Saturday, August 20, 2011
Choosing the Better Part....
Long ago there were two sisters that were blessed to have a Special Guest in their home. Now mind you, the Special Guest brought more guests with Him, so obviously the kitchen would need to function at maximum output. But, wouldn't you know it, one of the sisters would decide to just plant her seat in the floor and listen to the Special Guest" speak. Of course, the other sister was just frantic with "How will I ever get this done and make accommodations as need demands?"
However, the "Special Guest" seemed to let the working girl steep in her irritated fury until finally she asked the "Special Guest" to send the sister to her proper place of responsibility. Much to her surprise, she gets a reprimand herself. Yes, of course, you know this account. It's none other than Jesus in the home of Martha and her sister Mary. A place of friendship He was known to visit.
Many a woman has read this account in perplexity at how she could actually sit down to conversation with so many folks in her home waiting to be fed. So many can identify with Martha and her need to do this and do it so well. Yet, the point is made, just how well does it need to be done? What is more important in the scope of things?
We know from the account that Christ's tells Martha that her sister, Mary, has chosen the good part. (The "part which shall not be taken away from her....") After all, He is the Master. His time was short with them in this earth walk. There would soon be no opportunities to sit at His feet in a literal sense. But, what lesson can we learn from such an encounter with Christ?
Christ's correction to Martha noted that she was "careful and troubled about many things." Yet, He told her, "one thing is needful." It seems this is the thing we need to get. Lord, may we have this "one thing." May we never miss and opportunity to get to know our Master more. May we "sit at His feet" in every available setting.
The cares of this life and even how we use them to bless others can certainly become a hindrance us in our relationship with our Lord. Well planned and noble tasks can often remove us from His highest and best purpose. We must stay the course. We must have the time "at His feet."
May we truly have a heart like Mary in this Martha cast world. Scripture seems to show us thereafter that Martha did indeed learn a great lesson from this experience. What will we do with this lesson?
Luke 10:38-42 "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Have a blessed week,
My previous post have been a review of some of our early court decisions. I find in that review a discovery that surprised me. A discovery that after years of studying our founding principles I still do not understand American freedom in the sense of which it was birthed!
I think I am just now beginning to see a little of that experience and understand a little of the conflict that now resides within us as a nation.
We are trying to take the documents of that time, which were instituted and interpreted by their understanding of freedom, and we are trying to apply them in our time with an entirely different understanding of that freedom.
As an example, today our understanding of "freedom of press" allows an individual to take a small plastic cross of Christ and submerge it in a glass of the artist urine and call it art (Piss Christ). That was not the understanding of freedom of press in early America. Idea of Freedom in early America took on the concept of personal responsibility, something we as a people now have almost completely abandoned.
"While we deny that Congress have a right to control the freedom of the press, we have ever asserted the right of the States, and their exclusive right to do so." - - - - Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830), Vol. IV, p. 27, to Abigail Adams on September 11, 1804.
The idea that a State had an exclusive right to control the press is foreign to us. Yet that was freedom of press as understood by early America.
Today, freedom of religion means any religious view has the same and equal footing on these United States. Thus we find our conflict when a Christian prayer is offered on school or public grounds with the omission of all others.
Yet in 1799 in Runkel v. Winemiller the Supreme court of Maryland all Judges concurring, "Religion is of general and public concern and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty." - - - - Runkel v. Winemiller, 4 Harris & McHenry 256, 259 (Sup. Ct. Md. 1799).
The 1799 view of religious freedom is far from our current view, yet we are tying to establish today's view with yesterday's documents and they do not mean the same.
According to the documents were are beholding to in our Constitution, confined withing the 1st Amendment, is the understanding that the Christian religion is of general and public concern, that our peace and good order of government depend upon it's support.
According to our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion, at least in the state of Maryland. This is all foreign to us, yet it is embodied within the documents by which we are governed. This was freedom of religion as practiced and understood by early America and for 150 years prevailed in our society. Gradually over the past Century we have drifted away from these ideas and imposed our own.
The problems arise because we have changed without changing our laws, we just re-interpret them to fit our desires and try to place our founders approval upon it. We imply it was their intent, separation of church and state was their idea and we must comply!
This of course is foolishness, we have no idea today of their understanding of separation of Church and State, nor their view of religious freedom. We fool ourselves when we imply we do and invoke our current views.
Some might ask, " what is your point?" My point is we are not the America we once was, our view of freedom is not that of our founders, nor do our documents of freedom support our current society, thus we find ourselves in this conflict. The conflict of who we were in light of who we have become.
If you are to ponder anything I have said, then let it be this:
"While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence.
But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.
Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - - - - John Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States; With A Life of the Author Notes and Illustrations of his Grandson Charles Francis Adams. Vol. IX, Books For Libraries Press, Freeport, New York, (First Published 1850-1856, Reprinted 1969) pp 228-29)
The accuracy of Mr. Adams words is astounding, he understood American freedom, he understood the limitations of our Constitution, we understand neither. We are now walking in the partial fulfillment of his warnings, if we continue, I would be surprised if we finally render it wholly inadequate!
May God bless each of you,