Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we must...

The votes have been cast. Two stirring speeches were given, both striking in their humility and call for unity. American democracy was on a world stage last night and we collectively demonstrated that the ideals of giving everyone a voice are still alive and well, perhaps more visibly demonstrated this year than any other.

But now that it's over, millions of believers are waking up either elated or exasperated, overjoyed or angry, delighted or despairing. I know this because this is a time of seismic political shifts among people of faith, with fractures growing along geographical, generational, theological, and economic lines, depending on your particular situation. I know this because in this first election since the rise of the blogosphere, inflammatory pixels have been hurled, believer at believer, with such intensity that outsiders would think the left and right worship different Gods.

Millions of Christians are feeling that the country is headed, more than ever, in the wrong direction, while the rest are conviced that better days are finally ahead and the right man won. Many are angry at the other side, incredulous that Christians could vote as they did. But behind the sound bytes, blog attacks, and flashes of apocalyptic rhetoric, if one listens carefully, there's a humble Jewish man saying, "by this all men will know that your are my disciples, in that you have love for one another." This love has largely gone missing during the recent political season. Continuing to wallow in bitterness or gloat in triumphal pride are not acceptable options for people who follow Jesus. We must find a way to move towards the healing of relationships and unity of heart and purpose that is foundational to our calling. Yes, we must.

Recovery begins by realizing that the winner is neither Messiah nor Anti-Christ. Believing that any party is God's party leads to heights of elation or depths of despair unbecoming to those who claim that Christ is our true king, His reign our true hope, and embodying that reign our true ambition. The reality that Jesus stands outside the confines of our political structures was demonstrated during His short stay on earth, when He was no party's poster child, no ideology's champion. He came offering a different kingdom, whose ethics and calling stand apart from the warring systems of this world. This is where we must place our hope.

We must realize that our calling is to live, right now in the present, in accordance with the priorities and ethics of our eternal King, and His coming kingdom. This will mean offering bold critique and resistance at some moments, and enthusiastic support at others, for various positions and reforms offered by both the left and the right. As we seek to embody this Kingdom, the walls that have divided us will fall down, because we will care about life in the womb, and life on the streets; we'll care about justice and mercy; we'll care about loving our enemies and standing up for those who are unprotetcted. We'll become artisans of genuine hope, spilling the colors of beauty, reconciliation, celebration, serivice, justice, peace, and compassion on the canfass of our communities. This, I'm convinced, is not only our calling in Christ, it's what our world desperately needs in these immensely challenging days. We must lay our weapons down and commit to being the presence of Jesus in the world. Yes. We must.


At 5/11/08 08:54, Blogger Grant said...

Thank you.
I am a Bible college student in Chicago.
It appears that there no other place that needs take faith in the awesome power of our Lord. My peers are becoming uncritical and giving into a lesser faith, a faith that doesn't trust that God can do great things through our our new President.

Your words speak some clarity into this ignorance. Your words resonate with those here at Moody who are pressing for shalom.

Thank you.

At 5/11/08 09:12, Anonymous Nathan said...

I saw a great post from Piper a few weeks ago with the sentiment that we vote- as if we're not voting.

We participate in the political discussion and in the process, but we ultimately define ourselves by Christ, realizing that here on earth, power and influence are fleeting (especially with term limits). Whether our man won, or his opponent- OUR MAN still reigns over the Kingdom of God and so we rejoice no matter what the outcome is.

It's particularly assuring for me, personally, because I vote third party each year and participate knowing that my voice is in the minority.

At 5/11/08 09:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you

At 5/11/08 14:50, Blogger Alan Stoddard said... this post...encouraged me late in the day.

At 5/11/08 15:47, Blogger Outish said...

I had the distinct pleasure of watching the election results unfold last night with some good friends. On my left (ironically and entirely incedentally) Obama supporters, on my right McCains supporters and myself, third-party, somewhere in the middle.

When it was over, having known from the get go that my vote would not produce a winner, I was neither elated nor depressed. And although things were not the same, my prayer for what I seek most of myself is the same.

Love, wisdom, humility, discipline, simplicity.

For all of us Lord, for all.

At 5/11/08 19:31, Anonymous donte said...

And—yes we must, regardless of political persuasion, recognize and honor the historic significance of this election. I work amongst many Christians and I was deeply disappointed by how many were more concerned about their taxes than they were excited about the symbol of racial and social progress that Obama’s election represents. Disagree with him on ideology if you will, but please rejoice with us (Rom 12:15) in this special moment.

At 5/11/08 21:10, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

thanks Donte... couldn't agree more. Last night was a milestone that will be marked for generations to come as a huge step forward in racial reconciliation.

At 5/11/08 23:54, Blogger Silla said...

Thanks so much for writing about this and for the reminder :) Here in New Zealand, we were all watching the lead up to the US election and the election itself yesterday.

Pray too for New Zealand, as we too go to the polls this coming Saturday, Nov 8th.

Thanks :)

At 6/11/08 06:00, Blogger Myowne said...

YES!!!!!! Thank you for this. I have had to remind myself that my allegiance to God is first and there is no other tenet upon which my faith can be built. We must remember that God sets up kings and rulers to accomplish His purpose, whether we agree with all their standpoints or not. We are not asked to agree with everything or like everybody, quite frankly, but we are called to love like Jesus (which means actually loving HIM first and then following His pattern for behavior in loving the inhabitants of this world). And I think we also need to remember that no matter who is elected and placed in leadership we as believers have a duty to pray that that person makes sound, wise, Godly decisions. The heart of the king (or president) is in God's hand and He will turn it whichever way He desires to accomplish His plans and purposes. That's really all it's about in the end...

At 6/11/08 16:53, Blogger Juliet said...

Thank you! I haven't commented on your blog posts on the election, but I've really appreciated everything you've written.

At 9/11/08 07:08, Blogger Jeremy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/11/08 08:01, Blogger Jeremy said...

Brother Dahlstrom, this is not a time for celebration, this is a time for mourning.

As you are correct about Christ's commandment for us to love one another, and for that love to supercede any other indicator of our Christian allegiance, I've promised myself and my Lord that I must embark on this letter in a spirit of love. That being said, although I do believe you are a brother in Christ--and a very gifted and intelligent brother at that--this love should not downplay the fact that I believe serious error has been made, and that as a leader of God's children, you must be held to a higher standard than I would hold a newer believer with no position of authority, such as myself.

I could also send this letter to you personally, as we've spoken via email before, but I think this letter needs to be read by your subscribers as well. This is too important to be hidden under a veil of politeness, as there's a chance you may completely reject this message, and it will go unheard. As such, if you reject this but it falls upon open hearts within your congregation, I would hope that they would not fall sway to the danger I recognize.

Brother Dahlstrom, the reason I've chosen to approach you about this is because we must remember that since the beginning of the church, dire warnings have been given about Satan's influence within the church, as said in 1 Peter: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Brother Dahlstrom, this passage isn't directed at random Gentiles. This passage is for the church. Even Christ himself said in the book of Matthew that our Enemy would sow tares amongst the wheat, and the tares (being a poisonous plant that can be mistaken for wheat) would be permitted to exist within the church until the Second Coming. As such, we must be prepared to recognize the fact that in every stage of the church's existence, we will be assaulted by false doctrine and infiltrated by those without the Holy Spirit, who seek to pervert the gospel with the false wisdom of man. Your job as our pastor is to protect us from this.

Pastor Dahlstrom, I beg you to reconsider what you've done with Obama. The bible speaks of great woe for those who discard the righteousness of God, and even in the book of Revelation we see that

"I heard another voice from heaven say:
"Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done.

Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts,
'I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.' Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her."

God remembers those sins, Pastor Dahlstrom, he is coming to judge the nations, and he commands that we REMOVE ourselves from the sinful lifestyles lest we be punished by his holy indignation.

These are the sins of the candidate you have chosen.

1) He has spat in the face of God about the lives of God's children, giving nonbelievers the choice to kill at will

2) He and the Democratic Party have destroyed the marriage by making divorce easy and downplaying the seriousness of the adultery that occurs after remarrying.

3) They have elevated Islam to Christ's status, giving it equal relevance in our society.

4) They have paid those who abandon their children, and blamed the righteous for the sufferings of communities which have few fathers present

5) They have fought so that homosexuals and transgendered peoples can sue the righteous for not advancing them in the workplace or hiring them

6) They have predicated wealth-building and social advancement with racial factors instead of righteousness and hard work

7) They have taken the reward for taking care of the poor away from the church, and instead taxed the righteous and given the glory to an irreligious governmental entity

8) They have fought for multiculturalism, saying that Christ's truth and the Holy Scripture are but one of many valid "truths," and that our nation should not be based upon Christ

9) They have slandered the righteous, calling God's followers backward and "intolerant" for following God's principles, and selfish for not supporting welfare programs

10) They have fought against the Christian community by making it illegal according to the Federal Housing Administration to let Christians sell their homes to other Christians, effectively destroying Christian communities where people could raise their children in God's standards

11) They have silenced Pastors with legal ramifications for taking stands against political figures who adopted the abominations mentioned above

12) They have fought hard for a woman's right to commit adultery, and for unmarried men and women to co-habitate, and commit other transgressions against our Lord

Brother Dahlstrom, I believe the end days are at hand, and judgment is coming for the Enemy and his followers. I also believe that a great lie has been permitted within the Christian church, and that we have mistaken immorality for tolerance, and a rampant disregard for perfection in Christ for love. We have praised a candidate for breaking RACIAL barriers, while discarding God's Truth as just another belief system.

This is an egregious error, Pastor Dahlstrom, and I know you have strong feelings about taking care of the poor and not engaging in preemptive war, but when a party actively fights against God's principles as mentioned above, destroys the family, predicates righteousness with racial factors, and says abominations should give you legal advantages, then you must recognize that this party cannot be accepted by Christ's church. There is a chasm of difference between not GOVERNMENTALLY taking care of the poor and actively destroying Christ's righteousness within a community.

And remember: judgment is coming, there are tares among us, and we MUST remain on guard, lest we fall away from Christ's grace. After all, if we couldn't fall away from grace, why would Peter have called us to steadfastness? Our enemy is within the church, and he will be until judgment day.

I'll be praying for you and those in your church. God bless.

At 9/11/08 13:53, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

I'm saddened by your post Jeremy because it appears to me that, after all the dialog, all the prayer, all the discussions that have occurred in the past months, there still seems to a paradigm out there that deifies one party and vilifies the other. I've already written about this, so won't do so again here.

Instead I'll point you to an alternative voice here:

and then ask that any further dialog about this occur offline because there's nothing left to debate, other than to ask ourselves how best to live as light in the midst of our culture, a question we should have been asking for the past eight years, and will be asking for the next eight - hopefully supporting that which reinforces God's ethics, and challenging that which doesn't.

this needs to end the conversation on this post - there'll be chances to address ethics and politics in future posts...


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