One of my favorite classes of my educational career was Eighth Grade Civics. We studied American history without jaundiced views of being politically tolerant. We learned to stand at attention for raising the Star-Spangled Banner...and to also pledge allegiance to the Christian flag. Ours was a generation with elders having clear memories of World War II. Many of my generation also listened to stories of loved ones who did not come home from the war or who came home with permanent injuries to their minds or bodies. We valued that Hitler and Mussolini had not won the war and made us slaves. We valued the freedom to live as Americans and freedom to worship. We believed that God had favored American and Allies to defeat the enemy.
Civics also was a core class about democracy. We learned that democracy only works if everyone is willing to give up some for the best interest of the whole. Democracy is not heaven. It is a form of government that requires each person to make sacrifices for the stability and welfare of the majority.
Politics and selfishness are threatening to tear the fabric of American democracy into tatters. We are approaching 50,000,000 Americans who are on support by the government - almost 1/6th of the population, while we press toward a $20,000,000,000,000 national debt.
Our culture and government now tilt toward giving legal rights to individuals that deprive the majority of rights. Yet, the majority is held hostage to pay for the individual rights. For example, there are increasing cries for government to pay for surgeries that would alter bodies to change sexual orientation. And hundreds of millions of dollars of tax money is given to Planned Parenthood which is the primary abortion provider in America.
How does civics affect our hearts as Christians? Good question.
The Church is not a democracy. The Church is a theocracy. God rules. Jesus is the Chief Architect, Cornerstone, and Builder. The building plans are wondrously designed for a holy building of a Body - the Church - of devoted followers who have denied themselves, taken up their cross and followed Jesus.
Jesus has not called us to narcissism and lust of the flesh. Holiness is not a venture into "I deserve." Holiness is the purest, most wonderful and best life possible on planet earth. Holiness teaches restraint that serves the body with best opportunities of good health. The mind is taught in the faith and principles of pure thinking. Life is lived in the context of eternity, not the next thrill.
King Manasseh ruled over Judah in the Old Testament. He was horribly wicked...more than Ahab. One writer put his wickedness in these words (paraphrased): "Where is the party Saturday night? Is there any new pleasure? If so, I want to be the first to try it." King Manasseh had his own children walk through coals of fire to idol gods and may have sacrificed his own son to the fire god Molech.
He paid an awful price. You can read about it in the Bible. Carried away into a foreign land he repented. God restored him to his throne. He finished well, but with a broken heart because many he had led in sin did not return to God with him.
Covenant Church is committed to serving. We practice servanthood. There are no designated parking places for pastors, staff, elders, or dignitaries. Look around. You will see signs for Visitors, Guests, Seniors and persons with physical challenges. Those who lead and are healthy are asked to park in the outer lots. I do. Laila does. We serve.
Civics comes to Church. We learn that God loves all his children. We learn that status symbols of society are not God's method of sorting out His children in rank order from "Most Loved" to "Least Loved". We learn that the blood of Calvary was shed for each of us. We are loved equally. We are through the cross equal before Our Heavenly Father. We learn that through Jesus we are adopted with First-born rights. We practice humility not for applause, but because of gratitude. We are saved by grace.
Unity is not a pretty word that says "Go do what you please." Unity is a crossword that means we have died to sin, been resurrected to life in Christ and that it is our joy to serve the Body.
My greatest joy is walking in harmony with others who have chosen Jesus as Lord!
May Covenant Church be a model of unity…that is my prayer!
Much Love, Pastor Bare