Sunday, July 03, 2005

God and Country

Tomorrow is July the 4th, and I will admit that I most likely will not spend time in quiet contemplation of the country we call the United States, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and how we gained them, or what it means to be an American. I probably won't spend time thinking about our troops who are serving abroad or those people in other countries who are less fortunate than we are. I'm going to take a day off from all that and go to the lake.

Lately I've thought a lot about our country, and while I know that I am very fortunate to live here and enjoy a fine house, a good job, and all the food I care to eat, I can't help but think that I might be better off spiritually if I lived in a poor nation where I had to struggle to find enough food to keep me alive and had to sleep out in the heat or the cold. Of course, I am thankful that I don't live that way; however, I think that because of my circumstances, I have become complacent to the point that I think I am entitled to have a fine house, a good job, and more food than I can eat.

When I am truly honest, I know that the only reason I am blessed with so much is not because our government has created great opportunities for its citizens or because I took advantage of the educational opportunities we have to better myself. The only reason I am blessed with material comforts is because of God's mercy and kindness. I have done nothing to earn any of this, nor do I somehow deserve it. The more I think about it, the more humiliated I feel. I have not made God's kingdom my primary concern; I have not shared my goods with the poor; I have not sought to bring justice to the oppressed--yet God has blessed me anyway! What will I do now to show my gratitude to him?


David Kear said...

I think that many of us in the U.S. have fallen in love with wealth and money. I have often thought that it would be easier to trust God if you lived in an impoverished third world country. I have changed my mind. It would not be easier; it would be more of a necessity.

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless."
Ecclesiastes 5:10

We have a responsibility as Christians to take all the action that we can.

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
I John 3:17-18

One more observation, I have noticed that many of the greatest givers in the U.S. are also among the wealthiest. The wealth of our nation is a gift from God that must be shared with a pure conscience.

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:24-25

Ayatollah Mugsy said...

As the Prophet Muhammed said, "It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path which leads to bliss." Yet it is not impossible. Though wealth can create a new set of dilemmas, it allows us to do things we could not otherwise do; help those we could not otherwise help. "Wealth, properly employed, is a blessing; and a man may lawfully endeavor to increase it by honest means." I have enjoyed reading your thoughtful posts. May God grant you peace and guidance.

Tony Arnold said...
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Tony Arnold said...

This is a repost. I just realized that I put the wrong title to Lee's book. Sorry for anyone who was confused.

Amen to your post JMG.

I will once again plug Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship for those wrestling with these feelings and convictions. He deals head on with them.

Have a great contemplation at the lake.


JMG said...

My day on the lake was nice. If you want to go to the lake on a holiday or on Saturday and not experience a crowd, Cordell Hull is the place.

Tony, I have ordered "the book." I went to Amazon to read reviews and was particularly intrigued by the bad comments. Whenever the ultra-conservatives start bad-mouthing Christian writing, I think that might be something I need to read.

Tony Arnold said...

I have a friend at Church (a blog you read) who says the same thing.

If the ultra-conservatives don't like it, then it must have a ring of truth to it.

I look forward to your honest comments on it.


JMG said...

Just goes to prove that great minds really do think alike!


jettybetty said...

Tony should get a commission--I ordered the book, too!

JMG, I have had some of the same thoughts you have had lately--perhaps I will be able to pull them together some time and blog about it.

I do know we have been blessed--and I believe God has expectations of us.

Perhaps the book will help me gather my thoughts!

Hope you had fun at the lake. Did your brother do some fireworks for you? I missed my brother's this year--but I hear his safely record continues--no injuries!


Mike Kear said...

Great post! Great discussion!

It is quite humbling to realize all that God has given us and how little we do for His glory to the least of these.



JMG said...

Thank you Dr. Mike, and welcome. It's pretty neat to have nice comments from a real theologian!

JB, my brother did do a few fireworks, but one of them turned over and sent rockets off into the crowd. I'm happy to say that there were no injuries, but it was great fun to watch everyone scramble!