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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Can the Church Mix Jesus with Political Power?

Can the Church Mix Jesus with Political Power?


Last week President Obama appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast and gave a short speech and as always, some of the people who attended the prayer breakfast were outraged by what he said!  Let’s look at part of what Obama said at this prayer breakfast that caused the avalanche of criticism from    right wing Christians!   


Obama stated that the beliefs of intolerance and hate held by Islamic terrorist groups such as Isis are not the beliefs that are shared by the larger Moslem community.  And then to make the point he mentioned that throughout the history of Christianity occasionally radical groups calling themselves Christian have done terrible things in the name of Christ which really did not represent Jesus Christ in any way. 


At the prayer breakfast Obama said: “…remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, some people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ….”  Obama is talking about old historical events when he mentions the Crusades and the Inquisition and for anyone to find that insulting to Christians today would be hard to believe.  But that is exactly what happened.


Reverend Mike Huckabee was quick to criticize our President on Fox News.  Part of what he said was: “Everything he (Obama) does is against what Christians stand for, and he’s against the Jews in Israel,” Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore added,” Obama has offended every believing Christian in the United States.  …”  Many more angry criticisms were forth coming against our President.  Year after year the hate goes on and on!  


The evangelical fundamentalist church has become more and more political.  It is not the grace filled loving church that it used to be!  It seems they believe that it is their duty as Christians to uphold their moral values in a secular society.  Many feel that they are called by God to conquer this country and force it to be godly!  Or their definition of “godly.”


If they could just pass enough laws, they could turn our country around for God!  Send illegal immigrants back.  Stop millions of poor people from having affordable healthcare.  Stop abortion.  Everyone carry guns.  Cut taxes.  Cut funding for public schools!  Angry political issues have become married to our Christian faith so that the amazing grace that once drew so many to the Christian church is now difficult to find inside its doors.    


Does the fundamentalist Christian’s concern for morality drown out their message of God’s love for sinners?  The message of Jesus has never been a proud powerful political message; it has always been a humble message of love, grace and forgiveness.  The political world plays by the rules of money and power but Jesus Christ never played by those rules!  Instead He sacrificed Himself on the cross for us and offers us grace.


 The fundamentalist church has become so swept up in everything political that it now plays by the rules of money and power – political power.  And the prayer breakfast which used to be a place where presidents could go and find helpful people and grace in time of need, has been changed into a prayer breakfast today where our president only finds criticism and people filled with ungrace.


 But aren’t these good Christians being nasty for a reason?  It would seem to be a good thing that the fundamentalist church is trying to turn the country back to morality.  Isn’t that what God would have them do?  Jesus tells a story or parable that I believe speaks to this issue. It is found in Matthew 13:24-30. 


 Jesus tells one of his stories or parables about the kingdom of heaven being like a man who plants good wheat seeds in his field.  All is well but then just when everyone is sleeping an enemy sneaks in and plants weeds among the good wheat.  When the workers see the weeds growing up along with the wheat in the field they ask the owner if they can pull the bad weeds up.  But the owner answers, “No” His reason is that while his workers would be pulling up the weeds they might also pull up some of the good wheat.  He tells his workers to wait until the harvest and the harvesters will first collect the weeds and burn them and then gather in the wheat.


The disciples asked Jesus to explain this parable of the wheat and weeds and He does in Matthew 13:36-42.  Jesus explains that the field is the world and Jesus says that He is the One who plants the good wheat seeds which are the people who follow Him.  The weeds are the children of the wicked one.  The enemy who plants the weeds during the night is the devil.  And the harvest happens at the end of the age.  Until then we are to leave the weeds and wheat together.  The reapers who pull up the weeds and burn them are the angels of God.  And then after that “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  (Matthew 13:43)  


I believe this parable of Jesus answers the question as to whether we workers in God’s field should work to pull up the weeds that grow throughout the wheat field.  Shouldn’t we Christians force morality and our brand of purity onto our nation?  Take dominion over our country in the name of Christ and weed out what is bad or what we don’t like?  Force the heathens to become Christian?  Make everyone pray in the public schools?  It would seem that the answer in Jesus’ parable to those questions is “no”. 


In this parable of the wheat and the weeds the owner of the field told his workers not to pull up the weeds but leave them in the field mixed together with the wheat.  That we workers should not be the judge.  That this job of judgment should be left for God and His angels to perform at the end of the age.  And the reason given in the parable was that if we try to pull up the weeds we will also pull up some of the precious wheat. 


What kind of a world are we creating when we run around pulling up weeds?   And pulling them up in the name of Christ?  The evangelical churches in the U.S. are losing members today because their concern for morality has drown out their message of Jesus’ love for sinners and his commands to take care of the poor and the sick.  They have mixed Jesus up with political power and the wheat is being destroyed in all their power plays.


In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he expressed concern that the church members of Galatia were bickering and criticizing one another.  Let’s listen:  “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, that ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”  (Galatians 5:14-15)


 Perhaps we have been instructed to leave the job of judging and weed pulling to God because if we take on the weed pulling job we will bite and devour each other and we will all be consumed.  And then we won’t be there to do the real job that God gave us to do –the very most important job of the church -- to love one another as we love ourselves!


Some of the ideas in this blog were taken from Phillip Yancey’s book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?  Pp. 225-236 chapter “Mixed Aroma”









1 comment:

  1. Although I come from the right, I have to agree with you. Our job as Christians is not to change the world system, it is to love individuals; not to save America but to save the lost. Politically conservative Christians have become sidetracked from their true mission, and so have politically liberal Christians who are wasting their time trying to save the planet. Let's get back to basics—loving God and loving our neighbor.