The Christian Thing to Do

Why we must remember Jesus’ words, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mk. 12:17).
The toxic turn in the nature of the American political system, bitterly pitting factions and friends against one another, has impacted how we are defined. For Christians, the definition should transcend our political alliances. We are called to a higher standard: the things that are God’s.

We often quote from the book of Esther, drawn from a period fraught with perils much like our own. Had Jewish Queen Esther not spoken up to rescue her people at “such a time as this,” the consequences would have been irreparable (Est. 4:14). The time demanded a word from God through His appointed messenger.

Immutable Facts
In today’s catastrophic, moral freefall, there are two serious issues believers must address: antibiblical Christianity and virulent anti-Semitism.

For more than 2,000 years, Christ’s enemies have tried to rid the world of His people. The Caesars tried it, throwing believers to the lions on the floors of their great stadiums. But we do well to remember the Caesars are gone; the Christians are still here.

The true church isn’t going anywhere until the day God takes us home. In the interim, we are called to stay focused on why we are here and to keep from becoming distracted from what He has commissioned us to do.

The current confusion, division, mistrust, anger, and frustration afflicting our society are symptoms of an unquenchable thirst for something better. We have no assurance our children, grandchildren, and future generations will be able to live without the specter of political convulsions. Granted, the search is on among many dedicated public servants to find solutions to recrimination and strife. We pray for the attempts, and as responsible citizens we try to participate where we can. In a word, the search is on to find peace and some hope for the future.

Believers have an answer. It was given two millennia ago: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). His peace is what we have to offer a heart-sick world: a peace that is not “as the world gives.” It is not the world’s message. It is what the church has been commissioned to deliver—what the church really is all about.

We are living in a period of unrelenting hostility against biblically oriented Christians. As with the “God Is Dead” travesty of the 1960s, skeptics absurdly list Jesus among historical figures “who might not have existed.” Those of us who know Him—along with the innumerable host of believers who, for millennia, have found His peace—are proof they are wrong.

The correlation between anti-Christian vehemence and neo-anti-Semitism, particularly in Western nations, sounds a warning. It is no coincidence that accelerating attacks on Christians coincide with strikes against Israel and the Jewish people. The difference at this juncture is merely a matter of intensity.

As Christians in the West, we face the dominating trend to defame and publicly denigrate our faith and practices. The Jews, however, face physical violence and assaults. Here in America, the bastion of freedom and equality, Jewish people now believe there is reason to fear.

According to a report by the Anti-Defamation League released in 2020, “The American Jewish community experienced the highest level of antisemitic incidents last year [2019] since tracking began in 1979, with more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment reported across the United States.”1

American Jews feel vulnerable. A headline in The Washington Post declared, “A year after Pittsburgh attack, study finds almost 1 in 3 Jews sometimes hide their faith.” The article stated,

David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, [said], “Perhaps there was a time when some Jewish institutions . . . felt somehow more or less insulated from [anti-Semitic attacks]. The fact that the attacks took place in Pittsburgh and Poway triggered a feeling that we’re all at risk everywhere, equally—it can happen anywhere.”2

For Jewish people, tragically, history is repeating itself. Anti-Semitism has tracked God’s Chosen People across the centuries. However, acknowledging history will not reveal the future. That information is confined to God’s Word—the Holy Scripture. History can only look back; the Bible looks ahead. The Book assures us that, despite all the attacks, Israel will triumph in the end. The measure of the final restitution emanates brightly from the prophetic Word.

Perhaps Israel’s King David provided a picture of Israel’s journey. In Psalm 27 he described the intense aggression against him, his abiding trust in his God, his cry for Jehovah to sustain him, and his expectation of the glory to come: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (v. 13). The phrase unless I had believed reflects the inextinguishable power of faith.

As believers, we are to manifest God’s grace and goodness to a desperately needy world.

What to Do?
Romans 10—11 sets before us a manifesto of faith and practice. It describes God’s unrepealed promises to Israel and the grace He has extended to Gentile believers who have been “grafted in” by faith, while Israel has been temporarily set aside. Herein is a confirmation: The church is not Israel, Israel is not the church, and it is futile to propose otherwise. Here the interpretation is specific and the application, universal:

I say then, have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! (Rom. 11:11–12).

What do we do? We live in a way that provokes to jealousy. In other words, when Jewish people—or whoever—look at us, they are to see reflections of Jesus Christ. As believers, we are to manifest God’s grace and goodness to a desperately needy world.

The Unity Imperative
Unfortunately, there is little question as to what the future holds for societies that reject God. Our society has been fractured on so many fronts that observers question how long it will take (if ever) to restore what we knew as normal. Sadly, many of the evils that used to be anathema are being woven today into the culture as acceptable and praiseworthy.

Can this downward trajectory be reversed? Yes. It has happened before, when God stepped in and brought revival and restoration. It can happen again. But we must be focused and unified. The time is now to sit together at the feet of Jesus, listen intently to His final words to the disciples before His ascension, and live for Him. They wanted to talk about restoring the kingdom to Israel. He gave them a higher calling:

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7–8).

For us, as it was for them, being committed witnesses for Jesus Christ is the Christian thing to do.

ENDNOTES
    1. “Antisemitic Incidents Hit All-Time High in 2019,” adl.org, May 12, 2020 (tinyurl.com/y36gdve5).
    2. Julie Zauzmer, “A year after Pittsburgh attack, study finds almost 1 in 3 Jews sometimes hide their faith,” washingtonpost.com, Oct. 23, 2019 (tinyurl.com/y4qvjn5c).

1 thought on “The Christian Thing to Do

  1. Dear Elwood McQuaid,
    Thank you for focusing us on Mt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8 !
    Maranatha !
    Marty

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