Friday, December 23, 2005

Finally, A War Worth Fighting

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at 707's Sunday night services. It was an awesome night for me because there were a bunch of people baptized, which means a bunch of stories about how Jesus has changed their lives. Since it was the last time we'd be gathering as a congregation I decided to talk about Christmas, and more specifically Emmanuel. I would say that things went swimmingly. It had everything you'd want for a Christmas sermon, Christmas sweaters, Charlie Brown & Linus, even a lite up nativity scene. Towards the beginning I included a sort of joke about how War had been declared on Christmas, that of course failed, and has since got me thinking.

For those of you who are unaware and missed the last post on this topic that has since been removed from Midwest Mindset, let me bring you up to speed on some of the happenings. Apparently non-Christians get pretty offended when you say Merry Christmas to them (or so the Liberal Media would have you believe) so this year all sorts of places tried to start saying Happy holidays. Places like WalMart, Target, and even the White House opted for Happy holidays... or at least they did until they realized that Christians get even more offended when you don't say Merry Christmas. I mean take a look at this guy...

It doesn't just stop with protests and "Happy Holidays" entire news networks have decided to refocus their war coverage to a war the Christians don't have to feel dirty for participating in, the War on Christmas. Fox News has embedded many of it's top journalists with the troops, and one has even put out a book about it warning you about How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought, but one Liberal would disagree with Gibson's assessment, claiming that the Republican's have stolen both Christmas and Religion and unveiling a plan for the Democrats to take it back.

Apparently it's worse than I thought, and obviously not funny at all (note intended sarcasm). Monday I received an e-mail from someone who very humbly confronted me on the issue of the Religious war that is at hand. He shared with me an article that Chuck Colson had written that highlighted some of the stories in Gibson's book about the war. This is when I stopped laughing and started to think. Here's the story...
Apparenlty there was some girl in an elementary school in Texas that had to do a foot tracing and then inside the foot put something about themselves. This little girl put "Jesus Loves Me" inside the foot and hung it on the classroom wall. The teacher "yelled" at her, she started crying and took down the drawing. Of course the parents stood up and the kid got to do a new drawing, but (and here's the kicker) this time instead of a the bold "Jesus Loves Me" she drew a very understated cross in the very corner. Colson and Gibson say that it's a shame because this girl is taught that her religious beliefs are something to be ashamed of and go on from there.

Now I'm sure everyone who's ready to fight those darn dirty liberals would say that this is enough evidence for us to fight back, but I think more than anything it causes me to ask some questions.

Is it a big deal that this happened to this little girl? Probably.
Is this the only story like this? Probably not.
Should I care and get all hot and bothered? eeeeehhhhhh...
What should be our response?

Let me tell you what I've been thinking lately.
In October I was invited to a "bipartisan" Conservative Christian political fundraiser. I went, with everyone I worked with and regretted almost every minute of it. Two of the highlights of the evening were when, through video, they made a direct connection with the ACLU and Demons that Jesus cast out. Later in the night the director/president stood up and gave a "the constitution was founded on the Bible/ if you don't like it MOVE/ the ACLU is the enemy" kind of speech that about made me puke.

I think that the part of this whole war mentality that bothers me the most isn't that there are people opposed to the gospel, but that we draw up battle lines. If we start looking at people who don't share the same "beliefs" as us as the enemy, I'm pretty sure it makes it easier for us to hate those people, wish them harm, and not Love them. When churches start preaching sermons about the "liberal" media wanting to remove Christmas from America I think it calls the Body of Christ to fight instead of serve. It also helps Christains forget that those who don't know Christ are no more enemies of God than we were before Christ's work of salvation in our own lives.

When I think about what's being done to Christians in other countries, and then I hear Colson talk about this as persecution it depresses me. I don't know how we've forgotten that Jesus never expected to win friends and influence people with the Life he lived. He never thought that everyone would look at his life and say, "man, good for you." In fact he promised us that if we followed his commands that we would be hated just like he was hated.

What's shocking to me is that the people who hate on you for trying to follow Christ's examples are never those who are outside the church. If you say that we should love these people, care for them, not fight back, return evil with "actual" good, pray & love our enemies we are exiled by those from within the church.

I think this whole thing is stupid, which was the unspoken punchline. The entire country shuts down on a holiday named after Jesus. More people will go to church this weekend than any other weekend this year. Heck, even SNL will get preempted for Mass. There's no war on Christmas. The ACLU isn't the enemy. We're not fighting the liberal media, the democrats, the evolutionists or the spaghetti monster.

Maybe this Christmas it's time to remind people that our battle isn't against flesh and blood at all, but is in fact a spiritual battle that is ALWAYS won with LOVE.


At 12/23/2005 11:19 PM, Anonymous joey said...

I just flew in from Australia last night. I wasn't in the country 2 hours and I was sad. I just spent 7 months in a country where Christianity wasn't a political tool, wasn't a popularity contest, and had much less to do with social structures. I was sad because I returned to a place where "we" are right about everything and "we" will follow Christs example as long as it suits are staunch preference.

Doesn't following Christ in the midst of this war on religion mean turning the other cheek? What does that look like? I have yet to see the moral majority do much of this. How have "we" rationalized this part of the gospel so much that it no longer exists as an actual attitude that Christ asked of us? The fact that there is a "war" means that we aren't following Christs example to let both of our cheeks be bloodied because "we" are fighting back. Ghandi said that turning the other cheek was a courageous thing to do because it involved letting people walk all over you because the more they abused you the more they were shown to be abusive. Sorry for the tangent, just some thoughts.

At 12/24/2005 8:10 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

The problem with these stories is that there can be just as many examples where people screw up in the name of the church as well. If we are going after all these individual stories as the basis for engaging in political wars, then we are open to much ridicule of the multitude of stories where Sunday school teachers and Catholic/Christian teachers have said and done damaging things to others as well...

What should have happened with the little girl from Texas is that the parents should have confronted the school administration for this one situation. Not make it a war, but a concern. Talk about how this is something she believes and that there did not appear to be anything wrong with her expressing her own views on her foot print. To be quite honest, I have a hard time believing this situation actually happened exactly as described. However, that is neither here nor there...

Joey, I find it hard to believe this type of Christianity exists? You must be making crap up...

At 12/24/2005 10:25 AM, Anonymous joey said...

haha, I probably shouldn't have used absolutes dusty. But it is a post Christian nation so you they don't have the option of using Christianity as a political tool because less than 10% are practicing Christians. It is socially taboo to be a Christian in a lot of senses. This sort of Christianity is not exempt from problems, especially the problems that all middle-class Christians tend to fall into (they're all middle class because its a wellfare state). It was just nice living in a country where every Christians thought Bush was an idiot.

At 1/06/2006 2:24 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

Hey there. I'm a friend of Elizabeth's (never could get used to calling her "Liza"). Your second-to-last paragraph is so refreshing and heartening to read. It's a long story as to why, but know that it is. Amidst all the doubts and questions that I have right now it was like you took a part of them from my muddled mind and wrote them down. Thank you.

I am curious to know what would have happened if she had drawn the Star of David, or - watch out - a pentagram. Ignorance in leaders is a hazard to society, and fear in teachers is a danger to our youth.

War is never all it's cracked up to be. Ask Bush.


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