What Does it Mean to be a Christian in America?
This week, our Congress convened to officialize the results of November’s presidential election. But the session was interrupted by protesters-turned-rioters who crossed barriers, assaulted officers, broke into the Capitol Building, destroyed and stole federal property, and threatened innocent people, all while arrogantly justifying their actions. Dozens of people were injured and at least 5 people are dead. Some of these rioters claim that God prompted their actions.
What does it mean to be a Christian in America?
I am a believer in God Almighty, the Creator, the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus of Nazareth is the second Person of the Trinity, who willingly humbled Himself to become a Man, who suffered and died an innocent and sacrificial death for me and all of humanity, and who triumphed over death by His resurrection. He offers every person eternal life.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, who indwells me and overflows from me to minister to others, who bestows supernatural gifts and cultivates my own soul, producing the fruit of godly character, so that I look, talk, and act more like Jesus as I humble myself to His work in me.
I believe that God is the definition and expression of selfless love, that He alone defines truth and sets the boundaries of morality, that He is as merciful as He is just, and that He alone is to be revered and worshipped because He alone is God.
So, what does it mean to be a Christian in America?
God did not incite the cruel, destructive behavior that occurred on Capitol Hill this week. Oh, yes – God was there, but not stirring up a riot. God was there with a congresswoman who prayed and declared divine protection over her colleagues and her nation. God was there because true Christians all over the nation went to prayer as soon as we heard the horrifying news. God was there because people were hurting.
The heart of God is never reflected in things like hatred, racism, or the devaluing of human life – whether that life is black, or that life is an officer, or that life is yet unborn. Neither is God’s heart reflected by rioting, rebellion, and arrogance. God doesn’t force His way into Capitol Buildings any more than He would force His way into any person’s life.
I have grown increasingly weary of and deeply concerned over the moral posturing of men and women whose religion has more to do with nationalism, politics, and social-media influence than it is about the person of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a cheap badge to flash in an attempt to justify a mob. Christianity is not a cloak worn to disguise hypocrisy and malevolence. God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. In fact, God is not even an American. We belittle the Almighty when we assume He is on our side.
Jesus was never a politician. He didn’t protest Herod, barge in on the Sanhedrin, or attempt to overthrow Rome. In fact, the only house He judged was the House of God.
Jesus’ own followers urged Him to set up an earthly kingdom, but He would not. When the crowds sought to crown Him as king, Jesus refused. Why? No earthly, human government is fit for the King of Kings. His kingdom is eternal and universal. His kingdom is not limited to a person, a nation, or a political party.
Why do we feel so compelled to demonize one politician and deify the other? Why do we use God, His Word, and “prophetic utterances” for our own agendas? It’s still political activism even when it wears church clothes. The truth is, Jesus did not vote for outgoing President Donald Trump. Nor did He vote for President-Elect Joe Biden. We the people did that. Our decisions are on us.
Our nation will not be reformed by political activism (as worthy as that may be in its rightful place), but by a sweeping move of God’s Spirit among people who daily choose to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength and who also choose to love their neighbors as themselves.
If you are a Christian, please consider my admonishment:
- Now is not the time for prideful posturing, but for humble repentance and honest refection.
- Now is not the time for political protests, but for intercession and prayer. It is a sad, pitiful Christian who believes that protests outperform prayers.
- Now is not the time for excuses, but for change. We must do justly. We must love mercy. We must walk humbly before our God.
If you are not a Christian, please consider my sincere requests:
- Please do not judge all of Christianity by those who have abused it for their own gain. True Christians are appalled and embarrassed by those who do evil in the name of our Savior.
- Please, if you want to judge the validity of our faith, look to our Christ, not merely at our Christianity. Where Christianity has faltered, Christ never did. Where Christians fail, Christ never has. Christians cannot claim to be perfect – or even better than anyone else. What we are assured of is that Jesus Christ saves and redeems honest, penitent people.
I am an American, a grateful one at that. This week I was reminded that not every American accurately represents America’s values.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ. This week I was reminded that not every “christian” accurately represents the person of Jesus.
So I pray.
Our Father, in heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)