This week I’ve found myself caught up in the firestorm of politically correct protesting and the scathing reviews of public opinion. SPOILER ALERT: This is not an issues post. Hopefully it won’t be too controversial, though I suspect it might.
You see, I’ve been known as a passionate, opinionated and “won’t accept no for an answer” kind of girl. If I believe strongly in something I’m likely to tell you what I think about it and not worry too much about what others think of me. I am who I am, and I live and love passionately on just about every side.
As a youngster my father made me stay abreast of the political issues in our nation. He required me to watch Presidential addresses and then we would discuss them. If we disagreed, he compelled me to support my position and defend what I said. He engaged me in debate. And, being the strong-willed child that I am… I gave chase.
In the waning months of 2008, I joined a national/election prayer team at church to pray for the upcoming Presidential election and found myself praying the entire book of Joel from the Bible in those months leading up to the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of these United States. What struck me the most… It was the weeping of the priests between “the altar and the door” that promised change for the nation of Israel.
Think of it… Picture it with me if you will. Priests, and in the New Testament context this would define any believer, would step outside and see the state of their fellow man, their nation and the people they loved. As they returned to the altar they would then petition and supplicate the grief in their heart over what they had witnessed.
Notice, it does not say they took up a soap box and began lambasting sinners. No. They prayed.
Now flip over to the New Testament. Read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Ask yourself, what Jesus would do?
The rich young ruler had to give up everything that he defined himself by, material wealth and status, to become a member of the Kingdom of God. He had to weigh the cost and it was too high. And, if I read it accurately, Jesus didn’t try to persuade him from making that decision.
Fisherman, tax collectors, a harlot, zealots, religious men and if you count Judas Iscariot-one believed to be a thief- who’d only known one way of living and earning provision had to give up their livelihood and walk away from people they loved to follow Christ. Taking up their cross as Jesus said.
They counted the cost, and save only Judas, found the cause worth leaving everything they knew by faith to walk out a new and powerful existence that changed lives, healed physically and found lost and dying people saved by grace. Its a pretty grand heritage and a pretty grand tapestry that has been laid out for us to examine. Again, with Judas, no harsh rebuke or reply, just “Whatever you must do, do quickly.”
Which brings me to being politically correct and weighing in on public opinion issues. Jesus was gentle with the individual caught in sin. His harsh responses and disciplinary tone seemed reserved for those who demanded rights, sought power and controlled people with their loud voices and influential presence. After all, if I read my Bible correctly, Jesus turned over the table of “money changers” or tax collectors who had set up shop in the temple courts making the house of God a proverbial “den of thieves.” As a matter of fact, I think the text indicates he ran them out of the temple courts with a whip.
He called out the Pharisee who stood on the street corner praying boastfully and loud that he preferred to be the righteous man that he was rather than like the sinners in the street around him. Jesus and Paul found the legalist and those who demanded power and right by some warped sense of inheritance and entitlement to be viperous in nature. And, who does the Bible identify vipers or serpents as being? To quote the Church Lady from SNL, “SATAN!”
HMMMMM… My husband and I found ourselves thinking that we needed to take a stand this week. Not, as some might assume, against gay marriage or the GLBT movement. I stepped out and purchased a meal at ChikfilA this week on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and even last evening.
1.) Because I like their food. They serve delicious chicken and I have preferred their waffle fries since I first visited their mall storefronts as an adolescent with my mother in the 70s and 80s.
2.) Because in their restaurants and on their website you will find that they have a charitable organization company wide that ministers to children and families. Yes, I used the religious word, minister. Because it does.
From the ChikfilA website, I find this quote regarding their charitable Winshape Foundation:
Truett Cathy believes leadership is vital to the success of our country. Developing future leaders among youth has been one of Truett’s chief priorities throughout his more than 60 years in business.
Nothing demonstrates this commitment as well as the WinShape Foundation. Created in 1984 to help “shape winners,” the foundation supports a variety of programs, including a long-term foster care program, a summer camp for more than 1,900 children each year, a scholarship program in conjunction with Berry College and marriage enrichment retreats.
3.) Because Truett Cathy set a standard of excellence in the attitudes of his employees and you receive that same service today if you visit one of their restaurants. Now, I don’t know if the person behind the counter has a religious affiliation or not. And, personally I don’t care. They take my order with a smile, offer me expedient service no matter how busy they are and when I thank them for serving me they say, “My pleasure.” What?
Yes, they are trained to serve customers with a cheerful and pleasant attitude.
At the store I frequented when I worked at Gateway, there was one associate in the drive through who recognized me and greeted me with genuine kindness and would even note they missed my visits when I did not stop in. At a drive through window in a fast food restaurant. Yes, it really happened.
4.) And the final reason I continue to support ChikfilA is that I believe in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The amendment prohibits government establishing any law with respect to religion, limiting the free exercise of religion, preventing (including the use of political position to intimidate) freedom of speech, or infringing on the rights of freedom of the press (which in my mind makes a Right Wing Terrorist Watch List a very shaky platform), as well as interference with the right to assemble peacefully or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Now it doesn’t say that the government can tell people they cannot express and exercise their religious beliefs – it says that the government shall not prohibit it. Any governmental official and institution funded by tax dollars is PROHIBITED by the Constitution of these United States of America from limiting my ability to not only freely exercise my religion, but also to freely express it – EVEN IF NO ONE ELSE AGREES WITH ME.
My decision to publicly express my beliefs and my passions does open me up to public scrutiny and response. I have to be ready for that. I can remember as a “wanna-be” writer posting in the late 90s on a writer’s forum where professional and novice writers congregated under “User Names” and posted their work for critique.
My “wanna-be” self and my writing got ripped to pieces. Until one day, the administrator for the forum contacted me about something I had posted. He wanted to include it in an online magazine, an e-zine. Now this is before we had elaborate personal websites and mainstream digital media outlets. Elated, I quickly replied yes and received a check in the mail a few weeks later for $5.00. Later something else I had written got picked up and added to an online collection of essays – no fee.
When I began blogging in 2007 I had to decide if I would be okay with public scrutiny. The decision remains an overwhelming yes!
Just after our current president found himself elected to public office, I wrote a letter to him that I mailed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Then I posted it on my blog. I got a scathing ten paragraph reply implying that I only wrote the letter because our Mr. President is a black man. In truth, I would have written the exact same letter to Senator John McCain had he won the honor of the highest elected official in the land.
The letter simply implored the new president to be a leader in the standard of King David of Israel rather than King Saul. I then compared the two men I had written to him about and committed to pray everyday for the president. Again, I would have written it to Senator John McCain had he been elected, but he was not.
It happens. But, after the election I had to stop watching FOX News for a season because another thing that the Lord asked of me at the time – and much harder for me, I might add – “Will you honor him as President?”
I had written slice-’em, and dice-’em opinion posts decrying the policies and platform of Mr. Obama. And, the morning after his electoral success, I took every single one of them down and deleted them from my queue.
Not because I agreed with him. But, instead, because I must honor him as President of these United States and the office he holds. Not based on my personal opinion of him as a man, but based on the office of authority he has been afforded by the electorate of this country.
I pray he has not forgotten that he didn’t get to the office of President by himself. He didn’t do that. In fact, if you believe the public opinion polls, the six digits that represent voters who placed their confidence in him in the last election have lost that confidence in this upcoming one. Time will tell if that is indeed true. I pray that God would do his best for our country, and I believe His Word to be true as it says that the Lord indeed sets up leaders of government and deposes them. Interesting thought.
As I sat at my easel painting a gift for a friend on Wednesday night after witnessing the most incredible mass of people I’ve ever seen in such a small space waiting in line and pleasantly visiting with one another at our local ChikfilA this questions popped into my head: “What if all of this is the wrong thing to do?”
Now don’t get me wrong, I think standing up and making a decision about what you believe is necessary, but I would read just 24 hours later a report on why the church failed on ChikfilA Appreciation Day. The writer said our response as a church lacked love and that because we went out in support of ChikfilA that many people felt hated and hatred as a result. The church and Christians by standing with ChikfilA placed an issue over people and that lacked love. Perhaps he is right. I am still wrestling with that myself.
But, for me, I look back and realize I would have visited ChikfilA that day anyway. And, will continue to support the business as I agree with its values and enjoy the atmosphere and food they offer. I took a stand that day not against gay marriage, but instead for the rights of every American, including those I disagree with, to freely express their religious and personally held beliefs and opinions without fear of threat from public governmental authorities. I went to stand against leaders like the mayors of Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago who violated the First Amendment rights of Dan Cathy when they so publicly derided him and stated his business was not welcome in their city.
I stand also for the owner of Toms Shoes, Blake Mycoskie, who publicly apologized after the media assaulted him for speaking at an event for Focus on the Family about “faith in action.” I have heard Mr. Mycoskie speak through a Global Leadership Summit that my church participates in each year. In the interview he sited Biblical references when speaking about the for-profit and philanthropic aspects of his Toms Shoes business plan. Even missionaries have been encouraged to incorporate his for-profit model of business as a means of raising money to benefit the lives of others.
Should he have been derided by the media for speaking at an event aligned with his values? I don’t believe so. His apology leaves me with mixed emotions. I don’t believe we should be apologetic for practicing and speaking about what we believe is true. But, at the same time, he acknowledged the offense others seemed to feel publicly and sought to make amends which is nothing less than admirable. Mixed emotions.
What would Jesus do… History shows zealous Christians have burned assumed witches and heretics at the stake. Ostracized and exiled citizens for publicly disagreeing with state government. We have fought wars in the name of God and and vehemently derided those who disagree with us in public settings. They have picketed abortion clinics, called the patients “baby killers,” and some even blew up clinics. My question now… Would he truly approve?
I believe the Lord is changing my heart. Breaking it more for the state of this country that is trending further and further away from the Judeo-Christian values woven into the founding documents and beliefs of our Founding Fathers who penned them. It reminds me that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah ended up in captivity because they took up the practices of the pagan nations around them and allowed their hearts to be turned from God. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Jews in Israel living under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire said, “We’ve never been slaves to anyone!”
Is this our destiny as well? I pray not. Please vote your values in November’s election. Please pray for our nation and its leaders to turn their hearts and lead this nation back to God and godly principles. Please stop asking Congress to legislate morality and lets get back to the business of loving God and loving people thereby winning souls to God’s Kingdom.
His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.