Hey America, Can I Be Your Pastor For a Moment?

Hey America, Can I Be Your Pastor For a Moment? July 16, 2016

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The big lie of every government is this: we can make you safe and happy. Governments should stop promising this, because they can’t deliver.

America, powerful as it is, cannot keep its promises to make us safe and happy. Only God can do that. The primary means through which God has chosen to do that is through each other.

You want to know how to secure the future?

Try this:

 

Love with sincerity.

Hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor other people above yourselves. Don’t lack in your most basic commitment to be good news to the people around you. Let your passion for serving the Lord burn bright through your life.

Be joyful in hope. Be patient in affliction. Be faithful in prayer. Share your wealth and material possessions with the people who are struggling with poverty or lack. Show hospitality by welcoming those who are not like you into your home.

Bless those who persecute you; bless them and do not curse them. Rejoice with anyone who is willing to rejoice with you no matter how different they are; mourn with those who are in mourning, nobody should have to cry alone.

Live in harmony with your neighbors. Do not be proud. Your ego is toxic. Be ready at all times to associate with people of low position. In other words, do not be so conceited that you can’t be a friend to the poor.

In your relationships with other people you are going to get rogered every now and then. But do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. As far as it depends upon you and is in your control, live at peace with everyone.

DO NOT TAKE REVENGE, dear friends. Let God to the revenging… God has already told you that’s his territory, not yours.

If your enemy is hungry, feed him.

If your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink.

If he won’t love you back, then his anger will burn him alive and it’s not your problem anymore.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

That’s my own paraphrase of Romans 12:9-21 (the Bible will do it almost every time). I can’t help thinking that if Christians in our society would give half as much attention to the above directive from our founding document as we do to the culture wars and politics, the world would be a very different place, and a whole lot safer.

America, powerful as it is, cannot make us safe, and it cannot make us happy. Every great teacher, including Jesus and Paul, said that the path to safety and happiness is, well, unconventional… humility, patience, and enemy love.

So here’s my pastoral advice: Bless those who persecute you, America. Bless them and do not curse them. Feed your enemies. Do not take revenge. Be patient in affliction. Be joyful in hope. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…

Yeah, it sounds crazy, I know. But our current approach is not working. Maybe it’s time for a change.

One last thing… over the coming months, while pundits & politicians try and tear or society apart, the most powerful thing you could do is to print the above passage out & stick it to your bathroom mirror, your car’s dashboard, your computer screen, your kitchen window, or anyplace where you’ll see it everyday. Read it over and over.

Remember that the way up is down…

Remember that hate is strong, but love is stronger.

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  • scott stone

    Amen!

  • RustbeltRick

    “The big lie of every government is this: we can make you safe and happy. Governments should stop promising this, because they can’t deliver.”

    When has government ever promised this? I think this is the strawiest of straw men.

    A government can promise to make you SAFER. For example, placing a red light at that dangerous intersection is long overdue, and everyone wants it, and it will likely lead to fewer wrecks. But no leader in his or her right mind will declare that car wrecks will no longer happen, ever.

    Further, can government programs promote the general welfare of the populace, and will that populace be happier? Uh, yeah. I am happy that my grandfather benefitted from the GI Bill after World War II. On the flip side of that, I’m distressed that today’s vets are forced to struggle for their healthcare, for jobs, and for mental health. It would be nice if stingy folks in Congress would look out for the welfare of those who served.

    As a public official, I cannot make you completely safe and blissfully happy. But I can darn sure pursue a set of policies that will make you safer and less vulnerable, or I can pursue another set of policies that benefit only a select few. The idea that “government can’t make you happy, and thus isn’t important”, is problematic on many levels.

    • Without Malice

      Amen. Even more problematic is the idea that God can or ever has kept anyone happy or safe.

    • A government’s promise of safety is suspect, in my opinion. Even Hitler promised safety. And you are welcome… Godwin’s law in 1.2 seconds!

      • RustbeltRick

        I think the Third Reich also collected garbage and paved roads. Does that mean we now ask municipalities to stop doing that? Good grief, the arguments on these pages are nonsense.

        • You miss my point. I did not say that governments should STOP protecting us. My point is that the government promise of safety is suspect.

        • You asked “When has government ever promised this?” Well many governments have promised “complete safety”, including my example of the Third Reich. If America 2016 cannot understand this clearly, then we are doomed to a Fourth Reich.

      • Mike Smathers

        There are two functions of governments. One is to make sure that the trains run on time – although now it is the planes that should run on time. The second is to provide vision and leadership in fulfilling that vision. The quality of a government can be judged by the fullness of its vision for the country, and its fidelity in working to accomplish that vision. The Nazis were expert at making the trains run on time and that is why many people followed them. Their vision for the country , however, was a version of hell, which they did a pretty good job of accomplishing. The problem was not really the Nazi government, it was the “good Germans” who went along wth it – even bought into the vision. People like D. Bonhoffer and the Confessing Church stood against that vision, much to their credit. Who will stand against Trump’s vision for America?

    • Tacitus

      When has government ever promised this? I think this is the strawiest of straw men.

      Heh. I guess you hadn’t seen Trump’s acceptance speech when you wrote that:

      “Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon — come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.”

  • Very good. We need to hear more of this–actual Christianity!

  • Jim

    It’s hard to love your enemy when he is trying to slit your throat. It happened to me.

    • Dove

      Right…

    • You are right, loving your enemy while he is trying to kill you is hard. Jesus did it though, and we need to pray for his strength and love so we can do it.

      • George Waite

        Why should I do this?
        As the US becomes less and less Christian, less and less believing in any religion, your argument will be meaningless-“Jesus says so”.
        And if there are any secular arguments for doing this, I’ve yet to hear them.

        • Because hating your enemies can turn you into a bitter, negative, ugly person. You become like the person you hate.

          • George Waite

            But I don’t need a belief in a god to tell me that, do I?

          • Apparently, yes. You said you hadn’t heard any secular arguments on why to forgive. God says he wil repay, and to forgive is for our sake as well as for our enemy’s sake. Imagine what the world would look like if we all forgave. Do we need God to tell us this? Well, I don’t recall hearing it anywhere else, although other people or religions may have taught it. I also need God to help me do it. It doesn’t come naturally for me to forgive. I have to pray for it.

      • George Waite

        Suppose you don’t believe in god? Why would you do this?

        • Because hating your enemies turns you into someone like them. You can become bitter, ugly and violent when you hate.

          • George Waite

            Ok, but then why bother with religion?
            Even secularists can, and do, believe this. It may not be right, but you don’t need to believe in god to believe it.
            So what’s the point of religion? Why run twice as fast to get to the same place?

          • Sorry, I missed this reply from you. The point of religion for me is knowing a God who is love. I look at God’s life as a man (Jesus) and admire what I see. I have found the reason I exist and where I am going. I believe we are in a huge battle for the universe and I want to be on the right side – the side of justice and truth. As in any war, there is pain and terrible suffering. I have suffered greatly myself. But God will give us strength and peace while we go through this war. One day, I will see my God face to face and the war will be over for all of us.

          • George Waite

            But what about the rest of us? If your argument is still valid without God, why bother bringing God into it? For the extra emotional effect? Really-you’re that desperate to be believed that the Creator of the Universe has to be brought into it for your argument to have weight?

          • I could not ever forgive my enemies without God. He is the one who does it inside my heart. I suppose there are those who can forgive without Gods help.
            Am I desperate? Oh yes, and I don’t mind saying that. When I’ve gone through terrible stuff – I am desperate for help. My father abused me sexually and physically (burning me, whipped with a belt and kicking). My first marriage ended when our baby was 6 mons. old. I’ve had mental breakdowns where I was hearing voices and noises that weren’t there. I’ve gone through deep depression and took a bunch of sleeping pills twice, once when I was 16 and then 2 years ago. My dear grandson died 5 years ago from drinking too much. Yes, I would say I am desperate for God.

            I’ve been through a lot of good therapy and the last sessions were the best. I finally believe God loves me, which got rid of the constant depression. I now have peace and happiness. If you don’t want or need God that’s fine, he has given us that choice.

          • 0pus

            ***

          • George Waite

            Wow. Just wow.

          • George Waite

            Heartwarming.
            You’ve just given me another reason to have absolutely nothing to do with religion. Especially since clergy and nuns are about the worst cases of hiding child abuse, including sexual abuse, of any group out there.

          • George Waite

            So why bother with religion, then? If I know the same thing without religion, why run twice as fast to get to the same place?

  • Deborah Kukal

    Well said!