By Scott Johnson
Jesus said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36-37, NIV). I like the way Bob Dylan paraphrased it in his song Masters of War: “And I think you will find when your death takes its toll, that all the money you made will never buy back your soul.” There is nothing we can exchange for our souls. No amount of goods, power, services, or money can secure them. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection can.
Yet here we find ourselves in the year 2020. As a people, the Church is scrambling for relevancy in post-Christian America. We are jockeying for power to maintain a kind of Christian status quo in the United States. We are shouting to still be heard over all the noise in our nation.
I certainly understand it. We’ve held a sort of “special” place in the United States. Just a few decades ago almost everyone went to church. We were a “Christian” nation if you will. I think collectively, we are grieving our loss of privilege and have begun to draw lines in the sand. We are now the minority, and in an effort to be in control, we are squandering the very thing that matters in pursuit of power: our soul.
Let me be candid. We have been duped. We believed that good people who professed to be Christian should be put into power to preserve our way of life. We believed that those people really did believe in Christ and let Him transform their hearts. Some genuinely did. We believed that those people were pro-life. Some were. We believed these people of power cared about us and our faith. Maybe some still do. But our faith has been hijacked.
Our faith has been commandeered by people that hold up Bibles in front of recently tear-gassed churches for a photo op. They scream against abortion while dropping bombs on innocent civilians on the other side of the planet. They create a system in which the poor stay poor while the rich get richer. They perpetuate a justice system that sides with the person with the most money or the right color skin. In the wealthiest country in the world, people are starving.
Are we siding with people who under the guise of “fairness” would take what another has earned and forcibly give it to another? Are we siding with people who believe it is okay to take the life of a baby in utero under the charade of “choice?” Has life really become all about convenience? Are we part of the cancel culture that indiscriminately obliterates anything contrary to popular opinion?
Are we siding with people who routinely marginalize women, shut out minorities, are blatantly racist, and who are rotten from the inside out? Scripture says they “are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain” (Is. 56:11, NIV).
If we find ourselves siding with any one of those things, then my brothers and sisters, we are in trouble. We say things like, “I don’t agree with everything that person stands for, but they are the lesser of two evils.” I disagree. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Of two evils, choose neither.” Evil is still evil. There is no “lesser evil.”
So, what are we to do? Throw up our hands and walk away? Stop voting? Step out of politics? No. However, I think a deep look into our priorities and whom we support is in order. We just might find we have been worshiping on the altar of nationalism. In creating a dynamic where we are dividing churches over political parties, we have effectively begun to kill the witness of the American church. Worst of all, we’re hurting each other.
My brothers and sisters, we have gone the way of ancient Israel, demanding an earthly ruler who will save us. Instead of the Good Shepherd leading us to pasture, we’d rather be corralled by a human authority. Rather than be led by the Spirit, we’d rather play games with the “principalities and powers of this dark world” so long as we can remain comfortable and “at ease in Zion.”
Instead of seeking justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God we have turned to partisan politics to feel validated and safe from the encroaching “liberals, socialists, right-wingers, and communists.” We “went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them” (Judges 2:17, KJV). Those gods are the gods “Republican” and “Democrat.”
What’s worse is that a watching world sees us biting and devouring each other on social media about these things. We have turned into an “Us vs. Them” culture and church. We must change. We must repent. We must turn back to God! Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV).
The world will not know you’re a Christian by your political affiliation. They will not know you’re a Christian by where you live. They will not know you’re a Christian by how loud you are about your opinions. They will only know that we Christ-followers by how we love.
I’m tired of politicians abusing my faith to get votes. I’m weary of a system that tells me what I want to hear and then does the exact opposite. No, Washington, D.C., you may not use my faith to further your agenda anymore. I’m a Christian. I follow Jesus. I am not of this world. I will non-violently resist when you conflict with my God. Do what you will, but I will not bow down any longer.
I understand the repercussions of making such statements. I’ve thought long and hard about it – believe me. We must wake up, brothers and sisters. We are heading down a dreadful path. We are about to lose our collective souls.
Jesus stood face-to-face with the Empire and declared to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36, NIV). Kings and rulers will all die. Nations will fall. But the Kingdom of God reigns forever. Stop playing the games of this world and its authorities. You are subject to a higher law – the law of Christ. Let us not gain the whole world and lose our souls.