Beating the air

It is possible to expend a lot of energy without accomplishing anything useful.  Paul warned against such useless efforts in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

When a boxer gets into the ring he needs to be able to hit hard and fast if he is to have any chance of winning.  But he also needs one other thing: the ability to aim his blows so that they connect with the person he is fighting.  If he swings and misses he not only wastes the energy he put into the blow but he becomes vulnerable to his opponent’s counterattack.

Christians are engaged in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil and sometimes our fighting is merely beating the air because we don’t choose our targets wisely.  This is often true in our political activities.

The United States was founded by people who believed the Bible and tried to follow its teachings.  There are many expressions of this belief in our public life.  The pledge of allegiance contains the words “under God”.  Our national motto, “In God we trust”, is printed on our money.  The ten commandments are displayed in many public buildings.  Crosses and nativity scenes are often found on public property.

Belief in the Bible no longer plays a prominent role in our society and as a result there is pressure to eliminate these public expressions of faith.  The first reaction of many Christians to this is to fight to retain these symbols.  But is this really the most effective response?  The attempt to remove Biblical symbolism is the result of the adverse changes that have taken place in our country and not the cause.  If we are not careful we can waste a lot of energy treating the symptoms of our problems while doing nothing to correct the cause.

Instead of trying to preserve these symbols we should put our efforts into teaching the Bible and promoting belief in the truths that these symbols represent.   If the ten commandments are written on people’s hearts it won’t matter whether they are written on our courthouse walls.  Helping people understand the message of salvation that the cross represents is more important than having the right to place physical crosses on public property.

This doesn’t mean that we should never become involved in political activity.  We should promote good legislation such as that which protects the lives of the unborn and promotes Biblical standards of marriage.  But even in these areas enacting good laws shouldn’t be our primary goal.  Our primary responsibility is to teach what the Bible says about these subjects.  Changing hearts is more important than changing laws.

Christians should exercise all the rights and fulfill all the responsibilities of citizenship.  But we have an even more important responsibility that other citizens don’t share.  We are commanded to pray for our country and its leaders.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
1 Timothy 2:1-3

If we obey God by making prayer our first priority we can then trust that he will show us what else we wants us to do and we won’t waste time and effort on activities that don’t produce lasting results.

Posted on February 4, 2012, in Bible study, government and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Beating the air.

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