Mt Rushmore picFor you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ~ Galatians 5:13

“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”
Far too often I’m afraid, as believers we take these words to their extremes and we use our “freedom as an opportunity for the flesh”. As believers, we angrily rant about our politicians and government at all levels. In doing so, we have given in to the flesh and to sin. That is not God’s heart.

Don’t misunderstand me here: it is critically important that we not only debate the issues and vote our beliefs, and that we stand up for what is right. This is true whether I am a believer in the United States or in France, in Britain or in Sudan. However, we are also called to be the salt and light of the earth – the entire earth.  God changes our hearts with intention so that we can reflect His heart to the world around us.

I saw this Facebook post from a friend of mine this weekend and it struck me with perspective I hadn’t considered: “I had lunch today with a pastor from Tanzania. He told me the international church looks to the US as a leader. I’m not sure we realize that and I’m not sure we are the example we need to be.”

If it is true that the international church looks to us in the United States as leaders, how should we then act? Often, the tone I see and hear from Christians in the US is often not one of love, but one of anger.

“Love First”
(thanks to Pastor Kent Mankin from Valley Assembly – what a great slogan).

Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love the Lord, and then love people. All people. We can each find life, liberty, and happiness – but only in Jesus Christ. We will not find those things in this world, not in our country or any other. I fear that when the world looks at our Americanized Christianity, it often sees what is ugly and selfish rather than what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. (Phil 4:8)

Guess what? If an old friend commits suicide today, that most recent hot political issue doesn’t matter to him on the other side of death. When your elderly neighbor passes away in a nursing home, she won’t care about politics after her heart stops beating. What will matter is this: Did someone (you or I) love them with the love of Jesus, and did we share our faith? Did he/she find Christ the Messiah as Savior?

It all becomes much more simple when you look at the world through the lens of the love of Jesus Christ. This is a fallen world, full of sin and death. There is no fixing it. Our planet, and we as people, are broken. But Jesus came to this earth and died for the sin of each individual. He didn’t die to “save the planet”. Christ died for each individual person – he died for you, and He died for me.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
~ James 1:2

We are called to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction”. To me, that means Godly men and women rising up and ministering to the needs of families and households in their church and in their neighborhood.

In politics, we are to look and act Christ-like, and to keep ourselves “unstained from the world”. I am called to pray for our government leaders and community leaders no matter which political persuasion they may be. Not only that they lead well, but that they glorify God in doing so, and find Jesus Christ as their own Savior.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-4

President’s Day is coming up this Monday. Please take some time and pray for our United States President, his staff, and our government at all levels. Pray that they choose right, and that they lead with justice and mercy. Ask God for a great awakening to the Lordship of Jesus Christ within our government. Pray for how God would have you and me reflect the heart of Christ regarding our attitudes about our government and our leaders.

The world is watching us. Love first.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
~ Romans 13:1

If you feel God calling you to change our communities, we are offering multiple ways to do that. GSAE is engaging churches to create or build up their men’s ministry. We are also asking believers to begin to help us reach out and help in our local schools through mentorship and a weekend food program through Second Harvest. Through both of those efforts, we are visiting “orphans and widows in their affliction”. Help us to bless them either with a donation to GSAE or by volunteering your time.

God bless you, and God bless the USA.

(The next mentorship training event is scheduled for this THURSDAY Feb 12th from 6-8 pm at Sheridan School 3737 E. 5th Ave off the I-90 Freya exit. No need to sign up in advance, just show up at Sheridan.)

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of… What?