Recent events are the latest in a long line of happenings over the last several months that expose weaknesses in our culture, our nation, and our churches. As Christians, how do we respond? Where do we go from here?
In some ways 2020 really began in March last year. That is when COVID came to the USA. Since then, all our lives have been affected. March 2020 began a rollercoaster of events. To make it worse, this rollercoaster had multiple parallel tracks. It was not “just” that our work and school life was affected. It was not “just” that businesses and jobs were lost. It was not “just” that racial tensions seemed to worsen. It was not “just” that cracks and division appeared in churches. All these things happened and more. All since March of 2020.
These things have always been with us, but they just seemed to bubble to the surface after March 2020.
As we approach the one-year mark since this roller coaster began, we had one of the most dramatic events in the history of the USA occur this week. We saw people invade, for lack of a better word, our capital building. No matter our political views, we can all agree what happened was a travesty.
So, what are we as Christians to do?
We have been given a mission. The objective for this mission can be found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This mission is not political or tied to any government.
This mission is to be our primary focus. Imagine a nation whose people exhibit the fruit of His Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” and not, “conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-23,26). This will only happen when each Christian first seeks God with all their heart, and then asks, “how can I tell my neighbor about Christ?”
Politics will never build a Godly nation.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:13,14 that we are the salt of the earth and a light on a lampstand. What does this mean? It means the light of Christ should shine through us to those around us. It means the witness of our lives and the gospel we share will preserve the lives of people.
Does this mean Christians should not take political stands? The answer is complicated. It depends.
Those last statements may be disturbing but please consider the following.
If our primary job is to bear witness of Christ and all He has done, how can we accomplish this if our actions, unrelated to the gospel, prevent those who need the gospel from hearing us? Another way to ask this is, does the world know who we stand for, or only what we stand against?
As it says in John 3:17-18, “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
Jesus did not come to condemn the world. Why should we?
Thinking through Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels, He always approached sinners with love, compassion, respect, and humility. He associated with sinners in ways that offended the religious folk of His day. In fact, the only people Jesus treated harshly were the religious elite who protected their own power rather than accept the truth of His words. And they did that in the name of the Jewish religion.
It has also become evident in the last few months that church goers have differing opinions regarding where Christians should stand. We will never reconcile these differences through arguments or social media postings.
1 John 1:8 tells us, “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Let that sink in. John did not write this to the unsaved, he wrote it to the church. The body of Christ is comprised of repentant sinners. Broken people who constantly rely on Him to sustain them.
Our churches will never have unity because they decide to. Unity will come as each of us humbles ourselves at the foot of the cross and allows Christ to remake us in His image. Unity is a by-product of our submission to Christ and does not come from the strength of our conviction to be united.
God has given us a great opportunity in 2020, and now in 2021. We have a chance to stand with Him when it is difficult. We have an opportunity to love our brothers when we find loving them hard. We have an opportunity to pray for leaders we might not want or respect.
If that sounds difficult, then praise God! Because the only way we can do this is in His power and by His Spirit!
Great things happen when God’s people humble themselves before Him and seek His will above all others.
Many Christian leaders are predicting a future in our nation where being a Christian is hard. It may cost us something. This is not something to fear or run away from. Persecution should be embraced by the Christian as a sign of obedience. God used persecution in the first century to plant His churches all around the Mediterranean, and then the world.
So, what would God have us do in the face of all this uncertainty? This is God’s word.
“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine) 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
It is impossible to give thanks and be discontent at the same time.