I Can’t Keep Silent About What Happened Today….
Just down the road in DC, protestors stormed the capitol today in what played out as a kind of insurrection.…
Just down the road in DC, protestors stormed the capitol today in what played out as a kind of insurrection. The Vice President was evacuated, Congress ran to safety as windows were broken and intruders pushed their way into our halls of government, like unruly juveniles. The whole thing was marked by violence.
It’s a tragic, embarrassing and extremely saddening event for us all, which marks a new kind of low, and makes clear just how divided we are. And tonight, people are afraid, upset, angry, and confused.
I understand there are going to be strong political disagreements, and that plays out back and forth. And we should all have deep understanding for so many who are profoundly concerned about what these protests and the responses to them today says about the abuse of power, racial inequity, and even democracy itself.
But let me tell you what concerned me the most today. Perhaps you also saw pictures of people in that crowd waving signs with the name “Jesus” on them. The assertion was that somehow who they were, why they were there and what they were doing had something to do with Jesus.
I can’t pretend to speak exactly for Jesus all the time. But I do want to say to anyone who indicates they want to be a follower of Jesus, and to anyone who might be curious about what Jesus is about, and to anyone who is skeptical about Jesus … I want to say clearly and plainly, what happened today has NOTHING … NOTHING … to do with Jesus Christ.
I don’t know the Jesus who was paraded in the middle of it all today.
The horrible attempt to mash together this particular political ideology with the good news of Jesus is horrifyingly, dangerous and erroneous. It’s a religion called Nationalism and is strongly condemned all through the Bible. It breaks the heart of God, especially when those wearing the name Christian fall in with it.
As a follower of Jesus I want to say clearly, that I denounce the actions that took place and want to say in no uncertain terms that you should not be confused for one moment by those waving Jesus signs around.
If you are a follower of Jesus, this is not a time when your life should be characterized primarily as you standing for Trump. This is not a time for you, Christian, to stand for Trump, to stand for Pence, to stand for Biden, or even to stand for democracy or the Constitution…although we have every reason to be concerned about those things.
This is a time to stand for Jesus. Not the Jesus of our individual making that allows me to wave a poster at any cause I find important, but the Jesus of scripture, the Jesus who reveals the God of scripture. This is a time to stand for Jesus. His will, His word, and His ways.
This is a time to humbly allow Jesus by his Spirit to shape us – break us if necessary – and remake us so that we look and act more like him. Because character does matter – ours and that of our leaders and of our nation. When Jesus was asked what was most important, he said to love the Lord your God first and foremost – with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. He taught that an observing world would know we are Christians because we would be so marked by a love like his.
I have a long way to go in being marked by that kind of love. By that kind of purity of heart. But that’s the Jesus I stand with and for. He calls me upward to noble heights. That’s the Jesus who calls us to make disciples. That’s the Jesus this church follows, serves, loves, and worships.
When Nehemiah in the Old Testament came back to his beloved capitol, Jerusalem, and saw what a ruinous state it was in – the trouble, disgrace and broken down condition made it look as if all hell had broken loose – and it had. It crushed him. He collapsed in a heap and wept.
The fiasco in our capitol might make you feel like that today. It did me.
Nehemiah, you may recall, was a man of action who became part of the solution. He dove in and got his hands dirty. Led by Godly impulses for God’s honor, he led the people to pull together in a display of unity and eventually rebuilt those walls.
As Christian citizens, we will need to help follow Godly impulses to pull people together to build the good society we need.
But first…we must do what Nehemiah did first. The FIRST thing Nehemiah did…was fast and pray before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)
So maybe it’s fitting that God had already led the elders of Mountain to call our church to fast throughout the month of January. We are going to FAST together, every Thursday night to Friday night in January. It’s a special time to draw near to God so God can draw near to us (James 4). It’s a time to cry out to God, ask God for his help, for his grace, for our church, for our lives, for our families, for our own hearts.
It is a time to pray earnestly for those in power, but especially for the vulnerable, those most afraid in these times, and those unlike ourselves.
And like Nehemiah, we can use this time of fasting to call out to God for his mercy and peace in our land.
I hope you will join me in a collective fast throughout January, praying hard for God to lead us in 2021. And like Nehemiah, we can include prayers for the nation and the church. People want REAL change. We are fasting because we believe scripture when it says the most REVOLUTIONARY kind of change happens when we fast and pray before our God. Check out the messages about these ACTS of Revolution here.
Finally, let me help us remember something important.
By God’s providence and guidance, we believe, we were led to preach a series of messages earlier this year – before the election – called The Separation of Church and Hate. If it’s new to you, please go back and make time to listen to each one. We taught strong biblical truths and laid out specific Godly practices at that time which absolutely MARK us as Jesus’ people.
NOW is the time to apply those truths and practices!
Are you a first and foremost a Christian…who happens to be a Republican or a Democrat? Or is your primary identity a Republican or a Democrat…or a white person…or a black person…or an American? What are you known for? Where is your deepest loyalty and primary allegiance? If Jesus is Lord, don’t forget who and whose you are. Because if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, right now is the time to make it crystal clear by how you act.
What we saw today at the capitol was not civil. But it won’t do to match it with a reaction of incivility. So yes, take your stand, denounce wrong, reject injustice. But watch your mouth and be careful on social media. Don’t fight, hate, or spew. We can model how to disagree with ideas without denigrating people. And always bring the blue bucket of water to the fire rather than the red one with gas.
Stop pretending God agrees with your political views all the time. Following in the steps of Jesus means learning humility and listening…to seek to understand…and even pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. Sometimes it may feel like you’re “losing.” But Jesus says the losers win.
Jesus calls us to be ONE BODY, agents of healing and peace in a hurting world. We must therefore unite around Christ alone. It’s not hard to stir up more dissension. We’ve seen plenty of that. But Jesus says that’s the devil’s work. Whose side are you on?
- Be known for CHARITY. That’s a fancy word for love. When did it become okay to hate? “Love each other” is a command from our Lord. We must learn to disagree politically but love unconditionally. After all, we can only really be known for one thing. You can’t control where people will hold up “Jesus” signs, but you are responsible for whether you obey his fundamental command to love your neighbor as yourself.
- Live with CLARITY. Let’s keep things in perspective. Our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ. He isn’t elected or ousted by our votes, and the fortress of our God will never be breached or overtaken. Empires rise and fall, just as grass withers and flowers fade. But the Word of our Lord will stand forever. So anchor your life on what matters most, and live with clarity about Who sits on The Throne forever and ever. And may the fact that we belong to Jesus be known not by signs we wave, but the lives we lead.