Today’s blog will probably cause some uneasiness and maybe even some outright anger toward me. That’s okay, I have learned that criticism is a good thing. I have also learned that free thought is controversial. Free thought will help some people think and change; and it will make some people angry because they can’t stand when their “paradigm” is challenged. Anger and dissention are not my heart. I don’t write this to make anyone angry at me. This will not be an angry article for that matter. This will be a straightforward article about how I see the state of the evangelical church in America. Please hear my heart.
For many years, I have watched the evangelical church community as a whole ride the coattails of the Right and use their influence to bolster the standing of the church (they aren’t the only ones). Yes, I said standing, as in position. The evangelical community has used the political prowess of the Right to jockey for position amongst those who deem themselves powerful by earthly standards. The Right and Left deem themselves powerful by earthly standards and powerful they are in many ways. However, if the evangelical church represents Jesus, who did not seek power (and who possesses all power anyway as King), and who (by the way) gave away power to come and walk among humankind, then why on earth does the evangelical church seek power from politics and politicians? Why does the church keep dressing political ideals up in “Jesus clothes?”
Now before you crucify me, let me clarify something. I am not saying the Right or Left have everything right or wrong. I am also not saying that, as a Christian, I don’t find some of their values indispensable to the Christian faith as well as other faiths. What I am saying is simply this; as Jesus was not a political figure nor did he allow himself to get sucked into political arguments by those of his day in regard to the Roman Empire (e.g. Pharisees questioning him about taxes and Caesar, Luke 20:24-25), why do we as the evangelical church dress up political ideals as if they belonged Jesus? Jesus did not run for Governor of Judea. Jesus did not seek to supplant the Romans nor even answer charges they levied against him (not that he could not have, Matthew 26:53). Jesus was not running for any political office nor was he seeking favor from the powerful of his time (Jewish religious leaders and the Romans). He was born in a manger, not in a palace like Caesar. He was drawing the hearts of men to Him because of who He was, not because of who he aligned himself with in his day. He drew men to him that were both rich and poor and he did the unthinkable in that time, he drew women to him as well and treated them as equals. He was counter-culture, not a pundit of political culture and of position. He represented only himself and His Kingdom. He stood out. He did not blend in. Do you see what I’m getting at?
The evangelical church can not afford to keep dressing up political ideals in “Jesus clothes.” Why? What if the political ideals of one party or another change entirely and become something that does not align with Christ’s character, then what? What if those politicians ask us to trade freedom (an inherent spiritual right) for security? Do you still want to be jockeying for position then evangelical church? Do you still want to blend in with whatever political group will stroke your egos (yes, I said that)? Do you want to tell your congregations to do the same so you can have political prowess? Do you even see the danger you are in by continuing to do this? Did the church not turn a blind eye and kowtow to the Nazis in Germany so they could keep their doors open? They did. Did a part of the church not condone and even kowtow to the Communist party in Russia to keep their doors open? They did. Do you not see the slippery slope you are on? All it will take Church is for the wrong man or woman to rise to power and then they will expect allegiance to their ideals or else. They will have seen your use of politics to bolster your standing in society and will expect you to continue to do so if you want to keep your doors open.
The church and decent, thinking, God-breathed human beings must be able to speak to power, regardless of where it falls on the political spectrum. We must be able to speak truth and love to that power and tell them when they are both right as well as wrong. We must let our politicians know that we serve a higher Master and a higher calling. We are not against our political parties nor our politicians and we will help our government and our nation; but we will not follow them blindly and without question or even disagreement. We must not fear their retaliation for such a stand. My pastor says, “Take our tax-exempt status. I don’t care.” Do you know why he says that? He wants us to have the character of Jesus, not the character of a political group or a politician.
I would ask those of you who read this to pass this on to your pastors and leaders in the Christian church. Pass it to friends, family and neighbors both in and out of the Christian Church. A Church without the character of Christ in all of its beliefs and dealings is not the Church, it is simply a manipulation of truth and good, which I will not stand for nor bow to.
With much love and thought, Elizabeth