Keeping conscience in the outer court
When I set up this blog I did not intend to spend time discussing current events. But the rapidity with which our nation has entered a societal no-fly zone since the installation of the present administration is increasingly alarming. On no issue is that more critical than national defense, where presently we are virtually waiting for an unspeakable tragedy to occur.
When the outer court is on fire, and you can do something about it, conscience demands you do so. If a situation is beyond your ability to deal with (including through prayer) you must accept it as God’s will and seek His glory in it. But if you can do something, then you must do it:
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it ? – Jas 2:15-16
Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin. – Jas 4:17
It’s time for Western culture to have a resurgence of conscience. Make that scripturally-informed conscience, because consciences can be malformed, and barely know it:
To the pure all things are pure. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled. – Titus 1:15
But the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, being seared in their own conscience, – 1Tim 4:1-2
We need to abandon pleasure-seeking and man-centered religion as our guiding light and begin to do what is right in God’s eyes. The holy apostles emphasize how critical it is to maintain conscience as an essential part of the integrity of our Christian walk.
This charge I commit to you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before about you, in order that you might war a good warfare by them, holding faith and a good conscience, which some have put away and made shipwreck as to faith. – 1Tim 1:18-19
Likewise the deacons are to be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of ill gain, having the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. – 1Tim 3:8-9
having a good conscience, that while they speak against you as evildoers they may be shamed, those falsely accusing your good behavior in Christ. – 1Pet 3:16
I love the dualism of the phrase, “having the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience”. It graphically shows that being Christlike allows us to be both spirit-led and rational. With feet firmly planted on the ground, our spirits still can reside in the very throne room of heaven. The mature Christian is a mighty warrior of God, indeed!
Now, some will say that we need to avoid anything that touches on the political. A little leaven ferments the whole loaf. I agree wholeheartedly that politics as an end unto itself, or as a means to something not in God’s will, such as pride of life or lust for power, cannot be reconciled to Christ and must be avoided.
But God’s truth affects all aspects of our lives. It must, because it impacts us organically at our core. In Christ, we bring the fragrance of the knowledge of God to everything we touch. We couldn’t restrain God from influencing the political arena through ourselves if we tried – short of shirking our civic duty altogether. And shirking our civic duty at such a time as this would bring us back to conscience.
Indeed, the political realm can be used for spiritual purposes. By convicting consciences on the issues at hand, we can awaken people to their need for the Lord. I’m not merely talking about unsaved people, either. A lot of Christians are living below their potential in Christ, and need conviction of conscience and encouragement to good works to raise them out of the slough.
So many times, we don’t get to choose the crises that befall us. To us it is given, rather, the choice of whether and how to respond. This is where being faithful in “unrighteous riches” comes into play. Does God really want us to barricade ourselves in our cathedrals, above it all, while the world sinks into chaos and evil? I submit to you that that is exactly what satan would desire! Does not God rather want us, Gideon-like, to take His light into the enemy camp? When Christ spoke of the gates of hell not prevailing, He spoke of them as a defensive weapon. In Christ’s scenario, it is the church that is on the offense.
So this is a short apologetic for being engaged in the critical issues of our day. God wants to use the clash of civilizations to open up long-benighted lands to His glorious Gospel. This is happening massively, with historically record numbers being converted, but the persecution on the battlefront is horrendous. We in the west need to do our part, by not rolling over to the forces of darkness that are insidiously, and now pervasively, at work in our midst. Conscience demands it.
Now to a better writer than I. Mark Steyn has written another compelling column. Absolutely galvanizing and worth a full read, but an excerpt:
According to one poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of waterboarding young Umar Farouk. Well, you should have thought about that before you made a community organizer president of the world’s superpower. The election of Barack Obama was a fundamentally unserious act by the U.S. electorate, and you can’t blame the world’s mischief-makers, from Putin to Ahmadinejad to the many Gitmo recidivists now running around Yemen, from drawing the correct conclusion.
For two weeks, the government of the United States has made itself a global laughingstock. Don’t worry, “the system worked,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Incompetano. Don’t worry, he was an “isolated extremist,” said the president. Don’t worry, we’re banning bathroom breaks for the last hour of the flight, said the TSA. Don’t worry, “U.S. border-security officials” told the Los Angeles Times, we knew he was on the plane and we “had decided to question him when he landed.” Don’t worry, Obama’s chief counterterrorism John Brennan assured the Sunday talk shows, sure, we read him his rights and he’s lawyered up but he’ll soon see that “there is advantage to talking to us in terms of plea agreements…”
But the president of the United States cannot say that because he is over-invested in a fantasy — that, if only that Texan moron Bush had read Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his Miranda rights and bowed as low as he did to the Saudi king, we wouldn’t have all these problems. So now Obama says, “We are at war.” But he cannot articulate any war aims or strategy because they would conflict with his illusions. And so we will stagger on, playing defense, pulling more and more items out of our luggage — tweezers, shoes, shampoo, snowglobes, suppositories — and reacting to every new provocation with greater impositions upon the citizenry. You can’t win by putting octogenarian nuns through full-body scanners. All you can do is lose slowly. After all, if you can’t even address what you’re up against with any honesty, you can’t blame the other side for drawing entirely reasonable conclusions about your faintheartedness in taking them on.
And here’s some sharp reportage on what’s happening on the ground as a result of the administration’s deep commitment to political correctness. Increasingly, if you want to know what’s really going on behind our government’s facade, you need to go to the ex-U.S. papers. The loss of journalistic integrity lies close to the root of our problems, so thank God for the Internet. Various excerpts:
The chance to secure crucial information about al-Qaeda operations in Yemen was lost because the Obama administration decided to charge and prosecute Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as an ordinary criminal, critics say. He is said to have reduced his co-operation with FBI interrogators on the advice of his government-appointed defence counsel.
The potential significance became chillingly clear this weekend when it was reported that shortly after his detention, he boasted that 20 more young Muslim men were being prepared for similar murderous missions in the Yemen…
“[The Pantybomber] was singing like a canary, then we charged him in civilian proceedings, he got a lawyer and shut up,” Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the Sept 2001 terror attacks on the US, told The Sunday Telegraph.
“I find it incomprehensible that this administration is treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue. The president has finally said that we are at war with al-Qaeda. Well, if this is a war, then Abdulmutallab should be treated as a combatant not a criminal…”
Dan Goure, a national security analyst and Pentagon adviser, said that the Obama administration’s philosophy and approach was fuelling the intelligence imbroglio…
After Mr. Obama entered the White House, his Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to investigate CIA agents involved in waterboarding interrogations of captured al-Qaeda chiefs. That move was greeted with a mixture of dismay and anger in at its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
“People in Langley got the message and a lot of them are just hunkering down and watching their backs,” said a retired intelligence official. “The atmosphere is not really conducive to good intelligence work.”
Brothers and sisters, this ain’t politics, this is life and death. This is standing up for truth, and ultimately for the foundation of all truth, the Gospel. With mercy and grace, we can win this war. But whatever the outcome, until we hear differently, we are conscience-bound to fight it.