Sunday, 21 January 2018

Government: The Other Church Member?

So it would seem that the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his Liberal party have once again endeared themselves to Christian churches with their latest political left-wing agenda. Ah, the drama of this former drama teacher and his cronies would be amusing if it were not so sad. What is it this time?

This time the circus performance centres on new changes to the summer employment program, whereby organizations, including churches, can apply for subsidies to hire students for summer jobs. Unlike past years, part of the conditional application, apparently now requires applicants to take a pro-abortion stand on their applications. If I read this correctly, the bottom line is, anti-abortionists need not apply. The bottom line is, think like and agree with Trudeau, or stay home. Democracy? Hmm.

Still, I am not really pro or anti any political party. I'm actually seriously contemplating never voting again. The old adage that one should vote for the lessor of the evils doesn't work for me; it is still voting for evil. It's the world's governmental system; these Caesar's are here today and gone tomorrow when another Caesar comes along with his/her mouthful of manure to, oddly enough, endear the masses tired of chasing the south end of the previous northbound horse. Truth be known, and harsh as it sounds, all politics is little more than s**t, no matter what the title or the political party. None of it has anything to do with God, and personally, I'm tired of bowing the knee to Caesar.

"What harmony can there be between Christ and … " (2 Corinthians 6:15)

Though I'm a Christian, I really cannot join these churches in their quest to change the government's position. While I am a man of prayer, I won't be joining their call for the faithful to pray about this matter. Now this may shock you, but I say, "So what! Who cares?!" The creation of student summer jobs is an admirable one, no doubt. But I fail to see why church institutions should expect a secular government to contribute to their programs.

Personally I think that churches are too married to the Caesar's of the land already. They have charter numbers and indirectly through that are entitled to seek government charitable donation receipts. At the risk of further offending, maybe the government needs to scrap that too! I cannot help but wonder how many would continue contributing to the churches' coffers at the same level if there were no tax receipt attached. Hmm, but that's a topic for another day.

There are plenty of reasons why I think we all need to do some serious rethinking as to how we do church. Government interventions are but one of the many reasons why I dissolved my association with the institutional church over fifteen years ago. There are many more reasons, to be sure! However, as someone once said, "Oats come a little cheaper once they've already been through the horse." By linking ourselves to the state, have churches become lethargic and content with second-hand oats? Whatever happened to the purity of clean and unadulterated oats? Hmm.

In revising the abortion laws, it was Justin's father, Pierre Trudeau, who once said, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." I would like to suggest that there is also no place for the state in the churches of the nation. Churches would do well to stop abdicating their responsibility as a church by expecting handouts from the government to do what they alone were called to doing. Failure to do so simply means that the government can come along any time they want and essentially tell the church what to believe and what to do, as they seem to be attempting in this instance. Their financial contributions to the institutional church essentially makes them church members, and as such Big Brother has a vote in its operation.

I love the (non-institutional) church, and I love Jesus. But I'm gaging a bit on the thought of a State Church, one which, if we are not already there, we seem to be headed full steam towards.

That's the way I see it anyways. Peace.

Source: Summer Job Program Changes Anger Churches

Sunday, 7 January 2018

of Bumper Stickers and Tailgating Jesus

Well here we are, one week into yet another new year. A time to celebrate and share hopes and dreams for good things ahead. So let me ask, how has 2018 been for you thus far? Awesome? Maybe less than awesome? Perhaps ‘Meh’ describes it best? I confess that mine was pretty awesome … on day one. After that it’s been, well, rather, … meh.

I’ve never really been one too much for New Year’s resolutions; mostly I think they’re a waste of time and never last the first week anyways. If they do, there’s probably a pretty good chance that come February, they’ve already fizzled out. I’m not sure what the actual statistics are on New Year’s resolutions, or if anyone has actually studied them for that matter. However, I remember some years back when my wife and I were members at a local gym, we always saw a huge increase in traffic at the gym on January 1. By mid-month, you'd never know it; traffic patterns were pretty much back to pre-January norms. New Year’s resolutions are, well, … meh.

But I’m not pointing fingers; eventually my own lofty weight loss and fitness goals also fizzled out. I know that I should get back to it, but often something inside of me just seems to time and again say, … meh.

Having said that, there is one “resolution,” however, that I do desire to see succeed, though often I feel like I’m only batting 5% at best. Year after year, and often throughout the months in between, the regular desire of my heart, is a closer following of Jesus. This yearning is evidenced by this bumper sticker someone created and shipped to me recently.

Are you following JESUS this closely?

What a timely gift! I love the double entendre; it speaks loudly to my abhorrence with tailgaters (even though I have to confess that sometimes I’ve been one too). Perhaps more importantly, it asks the sobering question: How closely do we follow the Lord whom we claim to love and follow?

While in context referring to the end of the Babylonian captivity, I believe the Lord’s message through the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel rings just as true to you and me today. The Lord said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Yes, a different context, but the same divine expectation from the same God. Are we seeking God with all our hearts, or only with half (or less) of them? Remember, Jesus himself said that he wasn’t into lukewarm followers (Revelation 3: 15-16).

Are you following JESUS this closely?

I’m not there yet, not by a long shot! But as I pick myself up and dust myself off from my latest sad-excuse for a Christian walk, I resolve to move forward and strive to follow Jesus a little closer, and with a little less lukewarmness. Thankfully God is gracious, merciful and loving, and He does pick up the pieces of broken lives that seek after Him with all their hearts.

So here we are at the genesis of another new year. It is exciting to see what God may have in store for us. As we wait on Him, I'd like to challenge each of us to be tailgaters of JESUS. Yes, follow Him that closely. But please, let's refrain from tailgating the car in front of us; that might not end as well.

And, please, no more, … meh.