Christianity And Libertarianism Want The Same Thing…Really!

U.S.-Flag-PluralismI’ve recently read an interesting exchange within Libertarian circles about the role Christians should or should not play in the libertarian movement. While I see merits on both sides of the issue, this is definitely an important conversation libertarians need to be open to as our base continues to grow and include more Christian folks.

Robert Murphy got things started with, “How Do You Reconcile Your Christianity and Libertarianism?”, in which he argued for Christian involvement in the libertarian movement. In his words, “they are so naturally complementary that it’s hard for me to understand where the confusion comes in.”

Murphy sees a Christianity that should pragmatically have no issue walking hand-in-hand with Libertarianism.

However, Carlos Morales offered a counter-point when he penned, “Christianity and Libertarianism are Incompatible”, as a response to Murphy’s column. In his work, Morales contends that the apparent contradiction found in the Christian Bible and the authority the Christian God has on the life of the Christian combine to disqualify the Christian from full libertarian brotherhood.

“Sorry Bob, there’s just no way to make these two opposite worldviews compatible without ignoring nearly all the bible and rationalizing the rest. The golden rule is compatible with libertarianism but is not the summation of Christian beliefs,” wrote Morales, “According to the bible god owns you, and according to the state the government owns you. Both act in opposition to reason, evidence, and individual autonomy. Both are tyrannical and humans will not be free until they are both cast aside.”

How do libertarians balance two seemingly diametric opposites without compromising the liberty we champion?

We can begin by appreciating the effort in positing a framework for such a relationship that Murphy builds in his article. The principles laid out in the Sermon on the Mount that he references are a portrait of an unselfish society. Now, we can’t take the Sermon on the Mount literally as he suggests or we’d run out of eyes to gouge and hands to cut off for just the thought of sinful behavior.

However, I believe we need to balance the dictate of Romans 13 with the commendation of 1 Timothy 2:1-4 which reads (in the Holman Christian Standard version):

“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority,  so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness  and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

First, we must recognize that the same author penned both letters, one to the church in Rome and the other to his protégé. So in both we can get a more copious understanding of his fleshed out view for the role of the believer in regard to government.

Second, in the submission that is commanded in Romans 13, we must recognize the “why” of submission that Paul wrote in the text. If my history is right, Christians who read that letter were living under Roman rule that was dominated at that time by Caesar-worship.

Yet, in verse 3 he wrote, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Either Paul was crazy, or he understood the role government should play when and where it exists. Christians were to submit either way which is a little scary but is the way our Savior modeled when He died by Roman crucifixion.

Third, the government of the United States of America is dramatically different than the Roman government of Paul’s era…well…to an extent. Paul commanded believers to remain in the life situation they were in unless they were slaves.

What did he say to slaves? In 1 Corinthians 7:21 he wrote, “Were you called while a slave? It should not be a concern to you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity.”

The question for us then becomes, “Are we slaves?” Honestly, from a purely libertarian perspective I would argue that we are. Otherwise we wouldn’t be paying property taxes or even more so income taxes which, in essence, are nothing more than a tax on us individually.

What do I mean? As individual people we have worth. That worth includes the fruits of our labor. What the income tax essentially says is that our labor has no worth to us for ourselves but is instead the property of the state that is taxing us on every penny.

So the Christian should be motivated to change his slavery if possible, especially in the American system in which this is not only possible, but entirely doable through libertarian principles. And in my opinion, the libertarian philosophy is the only one that allows the Christian the opportunity to enjoy that freedom.

The Christian isn’t commanded in Scripture to set up a theocracy but instead, “by the mercies of God … present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

So we see scripturally that the Christian should pray for and submit to their leaders in order to live a tranquil life with the freedom to pursue the will of God. Why doesn’t this line up with the freedom that is championed by the libertarian movement? Isn’t the common precipice in libertarian thought that we want to take over the world, only to give it back and allow individuals the freedom to pursue whatever they please?

Christians live for a kingdom that is and is coming. A kingdom that already has  King who sits in heaven at God’s right hand. A kingdom that is in this world, but not of this world. A kingdom that is more threatened by human government than it is by human liberty.

Now, I do understand Morales argument that libertarian philosophy essentially attempts to free the individual from “ownership” by any authority higher than oneself. However, Christian thought is dominated by the concept that no man, or government, has the right to “own” another in any form. All of our rights are extinguished in our relationship to Christ.

Christians can’t be libertarians in a robust sense because they are “owned” by Christ. Yet this doesn’t preclude their right to assess that libertarian philosophy is the only philosophy that most closely fits what we find in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Testament authors on how we should dwell under government among our fellow man.

Christians driven by New Testament teaching will want the liberty to worship Christ and share His gospel while simultaneously giving mankind the autonomy to chart their own religious trail. Christians are indeed “owned” by Christ, as Morales asserts, but find more liberty in that ownership than they ever found in “slavery” to our own autonomy.

Christians driven by New Testament teaching desire the liberty to hear their Master’s voice and obey and will respect those who are listening to a different master. Practically, the Bible clearly lays out the family as the most authoritative civil organism under God. The Bible doesn’t lay out any particular government model for the Christian and in reality the Christian is more hindered by human government from worship than vice versa. In order to live the Christian ideal a true society of Libertarianism is almost a prerequisite.

Christians driven by the New Testament belong in the libertarian movement and shouldn’t be repudiated as they attempt to help build the liberty-loving brand that our nation desperately needs.

Imagine the power the libertarian movement would have if it could capture the “religious right” of the American political spectrum by selling the commonality both groups have in loving liberty! Both groups, Christians and Libertarians, want the same thing…a government that relinquishes it’s authority and allows them each to live freely and autonomously. The only difference is that the Christian wants the freedom to obey it’s “owner”, Jesus Christ.

Christians driven by New Testament teaching desire the liberty to hear their Master’s voice and obey and will respect those who are listening to a different master.

Christians driven by the New Testament belong in the libertarian movement and shouldn’t be repudiated as they attempt to help build the liberty-loving brand that our nation desperately needs.

Imagine the power the libertarian movement would have if it could capture the “religious right” of the American political spectrum by selling the commonality both groups have in loving liberty!

Christians and Libertarians want the same thing…really…we both want a government non-existent enough that we have the freedom to pursue our individual autonomy. The only difference: Christians want to use their autonomy to worship their “owner”, Jesus Christ!

In All These Things: Christian Perspective On Affliction

Suffering

Watching the news recently and witnessing the horrendous acts of affliction and violence in Peshawar and Australia my mind trails off to thoughts of the extent of suffering and affliction globally. Realizing that this occurs among people of various backgrounds allows the tragic nature of these events to really hit home.

Yet, the Christian should not be surprised that these things happen. Our surprise should be that these things don’t happen more frequently. Unfortunately, Christians are the target of horrific acts around the world. Most notably the current deadly persecutions that are being perpetrated by the ISIS group in the middle east and the Boku Haram in Nigeria.

When clinging to faith means death, our faith is placed in an entirely new perspective. The decisions made to be faithful to Christ in these areas, and many others like them, lead to a permanent result.

However, Paul wrote to encourage believers when he wrote, “No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” –Romans 8:37

What are the “all these things” to which the apostle is referring? Paul had just listed the things that first century Christians were facing because of their faith.

Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.” –Romans 8:35-36

Christians, like their King, are victorious in persecution, suffering, affliction and death. These malicious and terrible acts don’t separate us from God but indeed send us directly to Him. Momentarily the believer’s neck transitions from being under the blade of the sword to being under the loving arm of Christ in eternity.

While we are properly moved to compassion toward our brothers and sisters who are facing this, we also can praise God that for some, the affliction is ending in glory.

As we enter this holiday season, let us remember our family of believers who are facing the cruelest of existences. Lift them up to our Father that He may deliver them from their circumstances.

In the end, we must trust in His will and say with Job, “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him” and “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.” (Job 13:15; 1:21)

Figure It Out! Hebrews 13:20-21

Figure It Out! Ephesians 5:10My middle child has a tendency to ask and pry with question after question about his chores as he inquisitively ss to get his chores done in the way in which my wife and I will be happy.

He will inquire, once his chores are done, if we are proud of him for getting them done…sometimes even without us having to ask him to do them.

Shouldn’t we all approach Christ with the same sincere inquisition?

We are Christ followers, which means we claim to follow Him, so shouldn’t we at least be just a little bit concerned with how we can live in a way that brings pleasure to Him?

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep —with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip  you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21

We see that God is able to equip us to do His will and that the indwelling of Christ by His Holy Spirit works in us to do what is pleasing in Yahweh’s sight. It is impossible to please God unless we do so through Christ’s work in us.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light  in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light  results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning  what is pleasing  to the Lord.” -Ephesians 5:8-10

In our former state, we couldn’t please God at all. We walked in darkness and participated in all the works of darkness that displease God. However, Christ is light and He indwells us resulting in goodness and righteousness and truth.

However, Paul asserts the greatest benefit we have is that Christ in us will help us discern, in all that we do, how best to please God. If we are listening and in touch with Christ, He will make our thoughts, actions and decisions so much clearer.

The question remains, do we really care what pleases God?

King Josiah did. As a young man, Josiah sought to clean up and repair the temple. In that process the Law of God was found and read to Josiah. Josiah tore his clothes and inquired of God as to what to do.

Word came from the prophet that Josiah’s receptive and humble heart would have him spared God’s wrath. Yet, with this promise, Josiah didn’t rest on his laurels, but instead initiated reforms to clear the land of Jerusalem, the Judea, then Samaria of the idolatry of his fore-fathers…going all the way back to King’s Jeroboam and Solomon!

You can read this amazing story in 2 Kings 22:1-23:27.

King Josiah is just like we should be. He sought to please God. He heard God’s word and responded with a receptive and humble heart which lead to actions that pleased God.

Now, I will not say that my son always responds to our directives with a receptive and humble heart. But when he does it brings pleasure to his mother and I.

If we will humble ourselves and be receptive to Christ’s indwelling voice we too can live in ways that will bring pleasure to God.

Are we willing?

Time Sharing: Hebrews 13:16-17

Time SharingLiving in a house full of kids one very basic principle stands out above the rest: be ready to share. Whether you’re playing a board game, reading a book, working on a computer, or grabbing a snack; it is inevitable that one of our children will want to be involved.

I’m thankful to have the opportunity daily to share the greatest thing that I can with my family.

We tend to think of sharing in terms of stuff, material things. However, we can share a thing that is far more costly and equally important. TIME.

Our time is the single most valuable commodity we have because it is the one item that we can’t simply get more of because all our days are limited (Psalm 139:16).

We should daily spend TIME with Yahweh asking Him how He desires to use our time for the day. Let’ face it, time isn’t really ours, it’s His, and we are accountable to Him for how we use this valuable resource.

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” -Hebrews 13:16

The author of Hebrews gives us a tip on what to do with our time. We should share it and do what is good with it. In the internet age many of us spend way too much time staring at our phone, computer or television. Social media tend to dominate a lot of our time when we could be engaged in more worthy things.

We spend time playing games, watching movies, going to games, keeping updated on our “friends”. What if instead we found ways to push back and spend time with our family, not just our physical family, but our spiritual family as well. How often do we read our Bible for ourselves (not including during sermons and bible studies led by others)? Do we spend any time in prayer?

We need to spend our time getting closer to God and from that relationship He will set in us the right agenda for doing what is good and sharing with others. He will make those things a priority.

The author of Hebrews is quick to point out that doing good and sharing are sacrifices as well, just as praise was in yesterday’s blog post. Sacrifices with which God is pleased.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” -Hebrews 13:17

Here we see that Christ followers should submit to their leaders. Leaders are not unaccountable for their leadership but will factually stand before God for greater judgment and to give an account for how they have led.

Leaders have the responsibility before Christ our King to keep their followers on the path to Christ’s kingdom agenda. Those that do not, or altogether refuse, will find themselves in the hands of an angry King.

The author points out that it is profitable for us that our leaders can serve with joy rather than grief. I know one of my greatest frustrations is being nagged. Even though there are things I know I should have done, it’s still annoying and aggravated to be nagged about responsibilities.

The best thing we can do for our leaders is pray. Pray for your pastor, Sunday School teacher, Bible Study teacher, mayor, congress person, Governor, President. Our leaders are in dire need of prayer support from Christ’s people. We should pray that Christ’s kingdom would come into their lives and flow through their decisions and actions.

So take some time today, for Thanksgiving, to pray with thanksgiving to God for who you are and ask Him for the wisdom to share your time in a kingdom-based way.

However, to close this out, we should remind ourselves of what Jesus said on the topic:

On the contrary, when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you will be repaid  at the resurrection of the righteous.” -Luke 14:13-14

Disgraceful Grace, Part 2: Hebrews 13:13-15

Disgraceful GraceWatching the unfolding of unhinged events in Ferguson, Missouri I’m left with heartache as I ponder what these things mean to us as a people. I wrote about it here yesterday and my hope is that we who follow Christ will unleash the power of the gospel on the racial divide in our nation.

Fortunately, we can look to the Bible and find God’s solutions to what seem to us an insurmountable problems. We are not left without guidance in areas like racial division.

As I discussed in Part 1, Christ’s grace for us is a disgraceful grace because He was willing to bear our shame and disgrace upon Himself and carry it away, outside the camp, for us. Today I will discuss how we should respond to His grace.

“Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace.” -Hebrews 13:13

We should be willing to bear any shame or disgrace for Christ since He bore the same for us. We can expect to be subjected to the world’s deplorable torments and ghastly embarrassments for the sake of Christ and His gospel.

Even today, with the racial differences we face, how willing are we to humble ourselves, choke back a little pride, admit our culpability and step across the threshold in seeking to bring healing to the racial hurts that face our nation?

“For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.” -Hebrews 13:14

We have nothing in this world that will go with us other than the work we do in the gospel. We aren’t seeking a city or property or prosperity in this life but rather we seek His kingdom and the enduring heavenly city of the Living God that is not of this world.

If we truly live as though we have nothing in this life then we should truly have no issue with living as though we have nothing to lose. Are we really willing to lose it all for the sake of the gospel, even if its our freedom or even our life?

“Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.” -Hebrews 13:15

What an amazing God that we serve in that the sacrifice He desires is that of praise from our lips! He isn’t asking for our tithe money, our property or our ability to be sacrificed but rather that we make the most intimate sacrifice and that is to recognize Him and glorify Him with words of praise passing over our lips having flowed from a heart filling with thanksgiving, awe and worship.

We should continually offer this up to Him for He continually deserves our praise. How is this possible? Don’t we have time where bad things happen that should interrupt the continual flow of praise?

Matthew Henry gave the best story to this as he spoke with God about thanksgiving after he was robbed on the way to preach. Henry postulated to God as to how he could be thankful for being robbed?

“First,” Henry said, “I am thankful I have never been robbed before. Second, I am thankful he took my money and not my life. Third, I am thankful he did not take more; he could have taken my horse and my clothes as well. Next, I am thankful that what I had stolen from me really did not amount to very much. Then I am grateful that what I lost, in time, could be replaced. But, finally, and most importantly, I am thankful that I was the one robbed and not the robber!”

May we all, like Henry, find a way to be thankful and praise-filled in every circumstance we face.

Conflagration Ferguson: How Should WE Respond?

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I watched with consternation as the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown last August unfolded on my television last night.  My heart sank and my soul yearned for what is promised in Scripture (Revelation 7:9).

Again, it seems as though the system has robbed the community of justice, this time in Ferguson, Missouri. Unfortunately, the real story of the protests and the failure of leadership that led to them is being flushed from the headlines and instead images of Conflagration Ferguson are what we are fed.

I’m troubled for the community of Ferguson.

I’m troubled that a community seeking justice, for a day in court, was emphatically denied.

I’m troubled for the families that have been hurt by this tragedy, the parents of Michael Brown, and the community as a whole that is in desperate need of healing.

I’m troubled that more healing hasn’t come to the community. Healing will come through love and sacrifice, but it is possible. Healing will only be possible through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m troubled at the ease with which so many businesses were vandalized, looted and burned. Troubled because those business owners, some possibly minority-owned, have been lost in the swell of emotion and criminality that flowed from the riots that accompanied the protests.

I’m troubled to see the message of the protests vanish, vaporized within the ascending columns of smoke as Ferguson burns.

Conflagration Ferguson leaves me with a few takeaways that I believe, if shared in the process of healing, will strengthen this large community we call a nation.

Firstly, people of all races and creeds have an indwelling spirit of justice. Hence, even the perception or implication of injustice can send us into a fanatic frenzy to see to that all things are set aright.

Unfortunately, our sense of justice dwells in a world of injustice. We strive and push for justice in a system that is authored and governed by imperfect people. So we find ourselves at wit’s end filled with frustration and righteous rage. As we work, we should also trust. Not necessarily trust each other, but trust in the God who will, in the course of His timing, make things right.

We’ve got to stop being the aggressors. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led non-violent marches and unfortunately those that took place last night were overshadowed by Conflagration Ferguson.

Secondly, the channel for our rage should never be our neighbor. As I stated above, businesses and individuals living in Ferguson were hurt by the riots, looting and burning. I’m aware, as most Americans are, that these criminal behaviors were exhibited by the few and that as a majority the people of Ferguson were equally appalled at the conflagration as we ourselves.

Actions like those hurt the future of Ferguson as insurance rates will necessarily skyrocket and some businesses may not be able to reopen due to the cost. Those costs may also turn away other businesses that may have considered making Ferguson their home.

Finally, we are all responsible. Yes, I know that 99.9% of us weren’t physically “in” Ferguson…but we were there…watching on the major news networks or whatever our chosen internet news providers happen to be. We were there!

Many of us will post on social media and share our thoughts and judgments on the people of Ferguson when instead we need to share our heart and our love and light. We should be examples the loving heart and light of Jesus Christ to a community that is in desperate need of His healing power. As Rev. King, Jr. is quoted as saying, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Are we willing to be ambassadors of light and love to a community full of people whose light and love is being ignored in favor of the grotesque and freakish activity engaged in by the rioters?

To quote Rev. King again, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

Do we really want a world in which we no longer have racially divided communities, organizations and churches? If so, WE are going to have to take responsibility for our own role in spanning the racial divide of our nation. WE can’t continue to blame the other side when in reality it’s often our own perspective and prejudice that allows the divide to continue.

We together can learn from and prevent another Conflagration Ferguson. However, me must be willing to take the first step.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Disgraceful Grace, Part 1: Hebrews 13:10-12

Disgraceful GraceIt’s a struggle, every week, to not begin with a case of the “Mondays” with an early morning routine that includes getting the trash taken out to the curb. I mean, seriously, can’t we get the trash on Tuesday?! A disgraceful grace of sorts in that I am thankful to have someone to take my trash away and deal with it for me instead of having to dispose of it myself.

Trash is disgusting and normally, once it’s picked up from the curb, winds up in a city dump on the outskirts of town where it collects. In Jesus’ time this great trash heap in Jerusalem had a peculiar name…Gehenna or the Valley of the son of Hinnom.

Gehenna was known as the trash dump, outside the town, where trash would be burned. It was also considered cursed because it is where the ancient Israelites went to sacrifice their children to false gods. Jesus spoke of the place in terms of God’s judgment and it is often interpreted as Hell in most Bible translations.

It’s a place no one wants to linger to long, and yet, it’s a picture of where Christ went for us.

“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat.” -Hebrews 13:10

The author of Hebrews continues his comparison of what we have in Christ to what Israel had in the Law. The priesthood had a system of nearly continual sacrifice and an altar to eat from that would nourish their body. However, the altar we dine from is Christ’s sacrifice and our meal nourishes our soul, filing us with eternal life (John 6:53-58).

We have permanent satisfaction in Christ’s sacrifice, something Israel and the priesthood never enjoyed.

“For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest  as a sin offering are burned outside the camp.” -Hebrews 13:11

The bodies of the animals used for the sin offering would be taken outside of the camp and burned on the great ash heap. I don’t know how much experience you have with ash, but from my own experience, its a dirty and nasty place to be. The stuff smudges and sticks to everything and the smell seems to never go away.

The priests were well acquainted with the sights and smells of the refuse pile outside of the city. It was a disgusting place to which no one wanted to go willingly.

“Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate,  so that He might sanctify  the people by His own blood.” -Hebrews 13:12

Yet, the author of Hebrews reminds us that Christ went outside the gate, to the place of disgusting disgrace, willingly in order to save us through His shed blood.

We have a God who saw our greatest need and chose to meet it Himself in an excruciating display of deep affection for all mankind.

He didn’t shrink away from being cast out into the disgusting disgrace in order that we may become children of His grace. He took on the disgraceful grace of taking care of our sinful garbage for us since we were unable to ourselves. It just kept piling up outside the wall, like a trash dump in need of attention.

He went there to take care of it for us.

How should we respond? Come back tomorrow for part 2 and you’ll see!

Living Accurately: Hebrews 13:7-9

Living AccuratelyIn my line of business accurate information is essential so any confusion in the line of communication can lead to catastrophic errors and issues. I had the experience of a one day delay in processing invoicing because of just such a miscommunication.

Rates are everything in our field and if hundreds of entries hit our payroll system on the wrong rates its a disaster. Fortunately, the error was caught before the bill was sent but it did cause delay in the entire billing process in the middle of our fall outages which makes things a little hectic and stressful.

Accuracy of information and communication is equally essential to the proper functioning of Christ’s church. The author of Hebrews tells us:

Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.” -Hebrews 13:7

According to this text, we should take care whom we allow to mentor us. We should only allow someone to impact us on that level if we see the outcome of holiness and righteousness in their lifestyle. We can choose whom we imitate in the faith and we should do so with care as we watch their lifestyle.

Put simply, we should examine their walk to see if they are living accurately to the teachings of Christ before we allow them to mentor our lives in regards to the faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

Consistency is key when it comes to living out our faith. We serve a God who has ALWAYS been the same and who never changes. So those who we choose to imitate in their walk with Christ should exhibit the same consistency that we know flows from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus lived accurately to His character, the Law and His mission.

Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.” -Hebrews 13:9

The final point of accuracy comes to the teachings. Many foolish teachers have, since Christ’s time, tried to lead astray His people. In particular focus in this text is the teaching of Judaism concerning foods, probably concerning the eating of unclean foods by Christ followers.

The author of Hebrews remind His readers that foods bring no one into grace, it’s a gift that God establishes in the hearts of His followers. Accurate living isn’t about the foods we eat, but about dwelling in His grace.

As we seek to live accurately in our walk of faith we need to surround ourselves with other believers who are living accurately as well.

We Have Nothing To Fear! Hebrews 13:4-6

"Be serious!  Be alert!  Your adversary the Devil  is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour." -1 Peter 5:8

“Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” -1 Peter 5:8

Our nation is engaged in a major debate over what constitutes marriage. We see activists and politicians on both sides of the issue laying the foundations for they viewpoint they hold. Yet, my belief is that the most important question isn’t being asked.

“Should a federal government, that is supposed to constitutionally remain separate from the church, define marriage?”

The federal government is authorized to recognize civil contracts of all sorts, but not sacramental union put together by God. The church defines marriage for that faith. The State is not God and has no right to define what the church should define as marriage.

Marriage must be respected by all,” -Hebrews 13:4a

In God’s word, we are told that marriage is to be respected by all. I believe this concept of marriage is the one given by Yahweh, not the one that so many characters in Scripture practiced that was in violation of Yahweh’s design.

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:22-24). Such is the design and definition of marriage that Christ followers should defend. Christ Himself has but one bride, His church.

and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.” -Hebrews 13:4b

God design is that the marriage bed be undefiled. How important is it for Christ followers to exhibit this truth in our own marriages?! We should not have affairs or look at pornography or allow ourselves to be tempted to look lustfully at any member of the opposite sex, with the exception of our spouse. All of these things defile the marriage bed and disrupt the essential trust that is required for the intimacy of the marriage bed to be all that God designed it for.

We see with certainty that God will judge people who defile the marriage bed. Yahweh has a variety of means in which He judges this, not only in this life, but in the afterlife as well.

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5

How pertinent that we come to this verse as we embark on the hypocrisy that has become Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday in our nation. We spend a day giving thanks for what we have by practicing gluttony and then going out the next day to conquer stores for sales of stuff that most of us don’t need.

We have a serious contentment problem in our nation today. The Christ follower should not love money but should see money as a vehicle for blessing. If we are content with what we have then we will stop chasing all the dreams and fads of our culture.

What do we have? We have the same thing that poverty-stricken first century churches had…the indwelling presence of Christ. We don’t need anything more and should be content to only have Him. Everything else we receive is extra and we should be gloriously thankful to have food, clothing and shelter.

Until we boil our faith down to Christ alone, we will fail to value just how important it is to have only Christ!

Therefore, we may boldly say: 
The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?” -Hebrews 13:6

As we embrace the battles of our society, we have Christ as our helper. We should have nothing to fear because anything man does to us is only temporary.

Even IF our secular government chooses to redefine marriage, is that a loss for us? No, it is not. Yahweh has already defined marriage and in time His definition will stand.

We lose when we fail to respect and guard and protect the marriage bed. We lose when we fall into the love of money and spend out life chasing discontentment.

If we are content with Christ alone, then we will not chase sexual fulfillment outside of the spouse He has given us. If we are content with Christ alone, then we will not chase the multitude of means to keep up with the Joneses.

We have nothing to fear, even if ALL that we have is the indwelling presence of Christ through His Holy Spirit in our lives. Nothing to fear at all!

Love Runs Together: Hebrews 13:1-3

Love Runs TogetherIn distance running it is common for those who race to run their best times on race day. An assortment of reasons are given for why this phenomenon occurs but my hunch is that it has to do with the fact that in race training the runner runs alone, but on race day the runner is surrounded by runners chasing the same goal…the finish line.

My wife and I distance run together, we ran our first 5k in September side-by-side. She had trouble getting started with distance running but has said that having me run next to her motivates her to keep running. It makes me feel good, but I realize that she is just stating a simple principle from the Bible. We run better when we run together.

The writer of Hebrews states the simple truth that running together begins with love.

Let brotherly love  continue.” -Hebrews 13:1

The continuing theme for a Christ follower is not the concept of brotherly love but rather the actuation of brother love. Love is NOT an event or something that just happens…love is an action verb. You love others with actions. This love the the philadelphia love of the Greek language that is about brotherhood and encouragement…it’s about doing this life together.

Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” -Hebrews 13:2

In our society it is dangerous to be hospitable, yet Christ followers are called to do so. How much are we willing to lose for the gospel of Jesus Christ? We are called to love mankind, and that call includes loving those that are least desirable to love.

Recently, in our area, a man died of exposure sitting among the heating units at a local bank. The local news made the story about his “record” and speculation was made about whether he was in trouble with the law. Yet, for the Christ follower the question is simply this, “Was he human?”

If he was human then we have the call to be hospitable. Honestly, I find it deplorable that cities full of huge church buildings find no room for the poor. The church is powerless in modern America because we refuse to do the things that allow the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through us.

I promise you, it is irrelevant what sort of character the man had as the writer of Hebrews continues.

Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.” -Hebrews 13:3

We should be engaged with the prisons! If our goal is truly to seek the lost wouldn’t the prison be a place to find them?

The Christian should be the advocate for those who suffer. We shouldn’t be fighting political causes unless we are fighting for those who are suffering. Those who are enduring suffering need someone beside them to walk with them through the trials and troubles they are facing.

We run better when we run together.