Be of Noble Peace

I’m a people watcher.

It’s not only a pass time, it’s a passion.

When Kathy and I are short on money, we often make people watching our low budget entertainment for date night. For example, last night we spent 2.5 hours on a strategically positioned couch at the coffeeshop in Hastings and just drank it in.

In whispered tones like the National Geographic photographer crouched in the bushes just a few feet upwind from an African lion (idiot, by the way… said in love) who documents his close encounter on film, Kat and I whisper to each other:

  • “Think they’re a couple?”
  • “Friends or sisters?”
  • “Dude, she is mad. She’d stab him if we all weren’t here…”
  • “Do we know him?”
  • “I’d never let you out of the house wearing that.” (Obviously, a Kat only statement)
  • “Hey, I think those two are watching us… quick, act normal.”

I love watching people, and I think one of the gifts God has given me is discernment. So, you put those two things together and what do you get… a blog entry!

As a former journalist and news junkie I usually turn on Headline News before I even get out of bed. This morning, I was greeted by Breaking News that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now, before anyone gets excited or angry, this entry has nothing to do with the President, his performance, or even his worthiness to receive the award.

Why not? For three reasons:

  1. I have no idea what the credentials for winning this prize are. I assume it has something to do with peace, so, I recues myself from this debate on grounds of overwhelming ignorance (wow, I should use that excuse more often).
  2. I have opinions about politics, social issues and our current global position, and as a former collegiate debate coach I’d love to take you on! You ready to RUUUUUMMMMMBBBLLLEEE? But, I don’t go that route, as I have chosen to submit to Scripture: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” The Holy Bible  : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Ro 13:1-2.
  3. The final reason this entry is not about the Nobel Prize, or the President is that it IS about people watching.

It’s been awesome. It’s only been about five hours since the Nobel Peace Prize announcement has been made and the war has begun. Pundits on either side are lining up to praise the choice or gnash their teeth, grrrr.

An incredible people watching event.

Fox News, Facebook, Twitter, morning radio and even the old guys across from me here at the coffeeshop (yes I’m back here less than 12 hours after date night, its an illness) are all abuzz! My favorite Tweet of the day, so far, is “I’m in favor of peace, can I have a prize?”

The funny thing to me is how vehement the sides are already. It’s almost like they were waiting up last night, on the edge of their seats, just to see who would get the award this year.

“Come on Secretary Lundestad… say the name, say the name! Nicolas Sarkozy, Nicolas Sarkozy, Nicolas Sarkozy! This has got to be your year Nic, come on baby!”

Doubt that was the case for any of us. I had to look up those names just to make the point.

So, I don’t think people are really responding to the award and who didn’t get it. They are responding to their preconceived notions about the recipient. It wouldn’t matter if Obama won the Nobel Prize or the free lunch buffet at Pizza Hut, there would be an argument just because of where people stand on this man.

(I just lost some of you because all you can think now is, “You can win a free lunch buffet from Pizza Hut?” Focus people)

There is a pace for this debate. There is a fundamental right to express your opinion. There is a real need to stay on top of the issues.

But believers, those who call themselves followers of Christ, be careful how you conduct yourself in these discussions and in some cases, verbal lashings.

The Scripture above should be convincing enough that we owe some level of submission to our authorities, no matter what we believe or prefer. But, I recently read an episode from the life of Paul that illustrates this beautifully.

From Acts 23:

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” 4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” 5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’” The Holy Bible  : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Ac 23:1-5.

A little background on this is that Paul should have been fed up already. Smacked around, lied about, imprisoned and generally abused over the last few days by this same group, he is brought before them for judgment.

Then, when he talks he gets smacked in the mouth again.

Seriously, if there ever was reason to jack slap someone back… this is it! If I were Paul my next words would be, “Hold me back! Hold me back! I’m taking this dude to the gun show!”

But, when someone near him said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul wiped the blood from his lip and apologized.

He submitted to Scripture and the authority of the position, corrupt and abusive as it was, standing just before him.

Further, as a follower of the Way (meaning he was a Christian), he didn’t even really believe he was the high priest anymore. Most commentators believe Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, which says:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. The Holy Bible  : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Heb 4:14-16.

Paul was being abused, railroaded and scandalized personally by a man who was stealing the title of his own Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by calling himself the High Priest. Yet, even as he is struck, he submitted to the Word and spoke, as Jesus would have him speak.

Fellow believers, there is a place for our dissent and disapproval, but let this article stand as a warning. Whether its President Obama, your boss at work, a traffic cop, your pastor or anyone in authority… conduct yourself in a manner worthy of your faith.

Your opinions are valid, they are just not as important as your testimony.

Many blessings!

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