Dear North American Evangelical Church,
In North America, we have come to a place where the very, mystical religion of Christianity has become synonymous with the Bible-Thumping, Trump-Supporting, Private-Jet Flying Christian. Bigot rolls off of the tongue almost as fast as Christian. To be fair, we did it to ourselves. We still do it to ourselves. Some wear it with a badge of honor shouting down those who are different all in the name of an agenda: Making America Great Again.
I am not sure how the religion of love and escape from the rule of empire has been translated into the religion of self-righteous attitudes comparing other people to our own brokenness in a desperate attempt to find validation for a sad existence. Yet, it has been going on for centuries.
The Roman Church found itself in bed with imperial purple.
The German Evangelical church slept with Nazi red and black.
Now, the American Evangelical church is intertwined with red, white, and blue.
While it is fair to say that Jesus Christ was political, He was not politics. The problem is we are captive prey to the three-ring circus of the elephant, donkey, and cross instead of a captive to Jesus.
We have a bad history of superimposing political and socio-economic agendas on a Jewish man who spoke of abundant life in the midst of governmental oppression in AD 29. Christianity, deep at its core, is not a belief system of oppression and gain, but one that spins on the paradoxical belief of freedom and loss. It ties together the futility of life and the eternal acceptance of love.
To die is gain. To die to our political agendas. To die to our hijacking of faith for fear. To die to our misconstrued ideas of “helping people.” Somehow, our translation of the ancient text, James 1:27a (NRSV), “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress,” results in children in cages, Muslims banned, countries invaded, people imprisoned, and system that destroys the very essence of life for those who do not agree.
I dare say that Jesus cared less about agreeing and more about seeing. Do you see the world or fight to get the world to agree with you? I dare say there is not a moment of conversation where Jesus clawed and fought to get someone to agree.
If we are fighting to get the world to agree with us, then it results in cataclysmic failures derived as legislation and policies of exclusion and hate.
What you cannot see you cannot know. How can you love without seeing and knowing? If you do not see the orphan, the widow, the incarcerated, the LGBTQIA, or the Muslim, degrading them into a lesser form of a human, you can truly believe they are not like you. If you know them, you know they are just like you. Maybe a different background, nationality, history, or belief system, but they are intrinsically connected with your soul if you believe the ancient story that “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). It must be grasped. It must be believed. It must be protected.
To set the record straight:
• Jesus was not white.
• Jesus was not a Republican.
• Jesus was not a Democrat.
• Jesus was not an American.
• He never will be.
• He never wanted to be.
Stop using Him to further your world and instead enter into His world. You might be surprised who all are sitting at the table with Him.
Grant J. Reynolds