The horror. The outrage. The collectively unbiblical response on display for all to see that we are so self absorbed in our Christianity. What utter nonsense. Let us first go down to Walton Kentucky where Polly Neace was fired from U.S. Bank, allegedly for telling her customers to have a blessed day. Neace claims no one ever complained but her former employer not only disputes that but further claims she chastised a customer for taking the Lord's name in vain and then tried to explain salvation to them. Neace responded to that charge by saying the customer in question did not complain about that. As if that was the relevant point. She was instructed by her employer to stop using the phrase and was eventually fired. And what was the Christian response from Ms. Neace? What righteous stance did she take following her departure? Did she tell her boss to have a blessed day? Did she thank her employer for 24 years of employment? Did she says prayers for their lost souls? No. She went out and got a lawyer to sue them. Oh, and then she went on Fox News to promote it. This is not persecution beloved. This is an employee who failed to follow the directives of her boss. Period. It is not a sign of the end times. It is a sign that not everyone in this country shares our faith. Were we confused about that? If so, allow me to clarify for you. Not everyone in this country shares our faith. We are not called to impose our faith on an unbelieving culture and then sue them in the name of Jesus either. We are called to share the Gospel but that does not mean saying have a blessed day to everyone you meet and then being offended when some bristle at it. By the way, if the employer allowed it for Neace, he would have to allow religious expression for all employees, regardless of their faith. He would have to allow his Muslim employees to tell customers "Allah bless you." He would have to allow his Buddhist employees to say "Buddha bless you" to the customers. Atheists employees...OK, I guess they would just say have a nice day. The point is that this is a bank, not a temple.
More importantly is the knee-jerk reaction from Christians citing persecution verses like this woman is rotting away in an Iranian prison or giving birth with chains around her ankles. How in the world does this issue advance the cause of Christ? You remember Him right? The one who bled and died for us and we are supposed to represent now? How does being a petulant employee who then sues her boss of 24 years represent Christ? How do you thing unbelievers view this story? I will tell you how. "There go those crazy Christians again!" Beloved, our job is not to use our religion as a wedge to drive away the very people we are supposed to reach for Christ! Also, who is this story about? Is it about Jesus? No. It is about Polly Neace. This is nothing more than self-glorification wrapped up and pseudo-piety. Who would Jesus sue?
Now let us skip over to Carroll County Maryland. Robin Bartlett Frazier is a two-term elected official there who made headlines this week boldly declaring that she would go to jail for Jesus' name sake. Wow. Were competing officials demanding she denounce her faith? Was she sentenced to 100 lashes for daring to claim Jesus as her savior? Uhmm...not quite. It seems that U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles had ruled that sectarian prayers were to be banned from meetings of the Carroll County Commissioner's Board. But Robin Bartlett Frazier was having none of it:
"I think that is an infringement on my freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and I think it's a wrong ruling," she announced. "And just as I wouldn't give up my guns or I wouldn't allow my children to be palm-scanned or I wouldn't give up my property rights with 'PlanMaryland,' I'm not going to give up those rights. But out of respect for my colleagues, I'm not sure how strongly they feel about it, I'm willing to go to jail over it. I believe this is a fundamental of America. And if we cease to believe that our rights come from God, we cease to be America. We've been told to be careful, but we're going to be careful all the way to communism if we don't start standing up and saying 'no.' So, I say no to this ruling."
Well isn't that special? Putting aside the political incoherence of this rambling statement, she has no power or authority to "say no" to the ruling. Undeterred, she plodded on with her opening prayer anyway - thumbing her nose to the courts all in the name of Jesus - glory hallelujah. Perhaps because she is a politician, Bartlett-Frazier could not shut up:
"I didn't want to be directly defiant to the judge," she told CBN News. "I prayed about how I could draw a line, [but] the more I thought about it, the more it made me angry that we would be told not only that we couldn't pray to who we wanted to but that we couldn't use certain words."
Yes, Jesus often taught how we need to draw a line when it comes to unbelievers...oh wait He never said that. And look at the language of this quote. I didn't want to. I prayed about drawing a line. I thought about it. I was angry. Who has this story become about? Is it lifting up Jesus? No. It is lifting up Robin Bartlett Frazier and the egregious infringement upon her faith by people the Bible teaches her are walking in utter darkness. It never ceases to amaze me when the church acts all surprised when the world acts like they are supposed to act. The things of God are foolishness to them! I would have been surprised if a secular judge allowed prayer! That would be news! Bartlett-Frazier continued:
"All of these things are to try and limit religion," she said. "That's what motivates me to stand up for the Lord because we will not be America if we push God out."
So we come to it. This is not about the name of Jesus. It is not about protecting Christians from persecution. It is about the flawed notion of idolizing America and hiding it beneath the veneer of revival. Not being allowed to say an opening prayer at a county board meeting in Carroll County Maryland is not "pushing God out." She is still free to pray herself. She is still free to gather with the other believing board members to pray. Can God only move if He is officially mentioned on the recording of the minutes? Stop the insanity! Did God pack His bags and move out of Maryland after the judge's ruling? Once again, how is this going to be viewed by those we are trying to reach with the Gospel? "There goes those crazy Christians again!" The Gospel is not shoving our faith down the collective throats of the unsaved. To force them to listen to our prayers. Or perhaps Bartlett Frazier forgets these verses:
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6: 5-6 (ESV)