The Politics of Faith (Pt 4)

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters…

Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch runs through a filter. There have been times when I looked at a color and thought it was purple, only to be told it was mauve. Times where I smelled something good, only to be told it smelled rotten. Times when I heard something offensive, while others thought it was funny. Apparently, my filter was different than the others. Often enough, these differences in filters are what gives life it’s wonderful diversity, but sometimes these filters become the building blocks of competing world views, and determine our faith and belief system. Some filters are built on ‘characteristics’, and some are built on ‘rights’. What is interesting about filters, is that they can change. The more we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the same things…the more those things become our filter.

The ‘filter’ of our country is about ‘rights’.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights: that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”    Thomas Jefferson

These ‘rights’ pertain to the individual but come with responsibilities to the country. I like this introduction and list that comes from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services page:

“Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. We are a nation bound not by race or religion, but by the shared values of freedom, liberty, and equality. Throughout our history, the United States has welcomed newcomers from all over the world. The contributions of immigrants have helped shape and define the country we know today. More than 200 years after our founding, naturalized citizens are still an important part of our democracy. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you too will have a voice in how our nation is governed. The decision to apply is a significant one. Citizenship offers many benefits and equally important responsibilities. By applying, you are demonstrating your commitment to this country and our form of government. Below you will find several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation.”

Rights

Responsibilities

  • Freedom to express yourself.
  • Freedom to worship as you wish.
  • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
  • Right to vote in elections for public officials.
  • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
  • Right to run for elected office.
  • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Support and defend the Constitution.
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon.
  • Defend the country if the need should arise.

The ‘right to bear arms’ is not listed here (which is interesting) for immigrants seeking to become US citizens, but otherwise, this list does a pretty good job of explaining the words of Thomas Jefferson to those seeking citizenship. The heart of the matter is really about the ‘freedom to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’…as long as those pursuits are within the boundaries and borders of federal, state, and local laws. In other words, the laws still supersede whatever your ‘pursuit of happiness’ may be. However, the laws are set by popular vote often enough and can be changed if enough voices request a change. This means, that what was illegal before and could put you in jail is no longer illegal and (in fact) may now be celebrated.

This ‘filter’, by which we interpret our world, is about the individuals wants and desires, and the freedom to pursue them, even if they are illegal, because we can always get the law changed at some point in time. This narcissistic mind set has resulted in the ‘responsibilities’ to the country becoming somewhat voluntary. What I mean, is that for every ‘responsibility’ there is also an ‘unless’.

  • Defend the country if the need should arise, unless your faith prohibits violence.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon, unless you have other things to do.
  • Pay income taxes, unless you have filed a ‘tax exempt’ status.

A citizen has responsibilities to their country, unless they don’t want to do it. Then…they are free to pursue an avenue, or way, out of the responsibility.

If this is our ‘filter’…then we will interpret the world based on ourselves and how it impacts us. We will justify this position by saying “I have the right to…” This puts ‘us’ in the position of ‘being served’. This makes every situation about ‘me’ first. This position is as American as apple pie. Our government serves at the will of the people, our country provides the freedom to be as freaky as you wanna be; or as straight laced as you wanna be. In the great ‘pantheon’ of ‘The American Way’, the individual holds the top spot. This ‘filter’ makes us an ‘American First’.  The ‘filter’ of Christianity looks much different. A Christian ‘filter’ is about ‘characteristics’…not ‘rights’.

As ‘Holy Week’ approaches, may God use the holidays to open our eyes to see the true reflection of Christian values…and how a Christian ‘filter’ interprets the world much differently.

 

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