Refuge

Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Whose People Are We?

            As we approach a Presidential election once again, the difficult issues facing our nation become intensely politicized. Two major political parties espouse two diverse, almost divergent, platforms.  For persons of Refuge (followers of Christ) deeper issues of the heart must be considered.
           
            As Christians living in a nation called the United States of America (USA), we cannot allow our identity as the Church to be confused with patriotism for the State. We live in a wonderful nation founded on godly principles, and we are called to influence our nation by actively living godly lives, but in my opinion, we are not called to be a "Christian nation." We have a much higher calling, and if you read on, I believe you will understand why I say this.  Our primary citizenship is in a non-earthly Kingdom. King Jesus is the ultimate authority over all earthly kingdoms. Therefore, our loyalty to King Jesus supercedes our loyalty to any earthly governmental structure. Scripture teaches us to honor and obey our earthly government, but not look to them to solve problems that only God can solve because of His great love, mercy, and supremacy. 

            The role of the Church in community life is to be "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13-16). Our mission is to be so radically consumed with the love of our Savior Jesus Christ, that it cannot help spilling into the lives of those around us. For  Christ's love to be reflected in this way, it requires a surrendered heart. A believer's heart must be purely devoted (2 Corinthians 11:3) to avoid the pitfalls of distraction from earthly systems and structures of functioning. I believe that instead of primarily focusing attention on how we can make changes in government  we should be radically focusing on how to make changes in our hearts so that God would be pleased to grant us worthy government.  Yes, we can be patriotic as USA citizens, but our greatest worth to the USA is to be the most radical disciples of Jesus Christ this land has ever seen! 

             The very first disciples had a similar problem. Though hand-picked by Christ, they tried to make an earthly kingdom out of the heavenly Kingdom Jesus came to set up (see Mark 10:37). When earthly officials came to execute Jesus, they all fled and their hearts were broken because their focus was on the wrong kingdom. The two kingdoms are meant to co-exist, but the heavenly Kingdom prevails.  Can we learn from the countless times in history when the same mistake has been made?


          A very familiar verse of Scripture is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  Contextually, this verse is found in the midst of ceremonies to dedicate to God the greatest temple of its time. Why, during these holy acts of worship, would God remind His chosen people of the wicked ways at the core of their hearts? God uses the term wicked to describe His most holy people on the face of the earth. What's up with that? Why would God do such a thing? It is because God desires a radical commitment to heart transformation. Genuine transformation begins with an honest assessment of mankind’s desperate need.  This is not a once and done thing, but a lifetime commitment.  At the same time that part of a person’s heart may be seeking after God and submitted to His will to some degree, other aspects of his life may be influenced by evil and still need to be surrendered to God’s will. It's part of the threefold aspects of sanctification; been changed, being changed, and change completed at the end of time.

             In the book I authored called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart,  I explain how this process works in greater detail.   I also talk extensively about honesty and humility as the first key ingredients in gaining freedom from the disappointments of life that create bitterness and resentment which sometimes  goes undetected for years. If there is bad fruit, there is a bad root. If things aren't going well, there's a reason. In many ways the Church is not doing well in America today. It's time we become serious about the biblical model for healing. It's time we get sick and tired of our familiarity with, and addiction to, sickness.  In many ways the world system has so shaped our world view we cannot even recognize how sick we are.  It's as if we accept broken marriages, broken church relationships, disputes, immorality, dishonesty, self-absorption, rage, fear, unbelief, depression, anxiety, etc. as expected behavior and "normal" living. Complaining, blaming, and justifying have become are standard ways of dealing with these problems instead of humbly praying, seeking God, and turning away (repenting) with resolve and fervency.

             The verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted above might be summed up in this way,  “If my people … humble, pray, seek, and turn, then will I hear, forgive, and heal.”  The heart conditions of humility, listening prayer, seeking God, and repenting are all necessary for God's hearing, forgiving, and healing. Healing simply doesn't happen any other way. When we show ourselves to be God's people, then He shows up and shows Himself strong on our behalf.  "The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble" (Psalm 37:39). Many of the Psalms and other Scriptures speak of God being our ONLY refuge, hope, and salvation. The Church will not have her problems solved by electing the "right" person (no pun intended) for the White House. Jesus is our King. God is our Refuge. God is our security.  "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 10:10).
 

            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with disappointments, offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here: http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/book_main.htm . If you get anywhere near Pennsylvania for vacation or on business, be sure to look us up for lodging at  http://bluerockbnb.com 


by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry