Christian and American Life
Hebrews 11:8-16; Matthew 5:43-48
I would like to weave some thoughts together about two documents of great importance to Americans: the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. In case you are concerned that I am going to do some flag-waving, chest-thumping patriotic sermon, please relax. I think it is at best inappropriate to use patriotism to beef up your Sunday worship to the same extent that it is inappropriate to insist on Christian forms of prayer in public events. Americans enjoy a wall of separation between church and state, and I intend to keep that wall intact.
However; Americans are often prey to fuzzy, even magical thinking when it comes to both the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. The two documents are joined at the hip by many Christians when it comes to the issues of freedom and individual rights. In the process of fuzzy thinking, we often fail to read the whole document both Bible and Declaration of Independence. So we are also guilty of proof texting or cherry picking the parts that suit us while ignoring the parts that pose a challenge.
Let's look at the Bible first. As Americans, we are endowed with certain inalienable rights, so let's read today's gospel as if we have the right to privacy and the right to seek justice and redress of our grievances against those who have harmed us. Jesus commands us to ''Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'' Uh oh. You mean I cannot sue someone who has cost me money or caused harm to me? Nope. You cannot find that in the bible. Jesus wants you to love your enemies. Pray for those who have harmed you so that you may be children of your Father who art in heaven.
Our test case sputters with indignity. She says, ''But this person lied about me in print. Then he cost me several good jobs by lying in job references. I could sue that jerk and retire. He violated state and federal laws. I have my rights. I want justice.'' Jesus stand ...
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