January 24, 2021
A couple of weeks ago – following the events of January 6, I blogged about the misuse of Jesus’ name teachings. Last week, I blogged that Jesus isn’t our personal tribal leader because Christ came for all the world.
On January 20, President Biden called for a reclaiming of the soul of our nation. His words and the ruminations of my previous blogs have really consumed me over the past several days as we are overwhelmed by videos of that tragic day of insurrection.
Yet, as tragically important as was the political violence that day, I feel even more tragic, violent and spiritually devastating was the manner in which Christ was abused for self-interest and as a means of justification for what took place.
The mob spewing the ‘f’ word and other obscenities called for the hanging of the Vice President and the ‘cutting into pieces,’ of the Speaker of the House. As portion of the group entered the Senate Chambers, one of the leaders, an ‘evangelical’ self-described Q-Anon shaman, Jake Angeli, known for his obscene and violent language, horned hat and ridiculous attire, took off his horns and prayed with the same mouth that had just stilled itself from the obscene, (while others in the mob raised their hands and punctuated Angeli’s prayers with loud AMENS.)
New Yorker magazine called Angeli an evangelist and noted other ‘evangelicals’ who were also praying violently around the country. The publication’s assessment? “That the behavior of these individuals was attributed to a mixing of biblical faith with Trumpism.” I see that assessment as a gracious, yet at the same time fairly misinformed, descriptor….
On second thought, however, those who love Christ and seek to live according to the Lord’s teachings of unconditional non-violent love without judgment and following His teachings of reconciliation and peace, have allowed this misperception of Christianity to go unchecked for decades!
Every time I read/hear/watch folks speaking violence in the name of Jesus, judging the sins of others as greater than their own, and condemning folks to hell as though they had that power, and I say nothing, I am allowing those who have ‘claimed the name’ to offer a Jesus to the world that they have fashioned in their own image.
Each time these zealous folks rise up, they claim to be ‘evangelical conservatives.’
We have allowed them to do and to be all that they want for their own self-edification and glory all in the name of Jesus to our overwhelming shame.
First of all: Christ is not a conservative. Christ is not a liberal. Christ just is.
Were Christ a conservative he would have helped stoned the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), instead he stood with her and offered her the opportunity to begin again.
Were Christ a conservative he would not cared for the widows (Acts 6:1; Luke 7:11-15), and orphans and widows wouldn’t have been a focus of the early church (James 1:17). The immigrants, the poor, the marginalized and socially ostracized would not have been on Jesus’ radar screen at all; to the contrary, these folks WERE Christ’s mission field – without exception, without judgment. (Matthew 25:31-46).
Were Christ a liberal he wouldn’t have engaged in conversation over the qualifications of the Syrophenecian woman’s child, He just would have done it! (Mark 7:24-30) Talk about non-PC!
Christ just is. No box can hold him. No political party can claim him.
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Secondly – the word ‘evangelical’ – what exactly does that mean, exactly?
Evangelism means going out in the name of Jesus and for His glory.
Evanglism means sharing the GOOD NEWS of Christ’s unjudging love and forgiveness with others without exception.
Someone shared the good news with us and we were able to begin again – unjudged yet sacrificially beloved by the One Who came for all; we are to share this same good news with others – this is evangelism!
The way the term is bandied around today, however, I have trouble finding Christ’s Good News – spoken in Christ’s language of love, respectful of live – an evangelism lived out in scriptural love of God and all other (especially enemies!) (Matthew 5:43-48)
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It seems that the message of Christ has been co-opted by human ego. Christ – ‘very God of very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father through whom all things were made’ (words spoken in the Nicene Creed) – the One Who offers us new life in Him, offers that same life to all; but that message isn’t getting through. Why?
It seems the truth that is Christ’s teachings has been forgotten.
It seems that those who judge and seek to destroy others have forgotten our own profound sinfulness, and fail to acknowledge that we are unworthy to receive divine forgiveness and acceptance into the very heart of God, yet in God’s mercy, we receive it!
It seems that it has been forgotten that Christ didn’t judge, but rather forgave, even those who crucified Him.
It is time to remember the divine truths forgotten and step up!
Step up and reclaim Christ’s true intention of the role of evangelist: the messenger of love not fear (take a lesson from all the angelic messengers of scripture – 180° out from Jake Angeli – talk about irony!)
Remember, the only folks that Jesus got upset with were the Pharisees – the church people who felt they could arbitrate worthiness before God, those who felt competent to judge, stone, marginalize, and cast out those they found unacceptable – the very ones they chose against were the very ones Christ ministered to! It seems to me, present day ‘evangelists’ have distorted Christ’s teachings and His life. And we wonder why churches are dying!
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I am oddly grateful for January 6, 2021 – because no longer can we say this circumstance is no big deal. What we have allowed to happened to the evangelizing of our faith is a huge deal; and the onus is on us who have tolerated this circumstance for so long. Not only the violence, but our passivity, grieve the very heart of God!
Carrying the very NAME of Jesus as a banner of hate – into a mob bent on destruction – doesn’t mean God goes with us. It is not evangelism.
- Evangelism isn’t defined by judging those ‘who aren’t like us.’
- Evangelism isn’t cloaked in spewing hate, chaos and destruction.
- Evangelism isn’t about fear and gun-toting, pipe bomb making, Molotov-cocktail throwing mobs.
Evangelism is about sharing the love and forgiveness that we have found in Christ with all the world – without violence, without oppression, without exception!
And to God be the glory! AMEN.