The Call of Christ
"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one dissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity…The birthday of [this] nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior." These are the assertions of the US sixth president, John Quincy Adams, in 1837 who also described the United States as a Christian nation that would spread the Gospel of Christ. His perspectives were shared by the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, all of whom pledged their sacred honor and all of whom were persecuted and made to suffer as traitors to Britain.
Since then the USA has grown in diversity of religious beliefs and practices as well as cultural mores. Unfortunately, there are many who would constitute my quoting of our founding fathers as promoting hate and intolerance. As the saying goes, don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. That's history so "get over it." Besides, many would be pleased to see that John Quincy Adams was wrong. Independence Day, celebrated on July 4, is not "indissolubly linked" with Christianity or Christian principles. It is rather linked with the blasting away of millions of dollars of fireworks and great sales at department stores. In the name of tolerance and political correctness, we dishonor the names, sacrifices and gifts to us of these heroic, Christian men.
As a first-born generation member of immigrant parents, I am grateful to the USA for its freedoms and openness to those of all faiths, beliefs, cultures and nationalities. I love this nation and its principles as defined in its Constitution and Declaration. I am blessed to have been born a US citizen. It is crushing to the spirit, however, when historically declared principles and beliefs are redefined as "hate"; when the espousing of immorality and the banning of school children's book covers with the Ten Commandments printed on them are celebrated as triumphs of "enlightenment." North American Christians must stand against and defend the faith from being degraded to a form of hate thought. Christianity is the Good News about love and redemption. Moreover, it is all-inclusive.
Some Christians would find a degree of appeasement or satisfaction in that others "at least" accept Christ as a great moral teacher and don't reject Him completely. Let's not go there, as that is spiritual quicksand. Those who admit that Christ was a "great moral and spiritual teacher" and had a "great impact" on the world and the course of events, but deny His claims to divinity, to being the Way, the Truth and the Life, had best reassess their perspective. A great moral and spiritual teacher who would make claims to being the Son of God, the Redeemer of humankind, to the necessity of being reborn through Him, would be a lunatic suffering from profound delusion of grandeur. Unless, it was true. (Interestingly, the anti-christ will be making the same claims, as a great moral and spiritual leader.)
So what is your response to Christ's claim to divinity and being the world's Redeemer from humankind's separation from God? If you believe and respond to Christ's divinity and Personhood and to His gift of redemption, His role as a moral teacher is reduced to virtual non-importance. After all, although Jesus did put His unique spin on the Judaic Scriptures from which He taught and quoted…moral, ethical and spiritual teachings that were already well established in His day…His central and essential message to us was the offering of Himself as the fulfillment of the law and moral code…that HE (not His teachings) is The Way, The Truth and The Life. Please don't degrade my Savior and Lord by calling Him a great teacher and historical figure and rejecting His divinity. Reject Him totally or respond to Him totally. Jesus told us He wanted it either hot or cold. He said anything lukewarm, compromising, and politically correct, He would spit out of His mouth in disgust.
The essence of this Reflection,
the conclusion of what began as a 4 part series, is a question: What is
keeping some people from embracing the love and Person of Jesus the Christ?
Conversely, what is keeping some people embraced, committed, and inseparable
from the love and Person of Jesus the Christ, despite horrific suffering
and persecution? And one final question to ponder for those who promote
the persecution of Christians, Christian principles and Christian Scriptures,
in small ways or big ways…It's the very same question Christ boomed into
the ears of one of the greatest, bloodiest, and passionate persecutors
of Christians of the last two millennia (and who later wrote a great percentage
of the New Testament): "Why do you persecute Me?" Important questions with
possible life transforming answers.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
Weekly Reflections © July 27, 2000
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