Saturday, November 01, 2008

Newsletter: Fear God, Honor the Emperor

“…fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17)

The headlines are screaming. We watch the devaluing of retirement funds. We hear about our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. We read about Russians marching in Georgia, Iran seeking nuclear weapons, and terrorism still threatening.

As of this writing, I don’t know who will be the next president of the United States. The job is a thankless one, and true leaders are rare. While wrestling with the tempest, even good intentions can lead to unintended consequences. The person who will serve in the Oval Office needs wisdom and humility. The next president needs our prayers. Regardless of party, pray for our political leaders. Be charitable.

Nonetheless, in these difficult times, we need to remember that our hope and faith does not lie in political leaders, military might, or stock markets. Uncertainty should not lead us to despair. We have a Savior who has defeated all the powers of this world including death. Some think our faith is merely “whistling in the dark,” but the faith which has sustained the Church is not a na├»ve opiate which dulls the pain. As the problems of this world swirl around us, we can face the next day because we know that Christ’s victory is assured.

At the end of November we will celebrate Thanksgiving. In darkest days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln himself declared a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” With casualties mounting and property destroyed, Lincoln’s declaration seems ironic or even sick. Nonetheless, our hope in God, not our current circumstances, leads us to live lives of gratitude.

Our faith in Christ is a clarion call to action. As Jesus Christ declared, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). We carry the good news of God into the world. We live it out in our relationships, teach it to our children, and share it with the hurting. We work for justice and peace precisely because the world is too important to leave to the politicians. Instead of shrugging at the weight of the world, let us joyfully serve--loving both God and our neighbor.