Clinging To Wilting Flowers

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A few days before the elections, I mentioned a book by Wayne Grudem, Politics – According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture. Mind you, I haven’t read the book, but I heard him speak on Family Life Today. As part of his talk, Mr. Grudem “debunked” the idea that some Christian teachers express—namely, that the Christian should not focus on the political arena because the way to change culture is to make disciples.

Both guest and hosts chuckled at this view, apparently because of the reality, that no matter what we do to present Christ, not everyone will accept Him—at least not now. The implication clearly was, This view is not a practical way to impact the culture. Interestingly, Mr. Grudem made no effort to portray this position as unbiblical.

And how could he, for it seems to me to be thoroughly biblical, perhaps the only biblical approach to politics. Yes, we should vote. Yes, we should be informed. Yes, some Christians will be called by God to serve Him and others by holding elected office, which necessitates involvement in politics beyond the “make disciples” level. But what about the rest of us? Should we be manning the picket lines, attending the rallies, writing our congressmen?

I don’t think any of that is wrong, but we believers need to be sure we aren’t clinging to wilting flowers. What do I mean?

James 1:11 says

For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

And Isaiah 40:7 says

The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

Life here on earth is as wilting flowers. Later James says our lives are like fog. So why would we put an over emphasis on holding on to that which is so temporary?

Paul spells it out in Philippians. In talking about false teachers, he says in 3:19-20

whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Emphasis mine)

So I wonder if too many of us Christians don’t have our citizenship status mixed up. I wonder how many of us are actually eagerly waiting for Jesus.

I first got a glimpse of what citizenship in heaven would look like in comparison to citizenship on earth when I read C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Here’s a sample.

I got out. The light and coolness that drenched me were like those of summer morning, early morning a minute or two before the sunrise, only that there was a certain difference. I had the sense of being in a larger space, perhaps even a larger sort of space, than I had ever known before: as if the sky were further off and the extent of the green plain wider than they could be on this little ball of earth. I had got “out” in some sense which made the Solar System itself seem an indoor affair …

At first, of course, my attention was caught by my fellow passengers, who were still grouped about in the neighbourhood of the omnibus, though beginning some of them, to walk forward into the landscape with hesitating steps. I gasped when I saw them. Now that they were in the light, they were transparent—fully transparent when they stood between me and it, smudgy and imperfectly opaque when they stood in the shadow of some tree. They were, in fact, ghosts … I noticed that the grass did not bend under their feet: even the dew drops were not disturbed.

Then some re-adjustment of the mind or some focussing of my eyes took place, and I saw the whole phenomenon the other way round. The men were as they always had been as all the men I had known had been perhaps. It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison. Moved by a sudden thought, I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn’t break. I tried to twist it, but it wouldn’t twist. I tugged till the sweat stood out on my forehead and I had lost most of the skin off my hands. The little flower was hard, not like wood or even like iron, but like diamond.

No wilting flower, that. So why would I cling to the passing-away kind?

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6 Comments

  1. Great post. I loved the Great Divorce! Masterful.

    I’m surprised that anyone would chuckle about the great commission–to go and make disciples.

    It seems to me that we should love and serve God and neighbor and by doing that we would make disciples and teach them to love and serve God and neighbor. And they will make disciples.

    We American Christians are a little backwards, I think. We want our country to serve us. We should just mind our own business and live at peace in so far as we are able. And make disciples. If we would serve a little more and complain a little less, we’d make more disciples I think.

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  2. An interesting approach until you try to fit the story of the Good Samaritan into it.

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  3. Ken, I’m not sure what you mean. The story of the good Samaritan is a perfect example of one form of disciple making rather than playing politics. Today I imagine someone calling social services, or surely 9-1-1. No personal involvement. But someone might organize a march against street violence.

    I’m not saying discipleship can’t emerge from such a march. But I’m not sure Christians are thinking along those lines. It seems to me there’s more trust in the government than in God. We need to get the government to do this or that. We even need to pray that God will help get the people elected who will do this or that.

    Why not do what He told us to do and stop worrying about what the government is or isn’t doing, apart from praying and submitting?

    I just don’t see the point of countermanding Christ’s commission to the church in favor of a political agenda, especially when He made it abundantly clear that He did not come to do something political but something spiritual.

    One day, yes, He’ll take care of the political, too. But I think we might be missing opportunities to do what Jesus told us to do because we’re so focused on doing what we think our culture needs. Might not obedience allow us to have our cake (make disciples) and eat it too (have a better society because of all the followers of Christ)?

    Becky

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  4. The brethren of The Messiah are but “aliens and pilgrims while the earth” for their “citizenship is in Heaven”!

    So it is that they are exhorted to:

    “Love Not The World”

    ”For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”…….(I John 5:19)

    “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)

    “If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)

    “Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

    “The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

    The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

    John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James4:4)

    “Come Out of her, MY people”!

    Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease(no-peace),,etc,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” all of which fuel the fires of mankind’s “imag”ination ;-(

    “Come out from among them and be separate”!

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one” indeed and Truth……

    Truth IS, a lie never was and is not…….

    Abide in Truth……. francis

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  5. “Life here on earth is as wilting flowers. Later James says our lives are like fog. So why would we put an over emphasis on holding on to that which is so temporary?”

    Becky,

    You are suggesting that heavenly concerns take precedence over earthly concerns. The man beaten by robbers was first passed up by a priest and a Levite. No doubt they had pressing spiritual concerns to attend to. The Samaritan does not talk to the man about the state of his soul. He binds his wounds, takes him to a place of safety and makes sure he has provision for the immediate future. Fog and wilting flower stuff. But Jesus seems to be okay with this.

    It reminded me of the movie The Apostle. Robert Duvall plays a southern preacher. At one point he comes across a man in a car accident. He rushes up and tries to ascertain if the man is saved. He does nothing to help him get out of the car wreck.

    Jesus is answering the question who is my neighbour with a story about how to be a neighbour. His exemplary character meets the pressing earthly needs of a stranger. I don’t see how this has anything to do with disciple making or government.

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  6. Hi, Ken. I think we’re talking to cross purposes here. I think many Christians involve themselves in politics because they want to create heaven on earth. They want their present environment to be less antagonistic to their way of life. In essence, they are focusing on earthly things.

    When Paul said we our citizenship is in heaven, he went on a little later to tell two women in the church to live in harmony with each other. Clearly a right view of our heavenly citizenship does not cancel Christ’s command to take up our cross and follow Him.

    Realizing we are citizens of heaven, setting our eyes on things above (Colossians 3) does not mean we are blind to the condition of men or uncaring. It does not give us a pass to no longer love our neighbor.

    In fact, I suggest that realizing our true citizenship will spur us on to love and good works. We won’t be so focused on our own comfort and ease but on pleasing our King. And He has made His wishes known in Scripture.

    To walk past the needy as the priest and the Levite did was all about self interest, not spiritual. They were focused on their own self-righteousness (not risking the chance that the man might be dead and they would no longer be clean according to rabbinical law). They were examples of whitewashed sepulchers.

    So this post is really intended to say, we believers must not put our faith in human institutions to create a Christian utopia when in fact the means to affect culture is in preaching the gospel, loving our neighbor, and making disciples. When men’s hearts turn to God, culture is bound to change.

    Hope that helps.

    Becky

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