Friday, October 15, 2010

What Hath Jerusalem to do with Babylon?

In other words: why mix church and politics? That's a huge No-No in our day, in our culture, in our personal and public relationships. Absolutely taboo; just don't go there. Well, that whole line of thinking is a lie, and the Church has fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.

Way back when, Plato philosophied that all things were divided into 2 entirely separate realms: the spiritual and the earthly, or material. This, obviously, is Greek thought and not Judeo-Christian thought, but the Church picked up on Platonic thinking and integrated it so well that we have it with us to this day. In fact, we Christians often think more like Greeks than like Hebrews. (Biblical Hebrew-thought being that which is grounded in and emanating from the 10 Commandments.)

This conflict of philosophies in the Church led to many heresies, schisms, and all sorts of unpleasantness. It also leads to just plain old everyday Christian-living that's not quite on the mark. As C.H. Spurgeon said, "Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right." A subtle, but significant difference.

One ordinary out-working of Christo-Platonic thought can be seen in Medieval times in the burgeoning growth of monasteries, orders, and sects. It was assumed that a person, even a Christian person, would take either the route of the spiritual/heavenly realm, or the earthly/material realm. Thus, when a person felt the call of God upon their heart, it was immediately assumed that they must abandon ordinary life and become a priest, a nun, or a hermit of some kind. It was not thought that you could remain in an earthly occupation and be spiritually-minded. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking pervades our lives today.

Today we have compartmentalized our Christian lives so well that we have our "work life", our "family life", our "recreational life", our "church life", etc. - and never the twain shall meet. But this is fractured living, and as Christians our life is to be integrated, doing all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) ALL, not just "church life." Have integrity at work, love sacrificially in the family, be honest in play. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof ..." (Psalm 24:1-2) As Abraham Kuyper said, "There is not one square inch in the whole domain of creation over which God does not cry, 'Mine!'" And that includes the realm of public policy, or its more common name of politics.

"Christian political activity is to be nothing more and nothing less than the declaration, "Jesus is Lord," the most basic of all Christian declarations. For a Christian to ignore the realm of politics is to ignore the regency of Jesus Christ in that area." - George Grant, "The Changing of the Guard"

We the church have fallen to the lie of Platonic thought, and have abandoned the realm of public policy and government, thinking it to be worldly, earthly, beneath us. And what happens when the church moves out? The world moves in. It is impossible for a vacuum to exist by itself. Therefore, Church, we have the culture in which we live because we have consented to it.

God's Old Testament people, the nation of Israel, did the same thing and suffered the consequences. Pretty fatal ones, nationalistically-speaking. In Isaiah 1, the Lord tells them,
"Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ... If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (vs. 16-20)

Doing good, seeking justice, correcting oppression, bringing justice to widows and orphans ... is this not spiritual work? Is this work that the Church should avoid, thinking it earthly? Not at all, but we the Church have allowed our government to do just the opposite in the very name of these things. The eye of justice is no longer blind; churches are restricted in doing good; the poor, the widow, and the orphan are oppressed as they are held down by the Government through dependence upon the State. It takes gargantuan effort for a person to break free from Uncle Sam's Plantation known as the Welfare State. We must repent of our Platonic thinking and return to Biblical principles. We must involve ourselves in the realm of public policy, or deny the Lordship of Christ.

"... God ordains civil government, it is a sacred institution and an honorable and holy vocational field, and thus those who serve in that arena are ministers under the hand of providence." (George Grant, "Changing of the Guard")

Church and Politics DO mix - may we as God's people serve obediently and righteously as unto Him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Fowl Lesson, or What I Learned From Chickens

We board dogs. And cats. And this year, college students. Oh yes, and horses. The little endeavor has been successful, but this year handed us a challenge we hadn't met before - fleas. You'd think with all the animals around here that would have been a problem long ago, but it wasn't until this summer that we got hit by fleas - and that's not good for business.

Since I'm an organic, all-things-natural freak, I just refused to go the usual pesticide route and decided it was time to get some flea-and-tick-eating-machines - Guinea Fowl.
The Guineas are really good at their job, but not only that - they're very entertaining. Since I raised them from chicks, I am - apparently - Mama, and when I step outside they come running and flapping and squawking. It's hysterical. I told John I now have an official fan club.

One day, the Mockingbirds decided that they'd had enough of the new neighbors, and undertook a day-long battle against the Guineas. They played the part of attack aircraft and dive-bombers while the Guineas played the part of the tanks. The Guineas ended up with a lot of feathers out of place, but their steadfastness won the day and the Mockingbirds conceded defeat.

Here's a photo of "The Yard Patrol."Of course, now that we had one kind of fowl roaming around, there's no reason not to have chickens, right? I've always wanted chickens, so why not? So I went to the shopping source of anything-you-want (a.k.a. Craigslist) and found someone who builds Chicken Arks. Chicken Whats? Arks - you know, something that's carried around with pole-like handles. Not like Noah's. This particular ark is an English design and is really pretty clever. Google it and you'll probably find some plans. This design allows for free-ranging the birds on grass without the danger of predators. Every 2 - 4 days you move it to another spot - the chickens have eaten bugs, aerated the grass and fertilized it as well. AND you get eggs!I found my chickens on good ol' Craigslist, too. They were on a farm not far away, and the farmer and I had some good exercise chasing chickens for awhile. Older farmers around here are just wonderful. They're weather-beaten and gnarled and kind as anything. They love to tell stories about the land and their animals, and I love to listen. So, Mr. Mayhew told me all I needed to know about chickens, and I went home with 3 Red Stars and 3 Black Sex-links (which are a cross between a leghorn ("leggern") and something else he didn't remember.Here are a couple of Red Stars eyeing the iPhone.
These are young chickens - pullets - that have just begun to lay, and I was told it may take them a week to settle down after their truck ride home before they began laying again. But, apparently they liked their new digs and we had our first egg in just 2 days! It was as much fun as Easter egg hunting to find that egg!The Guineas ("The Guys") and the hens ("The Girls") make good neighbors for each other and it really is pleasant for us to watch the birds - kind of like watching cows, I guess - it's good for your blood pressure.

It's also good as a reminder of my relationship with the Lord. And how - you may ask - how could silly, simple birds teach me something about myself and my Creator? Easy. This morning I accidently missed the latch on one of the Chicken Ark doors and several minutes later out flew all the chickens! Chickens and Guineas were everywhere and I thought, dear Lord, what am I going to do? Well, I didn't have to think for long because as soon as they spotted me about 100 feet away, they all came running and squawking straight for me! Despite the fact that the chickens were suddenly in the great unknown, they spotted what they did know and came running. I'm quite sure that it had to do with the fact that I feed them, but nevertheless they came running. It ended up being no problem getting them back in the Ark - just throw some food in and voila! chickens are safely home. And it immediately make me think ...

When I am suddenly thrust outside my safe circumstances and everything becomes strange and frightening, do I look for the Father and run lickety-split straight to Him? Often not. Many times I fall prey to the predator of self-sufficiency, thinking that I can take care of everything all by myself. I'm strong and able, right? No, I'm more like a chicken just running around aimlessly and not seeing the big picture. I just THINK I can manage it all.

Jesus tells us to come to Him. His yoke is easy, his burden light. (Matthew 11: 28-29) He is peace and strength and rest and provision. It's not up to me anyway - it never was. I don't have to exhaust myself by trying to figure it all out - I have only to run to Him who loves me and cares for me.

"... who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began..." 2 Timothy 1: 9

So it is that God reveals Himself to us and speaks comfort to us through His Word and through His creation - even chickens.