Trading One Idol For Another

The only thing worse than worshiping an idol is replacing it with a different idol and then looking down on the people who worship the other one.

Many people who classify themselves as Evangelicals worship the Republican Party. It’s where they find their identity. Their joy is determined by how well the Republican Party does. Their hope is in the Republican Party. And as we have seen over the past year or so, their so called Christian morals take a back seat to the success of the Republican Party.¬†This all became unattractively obvious over the past month as some Evangelicals defended Roy Moore by saying that teen girls should be flattered that a man of his stature would sexually harass them.

There is no denying the idol worship that takes place among those on the political right. But the same is true for those on the left.

In response to those naive Conservatives who were placing all of their hope in Roy Moore, Christians with a more Progressive slant commented on the absurdity of it all. And for good reason. But then they proceeded to do the exact same thing for the politicians and ideologies of their side of choice.

They rightly saw the harm that Roy Moore has caused teenage girls and their families but they turned a blind eye to Doug Jones’ history of condoning the murder of unborn babies.

They cringed as some on the right spoke of Roy Moore as if he were Moses coming down from the mountain with a brand new Contract with America. I cringed too. But then they proceeded to do their best Chicken Little impressions whenever leftists policies from the Obama administration were swept away.

The tax cuts will kill people.

The Net Neutrality decision will kill people.

Changes to Obamacare will kill people.

Oh, and God will judge everyone of a different political stripe.

This hyperbolic talk, of course, was taking place while the real killing of the unborn was going on. But we’re not supposed to be worried about that anymore, or so I’ve been told.

The Church is going to be just fine but I have my concerns about the American church. It’s like we’re in a fight over which golden statue we want to bow down to, the donkey or the elephant. Opinions are good and political engagement is necessary, even when we disagree. There’s enough room in the kingdom of God for a host of political philosophies and theories. But as long as the church continues to whore itself out to the Democratic and Republican parties, they will look less like the body of Christ and more like a very sick body. The answer to the Republican idolatry in the church is not Progressive idolatry. It’s repentance.

Jesus didn’t die so that His church could carry the water for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

Until we learn that lesson, we’ll continue looking like the suckers that the political parties want us to be and less like the salt and light that Jesus called us to be.

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Stop Taking God’s Name In Vain

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

Most likely, you’ve done it before. You hit your thumb with a hammer, almost got into a wreck, actually got into a wreck, watched your favorite team blow a huge lead in the Super Bowl or witnessed your middle child spilling grape juice on the new carpet. And then you said it. You used the name of the Creator of the universe as a curse word.

Why do we do this? When we hit our thumb with a hammer, we don’t say, “Oh, Hitler!” Or when we try to check out at the grocery store and only one out of 13 lines is open, we don’t say, “Charles Manson!” Yet, for some reason, it comes naturally for us to use the name of God in that way.

But that’s not the only way that we break the third commandment. There is a more subtle way to use God’s name in the wrong way. If you pay attention, you’ll see it all the time. All you have to do is watch the way that people in this country talk about politics.

Judging simply by my Twitter feed over the weekend, it looked like the world, or at least America, had come to an end. People were losing their minds because of a tax cut that had been passed. Of course, there were the usual suspects who love paying enormous taxes who were not happy at all about this. But there was another group of protestors in the mix. They were the religious left. That’s right, the folks who can’t so much as mention the name of Jesus during a Sunday morning, ahem, sermon, started invoking his name to criticize this tax plan.

Their basic point was clear: if you support tax cuts, God’s going to get you for neglecting the poor.

This foolishness isn’t confined to the left side of the political spectrum. That’s right, even members of the religious right, you know, the ones who claim to revere Jesus, are guilty of using his name in vain. This happens when they declare that the hurricane that just wiped out a city was most definitely God judging the folks of that city for living a lifestyle that does not fit the GOP platform. It also happens when they constantly remind us that a certain politician is, “God’s man” even though the only qualifying attribute in that politician is that he happens to be a Republican. Republicans, some evangelicals would have us to believe, are God’s favorite political party. That’s why it’s okay for a grown man to have inappropriate relationships with ¬†fourteen-year-old girls and it’s why it’s okay for another man to live his entire adult life as an adulterer, even going so far as to be caught on tape joking about his motives that, were he an average citizen would be called for what they are – sexual assault. But this is God’s man, they tell us. After all, they reason, the man did just give a great speech where he mentioned Mary and Joseph and said Merry Christmas. It was the greatest moment in church history since Johnny beat the devil in that fiddle contest!

The church should be ashamed. And, just a short time from now when we have lost any moral ground to stand upon as the sexual revolution continues to spiral out of control, we should not be surprised that no one wants to listen to what the crowd who supported two of the biggest partakers in the foolishness has to say on behalf of God.

For once, the left and the right have one thing in common. They both routinely break the third commandment because they have broken the first commandment.

“You shall have no other God’s before me.” Exodus 20:3 (ESV)

The god of the left is a bloated, angry and hateful beast who wears a disguise of compassion. The god of the right preaches a gospel of family values and the good old days but deep down he only cares about the same thing that the god of the left cares about. Power. That’s because the god of the left and the god of the right are the same. His name is Government.

Government is a gift from God (Romans 13:1-14). We need government. If you don’t believe me, visit a country where there’s a new military coupe every fifteen minutes or so. But here’s the thing about government. It makes a terrible god. Yet, for some reason, folks on the left and the right keep worshiping it. And when their god leaves them unfulfilled, rather than taking a second look at the object of their worship, they just cry for more of him while yelling louder at the folks on the other side. It’s like an addiction.

The early church sold their possessions and belongings and distributed, “the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45). They somehow managed to do this without being coerced by the government, as some on the left would have us to believe. And their compassion was not limited to one group of allegedly deserving people (Acts 6:1-7), as some on the right like to model. Rather, they gave because of their devotion to the one true God. He had worked in their heart in such a way that they couldn’t help but live generously with their own money rather than ignoring the needs of others or simply relying on some bureaucracy to be compassionate for them.

Jesus Christ reigns supreme over all political parties and government institutions. He doesn’t need hucksters who pretend to follow him in order for his kingdom to advance, just as he doesn’t need the selectively outraged who only care about the poor online and when cameras are around.

He doesn’t need anything.

But we need him.

It’s time we cry his name out in repentance rather than using it to advance our favorite political cause.

Otherwise, when he says our name, it might just be to pronounce a curse on both of our houses.

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