At the end of the service, the pastor walked down the center aisle and took his place at the sanctuary door. As he greeted people leaving the service, he received the occasional, “thanks, for the message, pastor.” One man who seemed a little agitated, then came up to the pastor and said, “Pastor, about that sermon, you just went from preachin’ to meddlin’.” Take note, I may be moving into meddlin’. Be reassured, I’m meddlin’ in my life too.
A Sad Picture
There are times when an image is immediately burned into your brain and instantly breaks your heart. I saw one of those this morning. When seeing it, I felt heavy sadness. It’s a profound sadness that I imagine Jesus felt before he walked into the Temple Courts and turned over tables. He watched those claiming a pipeline to the Almighty, trashing the very heart of God. They used the claim of his presence for their own benefit.
Last night was one of President Trump’s rallies. And in the middle of talking about his latest political dust-up, the crowd started shouting, “Send them back! Send them back!” They were speaking of the four congresswomen, with whom I have no political common ground. The rancor didn’t disturb me. What saddened me is who was in that crowd.
Knowing the usual demographics of the crowd, many of those in attendance will be in church on Sunday. They will be reciting the Lord’s prayer. They will be teaching their children, “… red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
We could excuse it as a political strategy. That might be an excuse for a purely political animal, but not for those who claim loyalty to one Kingdom and one King. We could think of it as “sport.” But then we must remember that’s exactly what the Romans did when they threw Christians to the lions in the Colosseum. We could argue it’s the only way we can “save our nation.” But then we remember, it’s God who saves nations. And he doesn’t need our disobedience, our hatred, our vitriol, or our disregard for the image of God in others to do His job.
Could you imagine a different scene? How about when the chant started, every self-proclaimed believer standing silent, bowing the head, and praying “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Or, what if they would have then gathered in small groups all around the stadium to pray, “Thy kingdom come?” Oh sure, that would be mocked by the opposition, but it would put us in a position of God’s blessing. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
I wish our evangelical leaders, those who stood behind the desk at the oval office to pray for the cameras, would reconsider their attachment to political power and call their followers to try another way. I pray we will try the way of the One who washed feet and carried crosses and cried, “Father, forgive them.” I fear that won’t happen. And I fear our gospel will sound less and less like good news to those Jesus loves.
We want a revival of Judeo-Christian values. Yes, let’s aim for that. We will only get there when people of faith live them out first. Maybe we should start with these.
- Live in harmony.
- Be sympathetic.
- Be compassionate and humble.
- Repay evil and insults with blessing.
- Keep our tongue from evil.
- Do good.
- Seek peace and pursue it.
- 1 Peter 3:8-12
If we allowed these kingdom values to control the way we do life and politics, it would change the picture. It would give God a people who could bring a new light, the Light of life.