is the reason that there is no peace. Christians know that evil will only be defeated by subversive living, by living in submission to the will and power of God. Christians pray, “Thy kingdom come,” knowing that the reality of the kingdom is God’s indwelling presence in the person of the Holy Spirit in each Christian. It is that reality that establishes citizenship in God’s kingdom, not the vote of the church or any other ritual that makes a person a member of a church.

Here is a tough truth: people can join a local church without becoming citizens of God’s kingdom. Such members do not really think of God as the supreme power and authority in their lives. They have not really let go of Satan’s agenda. They don’t really want to be different from the world around them. Let’s face it: something is terribly wrong if a person is a member of a church but retains his loyalty to Satan’s kingdom. What exactly does such a person mean when he prays, “Thy kingdom come?” How will God’s kingdom shape up on earth if all God’s subjects claim dual citizenship?

Secular thinkers scorn the Christian teaching that Christ’s commands and teachings take priority over government and culture. They say that Christians are asking for “privilege” to disobey laws of the state and that they are “discriminating” when they reject cultural mantras. Yet this is what Christ wants of his kingdom people: to do the Spirit-led, subversive things. God’s kingdom is not advanced by top-down agendas and programs. God’s kingdom moves forward in one person’s discovery that he can forgive his neighbor or one person’s willingness to spread his own warm coat over a shivering sleeper on the street.

God’s kingdom does not advance in a mass march forward in assault on Satan’s demons. God’s kingdom advances one simple kingdom act at a time. Each time one person receives Christ, Satan’s kingdom of evil takes a step backward. The kingdom of God has come near in Christ and in every Spirit-filled Christian. The march against evil is the way God’s kingdom moves forward. Believe it. Live it.

 

 

A Verse for Meditation

Torah ScrollDo not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32

This verse falls in the midst of a long discourse about the kingdom of God. Read the preceding verses along with this verse.

Luke 12:29-32
Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

  • After reading the full development of Jesus’ thought, what comforting message do you see in Luke 12:32?
  • Many people believe that God will not love them if they are imperfect. The disciples certainly were not perfect. What will you do differently if you believe that the words of Jesus are true?
  • What do you think the kingdom is?
  • In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20 How does that message shape your understanding of what Jesus means when he tells the disciples not to worry about food or clothing, because God wants them to have the kingdom?

Now read the further development of Jesus’ thoughts.

Luke 12:32-34
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

  • According to these verses, people who have received the kingdom behave differently than other people. Where is the treasure that sustains the life of someone in the kingdom of God? What will you do differently if you believe that these words are true?
  • Where do you find the kingdom of God? How do you know it when you see it?

A Verse For Meditation

Torah ScrollYou are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Romans 8:9

  • This verse expresses a distinction that marks Christians and makes them anathema to secular thinkers. What is that difference?
  • Secular thinkers believe that only what can be measured scientifically exists. When I told a secular thinker that Christ dwells in me, in the person of the Holy Spirit, he countered by saying that he had an invisible pet dragon, too. What would you say in response to that claim?
  • At Jesus’ baptism, Mark says that the Holy Spirit “fell into” him. Later, when Jesus began to preach, Mark quotes him as saying, “The kingdom of God has come near.” Can you go near to someone and say, “The kingdom of God has come near?” Why?
  • Secular thinkers actually believe that it is possible to separate the sacred from the secular. They believe that you can park your faith in the church building and leave it there, operating outside that building in a secular manner. Can you actually do that? Why? Or Why not?