Yesterday morning on my way to work, like most mornings, I took some time to listen to one of the gazillion, local “Christian” radio stations in the area, just to get an idea what they were telling their listeners. I dialed in while the station was on a commercial break and the announcer is asking listeners to buy some DVDs while he makes this claim in a deep, but smooth radio voice: “We know this nation was founded on the Bible by godly men, and today Christianity is under attack. It’s time we claim it all back…”
STOP!! Enough with the rhetoric that America was supposed to be a “Christian Nation” and that Christianity is under attack. I believe we can put to rest the “America was founded on the Bible to be a Christian nation” ideology and realize that we are now in a Postmodern/Post-Christendom society. In my opinion, what IS under attack is Western-Politically Interwoven Christianity and Church. That, my friends, does not equate to or resemble the kingdom of God, or the church of the New Testament. Arguments are made that our rights and freedoms are being eroded or taken away. As an American I understand the concern, yet, those who argue about rights, turn around and treat other human beings (God’s own created beings) like crap and say they don’t belong in our midst because they are considered criminals or their lifestyle is not like ours. Listen, I understand these arguments very well because I’m surrounded by all sides of these issues, but the solutions should not include ways and attitudes that dehumanize someone. It begs the question for Christ-followers: What happened to loving our neighbor? I have not found in scripture anything that disqualifies us from loving our neighbor. In the eyes of the kingdom it doesn’t matter if people are gay or straight, legal or illegal, black or white, rich or poor, or friends or enemies. If we wish to cast stones then we must do so by examining our own hearts first. If we truly love God and abide in Him, then we can’t help but to love our neighbor. Or as John says, “If we say we are his, we must follow the example of Christ.”
Also, there is the continued complaining about God, prayer, the Bible and other religious activities being taken out of schools. As a taxpayer, I understand that argument because we pay taxes for our public schools and expect to be treated equally, but we must be honest; God didn’t ask us to defend those things, nor our own rights. On a different radio station, they used the words of Jude to make the case for defending Western Christian theology. Jude (v.3) writes to his friends that they are to contend for the faith. He’s not telling them to contend for anything else, but their faith. Jude is warning them about false teachers and challenging them to guard against them. Yet, he did not tell them to live in a Christian bubble either. He challenged them to love, serve others and show mercy to all.
[Side Note: I Googled “contend for the faith” and a majority of the images either had boxing gloves or knights wielding a sword. Sad.]
This entire dialogue about defending rights, freedoms and the Bible must change. We must enter into a new dialogue that concerns itself more with life in the kingdom of God and less with political agendas to legislate morality. We mustn’t expect government to do what the Church has been appointed to do in the midst of humanity. We need a fresh and passionate look at the beatitudes. I wonder why we don’t hear teachings by #RadioDudes about being a little Jesus in the world we live in and not of being a legalistic, Pharisaical bully. Sadly, that is rare; so rare that most of their teachings are about saying the apocalyptic end times, sinner’s prayer, sealing the deal of getting to heaven and recruiting people to attend a particular church so the pastor can share the gospel with them. Yet, it is my understanding that Christ-followers are to plant the seed of the gospel in the midst of our context. We are to be His witnesses, brothers and sisters of the royal priesthood called to bridge the gap between God and humanity.
C.S Lewis said of Aslan, “He’s not safe, but he’s good.” The same can be said about following Jesus because following Him is risky and dangerous. Jesus isn’t some ceramic figurine that we can place on a mantle and dust off from time-to-time to show off to our friends so they can say, “Oh, your Jesus is so cute and cuddly.” Following Jesus gets messy. People are messy. Our faith will constantly be tested and character revealed in that mess.
So, to my friends who so desire to defend prayer in school/football games, their rights, freedoms, the Bible and type “amen” on every meme asking the same…I challenge you, as I challenge myself everyday. The challenge is to lay down our agendas, turn over the tables and destroy the altars of our idols by living an incarnational life in the midst of those in your world. In other words, follow Jesus to the places where he goes and already is. Follow Jesus to the ends of the earth if you must. Let the words He spoke and the teachings of the Apostles become real in you. Stop defending your rights, because in Christ you have none if you have died with him, and start contending for the faith by loving God and loving others. Seek the kingdom first. Speak up for and stand with the abused, broken and marginalized. Plant the gospel where you are and let the Spirit lead through the growing His movement. Go and make disciples who follow Jesus so they make disciples who follow Jesus. If we believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, then our lives must be consumed with Him for the sake of the kingdom.
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets. – Hebrews 13.16 (MSG)
If we really want to change our world, then seek to work for the common good for others and contend for the faith in your daily life by seeing humanity through the eyes of Jesus.
May Jesus cause our hearts to break and eyes to weep as His did for the sake of humanity to enter God’s kingdom.