Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Manic Monday on Wednesday: Easier or better?

(I've been dealing with fatigue and didn't get to write this on Monday.)

In discussing the upcoming election, I read a Facebook post saying that the US would be better off with "a man of God" at the helm.  The post was greeted with at least one "Amen!" and several agreements.

I posted in response that while I understood the sentiment, the early Christian church grew during a time when the person "at the helm" was far from a man of God.  It might be easier for the US if a "man of God" was at the helm, but would it be better for us?

This is a bit related to my other post today, asking if what we want is our good or our convenience.  It would be convenient if a "man of God" was at the helm of the US, but I wonder if it would be for our good.

First off, what do we mean by having "a man of God" at the helm of our country?  Do we want someone who is visibly Christian, who makes a point of showing that he/she goes to church every Sunday and who invokes the name of God at every opportunity?  Do we want a member of a "high church", such as Catholic or Presbyterian; or do we want a member of a "low church", such as Baptist or Pentecostal?  If a Catholic got into office, would the Baptists protest that a "man of God" was NOT in the Presidency?  And what about vice versa?

Second off, what else "proves" that this person is a "man of God"?  If he/she sends troops into a country, or withdraws troops?  If they advocate for more social programs, or for fewer?  If they speak out against gun violence or remain silent?  If they support #blacklivesmatter, #bluelivesmatter, or #alllivesmatter?

Third off, if a person is a Democrat, does that automatically mean that he/she is NOT a "man of God"? Can only a conservative Republican be a "man of God"?  Can only a white, male, conservative Republican be a man of God?

Fourth off, will this "man of God" have to support prayer/Bible reading in schools in order to be considered a "man of God"?

The early Christian church began during a time in history when the person "at the helm" was definitely not a "man of God".  The ruler in the Roman Empire, where the early Christian church began, was a Roman emperor whose word was law and whose word was enforced at sword point. Christianity also began in an area, Judea, where Jewish law reigned supreme.  It was in this context that the Apostle Paul enjoined fellow Christians to "submit themselves to the governing authorities" (Romans 13:1) and to pray for those in authority over them (I Timothy 2:2).  I Peter 2:17 also tells Christians to "fear God, honor the emperor".

Granted, the Bible does also share the stories of those who did defy those who ordered people not to preach and teach in the name of Jesus (see Acts 4 and Acts 5).  Paul himself was arrested for putting his hope in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6, Acts 24:21).

This was the context in which the early Christian church grew, a context where the government was tolerant at best and hostile at worst.  No "man of God" was at the helm here.

I admit to worrying about the future of this country, and perhaps we would be better off with "a man of God" at the helm.

But do we want to be "better off", or do we just want to make life easier for ourselves?  Do we want to have our Christian culture, where we can drive with ease to the nearest Christian bookstore, church hop on Sundays until we find one to our liking (which, too often, means "one that makes me feel good"), turn up our Christian music, and put our fish magnets on the back of our car?

Or do we really want to be "better off", where "better off" may mean having our faith tested and challenged?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

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