American Christianity Is In Turmoil

01/31/2017 12:16 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2017

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Prov. 14:31)

Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. (Zech. 7:10)

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Gal. 5:14)

A majority of American Christians knowingly and willingly voted for this to happen: the exclusion of refugees, the rejection of immigrants, and the implementation of a xenophobic, homophobic, and fear-mongering political agenda.

The religion whose Savior dedicated his life to serving the poor, accepting the foreigner, empowering the oppressed, and uplifting the downtrodden suddenly seems confused—even strongly opposed—to practicing those same values today.

The gospel of Christ has been forsaken for promises of wealth, power, influence, control, and safety. But Jesus strongly commands that being a Christian is contradictory to all of these things.

How did one of the most undisputed and central tenets of following Jesus—helping the poor and oppressed—devolve into a scenario where many Christians are actively against aiding the world’s most vulnerable?

Many excuses and rationalizations are given: Our country can’t afford it, and it’ll be a drain on our economy. They’ll take our jobs. It’s a national security issue. But look at all of the good things our country has done!

The thing about following Jesus is that even if there are logical and political reasons for denying assistance to the poor (debatable), there are still absolutely no spiritual ones, and God calls us to prioritize our faith above the carnal desires of the world—even governments.

The lie that American Christians have been given is that we must choose which good thing to throw our support behind, at the cost of another good thing—and it’s almost always along partisan lines.

Pro-life vs. Refugee

Pro-life vs. Immigrant

Pro-life vs. Ending Systemic Racism

Pro-life vs. Fighting Xenophobia and Homophobia

Pro-life vs. Gender Equality

Pro-life vs. Environmentalism

Conservative “righteousness” vs. Liberal “righteousness”

Republicans’ Version of “Christianity” vs. Democrats’ Version of “Christianity”

This explains why despite being an obvious command of Jesus, many politically-obsessed Christians are hypocritically silent about defending the cause of the refugee and immigrant, because doing so would be perceived as betraying their bureaucratic interests, which have been so indoctrinated into their faith that they fail to see obvious conflicts of interest.

For Christians, exalting any political ideology more than the gospel is sinful idolatry.

People of faith who prioritize their political opinions over their faith, no matter what their affiliation, will always fall short of the expectations Jesus calls them to. Because following the example of Jesus isn’t about choosing the lesser of two evils, or sacrificing one form of goodness over another, but about wholeheartedly pursuing holiness.

So when Jesus healed the sick, it wasn’t at the expense of someone else, and Christ’s acts of love were never made possible by withholding his love from others.

As Christians who give their allegiance to the good news of the gospel, we must pursue Christ’s ideals beyond political lines. Doing this requires humility, boldness, and the ability to be radically countercultural—to follow Jesus beyond our personal and national agendas.

Yes, you can be both a Republican and a Christ-follower, and yes, Democrats are just as guilty of political idolatry. In fact, political loyalties are probably the greatest philosophical and ideological challenge facing Western Christians today. As this election (and every preceding election) has taught us, the hopes and promises of Jesus shouldn’t abide solely in political parties.

Sure, voting and lobbying and legislating can be used for wonderful things (such as allowing more refugees into a country), but when a decision must be made about whether to follow a politician or Jesus—which will we choose?

Unfortunately, the American Church has too often made the wrong choice.

The separation of church and state has traditionally been thought of as a way of protecting the state government from religious influence, but people of faith should realize that it also protects them from being corrupted by political restrictions and competing agendas. Because as the poor and oppressed cry out for help, we must learn to choose Christ, and now more than ever, people are looking at American Christianity and wondering what in the world is wrong with it.

I know Christians will find this uncomfortable, unnerving, offensive, and start quoting verses about respecting rulers and governing authorities, but I’m simply showing what Jesus said and did.

Because ultimately, when it came down between choosing to sacrificially love others or abide by governmental laws and expectations, Jesus was arrested, put on trial, tortured and crucified on a cross by the ruling empire of his day.

His disciples and much of the early church followed suit, choosing to sacrifice everything and become martyrs rather than risk compromising their faith. As American Christians, we should seek to follow their example. God help us.

By "Geralt", Pixabay User [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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