Summary: Christian soldiers discipline themselves for spiritual warfare by "drawing the line" in smaller battles.
Sacrifices Required to “Obey God Rather Than Man”
Grant S. Sisson
Written April 30th, 2010
I have always been so very proud to be an American. I remember the day I was first eligible to vote. I have participated in many elections over the course of my lifetime. I have never missed a major election, save once – when Edwin Edwards and David Duke ran against one another for the governorship of Louisiana. I abstained from that one, because both candidates were so completely disgusting, morally and ethically.
But in that I am just saying that I have always been a proud citizen, proud that my country has always stood for the cause of human rights and has always been ready to make whatever sacrifice was necessary to further the cause of freedom. Protections against oppression are even written into our basic legal documents – “The government shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, NOR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERSIZE THEREOF.” Combined with our Constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, we seemed to be protected legally. In fact, our Forefathers were so concerned that some future tyrant might attempt to oppress the people that they wrote into the Constitution the Second Amendment – the right to keep and bear arms – so that we, the people, would have the power to throw off anyone who might attempt to oppress us. These things are to be proud of.
It is built into the American psyche for at least four hundred years to fight for what’s right, to keep on keeping on, to outlast our enemies for the sake of our children, even to die for our right to be free. Patrick Henry said it best: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
[Patrick Henry also said, “Fear is the passion of slaves” (think of that one in context of the health care “debate”).]
Civil disobedience is a part of our heritage. From the Boston Tea Party, to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, to the Tea Party movement of today, we as a people have demonstrated that we will take a stand for what’s right, even in the face of being charged with violations of the law. Mohatma Ghandi’s entire career was based on peaceful challenge of immoral law. More than that, civil disobedience is a part of our Christian heritage. What did Paul and Silas say when ordered by the civil authorities not to speak in Jesus’ name? “Give me liberty or give me death”? No, even more to the point than that. “We ought to obey God rather than man.” And that one sentence, which resonates down through the ages and speaks to us at this time in American history, establishes a basic Christian doctrine; while we are to respect and obey our rulers, when they violate God’s law we are to peacefully resist at whatever cost – even that of our very lives.
And that is the story of Daniel and his three friends. I have suggested that we start with whatever issue is at hand and make a stand; that’s what Daniel and his friends did when they refused to eat the King’s food. Even with the kosher thing, it wasn’t a big deal, because Jewish law said that it was OK to eat non-kosher foods in case of life or death, but it was a big enough deal to make a point, that point being that we will respect and obey our rulers, but when it comes right down to it, we will obey God rather than man. It was a big enough deal, and early enough on in Daniel’s career in Babylon, to put the King on notice that they would adhere to God’s laws, with an eye toward the future when the pressure to conform to pagan society most surely would be worse. And so I have said that we should take stands in our lives, gently but firmly, and refuse to kow-tow to oppressive thoughts and ideas merely to keep the peace. We need, like Daniel, to learn the signs of the times and to prepare ourselves spiritually for future possibilities.
We all have to decide where to draw the line in our own lives. Many might say that Daniel drew the line a little early, taking a chance with his life over a minor issue. My wife picked up on the fact that I was “out of sorts” on Friday as I was finishing this sermon, and she challenged me. “You know what? I can still be a Christian in a socialist country. It would be sad, and it wouldn’t be like it was before, but God is still in control, and I would still be saved.” I thought about that for a while. I understand that she hasn’t come to the point that I have, and I respect her for her feelings. She’s got to decide where she’s going to draw the line. She is concerned that I miss out on too much of what she thinks is important in life by, what’s her word, “obsessing” over what’s going on in the political realm. But we all have our point. I know Ann well enough to know that she would resist fully and immediately, and resist even to the point of blood, if one of her grandchildren was threatened. That’s just a part of her – that decision has already been made. I know that we have not come to the point of “resisting unto blood.” I hope we never do. But I think we can all see that, left unchecked, where we will be as a nation in the not-too-distant future will be not too pleasant. Ann challenged me over my civil disobedience stand earlier Friday and said, “You’re going to wind up in jail.” Without hesitation I immediately replied, “I may very well.” If it comes to that, I hope she’s ready.