Definitions matter..

mar·tyr

NOUN

  1. a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs:

    “saints, martyrs, and witnesses to the faith

I wish I could say that this post will make everyone feel warm and fuzzy.  I wish there were some way to get the people I respect and love from the past and the people I respect and love from the present to realize that there are whole segments of our faith that we all can agree on.

I know many of my older friends will be upset with this post, but as many of you who have been reading for a while, and it’s been a while, I don’t shy away from those types of things, in fact I write what I write because it’s where I am at this time.

I put the definition of a martyr at the front of this blog because I have a problem…

modern-day-martyr

This is what a martyr looks like today, if you really want the picture of what a modern-day martyr is then head over to persecution.com the website of voice of the martyrs.  Real stories of real martyrs for the cause of Christ.

kim-davis-1

This is an angry misguided and ill-used elected official.  She is not suffering persecution, she is not being told that if she continues to be a Christian she will be beaten, or tortured or killed.  She is not being told she is not allowed to hold her opinions on any number of issues.  She is not being told she has to go to the weddings of any of the people she is supposed to issue marriage licenses for.  She is being told as an elected official of the state of Kentucky that she has  a job to do for all citizens of that state.

Kim Davis is not an employee of a church, a Christian school, a religious non-profit.  Shoot she isn’t even an employee of Hobby Lobby.  She works for the government.  She has a job to do, she is not in private employment.  There is a difference, but that’s not even what bothers me about this and other similar situations.

Many conservative religious people point to any time someone stands up for their beliefs or their rights as an attack on the Christian Nation that is the United States. I said religious people because I struggle to label them anything close to what a Christ follower really is.  The church in America has traded authentic Christ Following for American Christianity, and the two couldn’t be further apart.

Matthew 25:42-45 (New Living Translation, Second Edition)
25:42 (NLT) For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44  “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ 45  “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

This set of verses should inform our interactions with each other and with people who don’t know who Jesus is or who have a distorted view of who Jesus is because they have had such bad experiences with American Christians.  We are all about our rights, we are all about our freedoms, granted by the constitution, we are all about conservative values, earning what you get by hard work and determination.  We like to point out when someone impinges on our religious freedom because we are right, but when someone from any other religious persuasion tries to do the same, to claim the same rights we have, suddenly we are being persecuted, or misunderstood, or misquoted.  We are being discriminated against for our faith.  We are the victim and everyone else is the bully, except that’s not really true, at least not that I can see.

This woman is being used by modern-day pharisees to further their agenda and to line their pockets.  Others have dug into her background already, not something that I would do or would want to do. Pointing out her past issues with marriage is not really an answer or way to prove that she’s wrong it’s just a way to prove she’s like every other human being that walks this planet, gay, strait, transgender, republican, democrat, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist… you get the point.  Every human being no matter who they are is born with a need, the God Shaped Hole problem that affects everyone.  Humanity is on a constant quest to fill this hole in their lives and we all try to fill it up on our own, except we can’t fill this hole up.  We don’t have the material needed but we do have the tools.

Revelation 3:18 (New Living Translation, Second Edition)
3:18 (NLT) So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.

I think this is a big problem for American Christians,  they have been buying their materials from conservative politicians, Focus on the Family, the moral majority, denominational leaders, and their pastor for so long that they assume it’s the same stuff God would provide.  It’s easy for me to start a project or begin a movement, say God told me too, and reap the rewards, even if those rewards come in the form of the publicity bump I get from claiming persecution or religious discrimination.  But what if?

What if we would follow God’s advice.  What if we did our best to live in peace with all, what if we were willing to reach out to the very least of these and offer tangible real help as often as it’s needed for as long as it’s needed?  what If American Christians would start following Christ instead of complaining that our nation needs to get back to God… What if Christians worried about getting themselves back to God and then doing what Jesus said to do.  Not go and protest, not go and stand up for your founding father provided freedoms, not claiming persecution or discrimination.  What if instead of all of those things we got down in the dirt next to a hurting lost person right where they were and protected them, what if we put on a towel and grabbed a bowl of water and started washing feet, even the feet of the people who don’t like us, who don’t trust us, who are all about betraying us?  What if we were more concerned about a person than we were about their sin?

What if she would have just issued the license like she was told?  What if she had a conversation with the people asking for a license, explained her personal conviction in love, and then asked if they would mind if a co-worker who didn’t share her conviction or beliefs get them their license?  What if?  But most of all what if American Christians were wiling to pray for, reach to and love unconditionally with as much tenacity as they are willing to claim persecution, discrimination and righteous indignation.  What if for every dollar donated to the ACLJ or any number of Christian Law firms American Christians donated one dollar to ricebowls.org.  What if every time we upgraded and updated the church building and equipment, we upgraded and updated a local section 8 home? What if American Christians spent one hour visiting at the local jail or the local nursing home, or the local juvenile center for every hour they spent hanging out in their small group?  This is what I wonder.  It’s not so much that America needs to “get back to God”  it’s that American Christians need to start getting their directions from the person they claim to follow and actually do what He said to do.

Kim Davis is not a Martyr, she’s not being persecuted for her beliefs, she isn’t being discriminated against.  Countless people the world over are, just like the person in the picture above.  When will American Christians start to realize what they have and run with the freedom given not by the constitution but by their relationship with Christ?

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