Called To Live In The Land We Occupy

            We have often heard that Christians are just passing through the planet.  We are not citizens of this earth; rather we are citizens of heaven.  While I believe this is true, we are still called to a higher calling than that of mere occupiers who care nothing for the life we now live.  We believe that life is precious.  We understand that we were created by a marvelous creator and that we were created in his image.  Yet, we fail to value that creation to its fullest extent.

            As Americans we have been given the gift of being born into a culture where there is very little we cannot have.  We are experiencing prosperity like never before. We have good jobs, good health, and the hope for a tomorrow better than today.  What we fail to realize is that we have these things not because we deserve them, but because, for some reason, god has chosen to bless us.  It is our responsibility to take that blessing and help it to grow so that the rest of the world can enjoy the blessing.

            I am not talking about taking the American dream and force feeding it to the world.  I am talking about something much deeper.  I am not talking about taking the American version of Christianity and spreading it casually throughout the world.  I am talking about something much deeper.

            I am taking about looking at what we really have and turning our attention to the God of the Universe in thanks for everything we have.  We have built our kingdoms on the things of God, but we have seldom kept the God of the things in the things of God.  We have turned God’s truths into magic spells that bring blessings if we say the right things or do the right things.

            We have made the same mistake as a lot of people throughout history.  We have assumed that the blessing of God on our lives and our Churches is a sign that God is pleased with us.  We have forgotten that God causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

            It is not our goodness that has brought about our prosperity.  It is God’s goodness that has brought about prosperity.  All of our righteousness is as filthy rags.

            So, what do we do?  We must get back to the basics of the faith.  We must get back to living as one community, seeing to the needs of each.  We must learn to live int eh world we are born in—a world that is so small that suddenly every man is our neighbor.  When we hoard what we have we become guilty of not being the people God called us to be.

            We must use our well-being to further the well-being of the entire planet.  We must learn to live in the world as citizens of the world rather than pretending that because America is so good everyone should come here to experience the best.  If they are not here they are not our problem.

            We can no longer justify hiding behind our oceans and blindly ignoring the pain of most of the world.  This means that we must become the eyes, and hands, and feet of Jesus.  We must be the leading voice of compassion around the world.  We should shame when a secular groups shows more compassion than our Churches.

            What a disgrace that secular organizations lead the charge in the fight against AIDS.  What a disgrace that secular organizations equal or better our work to feed the hungry.  What a disgrace that secular organizations lead the fight for human rights.

            We have so much to give and give so little.  To whom much is given, much is required.  If we are truly stewards of all that God has given us why do we keep it so close?  Who are we to decide that God’s blessings are for Americans and Americans alone?

            We are the greatest nation in the world and we are the most disgraceful nation in the world.  We export more missionaries than any other country.  We send more money to help the world’s needy.  At the same time we send more filth abroad than any other nation on the planet.

            The message of the Gospel is lost in the American version of Christianity.  It is help for the helpless.  It is justice.  It is peace.  It is not wealth and health.  It is a tender hand to the lost and dying around us.

            We can no longer define our neighbors as those with whom we agree.  We must see that our neighbors are everyone on the entire planet.

            Part of the problem is our view of the world.  We often think that this world does not matter because the next world is the heaven we are all looking for.  This leaves us destroying the planet and coming too late to the game of helping the sick and downtrodden.  This leaves us thinking that the sick and poor of the world deserve to be sick and poor.

            What must we do?

            Dr. Thomas Schirrmacker, in his book Hope for Europe, offers insight into how we must approach the world we live in.  He tells us that “God command[ed] the Israelites to seek the well-being of Babylon, for even though the city is heathen, its fate is the fate of God’s people.  ‘Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.  Pray to the lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ (Jer. 29:7).  In the New Testament, Paul bids the church to pray for the government.  ‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”  (I Ti. 2:1-3).  For the political policies and the state of society also determines the life of the Church.”  Hope For Europe, Dr. Thomas Schirrmaker, Verlag für Theologie und Relgionwissenshaft, Page 46.

            The world around us, the entire world, is where the fate of God’s people lies.  We can no longer coast through the world living in our own little space.  We must become citizens for the entire planet.

            How do we do that?

            We can begin by praying.  For those of faith everything must begin with prayer.  It is not just praying that matters.  We must learn to pray that god will show us how he looks at the world everyday.

            We must learn to have the same compassion that Jesus had—compassion that caused him to be willing to lay down his life for us.  Not knowing that we would be redeemed; taking it on faith that we would follow; he left the world with a small band of followers.  None of them were Americans.  None of them had the intellectual prowess to run the world.  None of them was wealthy.  Yet, he gave everything because he cared.

            How can we do any less?

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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