If you send a pig to charm school you are wasting its time and your money. Trying to teach a wolf to lay down with a lamb will always turn out to be a disappointment for the lamb. Invite a bull into your china shop at your own risk. Bringing Patrick Henry’s idea of “liberty” (you know, “give me liberty of give me death”) to people who think God wrote the Koran is to stick your head in a lion’s mouth. It is not a good idea.
Nation building or Kingdom building, that is the question. Pigs cannot be taught to appreciate pearls, and liberty and freedom are pearls of great price. It is not a question of turbans or top hats. It is a matter of hearts. The Bible says that the heart of man is “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:3), and that is the heart of the problem. Our best minds are trying to "put their heads together" to solve the problem. The problem in the Middle East is not a head problem, it is a heart problem. A thief left alone in a bank with an open vault has his own ideas about liberty that are hopefully very different from yours and mine. “Nation,” said Jesus, “shall rise against nation.” Nation building is dressing a dog in diamonds. It is a dim idea.
Bringing liberty to the Muslim world may look like a good idea, but the Muslim world is like it is for a reason. They keep extinguishing the light. Anyone who believes in Christ and becomes a Christian in the Muslim world quickly loses his liberty with his life. Men who keep blowing out the candle must live in the dark. Jesus is the Light of the world.
Jesus spoke of a Kingdom. Nations come and go, God's Kingdom is forever. Jeremiah sang his Lamentation and was called “un-patriotic” for not speaking well of his “nation.” Notions about nation building and putting pigs in pantaloons are silly ideas. What really shines is Jesus Christ in a contrite heart. This is the only bright idea that works. Stationing the United Nations between Cain and Abel would have done no good. Without Christ to stop him, Cain would still have found some way to kill his brother -- so much for brotherhood.
Liberty is precious. We have written religious freedom into our Bill of Rights. How America uses its Sundays reveals more about its faith than its fables. Every Lord's day Race Tracks, Shopping Malls, and Ball Fields are filled with Americans who call themselves Christians. Is this the light have we to offer the world? Today the American dream is about season tickets, SUV's, and summer homes. Today we want to "buy and sell" the world more than save it. Those who think Colonel Sanders franchises will change Baghdad follow a false faith. Liberty without light brings only more darkness. Everyone being lord of their own liberty without knowing the LORD of Liberty can only end badly. "Oh generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee?" (Jer. 2:31).
Real liberty is found in light and the American version of Christianity is dark and dim indeed when compared to the Light of the early church. Before we try to spread freedom around the world, we would do well to look and see what we have done with ours. We need attend to the beam in our own eye, before we can help the other guy see. If Jeremiah were here today, I think he would still be crying. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you."