Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness, Free Exercise of my Faith

While playing a game of cards with my wife last night I got to thinking about my competitive nature. Humans are naturally competitive. We desire to win. And when there are winners, naturally, there are losers as well. In that sense, one can say that the natural by-product of winning is losing.

In a competitive world, success is naturally defined in the terms of money, power, and influence. These are fine things, and each individual has every right to attain such, but more important is one's relationship with God, and in the development of a mature and constructive personality.

The American pursuit of happiness, then, naturally includes the pursuit of wealth. In the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith's character seeks wealth so that he can take better care of his son, and not have to remain in a position of poverty. Reaching financial success, for him, was happiness, not because of the money, but because of the security for his family.

As a Christian, I understand that wealth is not, and cannot be, my ultimate goal in life. After all, the greatest commandments are found in Matthew 22:34-36 which states in a nutshell that we should first love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and then second that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is where some on the liberal left decide to mischaracterize me as a Christian and misunderstand my meanings.

My duty, as a Christian, is first to share the Word of God. Notice, there is nothing there about forcing anyone to become Christians. This is why I find it fascinating that the liberal left tries to compare Christianity to Islam, and then immediately uses examples of the Crusades or Spanish Inquisitions to prove their point. I agree, those were horrid periods of history filled with atrocities by people claiming to be doing so in the name of the Christian God. But, understand that none of the atrocities were biblical. Those periods of Christian history were being dominated by radicals, and anytime anything is radicalized to the point that even the actions of those involved fail to recognize that they are outside the teachings of scripture, it is a bad thing. However, the Islamic Jihad is following closely the teachings of the Quran.

It is a Christian's duty to share the Gospel, and love they neighbor, but it was never commanded that the Christian force people to accept Christianity by way of force or physical threats, nor is it Biblical to force anyone to perform Scriptural work.

For example, Church organizations and charities are wonderful ways to assist the poor and show our Christian love for our neighbors, but it is not Biblical for people to be forced to provide for the poor through taxation, nor to provide so many government sponsored entitlements that the poor ceases to work towards earning their way out of poverty, instead becoming dependent upon governmental assistance.

As for the idea of eliminating poverty, it is not possible. Like the win/loss of games, in life naturally there are winners and losers as well. The poor will always be with is, for in Matthew 26:11, it says, "For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always."

A liberal recently attacked my defense of the wealthy in America. I do not believe it is the government's position to punish someone for reaching wealth by over-taxing such people. After all, isn't attaining financial freedom part of the pursuit of happiness? Besides, the wealthy tend to be the business owners, so why would one wish to punish financially those that provide the jobs?

When the liberal left attacks, they usually try to attack conservatives from a personal vantage point. In a recent attack against me, bible verses were used. Specifically, In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Hebrews 13:5 – “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”
1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
Proverbs 11:28 – “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”

Based on this liberal's thinking, all Christians must remain in deep poverty, or else they are hypocrites.

However, all this does is prove that people like this individual does not understand Christianity at all. All of those verses above are about keeping the right perspective. God comes first. God, to the Christian, must be more important than any wealth, possession, or whatever. If someone places the importance of wealth, power, et cetera above God, or at the same level as God, the person is attempting to serve both God and money, and that is a recipe for disaster, and is against God.

Galatians 6:14-16 Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

But, the reason the Bible spends a lot of time speaking of the rich, saying "Woe unto you that are rich. . ." is because riches and power is a difficult thing to properly manage while keeping God in the position of highest importance. We, as flawed humans, are unable to keep that balance on our own, which is why we must keep our eyes on the Lord, especially if we are in a position of wealth.

Of course, people like the liberal I am referring to would just assume that we all remain in poverty, not defend ourselves, and allow the elitists that are the liberal left to take control of us and take away our freedom of religion (not freedom from religion as they love to argue). Constitutionally, when it comes to my Christianity, they cannot "prohibit the free exercise thereof." Ooops, did the liberals miss that part in the first amendment?

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