Guilty until Proven Innocent, but That is Not a Bad Thing
Today I’m posting another one from the archives. I wrote this one back in 2012. I find it ironically fitting, considering the current state of the presidential race and a lot of the rhetoric floating around in the political arena right now. I hope it makes you think.
Americans like their rights. As far as we know, they are unalienable, granted us by the fact that we are human. In our worldview, we deserve them.
When our country was founded, we started with 10, and that number has steadily grown since then. Many additional ones have been written into law, many others just assumed by our society. We talk about our rights all the time.
We can say what we want, think what we want, live how we want, and believe whatever we want. If you disagree, go live in another country for a couple of years. It will change your perspective.
These rights protect us. They shelter us from the attacks of others and make sure we are treated in a just manner. We cannot be slandered. We cannot be libeled. We cannot be falsely accused. We are innocent until proven guilty.
And as concerns the state, rights are a good thing. However, somewhere along the way, it appears our American brand of Christianity became so entangled with the course of our country’s political trajectory that we assume these rights also pertain to our spiritual life.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Christianity does not hold the sway over the state that it once enjoyed.[/pullquote]
Yet in the current climate, Christianity does not hold the sway and influence over the state that it once enjoyed. As the world, and particularly the United States becomes increasingly pluralistic, the public square is filling with atheists, deists, animists, humanists, activists, and all kinds of differing views. Christianity once stood in dominance in this arena. Truth be told, it was largely cultural and not authentic faith. But while it lacked in authenticity, at least it legitimized the Christian worldview. People were not seen as stupid if they believed in the resurrection.
Times have changed.
With the increase of countering views, Christians no longer enjoy that same view of their faith. It has become acceptable, and even expected in certain circles, to lampoon Christianity as unintelligent and archaic. To many, Christians are simple people who believe a terribly jumbled set of superstitions. Furthermore, Christians are seen as belligerent, mean-spirited, close-minded, and intolerant.
We have been labeled guilty.
Unfortunately, many within our ranks turn to the Constitution for help instead of God’s word. The battle is on in the public square to make sure we Christians are treated fairly, to win the battle for our religious rights. Radio broadcasts, talk shows, and law associations are all fighting for the cause.
Now for certain, I am not saying we should abstain from the political process. We are blessed above most all nations in that we have a say in our government. Yet, I feel this defensive posture may be detrimental to the very core of our purpose. More plainly put, fighting for our “Christian rights” in this manner may be damaging something far more important than our place in society. It may be destroying our message, the gospel.
In one of his letters, Peter actually had something to say about our rights as Christians in the public arena. Here, Peter writes to several churches in Asia Minor. Referring to them as sojourners (or travelers in a foreign land), he says this, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12, ESV).
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Americans may be innocent until proven guilty, but according to God’s word, Christians will be guilty until proven innocent. [/pullquote]
What follows is a discussion of the Christian’s relationship with their government and society. Peter explains the need for a compliant spirit with government and society. Furthermore, he makes it clear that Christians should expect mistreatment and compares this unfair situation to that of Christ himself.
Americans may be innocent until proven guilty, but according to God’s word, Christians will be guilty until proven innocent. The world is not going to give us a fair shake, and we should not expect it. Furthermore, the way we conduct ourselves in light of that reality is about far more than our “rights.” It is about the gospel.
People will hurl insults. People will slander. And as they do, we must make sure to keep our conduct above reproach, so that they may see Christ in us. Triumphalism has no place in Christian rhetoric. Christ suffered for mankind. Should we expect to do anything less?
One day, Christ will return as victor over all he created. In the meantime, let us humbly proclaim the news of our coming king.