We Have So Americanized Christianity That We Have Polluted the Gospel
Christianity in America has flourished because of the freedoms we enjoy. This is a very good thing. On the flip side, many American values have trumped the Gospel because believers think those two things are synonymous.
Believers might say that since we live in a democracy, expressing our views is allowed. True enough. But the point I hope to prove here is that we are screaming loud and clear for rather trivial issues and do not proclaim outrage for things that the Bible makes clear is most important to God.
A case in point is mask wearing or even mask mandates. I see people of faith railing in school board meetings, even making subtle threats, about their child being forced to wear masks. The issue that is proclaimed is one of rights. Well I have news for all of us. When we say it is about our rights, we are already at odds with Biblical Christianity. How so? Our faith is about doing God’s will. When I gave my heart to Jesus, I gave up all my rights. My passion should be praying “your kingdom come, your will be done.” This is other focus, the other being our Lord and Savior.
But some might say, mask wearing is just the beginning. Give an inch here and the government will become some totalitarian monster and then us Christians won’t have any freedom to proclaim and practice our faith.
Okay, if that is true what about wearing seat belts. I would easily bet that 99% of all American Christians wear seat belts. Guess what? The law says we have to wear seat belts. No outrage or protest here.
How about when we get on an airplane? We have to go through hoops at security check points to make sure we aren’t terrorists. This, of course, happened mainly due to 9/11. And, this is the law! No sign waving protests of government overreach happening.
So if mask wearing is some kind of government erosion of our rights, then so is seat belt wearing and detailed security screening at airports. If we can’t see the connection, then we have missed the mark.
So what things should Christians vehemently be lobbying on behalf? With all the physical suffering, poverty, racial disparity, depression, anxiety and loneliness in the world, where is our voice being heard here? Certainly many of us do a great job marching for the rights of the unborn as we should. But these other social issues are things that Jesus felt compassion for and as a result did something about it.
Jesus began his ministry by quoting from Isaiah. Let’s relook at His priorities. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19).
This passage is where we see clearly what is considered the “major” issues at stake. So in a democracy like ours, this is what we should be lobbying for! This is the heart of the Father and subsequently as followers of Jesus, absolutely should be our heart as well.
Life is too short to be fighting over masks and mask mandates. If we are not giving our time, talent, and tithes to helping people and changing lives, then we are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. Or different imagery is when we complain about inconveniences, then we are straining out gnats.
This is how Jesus put it in Matthew 23:23-24, “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law – justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things. Blind guides! You strain our water so you don’t accidentally swallow a gnat; then you swallow a camel.” (Bolded for emphasis).
But what if my child’s health is compromised by wearing a mask? Ah, now we have a different and even an important issue, the health of the child. But to just complain because it is annoying makes us whiners, and not true followers of our Lord.
There are many things I don’t like to do: some household chores, helping obnoxious people, submitting to church authority on issues that I disagree with. But when I complain to the Lord, he doesn’t quite frankly care about my crying. He wants me to get over it, grow up, and become more like Jesus.
So at the end of the day, when my personal rights become more important than God’s heart, then I have idolatrized those rights. That my brothers and sisters is far more concerning than any inconvenience.