Put everything to the test. Hold fast to that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
“Christians are not only being persecuted for their faith but also for their foolishness.” -Dr. Tony Evans
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (New International Version)
Scrutinize. Examine. Inspect.
As Christians we are indeed called to be salt and light. I would not want to imagine this world without such. Yet, for some Christians in their effort to “do right” there is a reckless enthusiasm that hitches itself to something (or someone) posited as “virtuous” to come against and rid the culture wars landing on our doorsteps. The enthusiasm is ginned up in a fear and panic to “take back our country,” quickly turning ‘virtuous actions’ into an “us vs. them” battle. Christians who are supposed to be known for their kindness and love have resorted to tactics used by the world such as name-calling, mudslinging and bullying. The posture of conspiracy, fear and “hair on fire” anger has swung the pendulum so far as to dismiss how we should approach one another and the issues of our day.
Tragically forgotten is our spiritual authority and positioning as those redeemed in Christ Jesus. We are seated with Him in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). We need not resort to the ways of the world or get spun up by the continued deterioration of this world. Scripture tells us that this world is perishing and is in fact passing away. Even as the storms are tossing, remember that Jesus is in the boat with us.
I work in public policy in particular to advocate for healthcare legislation that is ethical and will advance human flourishing without diminishing human dignity. The work requires my engagement in the 50 states and the District of Columbia to monitor various bills of interest being introduced in the state legislatures. A good work and one certainly of spiritual warfare that I am blessed to do with many godly, prayerful and ethical advocates. Yet, I have also seen bad bills introduced from both sides of the aisle in attempt to “take back our country” in the “us vs. them” battle.
Unfortunately, if you’re not angry or fearful enough, if you’re not riled up, it’s thought that something is wrong with you. If you are not wholly partisan, then often you are considered an enemy; as one who has deviated from the tribe. Aka, “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.” From this podcast episode of The Holy Post on the “war on winsomeness,” co-host Skye Jethani speaks on the fear that has captivated some Believers: “If you are captivated by fear, you cannot love. Fear leads to self-preservation.” Even winsomeness has come under attack when wisdom would unshackle them from fear and reckless enthusiasm. In facing the issues, some Christians do not imitate our loving God who is above the situation. We are not the sweet smelling aroma of Christ.
In Dr. Tony’s message “God is Shaking Things Up” delivered at the 2021 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention held in Grapevine, Texas, he gave a hard but truthful word: “Christians are not only being persecuted for their faith but also for their foolishness.”
Turns out that while the church has been caught up in CRT, removing books about Ruby Bridges, name-calling the liberals and bad-mouthing the conservatives, the biggest threat to the Church as been itself.
Dr. Evans went on to say:
“The White church has become too Republican by wrapping our faith in the American flag. When you pursue a nationalistic faith, you corrupt the Gospel because you have not made the nation to King Jesus, but to nationalism. The Black church has become idolatrous too. We are often ‘more Black’ than biblical. The evil of abortion and homosexuality the Black church doesn’t often speak to this.”
“Since we serve a Kingdom, let’s act like it. We’re too evangelical and not Kingdom enough.”
We must test everything to ensure it is not our flesh leading us but that we are being led by the Holy Spirit. In using the latter approach, the supernatural happens. Hearts, minds, families and communities are transformed. Repentance happens and people turn from their wicked ways. We foil the schemes of the devil who is out to steal, kill and destroy. People experience true freedom! Decay is held back or reversed. Cities prosper. I know that is ultimately what we desire.
The Bottom Line: Our Commandment to Love Others and Our Call to Holiness
Jesus commands us to love God. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-48).
God doesn’t need us to right every single wrong on earth, particularly if our actions are conducted in a fashion and spirit that lacks love. He does invite us to be effective messengers of the Gospel, to be ministers of reconciliation, to be Ambassadors of Christ to confront wickedness in a world that is more inclined to run from Him; in a world that pursues its own wisdom rather than God’s perfect wisdom. As those redeemed in Christ Jesus, we carry within us a hope that should anchor us and others rather than driving us to fear and division. Jesus took on human form to model what loving others, even our enemies, should look like. God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us live out that love.
In the Old and New Testament, God says “be ye holy, for I am holy.” That means we live very differently from the world. When we give the Holy Spirit charge over our conduct and our character He will enable us to approach others and the issues of our day in a godly way. Our enthusiasm and zeal will be in check so that we are not destroying those we are led to help. I know that is ultimately what we want.
I am glad that Jesus is neither “left” nor “right.” He is too big for such categories. His ways and thoughts are far better and higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). His ways are, thankfully, counterintuitive to our natural. Members in the body of Christ have resorted to guerilla warfare when our warfare should begin on our knees. We’re asking God to remake this country and world but let that work begin first with you. Ask Him to remake you.
Heavenly Father, remove our fear and anxiety. Let us see that perfect love casts out all fear. Keep us from the error of an unchecked enthusiasm that pits us against an enemy or “frienemy” we’re commanded to love. Remove any offensive way in us. Lead us in your ways, Father. Let us not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions (1 John 3:18). In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The Holy Post: Episode 509: The War on Winsomeness & Interfaith Cooperation with Eboo Patel on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-509-the-war-on-winsomeness-interfaith/id591157388?i=1000562243895
Dr. Tony Evans Message of “God is Shaking Things Up” at the 2021 National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxqfukvddh8