Thinking Biblically in the Politics of Life

Photo Credits: rafik-rafikresponde.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
rafik-rafikresponde.blogspot.com

 

 

Mark 14:56

“Many gave false testimony against him, but their testimony did not agree.”

Mark 15:3-5

3 “Then the chief priest began to accuse him repeatedly. 4 So Pilate asked him again, “Have you nothing to say?  See how many charges they are bringing against you.”  But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.”

I have been thinking about politics lately.  Not the ongoing rhetoric back and forth between political candidates, but the politics of life everywhere around us.

Manners and expectations of behavior are taught to us before we can speak and are a thread throughout civilized society.  We cannot escape at some point in our lives someone trying to define us.  It might be accurate and there might be truth in their analysis, but more often than not the scrutiny is false testimony, formed by sanitized motives of jealousy, bitterness, or a desire to control.

Peer pressure is not just for children in school.  It is politics at an early stage and is prevalent at all ages in the unspoken pressure to conform to the perceptions or behavior of people around us.  In church, in families, in any group, politics are among us.  As a leader, a follower, or in our relationships, a subtle influence tries to convince our behavior to be “correct” to another person’s expectations.

When others find fault in us, in humility we should consider their complaints.  As a leader, there will be many suggestions regarding how we lead.  Politics come into play in a benign way.  People might be offering input to improve and to help.  Their intentions might be pure, but when we do not choose to go with their suggestion, motives can become transparent and it just might be that they want things to be done their way.

Servant leadership considers first the principle of pleasing God and then what is best for the ones you are leading.   It is impossible to please everyone and you will not be leading to do so.  Jesus was surrounded by politics himself.  People who thought he should conduct his ministry in a different way offered advice.  People who were convicted by Him offered false testimony and maybe even began to believe it themselves.

Sometimes politics come about because of victimhood, which is commonplace today.  It makes sense to the flesh.  If we can blame someone else for our mistakes and be surrounded by people giving us attention because of what someone else supposedly did to us, we are not culpable.  Or are we?

Blaming others is man’s way of trying to glorify self and manipulate for something we want.  It is trying to make our sin okay.  (I am this way because . . .)  Jesus saw this in those who surrounded Him, and He offered truth.  He did not answer combatively.  He did not meet their demands, either.

We all have been players in the game of politics.  We have judged other’s according to our own vantage point or been the recipient of said judgment.  At the root of underlying politics is a needy people, searching for something or someone to meet the needs of our empty soul; trying to find life in things which were never meant to give us life.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  Whatever position we are in, whatever wrongs were done to us in this life, we can choose to be a grateful people and not push others around us into a mold for our own gain.

It hurts when people we love assign us a place based on their perception, which might be rooted in their unmet desire.  But the most freeing moment came to me the other day when I sensed judgment.  While I wanted the opportunity to shed light and to share truth to clear up the false perception, the LORD nudged my heart and asked me, “is it biblical?”  No, their pressure upon me was not based on something unbiblical in my life.  Nor was their manner or complaint biblical.  It was based on their unmet desire and their persistence to apply pressure upon me to acquiesce to them – it was controlling.  “Let it go” was spoken to my spirit.

But what if I have been unbiblical in my behavior?  Does that mean I should be shunned or dismissed?  No.  It means I am filled with thankfulness that I can see my shortcomings and thank God for showing me.  It means I can throw myself upon his mercies and find forgiveness.

Teachability is not living for man’s acceptance.  Introspection is not obsessively analyzing ourselves for perfection.  We will never arrive.  We are not accountable to people’s perceptions of us – only accountable to the truth and to God’s evaluation of us.  Throughout our lives, politics will abound, but thinking biblically sets us free.  Free to love others where they are at and to not impose our own politics, either.  We are also no longer bound by man-made rules or trying to make ourselves fit into someone else’s agenda.  Sure, people will still talk and people will still try to put us in a box, but through Christ we are free.

Lord, thank You for opening our eyes to see the freedom we have in You.  Thank you for understanding and insight and for Your abounding mercy which never fails when we are the ones at fault.

I’m Not Bitter

Ruth 1:20

“But she replied to them, “Don’t call me ‘Naomi’! Call me ‘Mara’ because the Sovereign One has treated me very harshly.  I left here full, but the LORD has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the LORD has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?””

Psalm 119:75

“I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”

This verse from Psalms still gives me an inner joy I cannot adequately describe.  Why, in the moments following a miscarriage, would I feel the most loved by my God, as I knelt and wept, reading this verse aloud?  Like a rose, life is beautiful, but it can be filled with thorns and thistles which prick us with throbbing pain and sorrows. While no one sees trials or tribulations as a blessing at first, taking a step back might grant a more accurate understanding of what is really transpiring.

I can identify with Naomi in the verse from the book of Ruth, above.  When one tragedy follows another, it is easy to feel forgotten.  When confronted with loss, we have a choice.  Though Naomi was blessed with a faithful daughter-in-law, she chose to focus on her loss.  Though she had previously been blessed, she chose to focus on her current status.  Don’t we all do that?  We feel we deserve blessings but are angry, hurt and doubt God when those blessings are seemingly removed.

What hurt Naomi most was that she knew her God – that He knew all; He was sovereign.  Yet she accused him of poor character – of being harsh and of being the source of her suffering.  The reality is that her God was loving her through it all, through a selfless servant.  God was for her – not against her.  The pain blinded her understanding and the blessings were not in the form she wanted, so her perception and decision was that God did not care.

This God who numbers the hair on our heads and our every tear is not a God Who does not notice our suffering.  He is the one Who bore it Himself, because He could not bear to be without us.  He is the One Who cares so much for our character that He allows pain in, knowing that the beauty made in the crucible is far superior than the shallow goal of living a perfectly comfortable life.

I hurt to write these words, for so many are going through or have gone through horrific burdens and trials, and I desperately want you to know those sorrows are real, and never trivialized by God with a pat religious statement.  Truly, I will never be the same as I was before the greatest sorrow of my life, but then, the compassion birthed through the catalyst of grief is far greater.  He walked through suffering, as well.  He knows what severe trials can do to us emotionally, physically and spiritually and wants to be the One we run to in those moments.

Whatever affliction that is allowed into our lives, it can never be compared with another person’s.  The severity of hardships can range from uncomfortable to debilitating, but in the midst there is a grace supplied – do we perceive it?  It might be a blessing hidden; someone like Ruth that God brings into our lives.  She was a comfort to Naomi, though a foreigner and a Moabite, she ended up being grafted into Christ’s lineage and blessing Naomi abundantly.  Or maybe God’s provision is Himself and His Word that we have to cling to with our whole being.

When our expectations are calibrated with the biblical humility of deserving nothing before a Holy God, we then are surprised we have any blessing at all.  Even greater than a temporary happiness on earth is the all-consuming joy of knowing our Maker and knowing that we will enjoy fellowship in His presence for all eternity.  Though life can be arduous we can choose delight in God instead of opting for regrets or bitterness.  Avoiding the thorns is not the goal, but embracing the beauty within affliction is.

Oh, Lord, You notice us and are aware of every sorrow we bear.  Thank You that You are the God who sees.  Help us to find our joy completely in you and grant us faith and strength to walk in that joy when circumstances would seek to rob us of contentment in You.  Be glorified in our sorrows and blessings.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Real Golden Rule

Photo Credits monkeysocietyblog.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
monkeysocietyblog.blogspot.com

Psalm 111:7-10 His acts are characterized by faithfulness and justice; all his precepts are reliable.  8 they are forever firm, and should be faithfully and properly carried out.  9 He delivered His people; He ordained that His covenant be observed forever.  His name is Holy and Awesome.  10 To obey the LORD is the fundamental principle for wise living; all who carry out His precepts acquire good moral insight.  He will receive praise forever.

Our society has many anecdotes for how we ought to live.  We are told that the golden rule –  treating another person as you want him to treat you – is the main principle to live by.  This is a biblical principle – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” But here in the Psalms we see a very simple rule, given by God: obey Him! So simple, and yet difficult to carry out.

The constant battle with the flesh can make us want to give up, to become deceived that this principle of always walking in wisdom is impossible.  It is in the obedience of God’s precepts, however, that our eyes become opened and we can see.  Herein is the mystery: we cannot gain this insight by just merely assenting or believing in God’s precepts – we understand by doing it.

And what are we choosing to obey?  Not principles or fads that change depending on what we feel, or upon humanistic ideals, no – it is on the reliable precepts of God Almighty.  It is based upon the One Who has never failed – never sinned – the Perfect One, Who truly knows the best path we should take. He is trustworthy and faithful and His principles last forever.  We can know this by His past deeds, by His Word and His promises for the future! Go with God today.  Go with His revealed Word and obey what He has revealed to you.  Continue to seek Him and discover what other principles He has set for His people – not to confine you – but to establish healthy boundaries that will set you free and be a blessing to you.  Walking in wisdom with our God is truly the most joyful life one can have.

Lord, I love You!  How wise and Holy and awesome You are!  Your precepts are life and I thank You for them!  Help us to live for You and to walk in wisdom to bring You glory and to reach this lost world!