Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Sleeping Giant

I will not be blogging tomorrow. Beverly and I will be leaving this evening to go to Houston, where our grandson will be having minor outpatient surgery tomorrow. We will be returning Saturday afternoon -- with a stop-over in Crockett to check on Beverly's dad.

Today is December 7th. "A day that will live in infamy." 65 years ago today, the Japanese, unprovoked, attacked Pearl Harbor. As the attack took place, one of their highest ranking military leaders said, "We have awakened a sleeping giant." He was right. That attack got us into World War II. We first turned our attention to the defeat of Nazi-ism in Europe -- and then took on the Japanese. This country was turned into a weapons-production plant. And in less than 4 years, the war was over.

Is it my imagination or do we pay more attention to the anniversary of Pearl Harbor than we do to 9-11? If so, I wonder why. At Pearl Harbor, the Japanese at least attacked a military instillation. On 9-11, the cowardly terrorists attacked unarmed innocent civilians. There were more casualties in 9-11. And the mainland of the United States was attacked.

Is it because the enemy is less recognizable? Or could it be that we just don't care. After all, our lives have not been all that drastically affected. Life goes on for us.

I know many people think I am being alarmist in my views, but "radical Islam" (I think that defines much more than most people do) is going to be a formidable foe that -- if we continue to close our eyes -- will eventually take over the world. Their control in Europe is already alarming. European nations live in fear every day of saying or doing anything that will "offend" the Muslims among them. We are beginning to see that happening here as well.

But it hasn't affected the Stock Market yet. Or the NFL. Or reality TV. So, let us continue to sleep.

13 comments:

jross said...

I hope Jed's surgery isn't serious.

No doubt ... the Muslim take-over is scary. I do not think you are being an alarmist. This a situation we will be dealing with the rest of our lives.

Josh Ross said...

I can see how someone in your generation might think that WWII (Pearl Harbor) receives more attention than 9-11. My experience, especially with my generation, is the opposite. December 7th doesn't mean much to us. We've never witnessed a draft. Wars are fought differently.

As for the issue with the Muslims, there is a difference between "we" being Americans and "we" meaning Christ-followers. Those 2 things don't go hand-in-hand in my way of thinking. "We" as Americans have reason to feel threatened. However, "We" as Christians aren't called to fight for the Kingdom of God with physical force. We are called to fight with weapons of prayer, love, compassion, etc. In my opinion, our (the Christian's) greatest threat is not Islam, but it is materialism, idolatry, confusing the gospel of Jesus with some health/wealth mentality, a lack of discipleship in churches, a view of nationalism that claims that God is on America's side, and ignoring poverty as a non-theological issue.
Critique?
Thoughts?

Kyle R. said...

I don't think you're being alarmist. I don't know if we are asleep, but we sure are pretty drowsy.

I read this morning that the Pearl Harbor survivors are having their last memorial together today. They meet every five years and they're not planning on a 70th year memorial, since they are all in their 80's and 90's. We are witnessing the last of their great generation, as Tom Brokaw has said "the greatest generation."

I don't think we pay that much attention to 9-11 for a few reasons: 1) as you said, the enemy is nebulous and difficult to identify; 2) It's still too recent and serious reflection has not yet overtaken the nation or its leaders; 3)The war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which stems directly from the 9-11 attacks, is not popuplar-- it is an immensely difficult task-- much more difficult than even the Viet Nam War. (At least we learned from Viet Nam the importance of supporting our troops regardless of the politics).

Kyle R. said...

Josh,

I just read your post and gotta go right now. But I will comment later when I get a chance.

Rick Ross said...

Josh,

I agree that "we" carries two different contexts for us. "We" as Americans need to be concerned because these people want to destroy our way of lives. They consider us to be "the Great Satan."

"We" as Christians need to be concerned because we are "the infidel." According to the Koran, it is perfectly acceptable to lie to the infidel. And Allah is honored when the infidel is killed. Islam wants to bring all the world into submission to Allah.

I agree that we ABSOLUTELY need to be concerned with the things you mentioned. But that does not lessen the concern I have for my kids and grandkids as I imagine them trying to live out a life of discipleship in a world controlled by Islam. Don't ignore one issue because of the other issues. If we ignore this issue -- the issues of materialism, poverty, etc will be moot points.

I really don't feel that this is simply about "nationalism." I do love America. But my concern extends globally on this one.

jross said...

Josh, I am referring to being a Christian American (a Christ-following American). I am both all the time. Though I am a Christian first, I see allegiance to my country through Christian eyes. I can't park my Christianity when I deal with politics, Muslims, war, poverty, idolotry, etc...

Josh Ross said...

My focus was not intended to be on "nationalism." Nationalism and patriotism can be good things. I acknowledge that. I'm proud to be an American.
But, much like Alexander Campbell, (whom I have a great deal of respect for), nationalism can be evil when we begin to think that God is on a nation's side. Campbell believed that America got it right and that the world would come to know Jesus through America and this would be done through the English language. America=Kingdom of God. Therefore, converting people to Jesus went hand-in-hand with converting people to America's way of life. America is not the nation of God. Never has been. Never will be.

I wasn't accusing anyone of being nationalistic; I was just saying that it is definitely a theological concern in this nation today.

It would really "stink" (I chose that word over others running through my mind) to become an oppressed minority--for us, our children, or our grandchildren. I don't wish this on any of us. However, there is a voice inside my head that says, "Welcome to the first 3 centuries of Christianity." They were oppressed and they were the minority, yet discipleship was never more authentic. They truly knew what it meant to "live" for Jesus and to "die" for Jesus.

My reaction to your post is to something you didn't even say. :)
I feel that some people think that in order to take care of this issue we must wipe "radical Islam" off the face of the earth. Bomb then. Shoot them. Kill them.
I don't see this as being the way of Jesus. I think many would agree.

I think I am in agreement with everyone on this post that we must put our trust in God and completely surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The questions I would ask are this:
-How are we fighting with the weapons of the Spirit?
-How many times have our churches called for a 24 hour day of prayer and fasting to pray for peace on the earth?
-How are we practicing the radical teachings of Jesus to love our enemies?

Jeff said...

It is a scary world we live in. I see the fear created by people who believe the sword is the only way to be right and I see the apathy of those focused on meeting their own desires.

I believe Christians have the responsibility to be disciples, to serve and be the hands and feet of Christ. We must show others the hope we have in our trust of God that he will provide what we need.

I believe a nation has the responsibility to protect it's citizens from harm and offer safety to them. Whether it's planes dropping bombs or planes flying into buildings, a nation cannot sit still and hand over the reins to people who have an intent to do others harm.

America certainly is not a Christian nation but my feeling is that many Christians have a great appreciation for the fact that they live in a country that does not oppress them for being a Christian. While many may express that appreciation with an incorrect use of wording, I think America has done it better than other countries in allowing Christians to be visible (which can be good or bad). We Christians who live in America have an incredible opportunity to show the world the conviction we can have through Christ and the compassion we can share because of Christ.

I am not aware of Christians in America who have suffered persecution anything near what the early Christians suffered. I cannot believe that is what God would want for us. It is at this point that I struggle with what the right answers are when it comes to world affairs. For now, the best I can come up with is that I must strive to live a life that will glorify the King of Kings and pray that He will be active in the decisions that are made to make the world a safer place until we can share in eternity.

Amy C said...

This I know, if this nation doesn't turn to God, we will go down in flames.

The only way we can hope to survive and prosper is faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

If we are not an effective body for Christs work on this earth, we might as well cease to be.

Kyle R. said...

Okay everbody,

Here's my two cents.

As I see it, at issue here is this tension that all followers of Christ face: How does my citizenship in God's kingdom work with my citizenship in this world?

First and foremost, as I have written on previous posts, I believe the best government is the monarchy-- where Christ is King-- the spiritual kingdom. And I do desire that all in the world would bow at the feet of Jesus and hail Him as King and obey His commands. But that is not the reality in this world-- hasn't been since about Genesis, chapter three. And as I understand Scripture, it will not be until there is a new heaven and new earth at His coming.

The spiritual kingdom is in no way comparable to any other kingdom-- it is eternal and everlasting-- at least this much I understand.

Yet, here I find myself in a physical, finite body with flesh and bone. And for some reason unbeknownst to me, I find this finite human body born in one of the greatest earthly kingdoms this world has ever known-- living, breathing, walking on American soil. True. God's kingdom with our eternal King will infinitely outlast this American experimental kingdom. Yet, I am here at this point in time and space, physically and spiritually.

Should I jettison off to some remote place, a monastery, or a mountain top and try to ignore this physical world so I can concentrate on the spiritual world? Yes! Occasionally! But the biblical mandate is not to insulate myself in some secluded Christian subculture as a way of life. I am called to be salt and light interspersed in this decaying, rotting world.

Now... if someone or some group of people desires all persons and nations to bow to their God, this is understandable. As I stated above, I desire the very same. But if someone or some group of people desire all persons and nations to bow to their God and they are willing to oppressively force, disfigure, and/or kill in order for their desire to be accomplished, then that someone or group must be inhibited. I can with a very clear conscience love and pray for that enemy at the very same time while I support the use of physical weaponry to inhibit that enemy. Or if someone physically attacks my friends and/or family and I am in a position to defend-- I most certainly will.

Freedom is a biblical concept-- individually and collectively. Adam and Eve: free to eat of any tree; the Israelites: freed from Egyptian slavery; the Apostle Paul: free in Christ. On the flipside, oppression and captivity are biblical concepts as well-- sometimes as a punishment for sinful behavior or sometimes plain ol' sinful behavior.

Freedom is a God-given gift. It was originally given in the Garden of Eden. And as such it can be taken away by the Lord, if He so desires. ( And, of course, the ultimate freedom given is in Christ-- eternal freedom from slavery to sin through faith in His blood). But as I read Scripture, it is my understanding that God wants His creation to be free. Free to choose Him and worship Him, and yes, he even provides the freedom to do the opposite.

So when someone or some group start campaigning against God-given freedom-- freedom to choose Him and worship Him-- we must resist.

Here is the real dilemma, from my perspective. Is the war on terror a physical war or spritual war?

Is it not both?

Are not all conflicts in this world both physical and spiritual? If Hitler had defeated the Allies, is it not likely that we would all speak German and Fuhrer worship would be promoted? Likewise, if Islamic clerics control the world, is it not likely they will, for instance, destroy Christian houses of worship and kill those who do not revere Mohammed?

The point has already been made that if Islam rules the world, our dealings with issues such as materialism and poverty will not matter-- we will all be dead. And then our only citizenship in God's kingdom remains. But what about my children and my children's children? They will likely grow up in a world without freedom to know Jesus. And that, I cannot to tolerate.

While God has given me this earthly life, I am indeed an alien and stranger on this earth and long to be with Christ, free from this earthly tent. But as long as I am in this earthen vessel, I aim to defend the cause of freedom where I am able, defy godless oppression where I am able, and let my light shine for Him where I am able. To me, while in this earthly body, it is not an either/or citizenship, it is both-- not of this world but in this world doing what God enables me to do through His power. If He enables me to defy radical ideologies that are opposed to His calling of me, I will. And if He enables me to defy the evils of materialism, poverty, and idolatry, I will.

My personal struggle: His will be done, not mine.

Josh Ross said...

It has been an interesting day on this blog; a good and healthy dialogue. On some issues, we will just have to agree to disagree.

I don't really get the argument saying that if Islam takes over the world then issues such as materialism and poverty won't matter. The way I see it, Islam hasn't taken over the world and we don't seem to be too concerned about materialism/idolatry and poverty. (By the way, no issue is discussed in Scripture more than idolatry/materialism and poverty).

Our citizenship is not on this earth. Being a Christian that lives in America allows me certain freedoms, but I could be a devout disciple of Jesus if I lived in other nations of this world too. The facts show that America doesn't have the most Christians anymore. Africa has passed us. The future of Christianity will live in 3rd World countries.

God has been working since the beginning to redeem all of creation. He is reconciling the entire world to Himself. Every man and every woman. He did not use political force. If so, Jesus failed. Instead God uses love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice, etc.

I think the question and issue we are wrestling with is this: does God want us to be salt and light from the top-down, or does He want us to be salt and light from the bottom-up? For some this is a both/and...for others it is an either/or.

What challenges my way of thinking are some of the teachings of Jesus. I present a few questions even though I don't have the answers. I wrestle with these questions.
-How do we balance a life of defending ourselves with force and turning the other cheek? (Fighting a war is not the same as defending a wife if she is getting raped.)
-Can we "love our enemies" and kill our enemies at the same time? If so, is that really love? How are we practicing "loving our enemies" in our churches?
-How do we balance an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth with Jesus' words against this?
-Lastly, I still present the question of where is our communal commitments to pray for peace in this world? Are we fighting with the weapons of the Spirit--prayer, fasting, etc.?

I commend all of you because the desire of your heart is to follow the way of Jesus Christ. Even though we disagree on certain issues of foreign policies and "citizenship," all of us want to look more like Jesus.

jross said...

Josh,
Beautiful summary!

randy said...

May the Lord bless your family - your grandson and Beverly's father in particular.

I was out of town the past two days and am sorry I didn't see this discussion developing. Yesterday, I spent time with some of the men and women who our defending our country in my business role of working for a defense contractor. Frankly, when I was younger the thought of working on military weapons seemed to be a conflict with my Christian identity. While the world has changed and God has not, I have changed. I take pride in developing weapons to be used to sustain this country. Not by our choosing we are are war with people who do not want simply to defeat us but want Christians dead. I believe world will be a better place for Christianity if we defeat the end that Islamic fascists desire. However, I know I see things darkly and regardless of what I see Gods will be done.