Archive for July, 2012

The Obamacare Ruling: The Ax to the Tree

July 11th, 2012 1 comment

Religious liberty has been called the “first freedom” because it is the root from which all our other liberties grow and flourish. That’s why every American should be deeply concerned with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding Obamacare.

Constitutional expert, Ken Klukowski, the Family Research Council’s Legal Counsel highlighted the threat facing us:

“The Supreme Court has today given the federal government unlimited authority to use its tax power to require Americans to engage in specific commercial activity. The obvious implication is chilling: Uncle Sam can make you buy anything, at any price, for any reason….That’s why today, the American dream gave way to a real American nightmare. President Obama’s vow about ‘fundamentally transforming the United States of America ‘ was fulfilled. The Supreme Court essentially said it cannot articulate any limiting principle on the power of the federal government.”

In addition to the huge expansion of federal power, Obamacare also creates an unprecedented attack on religious liberty. Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council writes,

“Today’s Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among hundreds of provisions in the law that will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate their conscience rights, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families.”

In talking with pastors I often hear this oft repeated refrain: “We need to stick to preaching the gospel and stay out of politics.” While I totally disagree with this fallacious statement for a variety of reasons, perhaps a picture illustration will help make my point.

Imagine a giant tree, with branches sprawling outward in every direction. On the end of these branches is beautiful fruit, ripe for the picking. The fruit is a picture of those who don’t know Christ. Many pastors believe we should be out on a limb picking as much fruit as we can. As believers, who could argue with that? But there’s one big problem. If you pause for a moment, you can hear the sound of an axe chopping away at the trunk of the tree. In fact today it is no longer an old fashioned axe, it’s a chain saw! The psalmist was reflecting on the state of his own nation and the assault on God’s people when he wrote, “They [God’s enemies] seem like men who lift up axes among the thick trees.” (Psalm 74:5)

You see, the tree is the tree of religious liberty. That tree is the source of our civil liberties and the reason we have the freedom to preach the gospel openly in the United States. If the tree goes down, so does our freedom to preach the whole counsel of God. Obamacare is a game-changer. Those who disagree with its provisions will now find themselves on the wrong side of the law. This is government tyranny at its best.

For those with ears to hear, the axes are already swinging. Our liberties are under assault. As pastors, we cannot be content with business as usual. Obamacare will force each of us to make some difficult decisions. Will we be a part of a health care system which forces us to pay for things we find morally reprehensible? Will we simply ignore the cultural battle raging in our land and just “preach the gospel?” I know one thing for sure. We must do everything we can to remove this president from office and to elect leaders who are committed to completely undoing Obamacare. This ruling is not the final word. The battle has just begun.

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Ten Reasons Why the Church Must Be Involved in Politics (9)

July 11th, 2012 2 comments

In this blog series, I am responding point by point to a column written by Greg Stier, the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries entitled, “Ten Reasons Why Pastors Should Focus More on the Gospel than on Politics.” Here’s Greg’s ninth point and my response.

9. The gospel brings political action soaked in love and humility, not pride and arrogance.

I’d like to start by wholeheartedly agreeing with Stier’s premise: The gospel brings political action. If we could get the majority of pastors to sign on here we’d be in business! While we all recognize the limitation of civil government, especially in its inability to transform the human heart, we must not negate the important role Christians in general, and pastors in particular, must play in bringing biblical principles to public policy for the common good.

Let’s not forget that it was courageous pastors with a prophetic voice who preached against the societal evils of their day. As the church engaged in the public arena we witnessed the abolition globally of such practices as:

• Infanticide
• Child marriage
• Temple prostitution
• The killing of special needs children
• Child labor
• The treatment of women as inferior
• The abuse of prisoners
• Slavery

All of these evil practices, and a host of others, were abolished as a result of Christian political action. So while we are not always on the winning side of our cultural battles, we must have a long term perspective. William Wilberforce did not outlaw slavery in a day! He worked tirelessly for over four decades before achieving the final victory. We must be willing to roll up our sleeves and continue to work for justice and righteousness in our own day.

Yet how we work is vitally important. Stier is right to admonish us to make sure our service is soaked in love and humility. This is what sets us apart. We are called love those who may strongly disagree with us. We serve in humble reliance on the Lord to do what we cannot get done naturally. Our mode of operation is completely different than that of others who are pursuing purely political ends. But let’s not assume that all Christian political action is driven by pride and arrogance. Let’s bring both the spirit and character of Christ into the political arena. This is our sacred duty. The results belong to the Lord.

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