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Finding Faith: Stirring the pot

By REV. SCOTT GARMAN

I often contemplate our current President and his unique way of leading in his specific role. Basically speaking, I wonder if he truly believes and buys into all the junk that he writes on his Twitter feed? In all honesty, I’m guessing that he doesn’t.

I think that he attempts to put stuff out there to see if he can frustrate his opponents to the point where you can actually see smoke coming out from between their ears! To put it plainly, I think he just likes to stir the pot from time to time and see what transpires.

So, in a bit of a nod to our current Commander in Chief, I’m going to do the same. I’m going to put out some passages of Scripture and see what transpires. I’m guessing that it should generate some interesting thoughts from the seven of you who actually read this column.

You see, aside from a few close friends and relations, I tend to not make my political affiliations a matter of public knowledge. As a pastor, I view it as my responsibility to lead people to Jesus and experience His love in our lives. No matter how much you may believe it, your political affiliation will not stamp your ticket to eternity, one way or the other. Both of the major parties have equal parts blood and life on their hands.

But what I am currently flabbergasted by are the calls from followers of Christ, both from those speaking in the pulpits and those sitting in the pews that increasingly demand a physically violent response to political action being taken in our nation. Seems to me that this course of action places greater faith in the power of man than in the God in which we claim service.

For example: When Peter drew his sword and removed the ear of Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane, what was Christs’ response? “No more of this! Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Or how about His Sermon on the Mount where Jesus declared that some people groups will be blessed. And just who were some of those groups? “Blessed are the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart and the peacemakers.”

Or how about the time that Jesus stated: “I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Or what about this gem: “anyone who is (merely) angry with his brother will be subject to judgment?”

Violence is almost always a knee jerk reaction to direct or perceived mistreatment in our lives. It shows immaturity and reliance on human standards instead of the God that we claim to serve. It is carnal by nature and is largely ineffective in bringing the reign of Jesus to earth. Similarly, alliance to a political affiliation over adherence to the teachings of Jesus are largely unjustifiable according to Scriptures.

And I’m curious how this line of thinking aligns itself with the following passages taken from the book of I John. I John 3:18 – “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

I John 2:9-11 – “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”

I John 4:16-17 – “…we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us…”

When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus himself repeatedly stated: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…and the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commands.”

I am curious as to how these passages fit into your political worldview? Please understand that most, if not all of these passages go against who I am as a man and a person. I am a physical being who is probably a little overly proud. I am active and still feel as though I have plenty of testosterone left coursing through my body even though I’m in my mid 40s and Frank Thomas (the baseball great) tells me otherwise during television commercials every day.

What I’m getting at is that when I’m challenged, I have a hard time backing down instead of being confrontational. I don’t naturally exhibit humility on my own when I’d rather meet a problem head on instead of taking the verbal brunt from another person. I struggle to submit to these passages under my own power, but I know that as a proclaimed follower of Christ, I have an obligation to show love and with my life. What that means is that even though I may understand it with my head, my heart rebels against the nature of these passages no matter what my feelings may tell me.

But I am not beholden to my feelings – I am a child of God. Just like the prophet, Jeremiah, I realize that my heart is often deceitful and so I am called to a higher life than my feelings. I am called to obedience out of a love that sacrificed so greatly for me.

What about you? Are you living a life of obedience and faith or a life of reaction dependent upon circumstances? One will lead to freedom in Christ and the other akin to a boat being tossed about by the waves – which will you choose?

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Scott Garman, pastor of Cedar Heights Brethren in Christ Church in Mill Hall.

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