Today we are watching our nation’s Capitol, the great symbol and center of our democracy, be stormed by protestors, while our Congressional leaders hide behind locked doors, and the sitting president hides behind his twitter account. These are unnerving sights to behold and a frightening moment for our democracy.
As Christians, what are we to do? How are we to respond in a moment like this? First, an invitation to pray: Join other MainStreeters tonight at 8PM in the WECAN parking lot for prayers for our nation. Unfortunately, I am up north for two nights working on my dissertation, and so I won’t be able to join you. I am with you in the Spirit.
Second, the following words are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect the leadership of MainStreet Covenant Church. But as one charged by God to lead the people of God, I must not remain silent in moments like these. So I offer this pastoral admonition.
The 2nd century Letter to Diognetus explains to pagan readers how the Church is in the world and not of it. Christians, he explains, “are to be for the world what the soul is to the body”; because the soul at times sets itself against the sensual pleasures of the body, the body rebels against it.
These days large segments of our civic body – the United States of America – seems to have lost its soul. Our political bodies and governmental structures are rebelling against reason and moral decency, being prodded along by the more primal forces of human nature rather than “the better angels of our nature” (Lincoln). People are like animals, being driven along by unchecked impulses and emotions, fear and hatred, tribalism and a desire for vengeance, and so on. You are required to be a certain age to join Facebook, but apparently you don’t need a brain; it provides a clear snapshot of soul-less discourse on parade.
In this moment, our civic body needs a strong moral Soul to rise up and be what Jesus called Christians to be: Light in a dark world and peacemakers in the midst of warring factions. We, the people of Christ, are called to be the God-anchored, rational-minded, truth-speaking, peace-loving, justice-bringing representatives of Christ in this land. We are called to be a colony of character, a commonwealth of those committed to “putting to death the old sinful nature and its desires” (Col. 3:5), not letting the “old man” rise again to stir up dissension and tear families apart.
Christians, in whichever nation they find themselves, are to be the throbbing Heart of the God of all comfort, pumping the lifeblood of the fruit of the Spirit throughout the body politic. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
What Christians must at all costs avoid is becoming part of the soul-less crowd of partisan zombies, wandering the streets with rage, driven mindlessly along by every tweet or headline or conspiracy that supports their tribe’s narrative.
Christian: Your tribe is not of this world. Nor is your Leader in the White House. His name is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and God’s Truth-made-Flesh. When we face God at the judgment, we will not be asked, “Did you make American Great again?” or “Did you vote blue or red?” but rather, “Did you live in a manner worthy of the gospel” (Phil 1:27)? and “Did you represent Jesus well?” “Did you walk in the truth?”
For Christians, the protection of political power and freedom should not overshadow or supplant the even greater call to be guardians of TRUTH. The Scriptures repeatedly call Christians to be people of truth and to avoid falsehood and all forms of deceit, to expose lies and to be champions for the truth — “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). This is why I am so alarmed at all the disinformation being sown and so beside myself by all the conspiracy theories being believed by those who claim to follow the One who is the Truth. “Test all things, and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thes 5:21).
Jesus’ parting gift to the church was the sending of “the Spirit of Truth” in order to “guide us into all truth” (John 16:13). Furthermore, Jesus warns us to be careful lest we find ourselves children of the wrong father. Might Jesus speak these words to certain well-meaning, but misguided folk today?
“You are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does…. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character [he speaks his native language]; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
So, let us put our political convictions and our partisan loyalties aside for the moment, and commit ourselves to being first and foremost seekers and protectors of Truth — wherever it is found and from whichever side of the aisle it comes.
So, back to the question of what to do in a country that has lost touch with its Soul, and populated by people and leaders in high places sniffing about (or tweeting, posting, etc.) like dogs in heat, rather than conducting themselves like dignified Souls with a body. Let me keep it simple and suggest 3 things to start:
- Repent – Not sure if you need to? Ask the Holy Spirit or just read your Facebook page.
- Pray – For our nation, our leaders, the church’s witness and our own souls
- Follow Jesus – Let his teachings challenge and replace your politics.
I am concerned for the future of this earthly nation, and ask us all to pray for peace and work to preserve a better union. But I am far more concerned with the present witness and mission of the church. Let us “seek first Christ’s Kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt 6:33), and as we do that, we will become the Soul our nation so desperately needs right now. A nation that has lost its soul is a dire thing. But a church that has lost its Jesus-like witness and grasp of the Truth, well that’s far, far worse.
Echoing Jesus, What does it profit a man to gain a political victory, if we forfeit our soul in the process? I close with the words of Abraham Lincoln, truly a man animated by a thick soul: