Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Invited to speak... on the Terri Schiavo case

it is difficult for me, beginning my foray into blogging at this time, not to comment on the case of Terri Schiavo.

in preparation for a class, i’ve been reviewing the life of Paul as related in Acts. while Paul’s writings present difficulties that deserve careful study, i find his life simply inspiring. it is not his transformation from persecutor to persecuted nor his fearless preaching under threat of violence that is most stunning. it is his essential humility and submission to Christ’s charge to preach salvation that awes me.

in one instance in Philippi, Paul was beaten by government officials. Paul did not insist on a trial as was his legal right as a Roman citizen. he remained silent, only speaking out when these same officials wished to avoid the responsibility for breaking their own laws.

when he was brought before the Roman governor of Judea, the charges against Paul were argued by a professional speaker, who spoke with skill and passion. paul, however, was not chomping at the bit, attempting to get a word in edgewise. he did not speak until he was invited to do so.

again before Agrippa, Paul waited until he is invited to speak. in large part his defense was an account of his conversion and calling. his goal was never a change or an interpretation of the law in his favor, but the salvation of those at the hearing. paul, in fact, manipulated the Roman judicial system to ensure his continued imprisonment to gain the opportunity to preach in Rome.

my sympathy goes out to Terri Schiavo, her family and her husband. i am sorry for the suffering experienced by all involved.

while i believe that each party, according to the demand of their conscience, has a right to pursue their cause to the fullest extent of the law, the insinuation of the “Christian Right” into the conflict is an insult to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

there is no place for the love of Jesus in a legal battle of this nature. surely, there are many people who, as a result of this ordeal, will require the care and attention and truth that Christ’s servants can provide. but to pursue “Godly” legislation or judicial action is vanity.

coercing the nation to conform morally to the Bible does not move hearts one bit closer to salvation in Christ Jesus. at best, we end up with a Christianized nation with a conscience lulled to sleep by the culture of nice, the vitality of the person of Jesus no more than a dream that fades with every good and helpful task accomplished. at worst, Christianity is reduced to a political designation, the cross a flag, a mascot, trotted out to indicate who the “good guys” are.

as a community in this country, Christians have lost the invitation to speak, in part, because we have ceased to wait for it. there has been too much insisting to be heard, to be recognized, to be given our due rights.

i am pleased to live in a country where there is guarantee of religious freedom. but as a Christian, a sojourner at enmity with the world, i must not be surprised when the world attempts to take these freedoms away. my choice, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the salvation of my neighbors and my friends, is not to loudly demand my rights or conspire to craft legislation, but to quietly and boldly live out a life a charity, love, and truth until i am invited to speak. the law has no jurisdiction over love.