Word from the Center Digest: August 30, 2019
Not Everything Is a Political Issue
By Gregory Seltz
Jeremiah 29 tells God’s people to do something that is key for any Christian’s involvement in the culture in which it lives. Ready? Even when living in a “hostile or unfriendly environment,” “Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, 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” (Jeremiah 29:6-7). Translation: Do the basic things for a healthy community and then seek to be a blessing there with the wisdom from the God who created us for liberty and life, righteousness and peace.
It’s true that the LCRL is in Washington to engage the politics concerning religious liberty, life, marriage, and education (both religious liberty issues). But we do so with the attitude that the government isn’t the place where the big issues that matter are going to be solved. No, those answers happen in churches, families and communities as they learn to love one another.
There are ways to be a blessing for others that are bigger than the winner of the election or the passing of a law. It is living a public life for the sake of one’s neighbor. There’s an attitude that God’s people bring to a world that tends to politicize everything. In the ancient world, the motto was, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.” Jesus turned that all around when He said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s something to strive for even when the political winds don’t blow one’s way.
For more thoughts on how you might “do something” that’s not political, but is helpful in blessing your neighborhoods and cities, take a lot at my friend Tim Goeglein’s and Craig Osten’s book American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation. It’s a work that recognizes that America is at a crossroads, divided between increasingly angry factions demanding that the American people go their way or the highway. But unlike other books that urge people take a side in our present political and cultural divide, the authors propose that if America is to continue to be a beacon of freedom, its citizens must find ways to build bridges to, rather than burn bridges with, those who disagree through winsome engagement based on mutual trust, respect, and community engagement. This is what will bring about cultural renewal.
Politics isn’t everything, especially when it comes to renewal! Goeglein and Osten write that this renewal “must be rooted in a reconciliation between the great Judeo-Christian ethos and secular culture. This reconciliation will involve the reweaving of our nation’s tattered and fraying national tapestry into a new garment that once again includes the virtues of faith, family, and personal sacrifice that made America the beacon of hope for the world.” To bring about American restoration, according to the authors, will requires acts that are simple and complex. Each one must start in our homes, neighborhoods and communities, where “little platoons” of citizens can come together to bring about the restoration of America’s founding virtues of faith, family, and freedom, so America can once again be a place of hope for all, a “shining city on a hill” for all to see.
The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.
Genevieve Wood from The Heritage Foundation breaks down the religious freedom debate and why it’s a right worth fighting for. Click here to watch her explain one of the most pressing issues of our day.
Is there hope for America? Tim Goeglein and Craig Osten write in American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation that government can’t solve those problems. To see what can, purchase the book here.
“[L]et us consider how we can encourage one another, how we can help one another in these times in which we are overcome, how we can spur one another on to love and to good works, how we can gather together, not neglecting one another in meeting together but instead gathering in the presence of God, encouraging one another as we wait for that Day to finally appear.” – Rev. Dr. Tony Cook, Lutheran Hour Ministries