About jacob

documenting the odder things in life

New Blog

Alright it has been a while since I posted.  This blog was mainly for class, so I thought I would send everyone over to my personal blog.  I will still be talking about a lot of the same things, but with some variety thrown at you.  If you are interested its thejacobfuller.wordpress.com.  Hope to see you there.

Jacob

Kingdom Come

Aaron Taylor’s blog posted on Sojourners has amazing insight into the way Christians view politics, and thoughts on the way we should view politics.  Here is his conclusion.

Perhaps a better approach for Christians is to preach the gospel, serve humanity with good works, focus on living a kingdom lifestyle within the life of the church, and recognize the ambiguity in all political solutions to earthly problems. I may know that abortion is wrong and never counsel a woman to have an abortion because of my religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that I’m privy to special knowledge on how to translate that into a political solution that will save the most unborn lives. I may refuse to serve in combat because I believe that killing in war is a violation of Jesus’ command to “love your enemies,” but that doesn’t mean that I have God’s perspective on what should be done about Iraq and Afghanistan. If I claim that I do, then the credibility of the gospel that I preach is damaged in the end. If Obama’s decision has taught me anything, it’s that political humility isn’t just an option for Christians; it’s a necessity.

So do we as Christians exercise our right, and vote, and be involved in the political process?  Yes, but to an extent.  What is that quote that I used to hear all the time?  “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  There is some truth to that.  Christian, especially when it comes to politics, need to focus more on being the change rather than standing for change.  We need to focus on being the Kingdom of God rather than letting our focus be encouraging our government to implement policies that look like the Kingdom of God.

Taylor talks about political humility.  What a great idea, to know that you don’t have the solution to every problem.  We, as Christians, don’t have the solutions, we have the vision.  We know how things were set up to be, and how we have fallen from that.  We do not have exclusivity to the knowledge of the way back, save for through the sovereignty of God.  God will accomplish His purposes in the world, we need to trust that, and to understand that we might not always see how that will come to be.  We follow God, we are not of one mind with Him.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9 ESV

That is where the humility comes in.  We need to focus on living out that vision where we are, and praying for that vision to come to be here on the earth.  Jesus said:

“Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”

Matthew 6:9-13 ESV

The humility is, we do not know how the Kingdom will come, only what it will look like in the end.  If we can admit that, and trust the Lord, and begin praying earnestly for it, instead of seeking it in our messed up political structure, then I think it might come a bit sooner.

Building Kingdoms

Sojourners posted an interesting blog today about the role of governments in the Kingdom of God.  Chuck Gutenson, the author of the post, made a good argument for why followers of Christ should support the government when it seeks to take care of the needy and those who are have-nots.

His argument falls short, for me at least, at the end.

“What is much harder to find are good biblical reasons for why a faithful follower of Jesus would oppose government having a role in caring for the needy.  Will they do it perfectly?  Of course not.  All the more reason faithful followers of Jesus must be vocal in pushing governments to serve the agenda for which they were created, and to serve it well!”

Should followers of Jesus seek to find ways that just simply get the job done, or should we be seeking to find the best ways to help the needy around us?  I am not saying that we should be against the government in its pursuit to help those in our country who are poor, but I am saying that we should not only hope and seek for that in our government.

Another reason to not pursue government too passionately as an avenue for helping the poor is their spiritual needs.  It is good to meet peoples physical needs, but if we are not following that up with meeting peoples relational and spiritual needs, we are not doing them any good.

“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7b ESV

We need to be careful about also what and who we call poor.  There is poor in possession and also poor in spirit.  Obviously the government can be helpful in aiding the poor in possession, but they will never be good at helping the poor in spirit, unless our government begins to profess Christ, which is most likely never going to happen.

I do think, that whether you support the government as a venue for social change, or if you want to see that change happen outside the government, the important thing is, that as a follower of Christ, you need to be about what he said we need to be about.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19 ESV

Ridiculous…

For anyone interested, a Christian can now, in good conscience, shop at the Gap and the companies it owns.  They have aired an “unambiguous” Christmas add, according to the Christian Post, so the American Family Association has stopped its holiday ban.  Thank goodness.  I know I can sleep easier now.

Merciful Mike?

Mike Huckabee

This article on the Washington Post’s On Faith website brought interesting questions to light about Mike Huckabee.  Huckabee has been in the news recently because of Maurice Clemmons, the man who was shot and killed by police in relation to four officers deaths in Washington state.  Clemmons was in prison in Arkansas back when Huckabee was governor and Huckabee commuted his sentence.

Huckabee, a former pastor turned politician, has suffered much criticism before for his criteria for commuting sentences while governor (he granted 1033 pardons and commutation while governor from 1996-2007).  The former pastor was more likely to grant pardons for people who found religion, or where being recommended for them by pastors.

The interesting questions start coming.  Should someones religion affect their policy decisions this much when in a public office?  Can one be a merciful follower of Jesus and be in charge of a criminal justice system?

In this case, Huckabee was not the only one who failed.  Clemmons was arrested and released on bail between 2000, when Huckabee commuted his sentence, and now.  There are others the responsibility falls on, but the problem still exists?  How can a government official, who is supposed to seek complete justice and protection of citizens, really show mercy for crimes?  Is it even showing true mercy to release a prisoner or is that an easy-way-out mercy?

Where is the line?

Rick Warren Under Fire….Again

Pastor Rick Warren

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and controversial figure who President Obama chose to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, is under fire yet again.  This time it is for his association with Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan pastor who supports the new legislation there to imprison and even execute people for homosexual acts and having HIV/AIDs, and for Warren’s soft stance on the legislation itself, according to the this Newsweek blog, and The Huffington Post.

Warren has distanced himself from Ssempa, saying that he neither represents him, or his ministries.  When asked to comment on the legislation, Warren would not condemn it outright, although he did say, “The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

Alright.  I understand being outraged at this legislation, I really do, but I think directing this outrage at Rick Warren is a bit ridiculous.  His statement is not a support for the legislation, it actually is pretty good condemnation without going as far as condemning it.  Can we not assume that Warren, if he thought it would do any good, would condemn the legislation?  Maybe he is trying to use his relationship with the pastor in Uganda to lobby against it and an outright condemnation would ruin that position?  We have no idea.

Has Warren called this on himself?  He was a vocal supporter of Proposition 8 in California.  That Proposition, although only a pro-traditional marriage amendment, was seen as very anti-homosexual.  Could he be holding himself to a double standard?  I think its best for pastors to stay out of politics altogether.  He did not have to be such a vocal supporter of legislation, he could have only clearly defined his stance on marriage in his church and the church as a whole.  But still, to call him a hater of homosexuals is taking it a bit far.

Outrage should be directed to the appropriate people.  Maybe our politicians and leaders who can actually do something instead of saying something.  And maybe instead of assuming that people, who haven’t shown hate to anyone, are haters, we should give them the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s look at what people are doing instead of what they are not doing.

Change The World Where You Are

Ideological.  That is a term thrown at many my age, about to be fresh out of college, wide eyed and ready to see this horribly broken world on the mend.  Now I know that I must still be naive about many things, I do not think it impossible for each of us young and eager students to achieve real change in our world.

For young Christians, we believe we don’t even have to do the changing, we just have to show up and love the people that Jesus tells us to love.

Here is an example from the New York Times.

Jenna Liao, and countless others, are proving that we can change the world if we stop focusing on changing the world.  Let me unpack that.  We, if we change our focus to the people we can help immediately around us, can change the world at large.  The kind of sweeping change we want to see in our broken world will not happen overnight.  It happens one person at a time, one block at a time, one city at a time, and so forth.

It may be ideological and naive to hope that the world will be better in my lifetime, but I do not think it is either to hope and work to seeing the lives in my neighborhood, my city, to be changed.  I hope that I am always praying and showing up to help those in need around me, to change their world, and hopefully all of ours together.