After reading this article in a world renowned newspaper, the Merced Sun-Star, I felt compelled to address something that has actually been on my mind since election day. The Christian community isn’t known for being silent over political matters, particularly relating to gay marriage or abortion. While I think it’s somewhat of a travesty that we have chosen to throw our full weight and support behind only two issues and neglect others, my intent here isn’t to diminish that support or comment on what other issues we should be talking about. So, I wasn’t surprised to see church folk proudly displaying “Yes on 8” signs on street corners in the days leading up to November 4th. I wasn’t surprised to see the Christian community largely supporting the Republican Party and the subsequent disapproval of Obama’s victory. I was surprised, however, to see the extent of the hostility and animosity Christians displayed at the outcome of the presidential election… and I’m still surprised that so many Christians seemingly place so much hope in a pagan nation. I was further surprised to see the animosity Christians had toward even their Christian brothers and sisters. Politics and elections seem to bring out people’s true colors. I don’t expect Christians to be required to agree on anything non-essential to the Gospel, but I do expect Christians to treat each other with dignity and respect. We are to bear witness to the transforming power of Christ by the way we love each other, NOT by the way we vote or “stand up for what we believe in” at the polls. So, to spew venom at another Christian over their thoughts on politics is absolutely inexcusable. If I have done this to any of my brothers or sisters, I am truly sorry…
With that said, on with the “post election post” and what inspired me to write this anyway… If you read the article I linked to you above, something should immediately alarm you. What’s alarming to me is that several times above I referenced to “the Christian community,” which can only be defined here as “white evangelicals.” I have completely neglected my black brothers and sisters in Christ with my definition. What alarms me is while white Christians were sickened by the election of Obama, black Christians rejoiced. While white Christians were sitting in Church on November 9th in sackcloth and ashes, repenting on behalf of the nation’s choice for president, black Christians were blowing rams horns. How can it be that we are so divided? What is extremely disturbing is we are not just a reflection of the larger society’s division over race, we are even worse. As Martin Luther King said over 50 years ago (and articulated VERY well in the book Divided by Faith), Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. This fact remains and is weighing on my heart today. Election Day, unfortunately, reveals this divide.
What I hope to be giving here is a desperate plea to Christians everywhere, especially to those who were born with contrasting skin colors, is to be united by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t seek unity over a political party, economic policy or state Proposition… for in those things we will always be divided. Yet, these issues pale in comparison to what really matters, which is the Gospel of Christ.
I’m sure you all are aware of Propositions 94-97, which would allow 4 Indian casino’s in California to expand their operations in exchange for payment to the state. The State has dug itself a pretty big financial hole… why not rely on trusty gambling addicts to help rectify the problem? Here are just a few reasons why I like these propositions:
- The Tribes will get to audit themselves. Who doesn’t like to use the “foot-wedge” in golf?
- The Tribes will get to pick and choose which slot machines’ revenues to include as payment to the state (therefore their highest profiting slot machines will not have to be included).
- The propositions will allow 4 of the richest Native American Tribes (out of 100+ that have historically been impoverished) to make more money.
- These rich casino’s will NOT be forced to offer affordable health care to their employees.
- More than half of one of these casino’s employee’s children will still be eligible for taxpayer-funded health care.
- Gambling addicts are FINALLY enabled to do something about forest fires and social issues.
- The Casino’s still will not have to worry about their workers forming a union.
- I will finally be able to support my daughter’s education by gambling with her college money.
A blog entry without pictures of my daughter? Hard to believe, I know…
I’m taking this class called Perspectives (on the World Christian Movement) with a good friend of mine. To try to give you some sort of insight as to what the class is all about and what I’m learning, here’s what I wrote for one of my “personal responses” that are required to get the certificate for the class. I’ve been trying to understand how to contextualize the gospel to unique people groups — and more specifically, what things, whether cultural, political, etc, have we (I) as rich American Christians added to the gospel and how these amendments hinder the gospel’s advancement in the world. Here’s an excerpt from one of my responses:
Christianity was so attractive to people in the first few centuries because it had no political, national, or cultural ties. This is why the Jerusalem Council was so important – it settled the debate, in effect, of how “Jewish” one needed to be (in culture) to be a Christian. The opening sentence in M.R. Thomas’ article “The Turning Point: Setting the Gospel Free,” reads, “The greatest crisis the New Testament church ever faced was actually a culture clash, although some believed the issues were doctrinal.” The Jerusalem Council was more about culture than it was about doctrine. If we can only contextualize the gospel to another culture, the doctrinal issues will be a non-factor. Winter explains, “Christianity was the one religion that had no nationalism at its root, partly because it was rejected by the Jews … once Christianity became locked into a specific cultural tradition and political loyalty, it tended automatically to alienate all who were anti-Roman.” At the moment Christianity became the official religion of Rome, it also became ill-equipped by it’s very form to reach any people group that was against. Thankfully, there were those in Jerusalem who stood up and said, “why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” If only there was a “Roman Council” like the one in Acts 15 to remove the cultural and political amendments of the “Roman” Gospel! Today, we face many of the same issues and are in need of an “American Council” that will proclaim the essentials, and ONLY the essentials, of the Gospel of grace. Too many Christians today tie the gospel to the Republican Party, or proclaim democracy as the “Christian” form of government, or capitalism as the “Christian” economic structure. The Republican platform, democracy, and capitalism may be important, but they can not amend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have so much work to do to in the non-Western world to deconstruct these ideas and amendments. We cannot allow the Gospel to become locked in to our American cultural traditions or political loyalties – otherwise the gospel then becomes democracy, capitalism, or wearing suit’s and ties on Sunday, which will alienate all who are anti-American. Winter explains it best, “Jesus died for these people around the world. He did not die to preserve our Western way of life.” We must contextualize the gospel within the systems of which other people operate.
So, my question is, if we had an “American Council” today, what would be discussed? In what ways do we amend the gospel with American culture and ideology?
Ok, ok… I lied. So what?
It was reading time with Dad the other night! Isabella is already reading at a 3rd grade level. This is a pretty good one…
She had a LOT of fun!
I am absolutely astonished at the United States military budget. This year alone, we will spend $466 billion dollars solely on our military. About $200 million is spent in Iraq every single DAY, which means the total cost will most likely exceed $1TRILLION when it’s all said and done (if its ever all said and done).
Sit down for a second and try to wrap your mind around that word trillion. Can’t do it? Ok, try 200 million. Hard to do, isn’t it? I found some websites (here’s one) that help put our military budget into perspective, and I’ll use this example because I’m hungry and kinda fat: Suppose I want to buy pizza for a few people with the $200 million dollars I have in my budget. DaVinci’s charges $10 for a pizza, so I’d be ordering 730 pizzas for each person in the United States. That would provide every man, woman and child in America with 2 pizzas a day for the entire year.
So, where does our priorities get mixed up in all this? Here’s an example! The United States has commited $1.4 billion dollars to Africa to fight malaria. All we need to do really is buy bed nets for people who can’t afford them. You have to commend the government for at least trying to fight poverty around the world, right? The thing is, that $1.4 billion is spread out over the next 5 years. Again, to purposely belabor the point, $1.4 billion will be spent on the military today alone…. and tomorrow…. and the next day….
We’re spending $200 million a day in Iraq because Saddam killed anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million Kurds. That’s a death rate of 25,000 to 50,000 people per year. Yet, we spend $800,000 a day on something that kills 2 million anually. If you’re hearing me say we shouldn’t be in Iraq or we shouldn’t have removed Saddam from power, you’re not hearing me (though I do still have questions). There’s just something wrong with our priorities.