Paying the price

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2007

Our church has been praying for a young soldier who was seriously injured by the explosion of a roadside bomb in Iraq.

The extent of his injuries caused him to be flown to a hospital in Germany and the Army brought his family there to be with him, believing this would enhance his recovery. He's now in a hospital in Texas, and we're grateful to hear he's recovering.

Some don't.

This morning I heard from a friend now living in England where he'll be working in a college, training ministers. Prior to his European departure for this new position, he lost his oldest son in Iraq. A comment by this grieving father, made to one who came to comfort him, has been stuck in my mind: "It's the price of freedom," he said.

Solomon added another dimension to the price of patriotism, writing: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people," Proverbs 14:34.

This wise king declared that since how we live affects our nation, patriotism can be measured by how decency stacks up against decadence.

We've long known that the law of the harvest we reap what we sow applies to individuals, but now we learn that this unfailing law also governs nations. No nation can lower its standards of right and wrong and escape the negative effects of moral decline. In other words, even on a national level, we can't sin and win.

How then shall we live?

I once heard a woman pray, "Lord, forgive us, we do so many things we used to think were wrong."

How many of us are overdue in echoing her prayer? And how did we get on this slippery slope that allows us to call good evil and evil good?

More importantly, what can we do about it?

Picking up the ringing phone, I found myself listening to a man who was so upset over government decisions that he had become involved with a group refusing to pay their taxes. Their logic was that since they didn't agree with national leaders they shouldn't be paying their salaries or sanctioning their actions. Now he wanted to know if he was making the right decision.

My advice to this angry man was to pay his taxes, as did our Lord under similar circumstances; paying his due to the oppressive and corrupt Roman Empire.

The finest article on this subject I have read was written by my friend, Doug Blackwell, in which he says Jesus pointed out to his disciples that they had an obligation to submit to the government and pray for their leaders whether they agreed with them or not. In short, our devotion to God should not prevent us from being good citizens.

People who say they trust God should be examples in words and works of what it means to live above reproach, rejecting immorality and refusing to participate in anything that contributes to bringing down their nation.

Wouldn't this kind of living cost some lifestyle changes?

Of course.

It's the price of patriotism.

Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich. He has written more than 20 books and has had articles published in most major Christian magazines. He was a pastor for 22 years and has been a guest speaker in Alaska churches from Anchorage to Homer.

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