This post is for the Christians. 🙂 I know I have some atheists and agnostic followers out there. I don’t want to offend you guys. You won’t get much out of this one.
Disclaimer: I probably have some Christian friends who aren’t going to like what I’m about to say either.
Like so many other Americans, I’m pretty invested in politics these days. I watch with horror the decisions handed down by our Supreme Court, shake my head as various politicians blatantly lie in front cameras, feel rage when we’re told by others there is really nothing they can do, and listen guardedly to what people in my real life say regarding government, religion, or any of the other minefields that can blow up our lives anymore.
It’s already a really hard time for people, but when you add a layer of Christianity to it, it becomes even more fraught. I mean, it is actually the hijacking of Christianity that is leading to a lot of this. You can’t really tell anyone you’re a Christian without them assuming 1) you are pro-life, 2) you are pro-guns, 3) you hate gays, trans, and migrants, and 4) you love Trump. I’m none of these things. The main reason is because I am a Christian. Jesus wasn’t on board with any of these positions.
Lately, as I’ve been feeling the rage build, though, I’ve had to ask myself what should I be doing? It’s very easy, and pretty much the evangelical playbook these days, to look around at everybody else and decide what they should and shouldn’t be doing, but neglect to police our own hearts.
I do not think remaining silent, compliant, and blind is the right decision for a Christian. Watching rapture videos and letting everything around you be someone else’s problem doesn’t seem to be a good strategy. However, I’m thinking rage-Tweeting while I doom-scroll on Twitter isn’t helping anyone, including me either.
I have a justice-driven soul. I want people to have what is rightfully theirs, to enjoy mercy, to experience satisfaction, and to have peace. I want us to be kind to each other. Honest. Helpful. Communal.
So, that brought me back to what I should be doing.
First, I identified where I’m wrong.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17
I like to debate. I’m good at it, and it isn’t always about trying to help someone see something a different way. Sometimes, it is so I can make someone see just how stupid I think they are. That’s arrogant and I tend to do it when I’m super angry, and I’m wrong. I really wish I could tell you I’m a better person than that, but I’m not. I need to avoid the conversations whose sole purpose is to stir up division, outrage, indignation, and rage.
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:13-17
Ugh. This one kind of sucked. I’m okay with President Biden, but Trump about sent me over the edge, and I cannot stand our Supreme Court at all. However, He didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room here, so it is what it is. The truth is, we were told to live as aliens in this world, since in theory, we are. By living according to biblical principles, despite governmental dictates, we will often find ourselves in lockstep with them, but at other times, we will be a threat to them. Isn’t that exactly why Jesus was crucified? We are to emulate Him, and this is what He did.
I identified where I’m right.
“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.” Revelation 2:2
There’s nothing wrong with recognizing evil and it making you feel sick. In fact, if you aren’t doing that with some regularity, you are primed and ready to fall victim to every false prophet who comes along. It’s just very, very important to separate out the sin from the person committing it. We’re allowed to judge the fruit, just not the tree. If a pastor teaches from the pulpit things that go strictly against the Word of God, like putting a bullet into the brain of all gay people is in the Bible, or if he is molesting young girls or boys in his congregation or embezzling from the tithes, then his fruit is bad, and therefore we can make the informed decision that we best not take any instruction from this man. We can separate ourselves from having anything to do with this person. We cannot, however, go shoot him in judgement for the sins he has done. Our government can prosecute him; our God can judge his soul, but we have no role to play in that part. You have NO say in his eternal judgement, just like all the people running around saying all women who get abortions, or gays, or trans people are all going to hell are also not going to be included in anyone’s final judgement either…. Only their own. And they might want to check themselves before they get there.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;..” Luke 6:37
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-29
Have you ever wondered why we aren’t allowed to pass judgement on each other? We are cautioned about this a lot in the bible, and the standard answer I hear anymore is “judge not lest you be judged”. (The use of the word “lest” tells me not a lot of thought has gone into the “why” of the instruction.)
For me, it is because of motivations. We just don’t have all of the information needed to make a just decision. God does. We don’t. Therefore, we should treat each other with respect, kindness, and mercy and let God decide if someone is going to hell or not. By deciding that God hates all gay people, trans people, immigrant people, blah, blah, we are missing the point. He didn’t tell us to harass, beat up, kill, or abuse anyone. He told us to treat each other the way we would want to be treated, and that means mercifully. Are they hungry? Feed them. Do they need a shirt? Give them the one off your own back. If we aren’t doing that, we are wrong. By treating people with love, mercy, dignity, respect, generosity, and empathy, we are showing them God’s love, and that is what we were supposed to be doing here all along. Those are the tools Jesus himself employed to bring people to his father.
Understand this. You will not litigate, murder, or shame anyone into the Kingdom of God. You can pass theocratic laws, enshrine saintly dictators, and force every state to outwardly resemble the most holiest of societies, but unless the problem is dealt with in the heart, all of that is a lie.
I would like to humbly remind all those professing Christian pastors out there, there is only one sin that will send anyone to hell, and that is rejecting Jesus. By focusing the church’s attention on a group of people for targeted hate, you are the ones who are violating God’s law, and because you profess to serve Him and teach His elect, He will judge you much more harshly than any gay or trans person who doesn’t know Him at all.
Now, I need to be more mindful of what I’m doing.
My plan going forward is to continue to be watchful.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
I need to recognize my war isn’t against people, but against evil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
I will remind myself that even this too shall pass, and the end for the side I’m on is a victory.
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” Revelation 12:10
I will remember that God loves justice much more than I do, and He has within His power to bring it about.
“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.” Psalm 37:12-16
Lastly, I need to make sure that the fruit on my own tree doesn’t become bitter, mean-spirited, hateful, or sick. In life, the only thing we really ever have any control over is our own reactions.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23