I just read a paragraph from a respected political commentator that startled me.
I might as well plant my flag in the ground on this point. I will actually be really surprised if we make it to December 31st of this year without people in this country taking up arms against each other. The rhetoric is so overblown, so heated, and so believed by a bunch of people who should know better.
It startled me because he may well be right. Listening to the way people talk these days and watching how they respond to tragedy leaves me no reason to believe that this was mere sensationalism. That’s the startling part.
Here’s the sad part.
The church is supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be salt and light. We find our identity in Christ, not a statue, a flag, a color, or a president. Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten all of that.
We don’t care about the truth anymore. We just care about what we want to be true. On social media, some of the biggest spreaders of fake news are Christians. You know, the ones who belong to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And it’s all in an effort to stick it to the biased media.
Here’s the thing. Everyone is biased. MSNBC is biased. Sean Hannity and Fox News are biased. The guy sitting in his mother’s basement in Bulgaria making up those fake news stories that so many Christians share is biased. I am biased. You are biased. That’s why we need discernment. Without it, we just stick to hearing what we want to hear and reinforcing stereotypes. With it, we can actually look and act different in an angry world.
It appears that many in the church have settled for life without discernment.
This anger is on both sides of the political aisle. And on both sides of the political aisle, the hypocrisy runs deep too. Conservatives use words like snowflakes when describing the students who walked out on Mike Pence, forgetting that just days before the election there were several conservative, middle-aged snowflakes who promised to march on the streets with guns if Donald Trump was not elected.
Liberals all of a sudden care about journalistic integrity now that an easy target is in the White House. With the exception of Jake Tapper, no one at CNN seemed too concerned when President Obama threatened the media and targeted citizens with the IRS.
Liberals love to talk about resisting the power while at the same time gladly taking handouts from that very same power and laying down and rolling over when it’s their guy in power. Conservatives ramble on and on about respecting the office of the presidency now that a self-identifying conservative is in power. However, I lost count of how many memes I saw over the past eight years comparing the Obama’s to Fred Sanford and Aunt Esther.
Blindly identifying with a political party makes good men into hypocrites. Identifying with Christ actually makes a difference.
In our own country, armed guards are patrolling city streets while people remove statues. It matters not to me what you feel about Lincoln, General Lee or the Civil War. Here’s what really matters. What is your neighbor thinking? As a follower of Christ, I am called to love my neighbor before I’m called to love a flag, whether it be confederate or American, or a statue, whether it be Jefferson, Lee or Lincoln.
One day we will stand before God to give an account for our lives. In spite of what you may have read in some whitewashed, Americanized study Bible, you will not be asked your opinion of a statue or a flag. But your love for neighbor will come into play.
When the black kid across town got shot and killed, did you write him off as just another thug or did you seek to minister to a family and a community that you were already engaging long before tragedy struck?
When the gay activists mocked the God of the Bible, did you hate her as if she were your enemy or did you hate what the real enemy was doing to her and pray for her eyes to be opened?
Did you go on long rants online about justice in regards to the president and the FBI but ignore lesser reported miscarriages of justice in your own community and workplace?
Did you bend down to help the least of these or did you step up on them to promote your own brand?
Were you longing for the Kingdom of God or were the kingdoms of this world enough for you?
Did you care more about the speck in your neighbor’s eye than you did the plywood in your own eye?
That’s what Jesus really cares about.
It’s just a shame that the church doesn’t seem to share in his concern.
I’ve spent most of my life in the church. I’ve heard a lot of preacher types talk about what needs to be done to save this country. It started with rock music.
“We need to get rid of this rock and roll music if we want to save this country.”
Eventually they moved on to politics.
“We need to elect this one and get this one out if we want to save our country.”
All the while the real problem was neglected.
I don’t know anything about fixing our country again. That’s too complex for me. But I can tell you how we can fix the church. And believe me, that’s a big need.
The church needs to repent.
We need to repent for abandoning truth for what feels or sounds right.
We need to repent for rejoicing over those who weep and making distinctions among ourselves by being judges with evil thoughts (Romans 12:15; James 2:4).
We need to repent for placing our identity in a president, whatever party he or she may belong to, instead of a King.
Everyone is angry. Even the church. And for all the wrong reasons.
We must be different.
We must be the ones with cooler heads.
We must be the ones with repentant hearts.
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17 (ESV)