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Sunday, December 20, 2015

On Being People Who Will Give an Account

These days, I'm all riled up. 

The American political process, the church's reaction to terrorism and immigration, the plight of Middle Eastern refugees... These things fill me with Opinions.  And when I have Opinions, I want you all to listen to them, doggone it!  And agree with them!  And then act on them!

I've written half a dozen blog posts in my head.

There's the Fiery Orator Post: 
"Are we Christians, or are we cowards?!"

There's the Logical Fallacies Post:
"And so we can see by looking at these two premises that they do not naturally lead to the stated conclusion.  What's more, Premise #2 is a false premise, rendering the conclusion invalid.  By applying the rules of logic, we can see that Mr. So-and-So's argument about the benefits of keeping refugees OUT of America does not hold up."

There's the Lincoln Versus Trump Post:
Donald Trump:  "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."   And,
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting."
Abraham Lincoln: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Anyway, you get the idea.  I've got Opinions.  And as much as I want to persuade you to adopt my views on politics, immigration, compassion, and the church, I don't think I'm up to the task.  So instead I'll tell a short story.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in O'Hare airport waiting on a delayed flight.  Another waiting passenger, an Irish guy in his early 20s, struck up a conversation about the Bible I was reading.

Soon we were discussing questions such as these:
What's the difference between being religious and being spiritual?
Does the Bible have any relevance for modern life?
What's the point of following all these ancient rules?
As the conversation went on, it became apparent that he believed that the good life is found in enjoying time with friends, being grateful for one's family, and having fun.  And I believed the good life is found in Jesus.

He kept asking me if I didn't feel like I was missing out on life by spending time at church, forgoing the party scene, and trying to follow the Bible.  He asked if anything in the world would change if I stopped doing everything I now do, and just went and had a little fun.

I said, "You're asking if what I have is worth it, or if there's something better."

He said, "Yes, exactly."

I said, "That's a great question.  And I'm asking you the same thing."

We parted ways shortly after, both believing we had found the good life and the other person was missing it.

But man, what good questions.  Is the life you're living worth it, or is there something better?  If you disappeared right now, would anything change?  Would the world be a darker place without your light?

I'm reminded of Romans 14:12:
So then, each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

How I live, what I say, how I vote, how I serve... These things matter.  Someday, you and I will both stand before God and have to account for what we did and didn't do.  (Sobering thought.)

You don't have to agree with me on any of my Opinions, because you don't answer to me.  You also don't answer to a political candidate or a political party.  You don't answer to hate.  You don't answer to fear.  You don't get to say, "I chose not to love my neighbor, because I was afraid."

You answer to God, so choose your path in accordance with what you know about His character, His calling, His commands, and His promises.  If you don't know Him, get to know Him.

Romans 14:12 comes in the middle of a passage that talks about the freedom that Christians have.  We are free to follow our own consciences and convictions in matters that are not directly addressed in God's word.  Because of this, I fully expect that there will be many Christians who disagree with me on all my Opinions, and that's okay!  There is freedom in Christ.

I am not trying to imply by this post that your freedom of conscience should lead you to act and think just as I do.  I sure that I'm wrong in many of my beliefs and actions.  My point is that we are far too prone to base our beliefs and actions on considerations other than God.

So in all things, let's be people who remember that we will stand before God and give an account for our actions.  With that in mind, let's try to err on the side of love.

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