Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What is On My Mind Today

A lot of the blogs I read are discussing the extremely public fall of another prominent minister. I have to admit, I didn't even know there was a National Association of Evangelicals until I began reading some of these blogs - I had quit taking Christianity Today (or as some aptly call it Christianity Astray) a long time ago. Even when I did take it, I remember feeling a real disconnect that a lot of what they were writing about being important in the evangelical world, I had never even heard of. With all that said, I probably couldn't have told you who Ted Haggard even was before all this came out. So, not knowing him at all, I won't comment on his particular situation except to say that it is so sad for his family and I hope he will repent and take care of what needs to be taken care of.

First thought: in James we are warned that those who teach are held to a high standard. We are correct to be appalled when one who has allowed himself to be placed in such a prominent position is found to be living a life characterized by sin. We should pray that those whose faith may be weakened by this will turn their attention from prominent men to Christ, who alone will not fail. We must be so careful not to idolize any mere man or teacher, as we cannot know anyone's heart. Only God knows our hearts. I know from personal experience how deceitful my own heart can be and how easily I can delude myself when I don't spend the time in the Word and in prayer that I ought. But I also know from personal experience that the path to gross sin is filled with lots of compromises with sin along the way. Usually I don't start out with blatant things, but seemingly smaller things that begin to harden my heart until one day the bigger things don't seem so unthinkable anymore. May I stay tender to the Holy Spirit's leading in my own life and learn to lay aside the weights that so easily entangle me and live a holy life dedicated to the glory of my Savior. And may I remember to pray for my pastor and those whom God has appointed as leaders over me that they will persevere to live holy lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. It really bothers me that we evangelicals are so very undiscerning in who we allow to become prominent faces for us. So many of the most influential faces associated with American Christianty today aren't even preaching the gospel correctly! And the NAE, Ted Haggard, et. al. don't even speak for me.

I agree with some of the comments I've read that this (the media's fascination with a prominent evangelical's very public crash and burn) is what comes of marrying politics and Christianity, and being too fascinated with this world system and power structure. I'm assuming the NAE is involved with that mindset of putting our hopes in government for what really needs to be spiritual reform, not governmental. That's what I really wanted to write about. Let me say this first: I am patriotic. I love my country, and there are many times that I pray and thank God that I was born here and that we have the freedoms we do. I also believe that we ought to be good citizens, vote our conscience and values, and even serve in elected office if God leads us to do so. But that is not to mistake the fact that this world is not really my home. My hope does not rest in whoever is elected or in what legislation is passed. We should do all we can to keep this a moral society, but I am not deluded enough to assume that this is a Christian nation. It is a free nation, and I am thankful for the Christians who were instrumental in laying some of the foundations, but we must understand that it is secular and we should not be so entrenched in political concerns that we lose sight of our real focus - making disciples and living holy lives that are dedicated to God's glory. The kind of reform we want to see won't come through secular government. It comes from lives surrendered to Almighty God and delivered from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. And, yes, I said delivered, not perpetually recovering. I am aware that as long as I live on this earth I will deal with sin in my life, but on the road to sanctification, as I'm surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, habitual sin ought not to characterize my life.

For a long time now I've been uncomfortable with the way we American Christians seem to incorporate love of country with love of Christ. At times it is almost idolatrous. Especially when July 4th, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day come around. Then we give the American flag and patriotic songs the forefront during a worship service that ought to be dedicated to God and His holiness. Don't get me wrong, I deeply appreciate our veterans and those who sacrifice so much to protect our country. But that appreciation must never, never trump the worship of the God who created all and Christ who is the true King and who will return to judge all. Then all of us, and every government will bow to His authority. That is where our focus must be. Not on earthly power and influence.

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