Friday, July 5, 2013

"Independence Day," 2013

It didn't feel much like Independence Day, with fireworks and parades scheduled for Saturday, with all the stores open, with our government spying on us, with the health care mandate working to suck the spirit out of religious freedom, with our government supporting all kinds of violence and abuse throughout the world, especially against the most vulnerable through abortion, and the list goes on.

So we need prayer, and at the moment, I can think of no better prayer than the following, our National Hymn...

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand.
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.

For information about this hymn, and to hear the tune, go here. and here.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Violence?

I was sort of reading/scanning Heather King's blog, Shirt of Flame, when I came across this:

"...I do know Christ did not use violence to get his point across and I try not to either."

I know what she means, of course, but the thought popped into my mind: "Yes, he did," He used violence against himself, by means of the Jewish leaders, Roman Soldiers, and Pilate, in order to redeem us. He used violence in a backwards way.

It's sort of like what he said: "If a man strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek." In other words, God was wronged by our sins - the ultimate injustice - and God paid us back, so to speak, by letting us do violence against him in a human body. He offered no resistance in order to teach us to offer no resistance, and by suffering in a human body, to pay for our injustice.

It's as if to say: "If you want to use violence to solve your problems, let it be done against yourself."

I don't think that would mean we should go looking for trouble, looking for violence to be done to us, but rather, to LET violence and injustice be done to us, and so make it stop there, let violence and injustice find a dead end in our bodies, in our lives.

We always want to get even, to pay back. God's way was to not get even, but to give more, not to win a fight or an argument, but to lose the argument so that there could be no more argument.

Yet, like Heather said, it wasn't Christ being a doormat. There were plenty of times that he stood up to his opposition and said it straight and true, mincing no words. But when it came down to the final episode, he had nothing left to say except, "I am," and that was his death sentence. He let it happen so that the death sentence on us could be lifted.

And you never get the impression that Christ argued with his opposition. He chose his words carefully, because it was never about winning, it was about the truth, and the truth setting them and us free. Usually, we read that they were silenced because he spoke with authority.

I think the absolute final authority with which to speak is love, and love isn't about proving the other wrong, or getting even, or winning a fight. It is about making good come to the other. We should desire nothing else, but good for the other.

And sometimes, the way to the greatest good for the other is to be "the loser."