June 10, 2020

Hey Christian: Just because other people (including Christians) have flouted social distancing laws, it doesn’t mean you should too.

Well the inevitable result of the refusal by state governments and law enforcement agencies to enforce social distancing laws at the BLM protests has arrived, with the news that many businesses are going to openly defy the law, given others have gotten away with it without censure.

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Read what The Australian newspaper reports about the wedding venue conglomerate:

Navarra Venues chief executive Sal Navarra says he has had enough of dealing with “upset brides” and will direct his six venues­ to reopen, despite health rules, from next month.

Bride-to-be Casey Girdham, 26, was “over the moon” to hear the nuptials would be going ahead, saying she and fiance Mitchell Coleman, 24, would cop any fine for holding their wedding.

“I’m over the moon someone has finally stood up to the government for us brides,” Ms Girdham told The Australian.

“The government has no right to keep telling us what to do. Our guests should be allowed to attend our wedding if they understand the risk. Even my sick grandparents would go, they wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Lesson One: Never get in the way of the famed and feared Bridezilla!

Lesson Two: The standard line in our culture is that the government has no right to keep telling us what to do. And someone needs to stand up for us. True now of black lives and white weddings. Completely different presenting issue: Completely identical underlying issue namely,  The government will not tell us what to do.  It’s the standard line of the extreme libertarian and the anarchist.

And I kinda get it. It looked pretty bad the very next day seeing fisherman on a pier in Victoria being moved on by police for congregating in less numbers and at further distances than what occurred during the marches (and will undoubtedly occur on the march here in my home city of Perth this coming weekend).

The accusations towards the Premiers have been that they all yelled out “No – don’t do it!” as softly as they could to as few people as they could. It smelt like rank hypocrisy.

At the same time, I feel a certain level of relief. I mean hearing Premier Dan Andrews of Victoria asking how on earth it could be stopped anyway gives me some comfort. It shows what little power democratic governments actually have compared to their undemocratic counterparts.

I mean, for all the accusations that his state’s business dealings with the Chinese Communist Party are way too cosy, Premier Andrews at least hasn’t taken a leaf out of the Chinese government’s Idiot’s Guide To  Shutting Down a Demonstration:(Hong Kong 2nd edition).

Much as I thought the protest was the right thing at the wrong time, it would have been awful to see police swinging away with batons and roughing people up. Hong Kong anyone?

I am not surprised at the hostile reaction of those who call out the double standards. Not surprised at their “up yours from this point on” attitude. That’s standard human behaviour. I mean it sounds like one rule for one and one rule for another. Well, it is that exactly, in fact that’s the point they’re making.

Not surprised. But a bit saddened. I don’t think it’s the way forward. And especially not for Christians who serve a Master who sees all, including our motivations. Not what we say our motivations are, but what they actually are.

And not only that, some of the most bloody and repressive government leaders possible (whose statues would be toppled in an instant if they weren’t already in museums), were the Roman leaders.  Yet look at what Paul says to those he is writing to in Rome:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

There are some caveats in there.  Rulers hold no terror for those who do right?  I mean, what if they do hold terror for those who do right? It’s a fair point, but I wouldn’t be schooling the Apostle Paul living in the Roman Empire on what terror looks like.  He’s writing just two decades before Jerusalem is completely destroyed and everyone slaughtered by those same Roman authorities.

Yet Christian, even if you feel churlish towards the double standards on the weekend exhibited by your government, don’t join them in their hypocrisy. The COVID-19 pandemic laws have been put in place for our protection. We are to obey the law and to do so in a way that shows we honour the rule of law, because we have a King who rules over us and has put those authorities in place. Regardless of what other people do.

Look, I get there is great virtue in civil disobedience when it seeks to overthrow tyranny. But the fact that there was no tyrannical response to the protesters, and indeed an unelected court overturned the government’s prohibition, shows that we are far, far from tyranny. So don’t make a tyranny out of hypocrisy. All governments are hypocritical, it’s just that most generally wait for more than a day to expose themselves a such.

The only reason we demonise politics so much, is that we idolise it so much. Our person in the Oval Office or the Prime Minister’s residence is the saviour. Their person?  He or she is the devil.

Why can we be relaxed about this hypocrisy, or at least not enraged by it? Because God is our Saviour who has rescued us from the greatest tyranny of all. He is in control and will bring all tyranny to an end.

Let others be hypocrites either by excusing behaviour in themselves they wouldn’t tolerate in others (and I’ve seen a fair bit of that). Or by saying “Well he or she did it, so why can’t I?” Let the usual news outlets side with their usual posse on this and write articles seeking their own peculiar justifications.

You see, Christian, we’re not here to assert our rights.  Jesus did not assert his.

And, interestingly, Paul didn’t assert his rights when he could well have done so. As a Roman citizen Paul had a hall pass from receiving a public beating without trial. Yet, intriguingly, in two recorded incidents in Acts he only uses the hall pass once (Acts 22). I mean, what’s going on? Did he forget or something? If you’re on the rack about to be flogged I’m pretty sure you’d be asking the soldier to reach around and get the Roman citizenship papers out of your pocket!

Yet in Philippi (Acts 16) Paul allows himself to be beaten, and only afterwards (Acts 16:37) does he shame the officials for doing so to a Roman citizen. He calls out their injustice by taking it first in on himself, then exposing that injustice to their faces later.  But the cost was a beating!

I’ve just had a meeting this morning with a staff member at our church to go through what is going to be a very convoluted process to get us back into the building we use for church gatherings.  The protocols are tiresome, will take a huge bunch of volunteer time, and will stop us doing a lot of things we have done in the past and which are long-term vital to a church gathering.  Some people are champing at the bit to get back to church, and quickly.

Is the right response “Oh blow it, everyone else is doing it without restrictions, why should we bother?”

Sorry, that’s the response of someone asserting their rights. That’s the response that is not enacted by love. That is the response that does not consider the weaker brother or sister. That is the response that wants to assert one’s freedom, without realising that in doing so you are binding other people (and ultimately yourself). Yet I have heard of someone foolishly insisting in a just-recommenced church gathering that everyone shake his hand.  Not because he loves them. But because he loves himself. What arrogance and self-centredness.

Let’s not be the people who line up angrily to thumb our noses at the government for its now recognised lack of control over the populace.  In a sense I want that lack of control acknowledged. Good government comes about through an accord between the government and the people.  A desire by the government for its people to flourish, and a commitment by the people to obey what is lawful and helpful for their neighbours. Once that accord is broken then we have lawlessness.

And to be frank we’re well on the way to it. We’re seeing the first vestiges of that right now in other parts of the world. The solution to bad police is not no police, but good police.  what does “no police” look like? It looks like Sarajevo or Liberia in the 1980s, Sudan through to 2005, and Syria just recently. The idea that somehow everything will level out if we remove law enforcement is unbiblical. Anyone who thinks if we remove the police we’ll sort out the problem is going to learn the very hard way.  Oh, and lock up your valuables.

Law is enforced because people are law breakers.  The impotence of the police to stop the marches is no excuse to open the wedding venues.  And it’s no excuse for Christians to flout laws, or continue to do so if they already are. A big slice of humility and a desire to be like Jesus, who had all the rights in the world, but gave them up for others, would be great. So if you’re not doing that, then stop pushing your rights, and excusing your law-breaking and humble yourself like Jesus did.  The promise is that those who do will be exalted – in due time.

 

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stephenmcalpine

Written by

stephenmcalpine
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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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