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5 factors Christians should consider when casting their vote


By Jason Mattera, Op-ed contributor| Monday, August 01, 2022

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/voices/5-factors-christians-should-consider-when-casting-their-vote.html/

Voters leave a polling station after casting their votes during the U.S. presidential election in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, November 8, 2016. | Reuters/Aaron Josefczyk

Politics can be a messy business.

From the varied special interests wielding influence behind the scenes to the undeniable fact that we’re often left with candidates who exhibit demonstrable character defects, the idea of voting our values as Christians can seem like a daunting enterprise.

This reality is one reason why the proverbial phrase “the lesser of two evils” has become a go-to expression each election cycle. It’s an acknowledgment that both political parties fall short of our biblical standards in some way — embodying worrying degrees of corruption, bad ideas, and problematic leadership.

But that phrase is also an acknowledgment that Christians shouldn’t just throw up their hands in surrender, even if our choices are less than ideal. As best we can, we should pursue the application of biblical principles to every area of life, which includes the domain of politics.

How, then, should Christians weigh upcoming elections as they assess who to support at the ballot box?

Thanks to the recent slate of excellent Supreme Court rulings, we at least have a practical blueprint to help inform us as we make our decision.

Here are five areas to sharpen our focus during election season.

Ally to the pro-life community

Protecting unborn life in the womb should be one of the primary motivating factors for any serious Christian. The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization undid the horrors of Roe v. Wadeturning the abortion battle from the national to the state level.

Which politician, Christian or not, will be an ally to the pro-life community?

That’s the question we must ask.

The ones who are hostile to the pro-life community will make it obvious.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for instance, demanded that the feds shut down crisis pregnancy centers by force while her colleagues in the House blocked a congressional resolution to condemn the violence and vandalism directed at faith-based organizations in the aftermath of Dobbs.

Meanwhile, abortion fanatic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D, ghoulishly vetoed millions of dollars from the budget that was allocated by the Michigan legislature to “encourage adoption and support pro-life pregnancy facilities.”

Like I said, they make it obvious.

Religious liberty

What good is religious liberty if you can’t exercise it in a public place? Not good at all, the Supreme Court concluded in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.

Coach Joe Kennedy, if you’ll recall, was canned by his employer, a public school district, for leading a voluntary prayer on the field after each game. The district ridiculously argued that this voluntary prayer, which players from both teams participated in, was a de facto establishment of religion by the school.

It was not.

It was an American citizen exercising his God-given right to praise his Creator free from government interference.

Which politician will rigorously protect the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty and free speech?

This question is all the more important to sort out after we witnessed megalomaniac governors and local officials exploit the coronavirus pandemic to shutter churches and limit attendance capacity for almost a year, even as they allowed abortion clinics and pot shops to remain open and accessible.

Put differently, will the politician be a friend or foe to the Church?

Lest you think such a query is too abstract, remember that Beto O’Rourke, who is currently running for governor in Texas, previously told a CNN townhall audience in 2019 that, if elected president, he would rescind the tax-exemption status of any Christian nonprofit that opposed same-sex marriage.

School choice

In Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Maine, if it is going to subsidize tuition costs for private schools, cannot freeze out faith-based schools from receiving funds as well.

“That is discrimination against religion,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Three of Roberts’s colleagues objected to the decision, which means three Supreme Court justices believed that Maine was justified in explicitly barring tax dollars from going toward religious instruction even as the State made tax dollars available to other private institutions.

“Discrimination” is the right word choice.

For voting purposes, any program or law — charters, vouchers, home school protections — that aids Christians in removing their children from the public school system is a win.

Government schools are not values-neutral venues for education. They are temples of worship for humanism, where a secular worldview is at the core of what is taught. If that agenda wasn’t evident already, the relentless reporting by Christopher Rufo exposing the radical gender ideology showcased in the classroom should leave no doubts.

Separation of powers

Civil government isn’t the only form of government, biblically speaking. It’s one form among many.

God also instituted self-government (Proverbs 16:32), family government (Genesis 2:23-24), and church government (1 Timothy 3:1-15), along with civil government (Romans 13:1-6).

And throughout Scripture He places different emphases and assigns different roles to each of these jurisdictions. Under this design, tyranny is averted because power is not centralized in any one form of government; it’s decentralized, or it should be anyway.

That’s the road to freedom. But that’s not how Washington, D.C., has functioned lately.

Americans have lost a great deal of their freedoms to unelected bureaucrats who populate the administrative state. No-name pencil pushers are imposing vast regulations on American society by decree, making a mockery of our Constitution’s commitment to “checks and balances.”

A seismic correction, however, could be in the works, thanks to the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA. Here the Supreme Court blocked the Environmental Protection Agency, and, by extension, other government agencies, from snatching power that was never delegated to them by Congress in the first place. As Neil Gorsuch underscored in a concurring opinion, any federal agency endeavoring to regulate “‘a significant portion of the American economy’” must be given an overt mandate by the legislative body. The same determination applies if an agency is trying to “require ‘billions of dollars in spending’ by private persons or entities,” the justice added.

It’ll now be more difficult for some Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fanboy you’ve never heard of to micromanage your life from the windowless office of his D.C. cubicle.

While defanging the administrative state may not be as flashy as the other Supreme Court opinions handed down this term, West Virginia v. EPA is nonetheless a crucial part in upholding the biblical precept of separation of powers. Christians should be suspicious of any politician who doesn’t respect these constitutional boundaries.

One last thing…

This next topic wasn’t addressed in the Supreme Court’s most recent docket, but it remains an indispensable part of how Christians should assess who to back for political office. And that topic surrounds this question: What kind of people will the candidate staff his administration with?

That question is critical because who an elected leader hires to implement his policies reflects that administration’s beliefs and priorities. It’s not a one-man operation, after all.

Which brings us to President Joe Biden.

He appointed a man pretending to be a woman to a key healthcare role at the White House. Admiral “Rachel” Levine, formerly known as Richard Levine, is the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. During an MSNBC interview not too long ago, Mr. Levine said he remains dedicated to empowering “trans youth” to get “gender-affirmation treatment in their state,” which is the euphemistic way of saying he supports pumping adolescents full of puberty blockers and recommending “sex” reassignment surgery if these “youth” convey discontentment about their gender.

Any politician or party who defends mutilating children over feelings they’ll eventually grow out of has tilted the “evil” in “the lesser of two evils” balancing act unequivocally to one side of the electoral scale … which means that balancing act no longer exists.

The Biden administration has similarly made news by hiring a guy at the Department of Energy’s nuclear waste division who shows up to work in stilettos, a dress, lipstick, and goes by the pronoun “they.” The same dude reportedly brags about his bizarre sexual fetish that involves animal role-playing. It’s called “pup-play,” if you’re interested.

What this means in the context of voting is that we may not like the candidate at the top of the ticket and may even find his personality obnoxious, but that should not automatically be a dealbreaker.

If the candidate is going to hire personnel who champion the unborn, who respect religious liberty and Christian education, who seek to scale back the size and scope of civil government, and who aren’t trying to subvert the biological differences between men and women and castrate kids in the process, then these are all strong factors to consider before casting a ballot.

In other words: Personnel is policy.

Remember that when Election Day rolls around.


Originally published at Standing for Freedom Center. 

Jason Mattera is a New York Times bestselling author and Emmy-nominated journalist. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Elle Reynolds Op-ed: Bad News In The World Reminds Us We Still Await A Second Advent


Commentary By Elle Reynolds | DECEMBER 10, 2021

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2021/12/10/bad-news-in-the-world-reminds-us-we-still-await-a-second-advent/

Inflation. COVID-19. Ballooning federal debt made worse by irresponsible spending in Congress. Lost jobs from medically coercive mandates. A supply chain crisis. Racist and sexually explicit narratives flooding public schools while concerned parents are targeted as terrorists. A heartbreakingly botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. An aggressive dictatorship in China that perpetuates horrific human rights abuses. A border crisis.

Conservatives pride ourselves on our ability to see the world without the rose-tinted lenses of progressives. If men were angels, we would need no government (or government accountability), we say — but men are no angels and thus we must be skeptics.

That candid recognition of our world’s imperfection often leaves us discouraged. We are frustrated that so many naively buy the blatant lies of the corporate press and corrupt politicians, and that even basic truths like “don’t kill babies” and “boys and girls are different” meet vicious opposition.

Yet, unlike the utopian dreams of the globalist left, our goal is not and has never been the perfection of the system. Conservatives should not hope to “fix” the world — nor be despondent when it proves unfixable. While we should seek to cultivate and steward our culture and our communities, our inability to shut off the fire hose of foolishness, evil, and sin in our world today should remind us we await another one.

We Are Made to Long for the Eternal

The Advent season is a time to recall the ancient posture of a world awaiting its savior. We recall the longing of a people who had waited 400 years for the voice of God and millennia for his promised salvation.

But there is another Advent, or arrival, to which we look. We long for the day in which we will surrender our earthly failures and enjoy the presence of a heavenly God. Far from discouraging us, the shortcomings of Earth should embolden our hope. If men were angels, neither heaven nor salvation would be necessary.

For this reason, Christians should take heart at worldly turmoil. “Rejoice that such fruitful times are in store for you, for in them you will be weaned from earth and made meet for heaven,” said the great Baptist theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in an evening devotional based on Job 1:9.

“You will be delivered from clinging to the present, and made to long for those eternal things which are so soon to be revealed to you,” he continues. “When you feel that as regards the present you do serve God for nought, you will then rejoice in the infinite reward of the future.”

Meanwhile, rather than withdraw from a hopeless world, Spurgeon threw himself into practical ministries as well as evangelical ones, founding an orphanage in 1867 and speaking out against the injustice of slavery. Evil in the world should not send Christians into resigned indifference — we are called to “do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

We Engage the Present Because of Our Future Hope

In today’s America, that calling might mean fighting to keep schoolchildren from being vulnerable to political agendas that push sexually explicit material in the classroom and allow rapists access to girls. It can mean speaking up for people like Jack Phillips and Barronelle Stutzman whose livelihoods are targeted for their religious convictions, or fighting for the safety of women in prisons and shelters. It certainly means pleading the cause of the unborn.

Not all of the means by which we as Christians should seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly are political, of course. But our hope of heaven itself should not dissuade us from stewardship of our communities. We are not of the world, but we are in it.

As we anticipate Advent, our posture is one of hope. But — although church traditions vary — in one common symbolism, hope is only one of four virtues signified by the four candles lit each Sunday of the Advent season. Peace, love, and joy mark the other three, and we are called to live these out in the present even as we look with anticipation to heaven.

Because we have hope, we are to love those around us in a way that demands no return. Because we have hope, we may have peace with even dismal circumstances. Because we have hope, we can look upon a fallen world and know the fullness of joy.

God “wants [men] to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present,” C.S. Lewis said through his character Screwtape. “For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered to them.”

Because of the future Advent we long for, we are not just free but emboldened with confidence, even commanded, to engage the present. We run a race, but we do not run aimlessly, or box as one beating the air. Neither need we grieve as those who have no hope.

Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.

Commentary: As a former Muslim, I believe in faith in the public square


Commentary By Hedieh Mirahmadi, Exclusive Columnist| Thursday, July 29, 2021

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/as-a-former-muslim-i-believe-in-faith-in-the-public-square.html/

Hedieh Mirahmadi
Courtesy of Hedieh Mirahmadi

When I first became a Christian, I looked forward to a quiet life, basking in the love and beauty of having met my Lord and Savior.

Since I spent most of my adult life deeply engrossed in political battles over one issue or another, and serving my country in ways that were quite dangerous, the prospect of serenity was quite appealing. It was not more than three months that went by before the Lord gave me the vision for my ministry so others could experience the redemptive power of Christ.

At first, I wanted to ignore the call and pretend I didn’t hear it correctly. Starting a ministry and being public with my Christian faith meant I could be attacked or even physically harmed by Muslims seeking to impose the penalty of apostasy. It meant I was going back into battle. However, the Lord was relentless.

The inspirations came to me like a flood nearly every day, and then I heard the words, “Hedieh, you are battle-tested, combat-ready.” It made me laugh out loud because it was so true. My whole life and career were preparing me for this new mission to spread the Gospel at a time when being a follower of Christ is increasingly under attack. 

I have lived and worked in places where I escaped the outbreak of civil war, was shot at in the marketplace, and nearly lost my toes from frostbite because the heating in our compound turned off.  The Lord took all the inner fortitude and discipline of my past and combined it with the courage and strength that comes from being in relationship with Him.

He was using it all so I can serve the Kingdom. Whether it is writing columns and doing radio interviews, or witnessing to my hairstylist and speaking out at a School Board meeting, my faith in Christ is at the forefront of all that I do.  I often remember the Scripture, “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops,” (Mathew 10:27).

Some would say my enthusiasm stems from being a relatively new Christian, but I beg to differ. I had the good fortune of listening to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at church last week, and he made it so clear why all Americans should think of our faith in this way.

Mr. Pompeo talked about being an openly devout Christian during his time as Secretary of State, and how it informed all he did.  Though being asked ‘how does being a Christian impact your life?’ often had a negative connotation, that was irrelevant to him.  He responds with conviction and recounts his words that are clearly meant to inspire us:

“[Our faith] impacts everything you do; it informs every action that you take. It impacts how you think about the world, how you interact with people, and every day in your work life. Our founders believed deeply this was right and that the capacity to exercise our religion freely was important, and it mattered. …My oath was to the nation, I raised my right hand and swore that I would support defend the American Constitution, but I knew that if I did that with the Lord in my heart, I’d be more successful at delivering on that very outcome.”

Whether it was President Sisi in Egypt or Chairman Kim of North Korea, world leaders respected him for it, and there is nothing un-American or unbiblical about it. In his seminal speech in Cairo, he began the remarks saying, “I’m Mike Pompeo, and I’m an evangelical Christian.” His speechwriters tried to remove it, but he insisted on keeping it in.  He knew it was essential not because he wanted to talk about Christianity in a Muslim nation, but he wanted them to understand that the believers of Christ wanted good things for people everywhere and that it’s our responsibility to be faithful, no matter where we are. There is not one line that gets him more questions or comments about even to this day. Leaders of every faith, Christians, Jews, and Muslims worldwide, say they appreciated his honesty. They appreciated that he kept faith in the public square. They admired the discipline with which he practiced his faith. They appreciated his courage to talk about his values so they could better understand how our nations could work alongside each other to deliver better lives for people across the world.

Though some US officials criticized his openness, it never deterred him. Unfortunately, many government representatives wrongly interpret that the First Amendment prohibits talking about faith, but it does not. The freedom of religion is meant to protect the rights of people of all faiths to practice their religion without encroachment from the government. In my experience, it is a lack of religious conviction in our government officials that has led to disastrous policy decisions.

I will never forget being in a closed-door meeting at the White House during the Obama Administration, where a small group of us was invited to address the President on “countering violent extremism.” After nearly an hour of our passionate pleas and recommendations for stricter policies towards state sponsors of terrorism and other stringent measures, the President says he didn’t “get religion” and would not let people drag him into a war over it. Quite frankly, this sentiment explains why he did virtually nothing about the explosion of violence in the Middle East during his tenure. Suppose many of our senior US diplomats cannot appreciate the impact religion has on the way people live their lives and determine their priorities. How then can we properly represent our country as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values?

Secretary Pompeo went on to say, “There’s no separation between faith and country because God governs in the affairs of men. Our success depends on virtuous people. Wherever that is— volunteering in the parking lot at church or serving in government. Our faith should form our character and inform our opinions.”

Being a Christian should be part of whatever we do. It’s not proselytizing; it is a belief that whatever religion someone believes in, they should be allowed to practice it freely. Hopefully, they will find the power of Christ revealed to them.   If our faith is not public and visible, how can we call others to faith in Christ? It is not just about being a good person.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

I am eternally grateful for receiving salvation after practicing Islam freely in the US for decades.  I also cherish the freedom to share my new faith with others. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, forit is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16).

Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.

Christians Aren’t In Existential Despair If Biden Won, Because Government Isn’t Our God


Commentary by Elle Reynolds NOVEMBER 10, 2020

On Election Night, I was crowded around the television with a dozen college friends in a tiny apartment above our government professor’s house. The Virginia night air seeping through the window was rescuing the feeble air conditioning unit and someone had propped up the three-legged TV with a handful of textbooks. Everyone watched the colorful maps on TV flip colors and we good-naturedly heckled CNN hosts who had been talking nonstop for the better part of two hours.

When Trump started gaining votes in Pennsylvania, everyone glanced at the three Pennsylvanians in the room. “All the Republicans just got off work,” said one, a pastor’s son from Pittsburgh. We all laughed.

But his joke stuck with me. I imagined that amorphous group of Pennsylvania Republicans going about their days, serving customers, trading smiles, clattering dinner plates in the kitchen. They would vote proudly and then they would move on with their daily responsibilities to the people around them.

I can’t say for sure if those Norman Rockwell-esque voters in rural Pennsylvania exist the way I imagined, but I have been inspired and convicted by their imaginary example following the election. They cheerfully did their civic duty, and they went about their day. They didn’t drop the responsibilities and joys around them to hang all hope of salvation on a presidential candidate.

As Christians, that’s how we should approach the electoral process — both before and after the results are announced. We should be educated and enthusiastically involved in our governing authority. We should surely fight to protect our families, our right to worship, and the rights of those who cannot defend themselves. But at the end of the day, we do all we can and then leave the results in eternal hands.

We preach that Christ alone is the hope of our salvation. But how graciously we handle the results of this election will show those around us whether we mean it.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be rightly concerned about protecting the electoral process where there is evidence of voter fraud. It also doesn’t mean we should give up being politically involved or holding our elected officials accountable for their words and actions. Advocating for liberty and justice in the civic process is a legitimate and necessary calling.

But it does mean we have an excellent opportunity to live out our faith by remembering that we trust in something greater than elections. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation,” the psalmist says. “Blessed is he whose hope in is the Lord his God.”

Because our hope is not in this world, we have no reason to be fearful. We may be disappointed and should be aware of policies that threaten our ability to live as we have been called. Yet we have no need to feel afraid, distraught, or betrayed. Any earthly idol would betray our trust.

It is because we hope in an eternal savior that we joyfully continue our daily lives. We don’t need a week off of classes or work to mourn an election. Our daily joys have suffered no loss of meaning. We continue to enjoy fellowship with other members of the body of Christ. We keep going to work and serving those around us. We go on cooking dinner and enjoying it around the family dinner table. And we remain completely fulfilled by the daily grace of God. Because of our faith, we know that politics isn’t everything (and thank God it isn’t). Our lives shouldn’t revolve around who sits in the Oval Office.

After all, the whole concept of government is merely a means to enable people to live well in community with each other. We cannot let the means become the end. Instead, we should continue to live full and fruitful lives with the people placed around us. Furthermore, watching other reactions to election results reminds us how dangerous and disappointing it is to place our trust in fallen human beings.

A video of a woman screaming uncontrollably at Trump’s inauguration in 2016 became a meme because it captured the disconsolate reaction to Trump’s victory by some of his opponents. “I’m so sorry to my world,” the woman sobbed. “There’s so much potential for beauty and for devastation in this one moment, it’s just almost incomprehensible that they can exist right now.”

Other Clinton supporters reminisced a full year after Trump’s election about how devastated they were by his victory. “It kind of just hit you,” said Trent Vanegas, explaining how he broke down in tears when the 2016 election results were announced. “One moment, there’s hope and the next moment it’s complete despair.” Another Clinton voter expressed fear that he and his wife would have to raise their newborn child under a Trump presidency.

Even the positive reactions to Biden’s apparent victory show an obsessive and unhealthy faith in political power. Members of the media literally wept on television when they called the race for Biden. “I don’t know why I’m crying so much,” MSNBC contributor and former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill said. “I keep crying, I’m going to cry now.”

“I’m very emotional,” CNN’s Don Lemon said. “So when you ask me how I’m feeling right now, I’m sorry, that’s all I can tell you.” CNN’s Van Jones repeatedly wiped his eyes with a tissue on camera.

And then there was Stephen Colbert on Thursday night, in what was supposed to be a comedy routine. Because of Trump, “I’m not sitting down yet, I just don’t feel like it yet,” Colbert said. “I’m also dressed for a funeral, because Donald Trump tried really hard to kill something tonight.”

Two minutes into the show and without having told a single joke, Colbert hung his head and just stood awkwardly in silence. “What I didn’t know is that it would hurt so much,” he finally added. “I didn’t expect this to break my heart, for him to cast a dark shadow on our most sacred right.”

Comedian Marc Maron led off his podcast on Monday — after about 30 seconds straight of profanity — by proclaiming “the weight has been lifted…I don’t know that people really fully understand the power, the symbolic power of the head of state that determines on some level how grounded people feel in the country.”

“We just barely f—ing avoided real fascism, people,” he added, before calling Trump supporters “brainf—ed, brainwashed people or just people who believe that fascism is the way to go.”

Watching these reactions, we should not make a mockery of their joy or sorrow. We should, however, be inspired to share the promise that we have. After all, we are blessed with the confidence that politics is not our final hope. And we are called to live accordingly.

Elle Reynolds is an intern at the Federalist, and a senior at Patrick Henry College studying government and journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.

The Pope And Islam’s Most Important Imam Just Signed A Covenant That Pushes Us Much Closer To A One World Religion


A historic interfaith covenant was signed in the Middle East on Monday, and the mainstream media in the United States has been almost entirely silent about it.  Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is considered to be the most important imam in Sunni Islam, and he arrived at the signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi with Pope Francis “hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood”.  But this wasn’t just a ceremony for Catholics and Muslims.  According to a British news source, the signing of this covenant was done “in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths”…

The pope and the grand imam of al-Azhar have signed a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races, in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths.

Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s Catholics, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning, arrived at the ceremony in Abu Dhabi hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood.

In other words, there was a concerted effort to make sure that all of the religions of the world were represented at this gathering.

According to the official Vatican website, a tremendous amount of preparation went in to the drafting of this document, and it encourages believers from all religions “to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray” with one another…

The document, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, was prepared “with much reflection and prayer”, the Pope said. The one great danger at this moment, he continued, is “destruction, war, hatred between us.” “If we believers are not able to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray, our faith will be defeated”, he said. The Pope explained that the document “is born of faith in God who is the Father of all and the Father of peace; it condemns all destruction, all terrorism, from the first terrorism in history, that of Cain.”

There is a lot of language about peace in this document, but it goes way beyond just advocating for peace.

Over and over again, the word “God” is used to simultaneously identify Allah and the God of Christianity.  Here is just one example…

We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.

On top of that, the document also boldly declares that “the diversity of religions” that we see in the world was “willed by God”…

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;

In essence, this is saying that it is the will of God that there are hundreds of different religions in the world and that they are all acceptable in His sight.

We know that the elite want a one world religion, but to see the most important clerics from both Catholicism and Islam make such a dramatic public push for it is absolutely stunning.

You can find the full text of the covenant that they signed on the official Vatican website.  I have also reproduced the entire document below…

—–

INTRODUCTION

Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings (equal on account of his mercy), believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.

This transcendental value served as the starting point for several meetings characterized by a friendly and fraternal atmosphere where we shared the joys, sorrows and problems of our contemporary world. We did this by considering scientific and technical progress, therapeutic achievements, the digital era, the mass media and communications. We reflected also on the level of poverty, conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption, inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other causes.

From our fraternal and open discussions, and from the meeting that expressed profound hope in a bright future for all human beings, the idea of this Document on Human Fraternity was conceived. It is a text that has been given honest and serious thought so as to be a joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.

 

DOCUMENT

In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace;

In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity;

In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and of means;

In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries; in the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice; in the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction;

In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war;

In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal;

In the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women;

In the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings creating them free and distinguishing them by this gift;

In the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith;

In the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world;

In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.

We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.

We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.

This Declaration, setting out from a profound consideration of our contemporary reality, valuing its successes and in solidarity with its suffering, disasters and calamities, believes firmly that among the most important causes of the crises of the modern world are a desensitized human conscience, a distancing from religious values and a prevailing individualism accompanied by materialistic philosophies that deify the human person and introduce worldly and material values in place of supreme and transcendental principles.

While recognizing the positive steps taken by our modern civilization in the fields of science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, especially in developed countries, we wish to emphasize that, associated with such historic advancements, great and valued as they are, there exists both a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. All this contributes to a general feeling of frustration, isolation and desperation leading many to fall either into a vortex of atheistic, agnostic or religious extremism, or into blind and fanatic extremism, which ultimately encourage forms of dependency and individual or collective self-destruction.

History shows that religious extremism, national extremism and also intolerance have produced in the world, be it in the East or West, what might be referred to as signs of a “third world war being fought piecemeal”. In several parts of the world and in many tragic circumstances these signs have begun to be painfully apparent, as in those situations where the precise number of victims, widows and orphans is unknown. We see, in addition, other regions preparing to become theatres of new conflicts, with outbreaks of tension and a build-up of arms and ammunition, and all this in a global context overshadowed by uncertainty, disillusionment, fear of the future, and controlled by narrow-minded economic interests.

We likewise affirm that major political crises, situations of injustice and lack of equitable distribution of natural resources – which only a rich minority benefit from, to the detriment of the majority of the peoples of the earth – have generated, and continue to generate, vast numbers of poor, infirm and deceased persons. This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have fallen victim to despite their natural resources and the resourcefulness of young people which characterize these nations. In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level.

It is clear in this context how the family as the fundamental nucleus of society and humanity is essential in bringing children into the world, raising them, educating them, and providing them with solid moral formation and domestic security. To attack the institution of the family, to regard it with contempt or to doubt its important role, is one of the most threatening evils of our era.

We affirm also the importance of awakening religious awareness and the need to revive this awareness in the hearts of new generations through sound education and an adherence to moral values and upright religious teachings. In this way we can confront tendencies that are individualistic, selfish, conflicting, and also address radicalism and blind extremism in all its forms and expressions.

The first and most important aim of religions is to believe in God, to honour Him and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God who governs it. He is the Creator who has formed us with His divine wisdom and has granted us the gift of life to protect it. It is a gift that no one has the right to take away, threaten or manipulate to suit oneself. Indeed, everyone must safeguard this gift of life from its beginning up to its natural end. We therefore condemn all those practices that are a threat to life such as genocide, acts of terrorism, forced displacement, human trafficking, abortion and euthanasia. We likewise condemn the policies that promote these practices.

Moreover, we resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth of religion. This is done for the purpose of achieving objectives that are political, economic, worldly and short-sighted. We thus call upon all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression. We ask this on the basis of our common belief in God who did not create men and women to be killed or to fight one another, nor to be tortured or humiliated in their lives and circumstances. God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people.

This Document, in accordance with previous International Documents that have emphasized the importance of the role of religions in the construction of world peace, upholds the following:

– The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence; to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken religious awareness among young people so that future generations may be protected from the realm of materialistic thinking and from dangerous policies of unbridled greed and indifference that are based on the law of force and not on the force of law;

– Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;

– Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a right;

– Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity;

– Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for. It also means avoiding unproductive discussions;

– The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law;

– Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions;

– The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against;

– Good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other’s culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue. The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline. It is important to pay attention to religious, cultural and historical differences that are a vital component in shaping the character, culture and civilization of the East. It is likewise important to reinforce the bond of fundamental human rights in order to help ensure a dignified life for all the men and women of East and West, avoiding the politics of double standards;

– It is an essential requirement to recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of pleasure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights;

– The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world. All those practices that violate the dignity and rights of children must be denounced. It is equally important to be vigilant against the dangers that they are exposed to, particularly in the digital world, and to consider as a crime the trafficking of their innocence and all violations of their youth;

– The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.

To this end, by mutual cooperation, the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar announce and pledge to convey this Document to authorities, influential leaders, persons of religion all over the world, appropriate regional and international organizations, organizations within civil society, religious institutions and leading thinkers. They further pledge to make known the principles contained in this Declaration at all regional and international levels, while requesting that these principles be translated into policies, decisions, legislative texts, courses of study and materials to be circulated.

Al-Azhar and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, thus helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others, and to be defenders everywhere of the rights of the oppressed and of the least of our brothers and sisters.

In conclusion, our aspiration is that:

this Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people of good will;

  • this Declaration may be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to those who cherish the values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by religions;
  • this Declaration may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul;
  • this Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another.

This is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life.

Abu Dhabi, 4 february 2019

 

His Holiness
Pope Francis
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar
Ahmad Al-Tayyeb

Christian Teen Who Refused to Deny Christ Subjected to Female Genital Mutilation by Muslim Radicals


Reported ( news@gospelherald.com ) Feb 07, 2017 01:18 PM EST

Muslims radicals punished the daughter of a Christian missionary for her faith by subjecting her to brutal female genital mutilation. Currently, the young woman remains in a coma, struggling for her life.

Muslims radicals punished the daughter of a Christian missionary for her faith by subjecting her to brutal female genital mutilation. Currently, the young woman remains in a coma, struggling for her life. Siegfried Modola/Reuters

Muslims radicals punished the daughter of a Christian missionary for her faith by subjecting her to brutal female genital mutilation. Currently, the young woman remains in a coma, struggling for her life.

Lydia, the 14-year-old daughter of Yoonus, a missionary working with Bibles for Mideast, was walking home from school in West Africa when a group of Muslim fanatics captured her and violently circumcised her. After the mutilation, they abandoned her, leaving her bleeding and screaming in agony. A local secret believer heard Lydia’s screams, and took her to hospital. However, by the time she arrived she was in a life-threatening coma. Currently, the young girl is struggling for her life.

According to Bible for Mideast, a ministry that operates in the Middle East, Asia and Africa by giving away Bibles, evangelizing the lost and planting churches, Lydia was targeted for her faith, as she “boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God” and “loved to speak of how He died on the cross of Calvary and rose from the dead to save everyone from sin and death.”

Her father, originally from another part of Africa, had been a Muslim scholar who converted to Christianity after having a vision of Jesus Christ. Due to severe persecution in their native village, however, the entire family had to flee to their current home.

The local Muslim community recently learned Yoonus had left Islam and was now leading Muslims to Christ. Angered, the Imam of the local mosque, along with community leaders, urged him to return to Islam and promised to give him gifts if he rejected Christianity. However, Yoonus and his family refused to renounce their faith, resulting in increased persecution.

Bibles for Mideast has asked the international community to continue to pray for Yoonus and Lydia, the believers in West Africa, and the medical staff looking after her.

According to the World Health Organization, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an illegal practice that involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for non medical reasons. The ritual, which can cause severe bleeding, infections, as well as complications in childbirth, is carried out for various reasons, such as the belief that the procedure reduces a woman’s libido and decreases the risk of extramarital sexual affairs, and is linked to African non-Christian religions and traditions.

UNICEF data reveals that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. FGM is mostly carried out on girls and infants below the age of 15 – often by their own mothers – and is considered a violation of human rights.

Voice of America notes that the U.N. Population Fund and U.N. Children’s Fund have been supporting 17 countries in a Joint Program on Female Genital Mutilation since 2008. As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations has called for an end to FGM by 2030. To do this, U.N. officials have said governments must work together to enact and enforce laws and policies that “protect the rights of girls and women and prevent FGM,” that those at risk have greater access to support services, and that families and communities take action and refuse to permit their girls to undergo the practice.

More Politically INCORRECT Cartoons PLUS MORE for March 2, 2018


Is It Wrong to Love My Country? Patriotism and the Bible


Written by Ed Vitagliano AFA Executive Vice-President | Tuesday, January 9, 2018 @ 11:06 AM

URL of the original posting site: https://www.afa.net/the-stand/faith/2018/01/is-it-wrong-to-love-my-country-patriotism-and-the-bible/

Is It Wrong to Love My Country? Patriotism and the Bible

It might seem shocking to some people that a concept like “nationalism” or “patriotism” would be controversial in America. However, when a country is as politically polarized as ours, everything seems controversial. A nation that is splitting apart into hostile and warring factions is going to argue about even the most basic ideas. 

These controversies intrude not only into family discussions around the Thanksgiving table but also into many church discussions in the Sunday school classroom. After all, Christians in America are Americans, too. 

Is it wrong for Christians to love their country? Can they be patriotic? Are such sentiments a manifestation of idolatry or, at best, a worldly attachment to a temporal entity? 

Of course, before we decide whether or not it is appropriate for a Christian to engage in it, we should make sure we understand what “it” is. 

The word patriotism has a long etymological history, dating back to the Roman republic. However, its current usage is fairly simple, meaning “love for or devotion to one’s country” (Merriam-Webster). 

Nationalism is a bit more complex. The word includes the idea of patriotism but begins with something even deeper: “a sense of national consciousness” (Merriam-Webster). In order to love one’s country, there first has to exist a something to love. There has to be a sense of “we” that is distinct from a sense of “them” – i.e., the people who aren’t “we.” 

Now that we have the basics down, let’s examine the key questions. In this process, I’m going to start small and work my way up to the concept of nationalism. 

The way we are 

Humans are social beings. Not only were we created for relationship with God, we were created to relate to other human beings as an expression of that primary affiliation. After creating Adam, God said in Genesis 2, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (vs. 18). 

Of course, the creation of Eve not only doubled the number of people on earth, it established an entirely new dynamic; the more individuals that were added to the human race, the more complex that dynamic became. Think of it this way: A single man shipwrecked on a deserted island is different than two men being shipwrecked. With two, suddenly it matters who makes decisions affecting, say, the supply of rainwater or food. Questions arise over issues like ownership of property or division of labor. And when one woman is added…well, you get the idea. 

So it is no surprise that, as communities of people in human history became larger, the complexity of relationships grew. Where customs might have sufficed when a group was small, laws became necessary when the group was large. The patriarch of a family might give way to a chieftain, in turn giving way to a king ruling through a bureaucracy. Etc. 

Now, inside these larger communities, there is a natural affinity for those with whom we are the closest. The tendency for most people is to give to those for whom we have a natural bond. This is why Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-47). Jesus understood that the human tendency is to be generous to family and friends. This is not evil; it is natural. This closeness is the glue that holds societies together. Love and compassion create a potent union between a husband and wife; the natural love between parents and children creates a powerful bond unifying the family; strong families produce vibrant communities; these larger groups generate a stable and thriving nation. 

No sane Christian asks the question, “Is it OK to love my family?” God designed us to love them. The teachings of Jesus assume that this is the way things naturally are, such as when He states that even the wicked “know how to give good gifts to [their] children” (Luke 11:13). This natural love is expressed by devotion, loyalty, and sacrifice. 

The Christian is called to make sure he or she excels in this kind of love. For example, in the famous marriage passage in Ephesians 5: 25-33, husbands are commanded to “love their own wives as their own bodies.” This love is expressed when the husband “nourishes and cherishes” his wife; he is to sacrifice for her “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” 

The Bible takes this responsibility so seriously that Paul says, “[I]f anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

Drawing a larger circle 

In the same way, then, why would someone suggest that it is wrong to love one’s nation? Isn’t a nation merely an aggregate of thousands of families that naturally love each other? I am called to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31). Do I draw the line in my neighborhood only, or expand it to include my nation

What does that love look like? Surely, it would include the vision and hard work necessary to better my nation and make it prosperous! If we were talking about building a business, would we even question such work? We would expect the founder of a business to have a vision, build it to last, protect it, and make it profitable. A business is a heart-and-soul endeavor, expressing the creativity God has placed in those fashioned in His image. 

This is not idolatry. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), for example, there is no rebuke of the servants that invested well and prospered the master’s business. In fact, the opposite is true. These faithful servants were praised.  So why is that different from Christians loving their nation and trying to build it the best they can? Are we not to glorify God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31), at school, work, in marriage, family – and beyond? If love for family includes devotion, loyalty, and sacrifice, why shouldn’t it also include love for nation? 

The Bible makes clear that love for the people that make up someone’s nation is just as normal and natural as love for family. David showed concern for the spiritual life of his countrymen, whom he calls “my people (Psalm 59:11). The prophet Jeremiah mourns the fate of his countrymen as well, saying, “Behold, listen! The cry of the daughter of my people from a distant land” (Jeremiah 8:19).

Who can forget the powerful sentiments expressed by the apostle Paul, lamenting the rejection of Christ by unbelieving Jews: “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” (Romans 9:2-4). Paul did not think it a strange thing that his own heart broke for his “kinsmen according to the flesh,” nor that he would have sacrificed himself for their sake if he could have brought them to Christ. 

We are on solid biblical ground to assert that it is normal, natural, and pleasing to God that we love our country and the people in it and that we seek the benefit of those who live in it. 

Biblical limitations and expansions 

However, there are two additional, very important biblical considerations to take into account. 

First, God has set limits to human affection, prohibiting the exaltation of natural love to a place that supersedes love for Him. 

I said earlier that, not only were we created for relationship with God, we were created for relationships with other human beings as an expression of that primary affiliation. That is the proper order of things; reversing it is idolatry. 

In fact, Jesus made this a test of true discipleship, because natural bonds of love and devotion can tempt the Christian to spiritual infidelity. He said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). The person who loves family more than Christ will eventually abandon Him; the person who loves Christ more than family will remain faithful, even when faced with family betrayal and death (vv. 21, 34-36). 

The same is true for love of country. The Christian must always love God enough to refuse complicity with national and cultural evil. How many white Christians, rather than standing against the evil of Jim Crow laws, instead embraced the wickedness of racism in the South? How many Christians in Germany embraced the hell-inspired nationalism of Nazism, rather than reject it because of devotion to Jesus? 

Second, God has called the Christian to go beyond the smaller circle of natural love to the unlimited circle of supernatural love. 

While there is nothing wrong – and everything right – with love for family and friends, this is to be enlarged in the Christian life by an ever-expanding generosity. Such love serves as an expression of God’s love. After all, divine blessing is motivated by unmerited grace. You don’t have to be a part of the “insider” group to receive from God. 

Jesus said the Father “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5: 45).

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:46-47, that if Christians only love those who are close to them, “what reward do you have?” Unbelievers love those inside the smaller circle. If you only do the same, “what more are you doing than others?” What’s so supernatural about your life if you restrict your love to family and friends? What evidence is there that God indwells you? 

There’s even more. Jesus challenges His people to bless the people in the larger circle without thought of repayment! He said: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).

Expanding this to our discussion of love of country, I think this means the Christian should consider helping even those outside the borders of their own nation. Certainly, this includes the preaching of the gospel in obedience to the Great Commission, but wouldn’t it also include giving aid to work that meets physical needs as well? I think it absolutely does. 

It would be strange to hear a Christian insist that we should not love our country, as it becomes clear in the New Testament that the love that characterizes the life of the Christian is not to have limits. That limitless circle would, by definition, include our nation – and beyond.

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