..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pirates, Pluralism and The Gospel

Have you noticed there seem to be a lot of pirates springing up lately? I thought we were worried about illegal immigrants but we seem to have a homegrown group of buccaneers springing up on the American landscape. I'm wondering how they will fit into an already crowded horizon of organically odd blossoms. Perhaps our soil is going off. Perhaps too much fertilizer.

It was an easier day when freedom of worship, and liberty mostly did not conflict with one another in such cataclysmic ways. While many of the early Americans where Christians of some sort, I am not sure that they had a clear sense of how challenging it would be to be American and Christian in the 21st century. After all, those fathers were dealing with an infant nation, not a teenage one.

If push comes to shove, were our founding fathers Christians first, or worshippers of freedom first? I am not trying to be controversial but the American Revolution was a rebellion against authority. We wanted our freedom and we used guns and force to get it. Granted, we wanted to worship in peace, but the bible seems to say, "Obey those that have the rule over you" (Hebrews 13:17) and "Honor the king" (2 Pet 2:13) a command that seems to be only circumventable if those authorities ask you to worship someone other than God. The Boston Tea Party, as I understand it, was about taxes and fair representation not religion. It was about doing what you want on your own terms. Talk about a little "pirattitude."

I'm wondering how far America can stretch herself in making room for others on a moral level and how American Christians fit into that. How far can we, as Christians, stretch the very fabric of the gospel itself before it splits in our attempt to be tolerant? What will happen when Al Qaeda terrorist sleeper cells start asking for health care benefits and retirement plans? Are we not forced at some point to choose between our committment to our country and our committment to Christ?

What I am really asking is whether America is going to decide to define herself primarily as a free nation that offers tolerance to all, even those who would prove harmful, or as a Christian or Judeo-Christian nation that has a moral responsibility to God to allow freedom within reasonable, moral, and biblical boundaries?

Will Christians go back to being a minority, or, for those who sense we already are, how will we stand our ground? Do we lock ourselves in the gospel fort battening down the hatch against our enemies? Do we invade the new cultures and christianize them? Perhaps plant a Christian Pirates Gospel Association? If one feels called to piratry, perhaps the best we can do is hope to make it a civilized "christian" piratry. What would Jesus do if America was His? I wonder.

This morning, Good Morning America had a segment on the movie, Jesus Camp, the highly debated movie looking at one way of fighting back the moral confusion and, dare I say it, sin, facing us today. One of the GMA hosts, Chris Cuomo, I believe, said something to the effect of "I grew up as a Christian but Jesus was talked about in terms of love then." Indeed. Now He is becoming "Jesus, Mean and Wild" and folks don't know what to do with it.

We as Christians better use this time to make up our minds. I'm not giving up on America but it is really up to us as individuals to decide what God would have us do. How can we best love God and love our neighbor? Should we be involved with politics or retire to the hills? Step forward and be seen as militant or step silently and fight from the prayer closet? We have some decisions to make. Some may be made for us. Two that will always be personally mine to make are "Am I loving God above all else?" and "How can I best love my neighbor, even if he is a pirate?"


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