Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For Country and God

I was once on an advisory panel for an elected official. It was an unusual panel – we were all Christians of one sort or another, and we functioned as an accountability group. Our job was to meet, and talk, and pray, and be watchful for signs that the official was being captured by the political environment and forgetting the constituency back home. We met once a quarter, usually for breakfast.

We came from different walks of life. Our group included a few pastors, some professional people, a radio personality, and a few conservative activists. We were generally in agreement, but there were few things before us that offered the possibility of disagreement. I generally consider myself to be a conservative, but my conservatism was on the liberal end of the spectrum represented by that advisory group.

Then came the blow-up. The official had voted – one of those procedural votes – for a measure that included some limited provisions for gun control. At the next group meeting, the official ran late, giving more than ample time for the group to bubble, foment, expostulate and otherwise erupt in a frenzy of anger. When the official arrived, he was met by a rather cool reception.

As we ate our cereal and eggs, group member after group member began a lecture. They were furious. Gun control of all things!

I was sitting between an attorney and a well-known conservative activist and organizer. The attorney, like me, had been very quiet. And then it was his turn to speak. “My family and I go to bed at night, and we sometimes hear the gunshots not far away. Something has to change.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

Then it was my turn.

“A few months ago, “I said, “a shopkeeper was murdered in middle of the day in my suburb. Shot at point-blank range. Three minutes before she was killed, my son and a friend were directly across the street, trying to decide where to ride their bikes. They finally agreed on the nearby park, the same park where the killers ran after the shooting and where they were reprehended. This can’t continue.”

Lest you think our statements won the day and turned the tide, you should know that the conservative activist sitting next to me physically moved her chair away from me.

And yet – we were all Christians.

“Our woes began,” writes A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God, “when God was forced out of His central shrine and ‘things’ were allowed to enter.”

That central shrine? The human heart.

“The roots of our hearts,” he says, “have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended.”

Things can include wealth, pride, success, ambition and physical things like furniture, clothes, and things we collect. And even patriotism and the love of one’s country. One of the group members – a pastor – carried a Bible and a copy of the U.S. Constitution wherever he went.  We all have the tendency to push God out of our hearts and replace Him with – things.

Like Tozer says, it was never intended to be that way. And thus our woes began.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re discussing A.W. Tozer’s classic The Pursuit of God. To see what other people are writing about Chapter 2, “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing,” please visit Jason’s site, Connecting to Impact.


Bill (cycleguy) said...

I'm not sure what the others will be posting about Glynn but you hit the nail on the head. We need to be about our Father's business not replacing Him with things, even a love for our country. We worship Him not an ideal or our independence.

Martha Jane Orlando said...

This book certainly sounds most interesting and would certainly make all of us take a long, hard look at where our hearts are. In this year of elections, I'm sure the wisdom would be especially valuable and helpful.
Thanks for the insights here, Glynn.

David Rupert said...

Glynn, a stunning post. People wring their hands, but the truth is that Evil exists and men and women follow into it. No amount of laws, legislation or regulation will stop us from the pursuit.

We get sidetracked on so many issues. Really, we should be all about changing hearts.

And I love Tozer...

Unknown said...

When God gets crowded out, when we fail to hold Him as our utmost cherished treasure, that is when our woes begin.

All these things that we squabble about and put so much focus upon...they will all pass away. But our Lord will always remain.

jasonS said...

What an accurate assessment of where we are today. We don't pull up the roots because we have made things necessary. The garnishes have become the main dish. We need Him to illuminate those areas and offensive ways so we can come into wholeness in Him. Thanks Glynn.

Fatha Frank said...

Wise words the week after all the hubbub about Chick-fil-A. Just like you mention the minister who carries a copy of the Constitution along with his Bible everywhere it goes there is the cliche: I'd offer my hand to help you, but I have the Bible in one and my gun in the other.

Anonymous said...

i don't have a gun...but i have a very fierce watch cat.