Quick: What happened on this day two hundred and nineteen years ago? Hint: It came in a 10-pack. I’ll give you another hint…
It’s Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the Bill’s inclusion into the Constitution, which gave us roughly 23 new freedoms we didn’t have before!
Just because we have the rights outlined in the Bill does not mean that exercising those rights is in our own best interest. I can say anything I want, against the government, against the President, against my neighbor, like “He’s a mean dookie head,” but calling my neighbor a mean dookie head to his face (he’s a cop, 6’3” and twice my weight, at least) wouldn’t be prudent. I haven’t really talked to him enough to determine his relative meanness or dookie headedness. The Bible has something to say about this:
“All things are permissible for me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” I Cor. 10:23
The point Paul was making was about food served to idols. He said he had no conviction to stay away from certain foods – in fact, he had a vision in which God showed him that what he previously saw as unclean, God told him was a-ok. So, he’s quick to say that his dietary restrictions are more lax, more free than many of his friends and neighbors. However, if it’s going to be a problem for his more conservatives acquaintances, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble…for I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many…” I Cor. 10:31-33
I can, with impugnity, chain smoke, drink to get drunk, curse, gossip, belittle, ignore or verbally attack someone I know, but those things are not beneficial to the relationships I hope to maintain, doesn’t fit with my calling to love my fellow humans or reflect well on who I am in Christ. Some Christians are turning to the methods of the world in order to combat the ways of this world.
I don’t know about the God you serve, but mine is big, big God, who can more than handle a friendly wish for Happy Holidays, a bus in Ft. Worth that says “millions of people are good without God,” and a billboard that states the nativity story is a myth. Christians are facing the matter head-on, spending thousands of dollars to combat the “war on Christmas” with ads and promoting boycotts. Is that the best use of that money? Will it turn anyone to Christ?
It is absolutely lawful for Christians to retaliate. We absolutely have freedom of speech in this country. Our freedoms make retaliations permissible, but our faith should make them repugnant. Let’s use the Happy Holidays example. If a waiter/waitress tries to be inclusive of the many holidays in the month of December (some of which I’ve highlighted on this blog) and says “Happy Holidays” is it more Christ-like to A) shoot back, Merry CHRISTmas! so they know you are a follower of Christ and want everyone to cater to your demands for a Christ-filled meal, B ) return your meal immediately and boycott the restaurant until they start recognizing that the ONLY holiday worth celebrating at this time of year is the one YOU practice or C) smile and wish them the same?
We have the freedom in this country, thanks to the Bill of Rights, which we celebrate today, to be charitable, caring, kind, loving, gracious, hospitable, friendly, curteous, cruel, hard-hearted, mean-spirited, vengeful, short-sighted, domineering and spiteful. Our freedom of speech is exactly like the freedoms of Paul in writing to the Corinthians, permissible but perhaps not expedient. If we continue to act like jerks, reiterating our woebegone state as the persecuted powerful, will we continue to edify the church we attend and maginify Christ, whom we serve?
Have you ever done something you had every right to do, but it turned out wrong?