The Bible says that all things work together for the good for them that love God, the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). So how is the Trump presidency and the current political and social climate working for the good of those that love God? After some introspection, here are my thoughts:
1. The exposure of religious hypocrisy: No matter how one may claim to represent God, acting in a manner that is contrary to the nature and will of God indicates you really don’t believe in the God you claim to represent. The actions of the Trump administration and the climate it fosters forces the church in America to decide, in the sight of God and the rest of the world, if it is going to truly be like Jesus or be like the Scribes and Pharisees! If a church or faith group endorses or is silent toward the racist, hateful, and inhumane actions that are currently being perpetrated and encouraged by the present administration, then they prove themselves, for all rational thinking people to see, NOT to be the real church or the real representatives of the God of the Bible! Now actually, this is a good thing, because now we have the opportunity to know who is really real and for all hypocrites to be exposed for the hypocrites they have always been!
2. The exposure of political hypocrisy: Now we see who are statesmen and who are politicians! A statesman does what he or she thinks is good and right for the country; a politician only does what serves his or her self-interests and the interests of the people who financed their campaign. A statesmen puts the good of the country before the pride and ego of political parties. The politician will defend his or her party to death; even if their position is wrong and evil! The statesmen’s politics is influenced and tempered by their morality; the politician bends and manipulates their morality to fit their politics!
3. The exposure of social hypocrisy: After all these years; race is still the number one social issue in America! Why? Because America refuses to acknowledge her historical hypocrisy! America refuses to acknowledge that much of her greatness was achieved unfairly with unpaid slave labor! America refuses to acknowledge that she has historically manipulated belief in the God she claims to trust to justify her social and political evils! Racism is WRONG! And any social, political, or religious system that supports it is WRONG!
If you are uncomfortable with the way things are in America today; that’s good, because you should be! But don’t ever think for a second that Donald Trump is to bear all of the blame! No! The biases and racist filth that have risen to the surface since the Trump campaign and presidency were there all the time; Donald Trump just created a climate wherein they can be more easily seen, recognized and expressed! So in a sense, the Trump mantra of “Make America Great Again” presents America with the opportunity to shed the hypocrisy, because in the true moral and social sense; America has never been great for all Americans! But now, since everything is so blatant and obvious; we have the opportunity to work together to truly make America great. . . for the very first time!
I feel compelled to write this because there is so much misunderstanding and confusion today about Christians and Christianity. There are those who think Christianity was an invention of White people as a means to use religion to control Black people! There are those who think Christianity is the religious or moral authority of the Republican Party or the conservative right.
In thinking about that, I am reminded of something Jesus said in response to his disciples’ inquiry about the end of the age. We read in Matthew 24:3-8: “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers (various) places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” When Jesus said that many would come in his name, saying “I am Christ” he wasn’t necessarily saying that people would come saying that they were literally him, returning in the flesh (although he does not eliminate that possibility and some have even done it), rather many would come in his name, supposedly representing him, saying that they are anointed; they are his, they are Christian! Jesus said that they would deceive many.
Is that not what is happening today? People are deceived and confused so much that many don’t know what ‘real Christianity’ is! Well, let me try to add my two cents to the discussion. First of all, in response to the Black nationalists and other Afro-centric groups who are flooding Facebook with propaganda that Christianity is the tool of White people to control Black people. Such thinking is absurd because it belies historical facts. Even before Christianity, Africa was well familiar with the worship of Yahweh from the days of King Solomon. And according to the Book of Acts, Christianity was introduced to the African continent in Chapter 8, years before it was introduced to the European continent in Chapter 16! So, what probably happenrd was that when the White missionaries went to Africa, they didn’t really introduce Christianity to the Africans, but actually reminded them of the faith they once had and had lost! In addition to that, the same religion that some claim was invented by the White man to control Black people was used by Black people to inspire and empower them to fight for freedom and liberation! And, even further, their point would have some semblance of validity were it not for the fact that there are White people who are Christians and there are Christians all over the world! Christianity was not ‘made in America!’
In response to those who think Christianity is mainly the moral authority of the Republican Party or political conservatism; God is NOT a Republican, neither is God a Democrat! In thinking about that, I am reminded of an incident I read about in the biblical book of Joshua. In Joshua 5:13-15, we read: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, ‘Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, ‘What saith my lord unto his servant?’ And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, ‘Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” (KJV) Here’s the setting: Joshua was about to fight the battle of Jericho and as he is contemplating about the battle the night before, this mysterious stranger appears. The stranger has such an awesome appearance that Joshua reasoned that whoever’s side this guy is on, they are bound to win! So Joshua asked him: “Whose side are you on; which side are you going to fight for; us or our enemies?” The stranger said, in essence: “I didn’t come to take sides, I came to take over!” And that’s what God is all about! God is not for the Republicans as opposed to the Democrats! God does not stoop so low as to get involved with petty political in-fighting! The only government God promotes is the Kingdom of God! No! God is NOT endorsing the Republican agenda or the Democratic agenda! God doesn’t want to take sides; God wants to take over!
In that same vein of thinking, God is not even an American! There are many American Christians who like to think God is pro-America as opposed to all other nations. But the Bible says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. . .” It doesn’t matter how much we sing: “God bless America,” America will only be blessed as she adheres to the principles and teachings of God’s word. America will only be blessed as she promotes justice and equality for all of her citizens. America will only be blessed as she seeks to live out the true meaning of her creed.
So, in essence, real Christianity is NOT tied to nationalistic devotion, nor is it wedded to the American flag or national anthem. Real Christianity supersedes race, ethnicity, or political affiliation. Real Christianity dictates behavior and allegiance instead of being dictated by behavior and allegiance. Real Christianity is more about respecting people, justice, and equality than about respecting a flag or an anthem!
I mentioned that last statement because I recently viewed a video clip of a supposedly Christian preacher who was berating athletes for kneeling during the national anthem. I found it sad that he refused to acknowledge the truth that the athletes are not protesting the flag or the anthem, but rather are using the flag and anthem to call attention to the systemic racism that pervades the justice system in this nation! He spent his whole preaching moment condemning the protest without even acknowledging the real reasons for the protest! But real Christianity is more concerned about people than flags and anthems! Sadly, in the name of Christianity, many have hi-jacked the conversation about racial equality and justice and turned it into a trivial debate about a flag and a song! That is NOT real Christianity!
In Acts 11:26, the Bible says the disciples or the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” at Antioch. Historical evidence suggest that it was a derogatory term given by unbelievers. Today the term is used to describe anyone who has even a loose association with the teachings and character of Jesus or to describe one who has made an authentic profession of faith. For some, the term “Christian” is merely a political label, used to distinguish those who advocate a certain political agenda. For others, the term is used as a synonym for church membership. For years, I thought all church members were Christians! It wasn’t until I became a church leader that I discovered that was not the case! But, even though all church members are not Christians, all Christians should be church members!
So, the problem today is an age-old one. Many who claim the name “Christian” have caused the name to be dishonored and cursed. There are just so many un-Christ-like Christians! It is because of these un-Christ-like Christians, the name of God, is as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:24, blasphemed, or spoken evil of, among unbelievers. I think the real problem many unbelievers have with Christianity is not so much with Christ, as with those who profess to be followers of Christ! By and large, those of us who claim to follow Christ have not been very good representatives of him.
For many people, Christians are considered to be narrow-minded, bigoted, judgmental, and hateful. To those people, I would say: “Please don’t judge the Father by the short-comings of his children!” Real Christians are by no means perfect people, they are just people who have been perfectly forgiven! And often, they forget that just as they have been forgiven, they have been commanded to forgive others. A real Christian is a works in progress; unfinished, still in the growing process.
But what is the difference between a real Christian who is a work in progress and a person who is not a Christian at all, but just is merely claiming the title? Well, for the real Christian, there was a definite point in time when their lives were transformed by the power of God. At some point in time, God transformed their lives and His Spirit took residence in their hearts. At that point they were “born again” and the growth to spiritual maturity began. The person who is merely trying to act like a Christian has not had this experience.
But my purpose is not to discuss the differences between those who are Christians and those who are not. What I want to point out is some of the un-Christ-like attitudes and actions that even genuine Christians might from time to time perform. For instance, there has been so much talk since the death of Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA. Many so-called Christians have used the occasion of his death to demonize him and his legacy. Truth is; Eddie Long was not a perfect man! (But neither are any of us perfect people!) He made his share of mistakes, but he also did a lot of good things. While I did not personally agree with his theology and many of the things he did, I dare not defame him or his memory. The Apostle Paul asked in Romans 14:4 “Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master, he stands or falls.” (Rom. 14:4 NET) No matter what any of us think of Bishop Eddie Long or anyone else, in the final analysis, it really doesn’t matter! We don’t have a heaven or a hell to send anyone to! And besides that, we should also remember; the same rule we use to measure or judge others, we will be measured and judged by!
Even in the matter of obvious sins, we should be careful that we don’t attempt to usurp the authority of God in judging people. We often quote John 3:16, but very few people remember John 3:17 which says: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (Jn. 3:17 NLT) If we call ourselves Christians, that means we are Christ-like or like Christ. Well, if Jesus wasn’t in the business of judging people and we’re supposed to be like him, then why are we so quick to be judge, jury and executioner? Now, I hear somebody saying: “Preacher, I’m not judging, I’m just telling the truth!” That might very well be, but the Bible teaches that we are not to use the truth as a weapon to harm others! Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to speak the truth in love. In other words, our motivation for speaking the truth shouldn’t be to tear others down or to belittle them, but rather to lift and build them up! Now, this doesn’t mean that we are not to condemn sin. No, we are to love the sinner and hate the sin! Just because you may point out someone’s sin, that doesn’t mean you’re being judgmental or hateful. In fact, if it is done correctly with the right motivation; it is an act of love! It is a mean and hateful person who sees me headed for destruction and does not say anything to warn me! It’s a poor parent that doesn’t say anything to a toddler who is about to tip boiling hot water on its head because the parent doesn’t want to hurt the child’s feelings!
I didn’t mean to go off on a rant, but I felt compelled to write this in view of all the hateful, mean-spirited, words that are being spoken and written by those in and out of the church today! The bottom line is this: If we claim the name “Christian,” the least we can do is act Christ-like! Do we honestly think Jesus would say some of the things we say and act the way we act? The Bibles says, the same mind that was in Christ Jesus should be in us. Let us pray that as we live our lives, we will be shaped into the image of Christ and be strong enough to resist the temptation to try to shape Christ into our image. Let us pray that we will truly be “Christ-like Christians.”
One of the major problems with many who would claim to be Christian in America is that in most cases, they are more of something else than they are Christian! For instance, there has been such an uproar lately about the silent protest being led by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. In order to call attention to the disproportionate number of shootings and killing of Afro-American people by the police, Kaepernick kneels instead of standing during the playing of the national anthem before football games. But there are some people, many who claim to be Christian, who are absolutely infuriated by the Kaepernick’s protest! They are more upset by his protest than they are by what he’s protesting about! They claim he is being unpatriotic and un-American! Seriously? This country was founded on protest! Duh! History 101! But my real point is that whether you agree with his methods or not is really beside the point! But to be more upset over his protest than by what he is protesting against proves the point of his protest! For many people in America, standing for the national anthem and respecting the American flag is more important than the lives of some American citizens!
Now, I used Kaepernick’s protest as an example, not to belabor the issue of Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives or any other lives mattering. The fact that there is even a debate or a contention about lives mattering in the first place is an indication that to some people, “some” lives don’t matter! No! I used that example to illustrate the point that for many so-called Christian people in America, their Christianity takes a back-seat to their prejudices, biases, politics, economics, gender, and race. They are more Black than they are Christian! They are more White than they are Christian! They are more liberal than they are Christian! They are more conservative than they are Christian! They are more Republican than they are Christian! They are more Democrat than they are Christian! They are more American than they are Christian! They are more _______________ than they are Christian!
However, if you are more _____________ than you are Christian, then perhaps your Christianity is suspect! Biblical Christianity supersedes all human categories and distinctions and demands that all who would espouse it be as one! Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his passion: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:20-21 ESV).The “these only” Jesus referred to were his present disciples and the “those who will believe” were all those who would ever come to believe because of the testimony of his disciples. Jesus prayed for the unity of believers. In fact, the prayer suggested that unity of his believers was to be the proof to the world and the cause for the world to believe that God sent him! So, according to this passage, the fact that so many “Christians” are more something else than they are Christian is evidence that they may not be Christians at all! At least, not Christians as Jesus calls Christians to be! For Jesus calls Christians to be unified, not by their race, creed, color, political affiliation, nationality, or politics, but rather by their faith in him!
The Apostle Paul wrote; “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26-28 KJV). According to this text, all of the issues that divide us have been obliterated in Christ! So the fact that they are yet dividing factors suggest that we have not completely submitted ourselves to Christ! We are more ____________ than Christian! God, help us to repent! The racial issue in America will never be resolved, the political in-fighting will never stop, unbelievers will never really believe until those of us who claim to be Christian are indeed more Christian than _____________!