To preface, here's another recommendation for the Chronological Bible. I began the New Testament a few months ago, and the way the Gospels are woven together is a treat and a blessing. I have a feeling I'll be reading the Gospels again quite soon.
In our Bible study tonight we discussed I Peter Chapter 2, in which we are called to respect all human authority which is over us. This is one of the Bible's "hard sayings," especially for Americans, not only because it calls us to do something difficult, but also because we have a hard time understanding practically what it means. Similarly, the chapter continues by instructing slaves to obey their masters. What can this possibly mean to Americans?
My friend Dave, AKA Troubled Corinthian, made the point that Americans are under the Constitution, and that every American is, in effect, a sovereign individual. We have no master but God. This has interesting ramifications when applied to whether we should obey a law which we understand to be un-Constitutional, let alone such laws as may be in violation of our Christianity. Be that as it may, the focus here is that Jesus is our Lord, and we are slaves to Him. I repeat, this is difficult to understand for the modern mind, let alone to live under. All Americans are equal under the Constitution (if not treated equally in practice, another topic for another time), and all Christians are slaves to Christ.
Let's consider Mark 9:14-29, the story of the demon-possessed son, whom the disciples did not have faith to heal. Jesus rebuked them for their faithlessness, and we recall another saying of Christ, that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can tell a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will. Now consider Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, and gave them all kinds of power. Do you have faith that is true? Although we often bemoan particular losses of liberty in recent decades, imagine American life compared to human history: how blessed we are with political freedoms and earthly riches! Not only a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, but a TV in every living room as well! Few of us contemplate how different much of the outside world is, where the right to gather and worship God is not protected by law. May the American dream help move our faith a little closer to appreciating the difference between a fisherman's life before and after Christ entered his life?
The founding fathers said, "Yes." They used overtones of the Great Commission and adamantly believed it was God's Will that the United States be formed and consciously planned to spread liberty. If we are truly thankful for the many blessings America bestows--especially compared to the rest of the world and all of world history--how much more should we be thankful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever, who died to redeem humanity and now lives, Whose yoke is easy and Whose burden is light? His love and power is infinite, and He has invited us to be adopted sons and daughters into His kingdom. What an inheritance!
So although as Americans we struggle to understand what it means to suffer for Christ, or to be a slave, our imaginations are blessed nonetheless by comparing our blessings here on earth to the endless riches God has yet to unfold. Let us never take our blessings for granted, nor forget even America is only a tiny glimpse of the freedoms in store for all believers in Christ.