At what point did evangelical Christians in America determine that their rights as Americans trump their calling as Christians?
Weekly news reports bring a tidal wave of attention to social ills, most of which stand in direct contradiction to Biblical values espoused by Christians. Social media explodes with Christian commentary reminiscent of the famous quote from the 1976 movie, “Network,” in which Howard Beale rants, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”
Christians are coming out of the proverbial closet asserting their civil rights to stand up for God, country, and morality.
We must ask ourselves these questions, “During the time that Jesus lived was the government less corrupt than ours? Was the culture less morally bankrupt than ours?” Hardly.
When confronted by Pilate, the political powerhouse of Jesus’ era, Jesus responded, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place,” John 18:36.
According to Colossians 3:3, we, as Christians, have died to the things of this world. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Do dead men have rights?
Some say that Christians must express their political views; that not to do so would mean being accessories to the crime while cherished American cultural values degenerate exponentially.
They point to Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement as proof that it is time to take a stand for moral justice. But Martin Luther King, Jr. led a non-violent movement for the rights of African-Americans. Anger was shunned.
“Non-violence means avoiding not only physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him,” said King.
Hatred towards King was so great that his house was bombed. There is no such violence against Christians in 2015; at least not in America. King understood that “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
The Bible concurs.
“My dear brothers, take note of this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires,” James 1:19, 20.
But much of the moral opposition being presented by Christians exhibits a spirit of anger, self-righteousness, and pride.
Jesus did speak against things during his life – specifically the hypocritical, religious leaders of His day.
Just one example of His direct assault on self-righteous, religious folk is in Luke 6:41, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
And Jesus did give clear direction on how His followers are to live. The problem is that what He requires takes a lot greater personal accountability than holding signs on the sidewalk against the sins of the world.
The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” Matthew 22:36-40.
The reason, I believe, that many Christians prefer to speak against things rather to speak for love, mercy and grace is that it is much easier to do so.
But true love – carried out in action – takes time, initiative and deliberate daily decisions, leaving little time to speak against anything!
Further evidence of what Jesus commands can be found in the Beatitudes, in Luke 6, “But to those who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you … If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them … But love your enemies, do good to them …” Luke 6: 27, 32, 35.
How our world would change if we actually did these things!
Jesus does want His followers to redeem their time on earth. He knows that evil will increase in the last days. Why, then, is the Christian community so surprised at its acceleration?
“Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” Ephesians 5:15, 16.
Railing against the culture is neither redemptive nor glorifying to God. It only paints a picture of Christians as angry and judgmental, which leads those who do not believe in Christ further away from God.
Perhaps we as Christians need to be continually reminded that the Gospel means “good news”. As it states in John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
May we, as Christians, be a people who do not condemn the world, but who love people to Jesus.