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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter XXXV

Posted by Jerry E Beuterbaugh Labels: ,

Chapter XXXV
Civil Rights
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment! [James 2:12-13 NIV]

As if lumping abortion, capital punishment and suicide together was not bad enough, this segment is even worse.  For issues over the separation of church and state, homosexual marriage and illegal immigration fit quite nicely under the banner of civil rights.

Let us begin with prayer in schools—shall we?  For it is not as much of a political issue now as it was a few years back, but there are still far too many who believe that laws are needed to be enacted in order to insure its return to the classrooms of our public schools.

Yes, it is indeed a shame that it is no longer welcome, but how is this preventing anyone from praying to our Heavenly Father at any time they want to?  For it is not like it must be done openly for all to see and hear.

In fact, it would do us all well to do just the opposite.  For it is written: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” [Matthew 6:5-6 NIV]

Yes, it can be argued that prayers offered openly can have a good influence upon others—especially upon those who have not come to know our Heavenly Father yet, but cannot a Muslim say the same thing about offering prayers to Allah?  After all, we do live in a free society, and what is allowed for one should be allowed for another—right?

No, this is not to say that we would do well to protect our children from such influences.  For our Heavenly Father’s absolute Truth [John 14:6] shines the brightest in the midst of the darkness of spiritual ignorance [John 8:31-36], but of what comfort is that to those who refuse to accept that it is the work of His Holy Spirit to seek and to save the lost and confused [John 16:8-11]?

Alas, is that not also a driving force behind the fight to keep our Heavenly Father’s Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:3-17] prominently on display in public places?  For it has been widely taught that it is the duty of the Christian church to make a stand against the evil of this world [Proverbs 14:12], and this is something that far too many want to believe is true [2 Timothy 4:2-4].

Add opposition to legally-recognized homosexual marriages to the list, as well.  For far too many have been led to believe that this will be detrimental to the covenant that our Heavenly Father instituted between a man and a woman [Genesis 2:23-24].

No, this is not to deny that homosexuality is a sin [1 Corinthians 6:9-10], but to believe that making it legal for Adam to marry Steve (instead of Eve) will cause irrevocable harm to the institution of marriage is utterly ridiculous [Ephesians 6:10-12].  For Chuck and Larry or Thelma and Louise getting officially hitched does not make Joseph taking Mary as his lawfully wedded wife anything less than it is—certainly not in the eyes of our Heavenly Father!

Yes, it can be argued that making homosexual marriages legal sends the wrong message to those who want to experiment with their sexuality, but can it not be also argued that making it easier for more to come out into the open also makes it harder for them to deny what is truly in their hearts [Jeremiah 17:9-10]?  For our Heavenly Father established His Law in order to make it easier for us to recognize sin [Romans 5:12-13], and no man-made law can make that any less true [Romans 5:20].

No, the same cannot be said for illegal immigration.  For the great cry for more secure borders has nothing to do with concerns over the spiritual welfare of our children.

Nonetheless, does it not have something in common with the other issues?  After all, are they not all matters of us versus them, and should this not be of grave concern to all who fear the demise of this country?  For it is written: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. [Proverbs 16:18 NIV]

Yes, there is most definitely a great need for improvements to be made.  For gangs of hardened criminals slip across the border like packs of ravenous wolves in search of prey, and then they avoid prosecution by slipping back across before our law-dogs can catch up to them.

There is also the threat of terrorism hanging more over our heads with each passing day, but even this is of lesser concern to most than someone from another country taking what is ours.  “I’ve worked hard for everything I have, and I’ll be dipped if I’m gonna let some yahoo from God-only-knows-where get welfare that my tax dollars pay for!”

Sound familiar?  Of course it does.  For such sentiments apply to more than just illegal immigrants.  In fact, they apply to anyone who is judged to not be earning their keep [2 Thessalonians 3:10].

On the other hand, who has what that was not given to them by our Heavenly Father to begin with?  For it is written: So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.  I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.  My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.  Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”  Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.  For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? [1 Corinthians 4:1-7 NIV]

In other words, none of us have any reason to act like we have earned our keep because everything we have (including even our desire to work [Ecclesiastes 5:18-20]) was given to us by our Heavenly Father, but even if that cannot be accepted, there is another thing or two that should not be ignored.  For it is also written: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’  Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’  Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [Matthew 25:31-46 NAS]


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