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Turning the Bible Into Behavior

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Obamacare

Hobby Lobby and Taking a Stand for Faith

Hobby Lobby

You must be blind and deaf not to know about what’s going on in the Supreme Court today. Well, perhaps you’re just not plugged into the news. At any rate, Hobby Lobby is going before the Supreme Court to argue against the Affordable Care Act’s “Contraceptive Mandate.”

Basically, Hobby Lobby is saying that they are religiously opposed to providing types of contraceptives that work after conception. The government is going to try to force the issue saying that corporations are not individuals and cannot use religious belief to opt out of the government mandate.

The argument brings up a whole host of issues, but one of the primary issues is this: How do Christians behave in the middle of culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christian faith and practice?

I concede that not everyone believes the way I do. Some don’t see the contraceptive issue as a religious issue. Ed Stetzer released some data from Lifeway indicating that a majority of Americans believe organizations SHOULD be forced to provide contraceptives even when it goes against religious beliefs.

We’re all waiting to see how the Supreme Court will rule and what impact the ruling will have for “Christian” organizations and individuals.

In the meantime, let’s consider the example of Peter and John in the Bible. When they were called before the Jewish leaders and told to stop preaching or teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered:

Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. (Acts 4:19)

As Christians our ultimate accountability is to God, not to civil government. When we truly feel God calling us to do something, heaven help us if we ignore the call and yield to man. The Apostle Paul writes:

Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

When we understand where we belong and where our ultimate loyalty lies, sometimes we will stand against civil government and say, “I will not yield on this point.”

Here’s the kicker.

It will mean that we endure hardships here. It may not be possible to have our cake and eat it, too. When Christian businesses take a stand on faith, they may be forced to pay penalties and fines or even be forced out of business. This is the cost of being a believer in a broken and sinful world.

While I would like to see the Supreme Court rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, I will not be surprised if doesn’t happen. Then the real test comes. Will Hobby Lobby remain loyal to the faith they now proclaim or will they yield to the rule of man?

Like Jesus said:

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world. (John 16:33)

 

The Rebellious American Spirit

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case there was any doubt in your mind, yes – Americans have a rebellious spirit. You can see this most evidently in political diatribes on social media. We love to stick it to each other. We rail against the horrible policies of our opponents and those of differing agendas and parties.

In extreme cases, I’ve seen people call for Soldiers to openly rise up and seize the White House and remove the President from power. In less extreme cases, I’ve seen people call all sorts of horrible names and level all sorts of wicked accusations against politicians with whom the accusers disagree. It seems that there is no such thing as civil discourse any more.

What really saddens me is how quickly Christians jump on board with this kind of behavior. It’s as though we are giving in to our basest nature and forgetting the Godly nature that is supposed to now guide us. We justify our behavior and our language in all sorts of ways – trying to find an excuse for why we’re calling Senator So-and-So a poo-poo head or linking the President to Hitler. It goes on and on.

The simple fact is this – I don’t see any cause in the Bible for treating people like this. The Apostle Paul seems pretty straightforward:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

Of course, Paul’s “governing authorities” were not the duly elected officials of our era. We’re talking about the Emperor and his governors. You know…the ones who put Christians to death. And still Paul calls us to surrender our rebellious spirit to God and to subject ourselves to the authorities. If God is really in control of this world, then even the authorities we despise are part of his plan.

Politically minded Christians are the worst, because we tend to justify our behavior with the God-card – trying to mix our politics and faith. Missiologist Ed Stetzer recently wrote: When you mix politics and religion you get politics.

Even when we disagree with the policies and decisions of the elected officials, let us make sure that we are not embracing a sinful rebellious spirit but can submit; Republican, Democrat, Independent, whomever.

No matter what happens in the country, this world is not our home. Our ultimate allegiance is not to the flag but to our God. Eventually you will get jerked around by government and organizations – it’s the nature of the beast (yes, pun intended). But take it with a measure of grace and know that God’s got bigger plans than American health care, or gay marriage, ____________ (insert the issue of your choosing).

No matter what happens God is still God.

Related Posts:
Patriotism Vs. Faith
Why The American War For Independence Was Unbiblical
Why You Need to Leave the President Alone

Obamacare: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate it when my friends make me think. It’s so much easier to hold to my ideas without ever having to think through them and see them from other perspectives. If you’re alive in America today you’ve probably been inundated with stories, articles, and opinions regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I know I have been. But then a friend (who will remain anonymous – he LOVES it when I cite him anonymously) and I were involved in a group discussion in which someone said:

“Government control comes with a price that some do not want.”

To which my friend replied:

“What is this price you aren’t willing to pay? If we’re honest, this price most aren’t willing to pay is a smaller bank account. Most aren’t willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of people we don’t know.”

That’s what a lot of this comes down to, isn’t it? I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got and it’s already a struggle as it is. Now I’ve got to sacrifice more for people I don’t even know? I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got kids in school. That’s how my mind went, anyway. I don’t want a smaller bank account. I’m trying to put into it, not withdraw from it!

But when do we actually start allowing out faith to influence our behavior? As Christians we claim that God loves people. We claim that we love God. We often forget to make the connection that loving God then means that we love people too, and that means caring for people who don’t have the ability to care for themselves.

James has a powerful passage in his letter in which he says:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warm and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:14-16)

I’m sure men smarter than I am can argue about the exact significance of the Greek parsing and explain that this passage doesn’t really relate to the Affordable Care Act. As for me, I see a biblical principle at play: faith must be balanced out by caring for the practical needs of those we encounter. It does no good to wish people well if we’re not actually going to do anything about it.

Without actions to back it up faith is incomplete. We can recite the important elements of faith – love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – but then miss the heart of God’s work; caring for people. Have you been in a place where you need help and someone has reached out to give you a hand? The way we want people to act towards us is the same way we ought to act towards them. Shouldn’t this come out in our social and political policies as well as our personal lives?

I believe that the Affordable Care Act is flawed legislation. The idea of forcing people to participate rubs me the wrong way – you cannot legislate hearts and attitudes. Still, I believe that the principle behind it is ultimately a biblical principle. Shouldn’t Christians be leading the charge to make sure that we are caring for people who need help? So what’s really behind our opposition to the ACA? Is it something about the legislation itself that we think could be done better?

Or is it bristling at being mandated to participate and the idea that our money will go to be helping someone else?

Related Posts:
Socialism and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Socialism and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Who is the prisoner? Who is the inmate?
Who is the prisoner? Who is the inmate?

This government shutdown is some crazy stuff, huh? And much of it seems to be revolving around the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare.

What I find interesting is that the act was already signed into law years ago. The fight now comes down to funding and rehashing arguments from years past. I’ve seen a lot of Christians who are really upset by this legislation. It has been criticized as drawing the United States into Socialism. And, honestly, I think there’s something to that argument.

I don’t know if I’d put a label on it but it seems like the left leans socialist. The idea of big government mandating what the citizens need to do for their own good seems socialist. Government regulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sometimes it takes THE MAN stepping in to see necessary changes and growth. It was good in when it came to women’s votes and desegregating the nation. In ethics – the government stepping in is good. In business, however, it’s a different game. More government regulation means less capitalistic freedom for citizens. It’s the government system or nothing.

Merriam-Webster says: Socialism is a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies….

I guess I focused in on the control element, but I would say that the ACA does tend towards socialism. Big Brother is taking away control from the companies to run themselves and imposing regulations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Jesus and the early Church had some similar leanings. In fact, early Christians seemed downright Communist! Luke tells us in his book of Acts:

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

Dang! Really? They practiced a distribution of wealth? Crazy, right? They clearly were not Republicans. But in a small setting where people knew each other and the distribution was VOLUNTARY, the system seems to work. They lived out the principles of 1 John 15-17:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

But that was about the close-knit Christian community taking care of itself. You knew where the money was going and why it was going. Large-scale socialism simply says, “We’re taking what you have and giving it to someone else because it’s all ours anyway. You don’t really own it.”

But in order for socialism to work then all the sheep need to be sheered equally. The problem is that it never works out that way. Some of the fat sheep who run the flock always find a way to beat the system – to live through loopholes so that there becomes a dichotomy between those who lead the Socialist system and those who merely live in it.

I actually think it’s a good thing to make sure all people have access to health care. I think that Christians ought to be leading the way to ensure that people are cared for. The part that gets my knickers in a twist is fining people who want to opt out. Can you picture that at McDonald’s?

“Would you like fries with that order?”

“No thanks.”

“Okay – that will be five dollars for not giving you fries.”

“What?!?”

Someone told me that, while the ACA is not a perfect system, it is a flawed system taking steps in the right direction. Perhaps. I guess only time will tell as this thing gets resolved (maybe…hopefully…one day).

However it comes out, I urge Christians to behave decently. We don’t like to be told what to do. We rebel against authority we feel is out of line. And, if the government ever tells us to do things contrary to our spiritual convictions, I will be standing with you on the front line saying, “NO WAY!” But this isn’t the case here. It’s not a spiritual issue, it’s a governmental issue. Let’s back off the rhetoric and defamation of character and all of the other inappropriate behavior for followers of Jesus. It’s okay to disagree. It’s okay to seek to change legislation. However, too many Christians are led by their political passions and forget that their ultimate allegiance is to Jesus.

The Apostle Peter tells us:

Be subject for the Lords sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:13-15)

I don’t anticipate things will die down quietly. Most of us will hold to our positions without even considering an alternative. But, no matter what your political position, let us act like followers of the King of the Universe.

Sound off! Where do you stand on the ACA? Have you seen people behaving badly? Please keep comments and conversation civil….

Related Posts:
– Why Democrats are Wrong (okay, Republicans, too)
– Why You Need to Leave the President Alone
– Obamacare: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

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