Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4-22 Suffering on this earth

(Ms. California answering the controversial question)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous. (I Peter 3:15-17)

Calvin: If, being innocent and of good conscience, we are stripped of our possessions by the wickedness or impious folk, we are indeed reduced to penury among men. But in God’s presence in heaven our true riches are thus increased. If we are cast out of our own house, then we will be the more intimately received into God’s family. If we are vexed and despised, we but take all he firmer root in Christ. If we are branded with disgrace and ignominy, we but have a fuller place in the Kingdom of God. If we are slain, entrance into the blessed life will thus be open to us. Let us be ashamed to esteem less than the shadowy and fleeting allurements of the present life, those things on which the Lord has set so great a value. (III.8.7)

Yesterday at the Miss USA pageant, Ms. California, Carrie Prejean, was asked about her feelings on gay marriage by an openly gay pageant judge. His question was, “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit why or why not?” It was probably the most controversial question ever asked in any beauty pageant. He set her up and then was violently offended by her answer as Ms. California (later calling her a “B” and that she would have won had she answered that question differently). Now this should be kept in context. California, which has traditionally been the most liberal state in the union, voted to not have gay marriages in proposition 8. Ms. California, I believe, was asked this question in part because of the judge’s own prejudice against Calfiornia’s action. She gave her own feelings, because that was what was asked of her. Her feelings were informed by her faith and what she felt the Bible said.
What does this have to do with a devotion? Just this. Ms. California suffered for her answer that was informed by her faith. She did not back down in order to get ahead or to be nice. She could have been non-committal saying something like, “That is a political question, and Ms. USA should not be involved with politics but should be kind to everyone.” But instead she really answered the divisive, alienating question. This kind of abusive, aggressive, and bullying positioning (by a person in authority) has been done over and over to promote idealistic causes. Would that we seek to be kind to everyone- even those who disagree with us. But, having said that, we should also be kind to others, even when they persecute us. Ms. California when asked how she would react to the judge's calling her terrible names after the pageant said merely that she would "pray for him." That is the high road blessing those who curse. This debate was not won by words, but by actions. Christ certainly suffered wrongly at the hands of his judges too. He left us an example of turning the other cheek as well. Peter said to be prepared to answer everyone, with gentleness and respect. He said it was better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. Calvin certainly never backed down from his beliefs either. Miss California stood up for her beliefs. She is a rare bird. I hope that when I am asked a tough question I will not slink away in order to get ahead.

I was originally going to write on Earth Day today. Calvin specifically saw us as stewards of all of life. This calls us to care for the earth on which we live. I am sure Calvin would caution, however (in his moderating way), against those who come close or give into worshipping the earth itself.

Prayer: While we are here Lord, thank you for your great blessings on this earth. We ask that you would help us to be good stewards. Keep us from clinging to this life too closely. Instead help us to find our refuge in you, especially in times of trouble or heartache.

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