Our country has been pounded—fires to the left of us, hurricanes to the right. This is nothing new, although having so many disasters happen at the same time sure makes it seem that way. As a Christian, my initial response is, how can I help?
The first thing we can do is pray. For one, prayer is something we can do right away, and keep on doing as long as the situation demands. And two, prayer releases God’s power and resources—so much more than ours! Ask God how He would like you to pray for these things. Our first inclination is usually to pray the problems away, but God may have something different in mind. (That’s a topic for another post someday.)
Should Christians be patriotic? I’ve read dozens of articles on this controversial topic over the past few years, with devoted believers with sound reasoning weighing in on both sides. I admit to getting frustrated when I go to church around July 4 and it’s all about the USA instead of all about Jesus. On the other hand, this is the country in which God has placed us. Shouldn’t we care about it?
Christianity Today magazine recently posted what I consider to be an excellent explanation of why it’s fine to be patriotic, as long as your nation doesn’t become an idol. Do you agree? You can read their editorial and decide for yourself.
For years, the church in Europe has been in decline. We speak of rising secularism, and the evidence is everywhere. Soaring cathedrals stand empty, with the buildings for sale. The German Spiegel Online reports:
Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor rock climbing centers.
A cathedral in the Netherlands has been turned into a skateboard park. Others are becoming mosques.
Are you wearing green? Eating green food, drinking green beer? Stores are selling shamrocks, leprechauns adorn decorations, and we’re all hoping for a pot of gold. What is St. Patrick’s Day about, really? Just as Frosty and mistletoe have little to do with the true purpose of Christmas, and Easter holds far more significance than a bunny bringing baskets of jelly beans, St. Patrick’s Day has a rich heritage far beyond our cultural celebration.
Patrick was born in Scotland 385 AD. He was abducted at age 16 and taken to Ireland, where he lived in bondage as a shepherd. During that time, his Christian faith became real to him, sustaining him for six long year. God then rescued him and he returned home, where he became a priest—only to be called as a missionary back to the very country where he had been enslaved.
I’ve noticed a problem in the American church. Well, really there are lots of problems, but one has stuck out recently, and I’m as guilty as anyone else.
Somehow, we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that being a Christian is all about me. Being a believer—“following the rules”—is supposed to make my life better. For example, we believe that when it comes to money, we just need to follow Biblical principles and our families will prosper. Or, we believe that God will smooth the way and eliminate any problems or hardships from our lives.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when Christmas is over. The advertisers certainly waste no time switching from hawking Christmas gifts to promoting New Year’s specials. It takes me a little bit longer. I yearn for just a few more days of magic. I know that eventually we need to stop playing Christmas carols, attempt to stuff our tree back into the box in the garage, and eat one last guilt-free cookie, but does it have to be on December 26? On the other hand, I’d rather not let the holidays slowly fizzle out, gloomily dissolving into months of winter, winter, and more winter. For years, I wished for some definitive event to put a firm period at the end of the season. Then I discovered Epiphany.
A friend of mine “helpfully” posted this article on Facebook. It’s from an organization called The Christian Left. The first paragraph reads:
An epic deception has taken place over the last 35 years. Purveyors of deceit have managed to equate Christianity and right-wing ideology as one and the same in the majority of Christian minds. We know the history, but how this ever happened is unfathomable to us because the two things could not be more opposed. Right-wing ideology is selfish, greedy, arrogant, vengeful, loud, pushy, judgmental, exclusive, controlling, militaristic, aloof, void of empathy, hostile towards the weak and the sick, and many times racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic. The list goes on. Does that sound like Jesus?
The writer went on to accuse the “Christian right” of brainwashing, false teachings, and shaming. (And then they asked for donations.)