|Vol. 14 No. 11 November 2012||
David Q. Fisher
So read the headline in the DeSoto Appeal Wednesday. The Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about prayers over the public address system at sporting events and other school functions such as graduations. The district responded immediately. No more prayers sanctioned by the schools. Actually this has been the policy since July, 2008. It just was not followed. There is no legal battle to be fought. The Supreme Court apparently settled the question in the past. If the interpretation of the law is correct, the public schools have their hands tied.
Emotions rise quickly with such news. The issue is more complex than we want to admit. To see clearly through the frustration, anger, and other emotions on either side is not easy.
First, the increasing absence of God in the public square is an obvious symptom of the secularization or our society. Government is a tool being used but it is not the cause. The cause is not one. There are many – material prosperity, moral decline, weak biblical teaching, a growing lack of faith in the God of Scripture, a world view that is human centered and not God centered. As a people, a nation, we are not the people of faith we once were. The government reflects what is happening in our society. We Christians find ourselves in a situation new and strange to us.
Second, Christianity, the church, does not depend on the government for its strength and its survival. The church of the apostles and Jesus Himself were considered to be the destroyers of religion in their day. They taught and lived against the religions that dominated the cultural and political landscape of the ancient Roman world. That is where we as Christians must shine as the light of Christ today – our teaching of the Gospel of Christ and the lives we live every day. As we seek to discern how to live as God’s people in an increasingly secular nation, we need wisdom from God to know how to stand up for Christ. The church has not always stood firm for Christ, not in action. How often when various ethnic groups were oppressed did Christians, the church, conform to the culture instead of being transformed in Christ? Where was the salt and the light that are the disciples of Christ?
I pray we Christians will live lives transformed in Christ. Lord, give us the wisdom and the faith to know which are the issues to fight on the public stage and the issues to quietly fight through faithfulness of life. My concern above all is that God’s people be grounded firmly in Jesus Christ in the way they live their lives in every circumstance and every relationship of life. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
A Way to Live; Changing Lives
Robert D Rawson
Jesus desired mankind to live not just any way of life, but rather live the ‘abundant life’ (John 10:10). He came for that expressed purpose. He noted that if we love Him (14:15), we will keep His commandments. If we keep His commandments, we are hearing Him (10:27-30), and while following Him nothing can ‘pluck us out of his hand.’
However, what if we are not listening to the Shepard? Simon Peter allowed Jesus to change his life; Paul allowed the same; Lydia allowed Jesus to change her life. What is the key? Allowance.
If any of our number is living two styles of life – one for Sundays and another for workdays, why not try the ‘abundant life’? Not just because of the Judgment someday (12:48), but because so much more good in this world can be done by those who are living the ‘abundant life.’ Where truth, love, mercy, joy and peace thrive, there are better families, communities and churches. Where deception, hatred, unkindness, sorrow and war thrive, there is none made better. These will really make a maze in life, which is confusing as well as far from the betterment of life.