We have a tendency to take cultural norms and make them a standard for religious orthodoxy. One of the most disgusting, shameful, and terrible examples of this is racism. Flannery O’Connor lived from 1925 – 1964 and wrote prolifically about the cultural issues of her day. Growing up in the south, she saw the true evil of racism practiced and ingrained in the minds of Christians.
O’Connor sought to judge the cultural norms through the lens of Scripture.
One of the characters in her short story “Why Do the Heathen Rage” is appalled by the justice of God. This character believed that racism was good – that African Americans were treated best when they were treated as less than human.
You’re probably thinking this doesn’t apply to you.
Matter of fact, you may be someone of a different ethnicity and find racism horrible.
Hold on before you close this page out.
We as Christians tend to allow 21st century social issues to become the means of determining whether or not someone is a Christian (especially during a political season). Often we look to the constitution as our standard rather than Scripture. When someone questions a certain political issue held almost universally by Christians, that person is often labeled as a heretic and dismissed.
Unknowingly we have twisted the Gospel. We have added certain qualifications to the Christian life in order to determine whether or not a person is truly spiritual. We need to remember…
Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
Jesus + Something = Nothing.
Below are some qualifications I have experienced Christians (including myself!) lay on other believers:
You are only a true Christian if you believe there should NOT be more gun control.
Some Christians treat the 2nd amendment as if it was written into Scripture. Just for making this statement, there are people reading this who are assuming I am a crazy liberal supporting the “anti-God” agenda of taking away firearms (for the record, I enjoy shooting guns). We forget that many sincere Christians throughout the centuries have been pacifists; that doesn’t make them “anti-God” liberals.
You are only a true Christian if you vote republican.
No matter what you do, do not tell another Christian you support a democratic candidate. Regardless of the character of a certain Republican leader, be sure to vote for them over all else. We all know that God has selected a special political party and nominated the United States to be HIS county where HIS glory dwells (that’s sarcasm… or I’m a godless liberal. I’ll let you decide).
You are only a true Christian if you believe in greater immigration laws.
Forget all the commandments in Scripture for supporting immigrants. We need to focus on US before focusing on THEM (P.S. anytime you have an US vs THEM mentality, it is out of line with the Gospel.) For the record, I’m with the pope on this one. The gospel tears down walls, it doesn’t build them.
You are only a true Christian if you support the nation of Israel.
I almost don’t want to comment on this one… but I will. I won’t go into the theological debate regarding the nation of Israel but I will say this… We should identify more closely with a Christian in Palestine (or Israel, or Iraq) than we do with a secular citizen of any country – Including the United States or Israel.
Let me take this one step further. As a Christian, you should be more willing to support other Christians of different countries than you are willing to support a secular but very patriotic American. The blood of Christ trumps the blood of country.
You are only a true Christian if you attend a contemporary church.
We all know that liturgical churches are made up of lukewarm Christians who care nothing about Jesus (sarcasm again). Anytime our music/style preference negates our love for believers in a different context, we are contradicting the Gospel.
You get the point.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe any of these issues are morally evil or along the same lines as racism. Nevertheless, there is a document greater than the constitution.
Rather than blindly supporting a political agenda and demonizing those who disagree with you, find unity in the Gospel. Below is my contemporary translation of Galatians 3:28:
“There is neither Republican nor Democrat, conservative nor liberal, immigrant nor citizen, Jew nor Gentile, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Are you mad at me? Leave a comment and let me know… I’m all for the 1st amendment!