Friday, March 30, 2012

Do Not Turn to the Right ... Nor to the Left

Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece titled Christian Right. Christian Left. And whatever happened to just following Jesus?

I've been thinking about that lately and wanted to share some more thoughts on it.

On Facebook, I follow the group The Christian Left. I wouldn't really consider myself to be a member of "The Christian Left" because I seem to have some pretty strong opposing views. I can say the same for "The Christian Right" (if such a group can be defined). The thing that got me to thinking about this again was a phrase that I heard several times this past weekend. Actually, it was more than a phrase; it was a command.

Since I had about twenty hours of driving last weekend, I spent much of the time listening to The Bible. At the end of the Book of Deuteronomy and the beginning of the Book of Joshua, there are words similar to these that appear on several occasions: " not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left..."

Do not turn to the right, nor to the left.

I'm not saying that following the commands of God are easy. But I think that convoluting the Word of God with the desires of man makes things very confusing. Christians ought not be at odds with one another over many of the things that we seem to be at odds over. I know that each side points to the Scriptures to defend their stance on the issue at hand, but how can the Scriptures be used to defend both sides?
The simple answer is that they (the Scriptures) can't.

Do not turn to the right, nor to the left.

Maybe it would be better if it were easier to follow God's commands and harder to follow our own desires.
Maybe it would be easier if it we really cared about others like we care about ourselves.
Maybe following God would be easier if we would quit listening to the rantings of politicians and pundits and searched our hearts for the guiding wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe we could realize that when we have to spend so much time and energy to convince ourselves that we are doing the right (correct) thing, we probably are not.

Do not turn to the right, nor to the left.

What if we decided that politicians were not going to guide our conscience?
What if we decided that news broadcasts were not going to guide our conscience?
What if we decided that religious leaders were not going to guide our conscience?
What if we purposed in our hearts to read the Bible and pray for understanding and we would let God and God alone guide our conscience?

Do not turn to the right, nor to the left.

If you lived in a godless society (and you probably do) and the government of that society was not a religious party kind of government (and it most likely isn't) whose values are reflected in the laws of the land, how would you go about putting an end to the evils of the land?

If your desire was to bring about an end to the 3,500+ abortions per day in the USA and you couldn't change the laws to make abortion illegal, how would you do it?

If your desire was to put an end to sexual promiscuity and pornography but couldn't count on help from the government to get it done, how would you do it?

If your desire was to feed the hungry, provide clean drinking water to poor communities and give medical care to the sick without the aid of the government, what would you do?

Are we, as Christians, powerless to impact our society without the aid of a godless government?
Has somebody shortened the arm of our God?
Should we be fighting among ourselves over which social issues need government intervention and how that needs to come about?

Do not turn to the right, nor to the left.

It would be easier if I could say that I hate politics...but I don't. I think that good politics is stimulating. I think that the differences and diversities of the many peoples of the United States are what make us a great nation. But we have to learn (or in our case, relearn) to listen to one another. The government shouldn't be run by the biggest bullies or the richest kids on the playground -- but that's what seems to be happening.
And yet, that matters very LITTLE in the scope of my quest to be obedient to God; to follow His commands.

Do not turn to the right, nor to the left.

One of my blogging buddies commented on the original post, "... I think we just heard from the Christian center."

Would you care to join me? Can we make a difference by following the commands of God? 
"Go...and make disciples..."



Bilbo said...

Great post, John! Have a great, centrist weekend!

Mike said...

It's hard beening in the middle when you're being shelled from both sides.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mike, it is, but a nice song from Steve Green says:"It should arise as no surprise that tears are gonna come. If you're called by His name, you're sure to suffer some." Awesome post, John. - Thomas

Anonymous said...

Well said, John. We do need to keep God in the center of our lives. Your post reminds me of a song Michael Card wrote, "Heal Our Land". These are the lyrics:

Forgive oh Lord - and heal our land
And give us eyes to seek Your face - and hearts to understand
That You alone - make all things new
And the blessing of the land we love - are really gifts from You
If My people - Will humbly pray
And seek My face and turn away - From all their wicked ways
Then I will hear them - And move My hand
And freely then will I forgive - and I will heal their land.

Unite our hearts - in one accord
And make us hungry for Your peace - and burdened for the poor
And grant us hope - that we might see
The future for the land we love - our life, our liberty

HE needs to be first place in our lives!