Friday, January 2, 2009

Interfaith Prayer and The Christian's Responsibility to Government

Evangelicals generally expect their clergymen to use Jesus' name whenever and wherever they lead prayer. Many conservative Christians say cultural sensitivity goes way too far if it requires religious leaders to hide their beliefs. "For a Christian, especially for an evangelical pastor, the Bible teaches us that we are to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. How can a minister pray any other way?" Franklin Graham said. "If you don't want someone to pray in Jesus' name, don't invite an evangelical minister." Graham, who in 2001 stepped in for his ailing father, ended the invocation with, "We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit."

President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation drew one kind of protest. Warren did not answer directly when asked whether he would dedicate his prayer to Jesus. In a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Warren would say only that, "I'm a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray."

Throughout the history of Christianity, Christians and non-Christians alike have criticisms about Christianity. I am one of many Christians who are wise enough to wonder what non-Christians think of us. Christians have responded to many of these criticisms, partially through the field of Christian apologetics. Apologetics is about answering the criticisms, fair or not, of the secular world. We all assumed that we have planned and executed our lives according to our own free-wills, but in reality, we were really never aware that our lives have always been guided by God because He knows how to handle our free-will decisions and when we do make them, God allow us to go through tough circumstances to wake us up from our own choices.

Church politics, controversies and worldliness have brought in the darkness that people cannot see the light. Some Christians want government set up their way, which mean they want Theocracy rather than Democracy. Political and Christianity will always be divided no matter how hard we try. God’s purpose in redemption was not to make people’s lives happy, healthy and free of trouble; His purpose was to rescue them from sin then conform them from the inside out to the image of His Son by the power of His Spirit. God has given us the grace to sanctify us.

True Christians knows that not everyone is willing to be a Christian. I can’t be like a Pharisee to make sure they don’t break God’s “rules”. I can’t force against their will to believe what I believe. Being a Christian is being a person whose primary form of witness is by their spiritual life, but they do not hide the fact that they are Christians and that they show their spiritual light through deeds first and then words. In our Christian fellowship (not individual), we must recognize that the Holy Spirit desires to take us and lead us, and use us as instruments through which He can express Himself in the community. I have learned that democracy does not give me any real power at all because in God’s providence, He allowed democracy to basically swamp each of us Christians among non-believers.

As a Christian, I know I will be facing those who disagree with me, including other Christians who think differently than I do. I am thankful that I do not live in an oppressive narrow kind of government however, you may notice that we live in a very oppressive narrow kind of society. Christian Grace is about loving other people who are very different and that we have the freedom to do so but at the same time, respect how they practice their beliefs. A Christian life in this world should be different from the world, being in the world but not of the world.

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