This week’s Faith and Values section of the StarTribune focuses on the annual Muslim pilgrimmage to Mecca and with a focus on Minnesotan Muslims who are participating. It’s a relevant topic given the time of year and a good effort to find a local angle to the hajj. Almost lost in the online version of the section is another “hodge”, an article by Sharon Hodge in response to the U.S. military telling its Christian chaplains not to pray in the name of Jesus in public prayers (the article is well displayed in the print version).
Hodge’s take is a brief, well-written illumination of the absurdity of this policy in the name of political correctness and an excellent, concise testimony.
Why? Because praying in the name of Jesus is not form or fashion, but essence. It is a fundamental function of the faith itself that transcends religion and rests on relationship. Just one of many scriptures on the topic illuminates why: “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus left his home in heaven to bridge the chasm of sin that separated me from God. He suffered betrayal, denial, scourging and crucifixion for my sake. He stretched his battered body across that great divide so I could cross to the other side. There, covered in his blood, I am able to stand in the presence of almighty God: rescued, redeemed and reconciled. Even now, the resurrected Christ is my intercessor, my advocate with the father. It is by Jesus’ stripes I am healed, by his sacrifice I am saved. Jesus was the only one able and willing to do this, for me personally and for mankind.
What really made me smile, however, was getting to the end of the article and discovering that Hodge is a features copy editor for the Strib. We really are everywhere!
From what I’ve read about this topic, my understanding is that the military’s interest in this issue is more to avoid controversy than squelch Christianity per se as the restriction is on using “sectarian” prayers in public settings, not on praying with or counseling individuals. Nothing new here, there were people that told even Jesus to “tone it down.” Of course, even having the policy at all is problematic because it inevitably leads to ever more restrictive interpretation to “be safe”. (That this is an issue at all is because of this type of thinking being applied to the establishment clause of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”)
No wonder scripture says that that heathen rage and God laughs at their vain thinking (Psalms 2:1, 4)!