Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Torn Between Two Kingdoms: Learning from the Life of Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell. Just the name conjures up some sort of emotion in you, doesn't it? For me, the emotions are mixed. I respected the man as a strong defender of biblical morality. I once heard him preach in South Carolina on being salt and light in the culture. He genuinely believed that to be his mission, and I respect him for taking very difficult stands. Our nation needs more men who are principled and unashamed of the truth. His death is a great loss.

But there's another side of me that has always been uneasy with Jerry Falwell, not him as a person, but him as an "icon." That's exactly what he was. He was one of those larger-than-life figures who accomplished much in his 73 years. But much of what he accomplished was temporal... earthly... political.

Jerry Falwell was torn between two kingdoms: that which is Caesar's and that which is God's (Matthew 22:21). At first, he wasn't very interested in politics, but after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he felt like he needed to do something. That's understandable. But did he get too involved? I believe so.

I say this, not to criticize this good man, but to exhort and rebuke today's Christian citizens. This message is especially needed as the '08 elections kick off. We fall prey to the mentality that politics is the answer. Our hope rises and falls with whoever is in the White House. Brothers and sisters, whether our next leader is Hillary, Rudy, Obama, or McCain, God is still sovereignly carrying out His good purposes. The Lord Jesus Christ is still working all things for His glory.
Jerry Falwell spent much time, energy, and money in making sure that moral leaders were elected. But even Ronald Reagan, for all his virtues, still had many vices. George W. Bush, the conservative Christian's choice, is still far from ideal. Learn from what I believe to be Jerry Falwell's mistake: Our hope does not sit behind the desk in the oval office! Our hope sits in the Heavens, at the right hand of the Father!
But allow me to end this with a little exhortation. Jerry Falwell was like any of us, a sinner saved by God's glorious grace. He made mistakes. Let's learn from them. Yet, he also set an example, a good one: He did something. Don't just sit back and allow Satan to wreck havoc on your community, do something! Don't just accept that your children must learn unbiblical agendas, do something! Don't just ignorantly follow the culture's message, do something! True faith will produce works. Biblical faith is active. What are you doing? Following the example of Jerry Falwell, share your faith, teach your kids, speak the truth, reject immorality. But don't lose sight of your true hope.

Jerry Falwell has entered into a heavenly inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Peter 1:4). That is where our hope lies.

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