(I have resolved to spend Sundays meditating on the things that transcend politics. These are all in my favorite book of all: THE BIBLE)
Romans Chapter 8: 33-39
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution of famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As is it written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels not demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In our topsy-turvy modern world, with all its mandated distractions, it is easy to become overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness, that there is nothing I, the individual, can do against these incredible forces that seem hell bent to ruin my serenity. It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric, the causes, the angst. Constantly throwing ourselves at these efforts can leave us exhausted and demoralized.
As a Christian, I have to consider myself a lieutenant in God’s army, the head of which is Jesus. Then I have to consider what Jesus’ situation was while he was on this earth, and how he was treated. Jesus made some really serious challenges to the powers-that-be in Roman-occupied Israel. These powers had learned how to kowtow to the Romans, who, in return, let them have their titles of nobility and perceptions of power and prestige. Along came Jesus and pointed out clearly that they had co-opted their faith and morals for political purposes. Beyond that, he called them, loudly and pointedly, liars and hypocrites. For that he was crucified.
Now I, a lieutenant in Jesus’ army, should expect that life will hand me anything less than it handed Jesus. Not that I will go out of my way to find persecution or death. But I should expect that a lot of people are going to be upset if my preaching of the truth wrests them from their comfort zone. I should know that the testimony of how well I am doing my job will be how much hate and vitriol is heaped upon me. If I end up dead, it’s not more than my leader suffered.
Throughout history, there are examples of people who considered themselves “like sheep to be slaughtered” and had to “face death all day long”. But this did not make them losers. It made them “more than conquerors”. Whenever anyone in this world has, from a conviction to share the love of Jesus, allowed him or herself to be persecuted, this shows and understanding of the big picture. This life is a fleeting thing. But the next one is forever. Since by faith we are already citizens of the next life, whatever good things we have in this one are gravy. Martin Luther was one of these people. He stared down the Roman Emperor, who wanted him dead, and lived to tell about it. But, as he became more and more sure of God’s promises that nothing could separate him from God’s love, he penned one of the best-known hymns in history. In it he writes
“If they take our life, goods, fame, child, and wife, so be it. They still haven’t beat us. We still have the Kingdom!”
America has always been held up as an earthly model of heavenly freedom. This it can never really be, because in Heaven we will also be free from the people who co-opt our freedom for their personal power. That is why Satan is not in Heaven. That is why the people who prefer personal power to the will of God will not be in Heaven. Only the true believers in justice and righteousness will be there.
So, what’s the worst that can happen to me in this world? I suffer taxation? I lose my property? I spend twenty years in a Gulag? Or I lose my life? I think the worst is death. But I’m going to die no matter what. When I die, I’m not going to take my property with me. Even if I suffer, I won’t take the suffering to the other side. I’ll be a peace from all the world’s problems. I still get to be with my beloved general, the King of kings, in the end. So, go ahead, world. Be as mindlessly corrupt as you want. Doesn’t change my view of the outcome. For me, it’s all good.