Christians face many dire threats around the world, from the decapitations in the Middle East to genocides in Africa, to the persecution carried out by China and Russia. Here in the United States, we hear much about the war against Christians, but it seems to me that the greatest threat comes from within.
The word “Christian” is first used in the book of Acts, and it means one who follows Christ. In America, this definition has been lost, ursurped by other things. Politics, and economics have nothing to do with following The Lord, and yet it seems that many Christians identify themselves by how they vote and where they shop. There is a shrill meanness to the way many Christians go about it, and it gives the rest of us a bad rap.
Jesus gave Christians a great commission, to spread the gospel to the corners of the earth. In the United States, generations are turning from God, and well meaning Christians with microphones and political signs and spirits full of judgement are a big part of the problem.
What Would Jesus Do?
Remember this catch phrase? It was effective because it asked an excellent question. So what would Jesus do now, in this world of sinners like me? Let’s look at what he actually did.
He offered forgiveness. We celebrated Easter last week. Jesus was nailed to a cross so that our sins would be covered. We know that none of us are perfect, that the wages of sin are death. Christ died so that we would not be condemned, giving us grace we did not deserve.
It seems many Christians have forgotten this.
Jesus spent his time among the outcasts. The prostitutes, the tax-collectors, criminals and sinners. He admonished men to leave behind their worldly belongings and follow Him. He was welcoming, not shunning, leading by example and truth, offering healing in a hurting world.
Judgement is reserved for God, not man. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone..
Love Transcends Law…”The Greatest of These is Love”
The Old Testament Levitical laws no longer bind us. Entry into Heaven is given, not earned, and it is through faith not deed that we come to the Father. In James we read that “Faith without deeds is dead,” but again, it is not for us to decide who has faith and who does not.
Christians seem to be focused on the wrong things. If we should, as Paul says in Hebrews “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith,” we have lost sight of the things that matter, missing the forest for the trees. When I see the new pope washing the feet of a Muslim woman, I think, that’s what Jesus would do!
One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is Ephesians 2:3:
“Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ been when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.”
A God-Shaped Hole
America is indeed hurting, and there is a God-shaped hole in each of us individually, and the nation entire. What we need is more Jesus, less hate. Greater love, less judgement. Faith which manifests itself by doing what Jesus actually did, bearing fruit that sustains a hurting world. Giving to the poor, helping the sick, spreading the gospel not with a sword but with the Truth.