Loving God, Loving America

What has happened to our Constitutional republic? Where is the rule of law? What about "the consent of the governed"? The President and Attorney General pick and choose which laws they will enforce. Faceless bureaucracies and nine unelected, unaccountable men and women in black robes dictate how we must behave and what we must believe, controlling every aspect of our national life. A screaming pro-abortion mob storms the Texas legislature, injecting chaos to prevent a vote against late-term abortions until after the midnight deadline closes the session. A single district judge, secretly gay, annuls the overwhelming majority decision of California voters rejecting homosexual marriage. This can't be right.

You're a Christian and a patriot, frustrated and angry that America's leaders reject God, support Islam, and are moving towards criminalizing Christianity. You love your country and its heritage, but see it being driven towards Marxism and economic collapse. The people doing that damage are breaking all the rules of our political system, so you don't see how you can "play fair" and have any effect opposing them. They seem determined to steal any remaining freedoms and smash the few remnants of Judeo-Christian morality, trampling on our Constitutional rights with abandon.

But didn't Jesus say to "turn the other cheek" and "love your enemies"? Do you let them walk all over you? That can't be right either.

How do you walk as a Christian and a patriot, doing all you can to preserve the America you love for your children and grandchildren, while leaving it all in God's hands and "being anxious about nothing"?

First, the Christian part.

Get serious about being a Christian. You are a sojourner; this is not your home. God's priorities are not the same as yours, and when you pray for Him to fix things you may not like how He does it. He scraped Jerusalem to the ground and sent them into 70 years of exile when His people ignored His commands; what will He do if His people today -- the church -- will not "humble themselves and pray and seek [His] face and turn from their wicked ways"? It won't be pretty, but He will do whatever is required to get our attention and obedience.

Yes, He has blessed America, and blessed the world through her. But He's much more focused on your character than America's survival; nations rise and fall, but He's training you for eternity. "Love your enemies" and complete, unconditional forgiveness of everyone are commands, not requests; do you not understand what happened on the cross?

His love, however, is not soft, weak, gullible, naive, or pandering. It was love that whipped the moneychangers at their tables in the temple and called the Pharisees a den of vipers. It was love that submitted to torture and brutal murder, buying the forgiveness of every sin on earth, and it was love that walked into Hell and brought out the captives. That's the love you're called to.

Next, give up anger, entitlement, and caring what people think, so you can deal effectively with the treachery of the world without being controlled and driven by it. The maker of Heaven holds you in His hand; why do you care what others say about you? Get over it.

When you are no longer reacting in anger and hurt feelings, you can think clearly and see what's happening. When you give up being offended, give up protecting your rights, you can focus on His priorities instead; and when you aren't protecting your reputation you are free to do and say what's needed in every situation.

Now you're ready to be a patriot.

You believe that our Constitution created the best form of government ever devised by man, enabling the prosperity and personal freedom that act as magnets drawing millions here from all over the world. But you also see it being aggressively, continually violated, and you see the inevitable result of that national unfaithfulness to the founding principles unfolding in our society and economy. Disaster is imminent.

You depend on elections to be your opportunity for change; but when your beliefs and priorities succeed in an election, the opponents run to friendly federal judges and leverage judicial tyranny to overturn the results. If that fails, they threaten violence in the streets. Throughout this whole process the mass media distorts the truth and encourages the poorly-informed population to believe lies, and your opponents even use the power of federal agencies to frighten and discourage those who would stand with you.

Why are you upset that others cheat and lie? Did you not expect it? In fact, they probably think you cheat and lie. But you've given up anger, remember? And you don't care what people think of you. So you are able to talk about any of your concerns with anyone, anytime, calmly and with love and forgiveness in your heart towards them.

OK, you're still working on that part.

Think of it as a chess game; expect to be attacked, think long term, and don't take it personally. More importantly, remember that our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but with the forces that drive those opposing us. Seek the wisdom that is wiser than the foolishness of men.

Let's go a level deeper. What if your assessment of their actions is correct, and their actions will in fact result in more damage to things you hold dear? And further, what if your assessment of their motives is correct, that they are acting from an intentional desire to grab personal power and wealth at the expense of people, traditions, and what's left of our freedoms? In short, what if they are truly acting from evil motives to accomplish destructive ends?

Jesus requires us to love our enemies. Roll that around in your mind, let it sink in, plumb the thought until you realize what He is saying: we are to love even those who seek our destruction.

How can this be? It is because they are made in God's image, just as you are, and He honors every man's free will.

We are required, as Christians, to extend to them the same freedom to choose that God does, and the same forgiveness that God extends to us. They are as free to choose their motives as you are. They are as free to choose their actions, and suffer the consequences, as you are. The cross paid for their sin just as fully as it paid for yours; their sin is no worse than yours, in the eyes of God.

Does that mean we are doormats? Do we not deal with criminal actions?

Of course we do. There's no conflict between true Christianity and self-defense, criminal prosecution, the death penalty, and other means of providing necessary consequences for evil actions. God gave government the power of the sword for a reason, and in America, "we the people" are the source of sovereignty for all branches of government. We delegate some of that sovereignty as "police power" to our cities and states so that evil actions will incur appropriate consequences.

So we deal firmly with wrongdoing, passionately opposing destructive actions in the political arena, in the schools, in the media; but we do it with grace, realizing that we are dealing with spiritual forces more than human ones, and without condemnation, hate, or condescension for our opponents. They have as much freedom to be wrong as we do!

Now you're ready to walk as a Christian and a patriot: passionately loving America, but not clinging to it; extending forgiveness and respect to those who, like yourself, don't deserve it; and looking for the part God has for you to play in the unfolding of our part of history, the part we call "today."

It is crucial to leave results in His hands, realizing that He is working on many levels and in many hearts, and that the specific, local outcome we desire may not be in His plans at all.

We may see an extension of the American blessing, and we may not. Nations rise and fall, and He has them all in His hands. This is just a small part of a much longer story called Eternity, in which all men get to make their choices, and in which -- at some point we cannot imagine -- every knee will bow, and every tear will be wiped away.

Gary Henderson is author of author of  "Freedom. You Can Handle It. But Hurry!" Read more at  GaryHenderson.com

What has happened to our Constitutional republic? Where is the rule of law? What about "the consent of the governed"? The President and Attorney General pick and choose which laws they will enforce. Faceless bureaucracies and nine unelected, unaccountable men and women in black robes dictate how we must behave and what we must believe, controlling every aspect of our national life. A screaming pro-abortion mob storms the Texas legislature, injecting chaos to prevent a vote against late-term abortions until after the midnight deadline closes the session. A single district judge, secretly gay, annuls the overwhelming majority decision of California voters rejecting homosexual marriage. This can't be right.

You're a Christian and a patriot, frustrated and angry that America's leaders reject God, support Islam, and are moving towards criminalizing Christianity. You love your country and its heritage, but see it being driven towards Marxism and economic collapse. The people doing that damage are breaking all the rules of our political system, so you don't see how you can "play fair" and have any effect opposing them. They seem determined to steal any remaining freedoms and smash the few remnants of Judeo-Christian morality, trampling on our Constitutional rights with abandon.

But didn't Jesus say to "turn the other cheek" and "love your enemies"? Do you let them walk all over you? That can't be right either.

How do you walk as a Christian and a patriot, doing all you can to preserve the America you love for your children and grandchildren, while leaving it all in God's hands and "being anxious about nothing"?

First, the Christian part.

Get serious about being a Christian. You are a sojourner; this is not your home. God's priorities are not the same as yours, and when you pray for Him to fix things you may not like how He does it. He scraped Jerusalem to the ground and sent them into 70 years of exile when His people ignored His commands; what will He do if His people today -- the church -- will not "humble themselves and pray and seek [His] face and turn from their wicked ways"? It won't be pretty, but He will do whatever is required to get our attention and obedience.

Yes, He has blessed America, and blessed the world through her. But He's much more focused on your character than America's survival; nations rise and fall, but He's training you for eternity. "Love your enemies" and complete, unconditional forgiveness of everyone are commands, not requests; do you not understand what happened on the cross?

His love, however, is not soft, weak, gullible, naive, or pandering. It was love that whipped the moneychangers at their tables in the temple and called the Pharisees a den of vipers. It was love that submitted to torture and brutal murder, buying the forgiveness of every sin on earth, and it was love that walked into Hell and brought out the captives. That's the love you're called to.

Next, give up anger, entitlement, and caring what people think, so you can deal effectively with the treachery of the world without being controlled and driven by it. The maker of Heaven holds you in His hand; why do you care what others say about you? Get over it.

When you are no longer reacting in anger and hurt feelings, you can think clearly and see what's happening. When you give up being offended, give up protecting your rights, you can focus on His priorities instead; and when you aren't protecting your reputation you are free to do and say what's needed in every situation.

Now you're ready to be a patriot.

You believe that our Constitution created the best form of government ever devised by man, enabling the prosperity and personal freedom that act as magnets drawing millions here from all over the world. But you also see it being aggressively, continually violated, and you see the inevitable result of that national unfaithfulness to the founding principles unfolding in our society and economy. Disaster is imminent.

You depend on elections to be your opportunity for change; but when your beliefs and priorities succeed in an election, the opponents run to friendly federal judges and leverage judicial tyranny to overturn the results. If that fails, they threaten violence in the streets. Throughout this whole process the mass media distorts the truth and encourages the poorly-informed population to believe lies, and your opponents even use the power of federal agencies to frighten and discourage those who would stand with you.

Why are you upset that others cheat and lie? Did you not expect it? In fact, they probably think you cheat and lie. But you've given up anger, remember? And you don't care what people think of you. So you are able to talk about any of your concerns with anyone, anytime, calmly and with love and forgiveness in your heart towards them.

OK, you're still working on that part.

Think of it as a chess game; expect to be attacked, think long term, and don't take it personally. More importantly, remember that our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but with the forces that drive those opposing us. Seek the wisdom that is wiser than the foolishness of men.

Let's go a level deeper. What if your assessment of their actions is correct, and their actions will in fact result in more damage to things you hold dear? And further, what if your assessment of their motives is correct, that they are acting from an intentional desire to grab personal power and wealth at the expense of people, traditions, and what's left of our freedoms? In short, what if they are truly acting from evil motives to accomplish destructive ends?

Jesus requires us to love our enemies. Roll that around in your mind, let it sink in, plumb the thought until you realize what He is saying: we are to love even those who seek our destruction.

How can this be? It is because they are made in God's image, just as you are, and He honors every man's free will.

We are required, as Christians, to extend to them the same freedom to choose that God does, and the same forgiveness that God extends to us. They are as free to choose their motives as you are. They are as free to choose their actions, and suffer the consequences, as you are. The cross paid for their sin just as fully as it paid for yours; their sin is no worse than yours, in the eyes of God.

Does that mean we are doormats? Do we not deal with criminal actions?

Of course we do. There's no conflict between true Christianity and self-defense, criminal prosecution, the death penalty, and other means of providing necessary consequences for evil actions. God gave government the power of the sword for a reason, and in America, "we the people" are the source of sovereignty for all branches of government. We delegate some of that sovereignty as "police power" to our cities and states so that evil actions will incur appropriate consequences.

So we deal firmly with wrongdoing, passionately opposing destructive actions in the political arena, in the schools, in the media; but we do it with grace, realizing that we are dealing with spiritual forces more than human ones, and without condemnation, hate, or condescension for our opponents. They have as much freedom to be wrong as we do!

Now you're ready to walk as a Christian and a patriot: passionately loving America, but not clinging to it; extending forgiveness and respect to those who, like yourself, don't deserve it; and looking for the part God has for you to play in the unfolding of our part of history, the part we call "today."

It is crucial to leave results in His hands, realizing that He is working on many levels and in many hearts, and that the specific, local outcome we desire may not be in His plans at all.

We may see an extension of the American blessing, and we may not. Nations rise and fall, and He has them all in His hands. This is just a small part of a much longer story called Eternity, in which all men get to make their choices, and in which -- at some point we cannot imagine -- every knee will bow, and every tear will be wiped away.

Gary Henderson is author of author of  "Freedom. You Can Handle It. But Hurry!" Read more at  GaryHenderson.com