What is Hanging Behind Your Altar?

Well, it's finally time to turn my gaze in the other direction and address an issue that breaks my heart when I see it within the big C Church. I see it as an issue that is only going to get worse as the election season continues.

What I say next, I say out of love. I promise not to be a dick about it. But it needs to be said.

Jesus spent his ministry decrying politics - not politics outside the religious system of the day, but inside. In fact, as far as any political power systems surrounding or affecting the Jewish culture, he invariably reacted with, "Give to Caeser what is Caeser's and give the rest to God."

Politics in the world outside of God's Kingdom, repressive or necessary as it might be under various circumstances, was and is something to accept and even respect at times.

Politics inside God's Kingdom, well, Jesus' opinion on this got him crucified. That was the long game, of course, but there can be NO disagreement that while he walked among us, Jesus was going to point out the hypocrisy and dangers of putting power and politics ahead of God.

Have you truly surrendered to Jesus' call in your life? If so, let me ask you a couple of question: should there be a cross on the back wall of your church sanctuary, or an American flag?  Do you worship and serve God the Father, or a political party? 

Donald Trump, for example, either was a great president, or a terrible one. He was the answer to corrupt politics, or the epitome of it. Half the country has one view, half the other. In the end -- and please hear me out and please understand this applies to Mister Biden as well -- he is a politician who is trying to be elected.

And his political party is a group of other politicians who want you to elect him so they can further their political and financial goals.

None of what I am saying should be wrong to anyone, right or left.

What we need to agree on right now, before I continue, is the above truth. I am not slamming nor praising anyone. I am simply pointing out that everyone mentioned above is a person trying to keep either their job, or their power. Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Independant. No difference.

I'm speaking to Christians with what I say next. And you must - even if only to yourself - answer the next question honestly. 

For this argument I'll stay with Donald Trump (as he is the biggest hot button of division these days): Do you support Donald Trump for president, or do you worship him? Do you see him as someone whose policies you agree with and support, or as a new Messiah sent by God to free the country from the communist threat of the Democrats?

I am not asking any of this in jest. I'm serious.

Some of you - many of you - see him as a Messiah in many ways. Some of you right now are thinking, Not me but I am looking at you. How many Christians posted after the verdict was given for the admittedly bizarre NYC trial, "Jesus was convicted in a sham trial...and crucified. I still follow him." The answer is, quite a few posted this, so I am not singling anyone one out - but I am calling you all out about it. Here's why:

Whether Donald Trump's conviction was sham or not, you just compared a criminal trial and verdict to our Lord Jesus Christ's arrest and death at the cross. You also equated your following of Jesus to your following of a New York millionaire running for president. 

I know and love many of you who did this. I truly, TRULY, support and respect your right to support and vote for whoever you want. Honestly, I am often greatly entertained (and at times irritated) by the man, and I don't think much of the other side's candidate, either. However, neither has any qualities I would ever dare compare with Jesus of Nazareth. God who became man on Earth to die for our sins, lay out a New Covenant with His people then die while taking on every sin of every person born, to to-be born. The Jesus who rose again three days later to begin the Kingdom of God on this world, calling his Followers to begin laying the stones of this kingdom with Love and Mercy and Compassion and everything we are, to help the poor, the prisoner. To build and steward the Kingdom of God until He returns.

None of us are remotely worthy to be in His presence, let alone be His follower. Yet he calls us to do exactly that. When we do, we will, at times, be mocked and insulted by those who do not.

The last thing we should be doing is mocking and insulting Jesus himself by comparing him to any politician. 

Jesus Christ is not Republican. He is not Democrat. He is not American. He is not white or Hispanic or Black or polka dot.

He is the Word made flesh and the King of the Universe. We are called to give to Caeser, the leadership of the world outside the Kingdom, what is Caesar's, but aside from that, everything else to God. Complete surrender.  

To do this, we need to burn our idols: anything which keeps us from looking at Jesus alone as our inspiration and our hope. Especially our hope. Lay it all down at the foot of HIS cross and do HIS will, not the will of someone telling us what is right or wrong from their false desk on a TV show or website.

Be the light of the world - not just the corner where everyone believes the same as we do.

Be the salt of the earth and share his love with everyone, the Joy and Hope he has given us. Re-read the gospels (or read them for the first time). Jesus does NOT call us to be angry soldiers battling against those who live outside of the law. That is a fabrication used by religious leaders of all kinds to rile up the masses and keep you controlled. No, Jesus calls us to love our enemies, heap burning coals on their heads not with, literally, burning coals, but love and hospitality. He calls us to carry the packs of Roman soldiers farther than they command us to. To turn the other cheek.

Jesus tells us to be an example.

Making those outside of the Kingdom think that being a follower of Jesus means believing in your political views and following your system of religion (not faith, I mean your method of worship), in looking and sounding and believing what you do, runs dangerously close to grieving the Holy Spirit's work in this world. 

I might not believe what you probably believe politically or think that certain way you practice your faith is right for me. I might. But I might not. Yet I am still part of God's Kingdom, loved by the Father beyond any understanding. I am broken, and messed up, and unique. 

Just like you.

Don't get me wrong, though.

Be political. Vote for your candidate. Speak out against what you feel is wrong in the world. Speak truth. Rail against what you feel is injustice.

But unless what you are saying is directly about Jesus, leave his name out of it. 

If you are a conservative Republican, how many people with a liberal bent, curious about Jesus, craving to fill that hole in their heart, will never step into a church because they think Christians have to be just like you and believe in the same things you do? Jesus doesn't require this, so you should not tell people this by your adding His name to your politics.

If you are a liberal Democrat, how many people with a more conservative bent, curious about Jesus, craving to fill that hole in their heart, will never step into your church because they think Christians have to be just like you and believe in the same things you do?  Jesus doesn't require this, so you should not tell people this by your adding His name to your politics.

So, again, I ask: on the metaphorical wall behind your personal altar, should there be a cross hanging, or a flag (American or Rainbow, I don't care which)? 

If you answered "Flag" - if you answered anything before Jesus - then please, read or re-read the gospels, find out what the Bible says. What does Jesus say. Read his words. 

Then do what he says, not some angry right- or left-leaning personality on the screen. 

Everything else should be a civil conversation between people of different worldly beliefs. 

The First and Last of everything we do, however, still needs to reflect Jesus - and Jesus only.


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