Defend Your Country from Your Government

Edward Abby was somewhat of a character. Certainly we didn’t agree on a lot of things, especially methods. He considered himself an eco-defender. But in our post 9-11 world he would probably be on some sort of a watch list. But I found some of his viewpoints interesting and I am glad I met him while he was still alive. Lots of people thought of him as extreme. Although no Dirty Harry, he would carry a .44 magnum with him to his speaking engagements and place it on the podium in front of him. “Just to keep order”. I like a bit of the old west and genuine Americana so I found that refreshing.

He considered himself Jeffersonian in his political view point and felt “we the people” were the source and hope for freedom in this country. While I never completed reading any of his books, I am familiar with a lot of his writings and quotes on numerous subjects. One quote of his that has come to my mind recently is “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government”.

I think that is true. The people have the right to alter or even abolish their present government – as stated in the United States Declaration of Independence. Fortunately our forefathers thought enough of us, their posterity, to hand to us the means of being the guardians of our republic. If you are concerned about the direction things have turned, that’s understandable. But what to do about it, if anything?

I have been shocked by the number of self-labeled Christians who feel abdication of their civic duty – of trying to influence the shape of government, especially where voting is concerned – somehow makes them more “spiritual”. The longer efforts to turn things around seem to be delayed, the more this mind-set seems to spread. There is a fatalistic spirit that seems to be influencing many who feel if things are not going well, that somehow they should not go against the tide and should, instead, just let things continue to slide. I wonder if the prophet Jeremiah would be just as scorned in our day as he was in his own for “swimming against the tide” and trying to turn things around? Jeremiah wrote the words of the Lord to him, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? ” Jer 12:5.

It was the Irish Statesman Edmund Burke who famously stated “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” These folks may be good men and women, but by doing nothing they are most certainly doing something. They are assisting evil by their chosen absence. I hear it said “the system is rigged”. So if it is, will God accept that as an excuse from those lacking action just because it seems the rules get changed retroactively every time the good guys make a goal? Personally I like people with persistence, it is an attribute of an apostolic people. As the Lord encouraged Jeremiah, it is the process of getting up and continuing even in spite of difficulties that prepares one for real victories when they are presented. The Apostle Paul said that persistence through difficulties proved your character, and if proven, it produced the hope that was needed for increased faith (Rom 5:1-4).

While our victory is already in Christ, we are in the proving grounds today. It’s been called “training for reigning.” And I am concerned that those who have made their excuses have really given up in their own hearts and thereby show their faith is small “… this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Matt 13:20-21.

I believe what the Bible says about stewards – “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Cor 4:2. It isn’t required that a steward always win or have it easy but that he or she remain faithful – never give up. If we cannot steward the natural before the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46) can we really be trusted with the spiritual which is greater than the natural? Jesus said if we cannot be faithful in the natural we will never be trusted with the true riches, which are spiritual (Luke 16:11-12).

For a Christian life is a proving ground and we are being refined through our own choices. When it comes to influencing the world around us I cannot believe abdication of duty is showing the character that Christ exhibited. As Christians if we look to worldly results for our encouragement we certainly will be like the grain of seed which fell in stony places and became unfruitful. I think it is important for faithful stewards to stay engaged in order to increase in faith. The revivalist Charles Finney, considered by many to be the voice of the Second Great Awakening, once said “The Church must take right ground in regard to politics … The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them … God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take the right ground. Politics are a part of religion, in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God.”

Those who stay engaged will have their reward.

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