A Response to the Hate-Filled Domestic Terrorism Plaguing Our Nation, and a Call for All Followers of Christ to Respond
The Root of the Problem – For All
I am human. I happen to be light-skinned, just like I happen to be hazel-eyed and have brown hair. I am not a heterosexual. I am a human who believes in heterosexuality. I am not an American. I am a human who happens to be from America.
It may sound like I am splitting hairs, but I’m not. I am trying to reinforce something that our society, even my fellow Christians, seem to have forgotten. The descriptors we attach to people based on their heritage, and even their decisions and actions, are not what determines their worth as human beings. I cannot speak for all, but as a follower of Christ, my love for all is based on something intrinsic and beyond the scope of anyone, even our/themselves, to sully – all of mankind is created in the image of God. ALL OF US. Not just those that recognize it and celebrate it. And all of us are sinners. ALL OF US. Not just those who sin differently than we do. And God still loves all of us. ALL OF US (John 3:16, II Peter 3:9, and many more).
Perhaps most sadly – we say we believe all races are equal and loved by God, but any attempt to promote equality in a tangible way (instead of only intellectually recognizing it), we resist if it at all affects the ease with which we live (and that goes for believers of all ethnicities).
That is not to say that our heritage, actions, and beliefs do not have real, tangible consequences – both affecting our lives from before we were born and will affect others long after we die – they certainly do. But that is not what determines whether someone should be treated with compassion and love.
Call to My Brothers and Sisters
My fellow believers in Christ, we should be the ones leading the charge against the violence plaguing us today- not in Law, but in Spirit. We are the ones called to both love God with our hearts, souls, and minds, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But we are not doing that. We allow temporal, worldly concerns to hold us back, or we try to justify forsaking the second greatest commandment in the name of the first when nothing could be further from what we are called to do. If you think that we must choose whether to love our neighbors or God’s ways because of the obvious gap between God’s expectations and mankind’s decisions, you apparently never paid attention to the Gospels – for Christ always did both. But now, we are more concerned about whether or not changes in gun laws infringe on our rights or will have unforeseen consequences. We say that only God can define marriage and then undercut our own argument by saying how the government defines marriage is a threat to it. And because we are more concerned about the temporal, worldly effects on us and this nation, we forsake our calling – exemplifying the love of Christ – which is the only true Hope we have for a cure for our society.
WE ARE NOT CALLED TO SAVE AMERICA – in fact, if you believe in God’s Word, you proclaim all nations, including ours, will one day fail. But we are called to love everyone that is a part of this WORLD – not with the goal of changing the laws in various geographic areas (though if we did love everyone, the latter would certainly happen), but with the goal of bringing joy to our fellow man by giving all what they need (God’s love) and joy to our Savior by playing a part in his redemptive work on the cross. To paraphrase CS Lewis – in the Christian worldview, it is the individual who is eternal, and the nation that is temporary.
America Is NOT the New Testament Israel
Speaking of this nation… brothers and sisters, I hate to break it to some of you, but America never was a Christian nation (to even say that our founding fathers were Christian is a gross exaggeration – some were, many were not). Oh sure, the Judeo-Christian ethic certainly once influenced our law more than it does now. But that is not what it means to be a Christian nation. Our founding fathers actually deliberately avoided making this a Christian nation – even the Christians that helped form it. Why? For all, there was some pragmatism of course – many had fled religious persecution and believed the best way to avoid it was to not give ANY religion political power. But among the mature Christians? There was another, deeper reason, one given by Christ himself: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” In the Old Testament, we see what became of the only theocratic nation governed by the Law of God. It failed miserably, not because of the Law, but because humanity was and is incapable of keeping the Law. Indeed, the prophets many times railed against Israel because they made a mockery of God, proudly proclaiming to be his chosen people all the while failing to live as he called – especially failing to act justly and love mercy, not just failing to follow a bunch of complicated commands (for remember, the two greatest commandments were originally given from God to Moses, and Christ quoted them, explaining all others were merely expressions of these two great ones). One of God’s many uses of ancient Israel was to prove than man in his fallen state could never live as God desired, even if God himself told us exactly what to do. For it is not that we lack the knowledge to do what is right all the time that is the primary problem, but rather we do not always have the will to do what is right (something Christ himself points out with parents giving their children good gifts in spite of not being good themselves).
The True Christian History Within America
Something that is true about the followers of Christ in America – we have always had a great impact on this nation (and indeed, every nation we have been in), and continue to do so. But it was never with the laws. Read the letters and books written by people living in America long before we were born, and you will see, from both followers of Christ and non-believers, there have always been two types of “Christians” in this world: the humble, loving people who loved God and followed in his example in their personal lives and loved their neighbors as themselves, pleading with them to live a godly life to find the joy and peace they had found, but still loving them compassionately whether they repented or no; and the self-righteous busy-bodies who were more in obsessed with the Law of God than the Heart of God. The difference wasn’t over what the Law proclaims and whether or not it is right – for in that, both sets of “Christians” were in agreement. Rather, the latter did not recognize they were equally damned under the Law, while the humble, loving Christians did recognize that fact and ached for their fellow man to experience the Joy and Peace that comes from Grace as they had, because they saw all mankind as their equals, truly understanding they were not more deserving of God’s Grace than an unbeliever. And which “Christian” you are to this day determines whether or not you are aiding or sabotaging God’s redemptive work (though to ensure its success or failure is beyond any of us) and the current state of our society. For those who continue to pursue the Law without the Spirit, the same earthly fate that befell the government of ancient Israel awaits both you and any nation you treasure – the tighter you grip, the more you will watch everything you cherish fall into decay.
But for those who love as Christ loved through the Spirit, we watch as God rekindles their spirits, awakens them from nightmares and brings them back into joyful life. They in turn, over time (for we all must mature and do not instantly walk as stable Christians) begin living in a way that demonstrates love to both God and their fellow man, which naturally leads to living in a Way that comes closer to fulfilling the Law even though it is not the Law that is the source of their actions.
My brothers and sisters, we are blaming our nation’s problems on people turning away from God – there are some really big logical problems with this line of thinking. The biggest problem is every human in this nation, including ourselves, is born away from God. You cannot abandon One you have never had fellowship with. Secondly, Scripture does not say if the whole nation humbles themselves, repents, and prays that he will the land, but rather if his people called by his Name humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, he will forgive their sin and heal their land. In other words, the forgiveness is for those who repent, but the healing of the land is a benefit of all of our neighbors, believer and unbeliever alike, that God gives as a reward to his people.
And we pray – boy do we pray – but we skip the first step, we have not humbled ourselves. Rather, we self-righteously condemn and then ask God to save us from our fellow man’s evil ways. That is not the Scripture! We are to repent and ask God to save us from our own wicked ways!
Let’s Abandon Our Vain Pursuit and Return to Our Calling
Brothers and sisters, it is time we abandon our identity as conservative Americans and embrace our true identity, laborers in the Master’s field, fellow sinners found by Grace.
Think of the decay in our culture – the primary cause of our culture’s decay is not the sin of our neighbors living beside us. Rather, that itself is also a symptom. How many of us that talk about the time in America where there was little social welfare remember the reason? We don’t! We say it was because everyone carried their own weight. But just read the history books; that wasn’t the case! Sure, many did – as do many now, but always there were hard times for even the hardest working people as well as the perpetual ne’er-do-wells. The difference? The CHURCH cared for these people. As Christians, we should have ZERO issues with what the social programs are trying to accomplish, even if we can rightly point out how ineffectual they often prove. But when we have abandoned our responsibility, how can we possibly fault the government for at least trying to fill the post we abandoned? We can’t! It’s true hypocrisy to do so!
How many of you that hesitate to reach out or even actively antagonize the LGBTQ+ community have ever had a lustful thought for someone other than your spouse? I got news for you – Christ himself said we are guilty of adultery, and the punishment for us is the same prescribed for those we condemn (and the same Grace available for all).
How many of you proudly proclaim that you believe in the equality of all mankind regardless of race, yet throw a tantrum if a move is made that takes away the benefits we were born with in no small part because of the racist crimes of our ancestors? No, we ourselves did not commit those sins, but we certainly have benefited from them. How long will we cling to our shallow argument that because we personally did nothing wrong that we, though called to love our neighbors as ourselves, can refuse to take part in any solution that costs even the slightest to ourselves in trying to rectify the problems caused by our fathers? It certainly isn’t loving, and you can’t even call it just if you take in the full scope of the situation instead of just our personal actions.
It is time we stopped placing our rights and our nation’s laws over our calling to the first and second greatest commandments. And the Great Irony that has been true ever since Christ walked this earth will once again be on display if we do. The moment we cease to be concerned with our “rights” and the problems of our neighbors and instead are concerned with our calling and showing Grace to our neighbors, the more our message of the Gospel will be listened to, and many of the things we fight for now in vain will naturally follow as more and more people return to dwell in God’s love.
Romans 8 very clearly shows why we must first exemplify the love of Christ so that the Holy Spirit may bring to life the spirit of our neighbors instead of fighting for the law without loving in the Spirit:
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
Jesus himself shows that love of God does not exclude love of our neighbors and fellow sinners, and that people cannot be accused of abandoning God when they have never fellowshipped with him – in other words, that we are all born already under judgment, not something we have to actively seek, and that God actively desires for all men to repent and know a life of Love and Joy in fellowship with Him:
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
A reminder that if we proclaim the Truth but not in love through the Spirit, that we are like the Pharisees:
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.”
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
The promise we are given – both the reward and the demand of us who claim to follow Christ:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
Proof that God’s “people” is not in any way connected to an earthly nation, but that earth is blessed when his people live as they are called:
Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (And ironically it was Barrabas that the people called to be released over Jesus, and Barrabas was trying to establish an earthly kingdom for Israel, sovereign without bowing to Rome).
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
On Sodom and Gomorrah, both cities would have been spared entirely for the sake of a handful of righteous people:
So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.” The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.” Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.” “Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?” And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty.” Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
Finally, the way we are commanded to live:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”