Exiles, yes — but engaged exiles

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As if we needed any reminder that things aren’t looking up here in the good old US of A, the Supreme Court has just discovered a constitutional “right” to “same-sex marriage.” Conservative and liberal pundits alike agree that the consequences for religious liberty in this country could be severe.

It’s no wonder that Rod Dreher, writing in Time Magazine, says that we Christians must consider ourselves exiles in our own land. “Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us,” Dreher writes. “We are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution. And we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children, to build resilient communities.”

It’s times like this when I especially miss my friend and mentor Chuck Colson. While he believed that “our first citizenship is in heaven,” Chuck always called on Christians to be the “best of citizens” of our earthly countries as well.

How do we do that? What would Chuck tell us in these troubled times? My colleagues at BreakPoint found a commentary Chuck delivered back in 1999. The House impeachment hearings had just failed to oust a president who had lied under oath about his disgraceful conduct with a young woman in the White House.

Chuck observed that evangelicals were as down as he’d ever seen them. There seemed to be no sense of morality in public life. Sound familiar?  “To turn the tide,” Chuck said, “we need to understand that this painful deflation of hopes is a sign that our earlier hopes were OVER-inflated.”

Chuck pointed out that many believers got involved in politics because of Roe v. Wade and expected to usher in the kingdom. We were wrong, but we didn’t withdraw. Instead, we reengaged. We built pregnancy care centers to help mothers and their babies. We deployed ultrasounds to display the humanity of the unborn. We softened our rhetoric.

Today, abortion rates are falling, and a solid majority of Americans now considers itself pro-life rather than ‘pro-choice.’”

Folks, now is not the time to head for the hills, to withdraw from public life. As John Stonestreet said on BreakPoint last week, “just as Roe marked a new phase in the struggle for the sanctity of life . . . Friday’s decision [on marriage] marks a new phase in the fight for the God-ordained gift of family.”

And how do we prepare for that fight? Again, let me quote Chuck. “We ought to learn from our mistakes and become better equipped — and that means developing a biblically based political philosophy, guided by the classic elements of a Christian worldview: creation, fall, and redemption.”

So what did Chuck mean? First, he said, “The doctrine of creation tells us the state is ordained by God; it is not a necessary evil but a good part of God’s creation. Therefore, participation in political life is a moral obligation.”

Then there’s the Fall: We have to come to grips with the fact that, as Chuck reminded us, “This side of heaven our accomplishments will always be partial, temporary, and painfully inadequate.” As for Redemption, Chuck said “creation itself shares in Christ’s redemption. Salvation is not only about personal renewal, but also about social and political renewal.”

Yes, we are exiles in our own land. But as Chuck reminded us, as exiles, we are to heed the words of the prophet Jeremiah: We are to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’”

Amen. And happy Fourth of July.

Eric Metaxas

 

— Eric Metaxas

Metaxas is currently the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org). Copyright© 2015 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

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