It is absolutely amazing what happens when Christians become embroiled in politics on either the left or the right. “Faith” and what we have learned concerning faith is left conveniently behind and filed under “Sunday: 10 – 11:00 am”.
Take for example this little piece being emailed around:
Kareem Shora Arif AlikhanWell, boys and girls, today the fox is guarding the hen house.The wolves will be herding the sheep!Obama appointed two devout Muslims to homeland security posts.Feel’n safer ??Obama and Janet Napolitano appointed Arif Alikhan, a devout Muslim, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano swore-in Kareem Shora, a devout Muslim, who was born in Damascus, Syria, as ADC National Executive Director as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). NOTE:Has anyone ever heard a new government official being identified as a devout Catholic, a devout Jew or a devout Protestant…? Just wondering. Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions?Doesn’t this make you feel safer already?That should make our home land much safer, huh!?Was it not “Devout Muslim men” that flew planes into U.S. buildings 9 years ago?Was it not a Devout Muslim who killed 13 at Fort Hood ?Please forward this important information to any who cares about the future of our Country.
Of course the intent is for you to declare your patriotism by mailing this hateful piece of garbage on to people in your mailing list and perpetuate the presumption that these two men who are Muslim and devout – that is practice their religion faithfully – are just like the major at Fort Hood , who was also a Muslim, are exactly like him and will fly airplanes into buildings and will shoot soldiers whenever they see them.
Of course, devout Christians would never do that. They would never pick up a child and smash the child’s head into a brick wall because the child was Jewish. A devout Christian would never beat and torture prisoners, defecate on them, urinate on them and make them perform all sorts of obscene acts on their fellow prisoners at Abu Grab. And of course a devout Christian would never take an evening stroll and slaughter old men and women, mothers with babies in a village near where he is stationed. A devout Christian who is the leader of a nation would never sanction the telling of lies to move the nation he was elected to lead into war.
What happens to ordinary people of God who in other circumstances would help their neighbor, feed the hungry, kiss their children on their head and tuck them in at night, and they turn into ideologues who are blinded to some of the deepest tenets of their faith and go on a rant stereotyping people of a particular race or religion as evil?
In Grade seven my pastor had us memorize what he called “God’s Ten Words” to us. I was raised in the Swedish Lutheran Church in the United States. We were encouraged to work with all people of similar good will. We were especially taught Commandment 8 in the western catholic tradition which goes: ”You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.” Now this is not just about lying. Luther teaches thus:
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our
neighbour, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
There is not only a “shalt not” for Luther; there is also a “shall” – you shall defend your neighbor, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way. This is one of those ‘household rules’ that the rich man said he kept when he asked Jesus what he had to do to live the kingdom life. The story goes on of course to say that Jesus looked at him and loved him saying, But you lack one thing: sell all you have and give the money to the poor and then come and follow me. I am sure that if you are Christian and reading this I do not have to answer the question: who is neighbor?
So that simply leaves the words: follow me. Now the ME here is of course Jesus. And we are to follow and followers are always learners. They know who the master is. Then why, when we come to the practical matter of living the ‘following’ out in this world, we muck it up so badly and leave the ‘household rules’ in ruin on the floor? Is it amnesia or is it something more.
I would suggest it is more. It hearkens back to the first commandment: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20.1). Clearly this is a commandment which first tells us “Who” the God is in whom we believe. WHO God is is defined by what this God does. This God liberates. Anything else we set up as more important to define our life and the world in which we leave is idolatrous. All the commandments which follow,two through ten, define those areas which lead us into idolatry.
So – number 8 and bearing false witness means that we set ourselves up as “God” and rather than liberate and free for life, we act to dominate, control and limit a person or persons in their life by lying and creating sterotypes. We can effectively kill a person with our lies or perpetuation of lies. We kill another by limiting their future through telling lies.
But of course devout Christians learned this in Sunday School. Richard Nixon was raised in a devout Quaker family but he turned out not so well in living what he was taught – though he lived what he believed – and it wasn’t following Jesus. George McGovern was the son of pastor and lived what he believed and was rejected by the students and faculty of Wheaton College in 1972 – the premier “evangelical” institution in this country – and they endorsed Nixon. So much claiming to be ‘evangelical’ and devout.
So “people in glass houses should not throw stones”. What happens when Christians become embroiled in politics? They lose their focus, their sight, their future which is the Kingdom of God; and they lose their way – the way is Jesus – the way as Jesus defined it is loving God above all things and your neighbor as yourself – which was taught by a rabbi earlier than Jesus.
It is also taught amongst Muslims – something we forget and something Muslims forget. Funny that – we forget – an amnsesia which is sin, the desire to be as God and be gods.
So to all of you who forward emails – ask yourself: does this email enhance the life of another or tear them down; will it build up my neighbor or tear my neighbor to rubble? Am I losing the sense of whose I am that makes me who I am? Am I selling myself out to the world?
This forwarding of emails is becoming endemic and no one takes responsibility. It has become part of our moral landscape to hit and run; to lie in anonymity. It is very uncivil. It lacks respect for others and even more so it reveals our own lack of self-respect. Time to build people up and not tear them down.
The House leadership in Washington DC made it there goal to limit President Obama to one term. Such a waste of time and energy and such damage to our nation. Time to end the the lies and the racism.
The day after the election I went to record a program at a local church. I met the pastor in the hallway and we walked together. I asked how his day was going and he replied: “Simply awful. I am fretting for the future with Obama’s re-election and what it will means – four million more abortions . . . ” He went on and on. he asked me and I said not bad at all. “Are you happy he got re-elected?” I said yes and was assaulted with a barrage of lies and innuendos covering over a racism I thought I would never hear from a pastor. I looked at him and said that he better go learn what this means: ”You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.”