Part 1 of 2: Let’s Differentiate Our Politics From Our Spirituality
There has been a long-held political disagreement in the American Christian community between the left and the right, the liberals and the conservatives, the Democrats versus the Republicans, the blue states versus the red. Christians are found on either platform. I personally lean right, but I’ve learned this past year through my Pastor (Ray Sewell of Gateway Church–see a video recording of his most recent sermon below) that my ideological beliefs must not be allowed to interfere with my Christian message of grace.
What? Didn’t you know that, José?
Well, like many conservative folks, I felt my values most closely matched the high moral standards of the Bible. Therefore it only made sense that if Jesus still roamed the Earth today, he’d be a Republican.
How insensitive and narrow-minded of me! Privately, I even looked down on some Christians who would align themselves with the Democrats. I had inadvertently become as proud as the Pharisees who would criticize Jesus for sitting and eating with sinners (Matthew 9:11).
I mean, I didn’t think that being Republican was equated with going to heaven or that becoming a Democrat was a ticket to hell or anything–but darn near close! I made it a point to try and convert a few Democrats–as if the gospel message was embodied in my political views.
All human righteousness is as filthy rags and none can clean up the mess of the other. Unfortunately, when situations arise like what happened to George Floyd–a black man killed by a white police officer–the differences of political opinions in the Christian world come to a head and we start bickering even with each other. Obviously this does nothing to promote God’s grace among the unbelievers that are observing us. Many in the faith even fall away in disillusionment because of these situations. And the devil gets the last laugh.
For instance, black lives matter to me, but I don’t wish to promote the “Black Lives Matter” movement because of my strong ideological differences with many of that organization’s core beliefs. Although I’m entitled to this personal opinion, harping on it too much publicly just because I believe I’m right will make me cross another more liberal Christian. Was it worth it?
If my self-righteous political opinion doesn’t count, then what does? Is it a sin to vote Democrat? Does more of the world’s sin guilt lie in the hearts of those who would vote for a party that supports abortion, gay marriage, and the removal of other basic constitutional rights such as the right to free speech and the right to bear arms? I suppose if it were so, then voting Republican would make me more righteous than them. But does our Bible defend this stance? No.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.Romans 3:10 — 3:18 KJV
Somewhat apprehensively, I participated yesterday (June 3rd, 2020) in a peaceful protest to demonstrate my solidarity with my black friends and family, the urban communities where I grew up, and the small city (Hagerstown, MD) where I first raised my three children. My church and other faith organizations set the tone for this demonstration and we expressed our support to the locals. These exemplary Christians encouraged the community–handing out hot dogs, holding one-on-one conversations, and sharing an uplifting message over a loudspeaker (see Tekesha Ann Martinez’s impassioned recital at that June 3rd, 2020 protest at the end of this video).
But let’s not be ignorant that now more than ever, especially in this racially charged climate, the enemy of our souls is indeed prompting society to push our buttons as Christians. It’s provoking our peers both from the left and from the right to argue in favor of opposing, earthly, political perspectives.
Many are failing to differentiate politics from our spirituality. The resulting antagonism between Christians stands to make the weak among us feel guilty and even deny Christ. And driving the undercurrent beneath this are spiritual forces looking to make members of the left out to seem evil, and members of the right to seem politically incorrect.
Our spiritual adversary, the devil, is using two of his most powerful minions to execute this demonic, master plan: the spirit of antichrist and the spirit of religion. If Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of Hell, then these two spirits are like his generals. Satan is enabling the spirit of antichrist on the left to discredit, censor, and ultimately ruin the faith of Christians on the right. And it’s enabling a criticizing and unmerciful spirit of religion on the right to cause us to condemn to hell any Christians on the left.
These demonic spiritual forces are polarizing America and the rest of the world. They’re trying to corral us all as little goats so that we fall in line with the will of the larger power that they serve: Satan.
Of course, we know from Bible prophecy that our adversary won’t prevail, but our people need to be on high alert for his cunning devices. We also need to strengthen our faith and heighten our praise to the Lord our Savior in preparation for the trials that we’re already starting to be put through–and the worse trials yet to come.
Increasing your spiritual awareness at this time is hard if all you can think about is how much you hate those who are trying to help you raise your spiritual awareness. Therefore we’ve all got to come to terms with our very relevant and current need for forgiveness.
Unforgiveness becomes a wall that blocks you. And when you want to connect with the Holy Spirit, you can’t because you have this hate. We cannot afford to miss the presence and power of the Holy Spirit right now. Without Him, you’re not going to make it through the darker times ahead.
Unforgiveness is hate–this hate where you’re lying to yourself, saying that you don’t have to acknowledge your failures but that others do. You’ve got to acknowledge your anger, your weaknesses–your sin! Deal with unresolved grudges! Douse the fires that your unruly tongue have started! Until you do that, you won’t be able to get past the wall–the spiritual blockage between you and humanity, and thus between you and God–and you won’t be able to connect with the Holy Spirit. You won’t be able to raise your spiritual awareness to the next level. You won’t be able to reach others for Christ.
It does not matter where on the political spectrum you are, left or right. It doesn’t matter how gravely you have been attacked by the other camp. We’ve got to forgive each other.
The problem is that most people aren’t mourning right now but rather seething and pointing the finger at the other race or at the other political party. As the church, we want to promote grace to all. Even the looters and the rioters. But the two opposing parties to which we subscribe are asking,
- will we ever see justice for the oppressed? Or,
- when are we going to start disciplining the undisciplined masses and protect our threatened local businesses and our nation’s economy?
I agree with those that say that now is not the time to start seeking all the answers to all of society’s questions. There are some long unkept, touchy matters of civil inequality at hand which absolutely require more immediate attention. But as we walk around all the eggshells, how do we not fall prey to the left’s racial and cultural entitlement of identity politics, nor to the right’s religious subtlety that can lead to spiritual backsliding?
Backsliding from what? From the knowledge of God’s grace to self-righteous legalism. A legalism where we are more concerned with applying the punishment of God’s law to the other party than applying the unmerited favor of God. Only grace is solely able to transform the heart of sinful man.
For a lot of people it’s understandably hard to adapt to the season we are in. They’re seeing the senseless mayhem that’s hurting us all. Extending grace to all the perpetrators like we grace preachers preach (instead of just condemning and punishing all the violent offenders) is very hard to do right now.
Then again, anyone who wants to idolize their skin or race can also easily hide behind their private misinterpretation of our grace message.
This is a really tricky situation! So…
- Are we going to extend more grace to the blacks than to the whites?
- Where’s our compassion for the business owners and the policemen who are struggling to keep us safe?
Those two questions above represent the major concerns of the two opposite sides in the racially charged events of the past few days.
But here’s the most important two questions of all:
- Are you on the left succumbing to a humanist, anti-Christian platform to solve the concerns of your camp?
- Are you on the right cleaving to self-righteous judgments against those on the left, and becoming irreparably separated from them and stubbornly uncompassionate towards them?
Whether you are black or white, liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing, Democrat or Republican, you’re doubtlessly being tempted to dig your heels in and become ever more hardened in your heart against the men and women that seem to be standing in your way. The way forward for those on the left is progressivism, socialism, compassion, tolerance. The way forward for those on the right is more status quo: conservatism, capitalism, industriousness, freedom. Each stands in the way of the other. Can we ever cooperate?
Stop. Look! Whether you’re on the left or the right, we’re all guilty of becoming headstrong. You’re only seeing your own self-serving solutions and fixing to act on your own strength. Don’t you know you’re falling prey to seductive, human methods to solve a problem that is arguably best solved by a Higher Power? Humanism is the antichrist’s imitation of God’s grace. Self-righteousness is the spirit of religion’s imitation of God’s holiness. And neither humanism nor self-righteousness are approved in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Therefore, in the midst of this explosively emotional, political turmoil:
- How do we comfort the blacks or help anyone restore their trust in America,
- by smothering them with our kind actions and loving gestures, or
- by kneeling Kaepernick-style in their presence (as several different groups of officers and other people around the country have been seemingly forced to do in front of cameras to appease the crowds in front of them), or
- by completely forbearing and not prosecuting any violent protesters, rioters, and looters?
- How do we rectify the wrongs committed and set America on a corrected course towards success,
- by holding national town hall meetings to discuss the hurts and comfort the nation?
- by mobilizing armed troops to quell the violence and stop the looting?
- by reforming law enforcement (e.g., increased sensitivity training) or by reducing the authority or methods of enforcement permitted to police officers?
I’m sure the President’s spiritual advisors are mulling over a lot of tough choices with him right now–and so are the state governors. And compassion must win… a tough call for a strong White House administration known for law and order. Would a deployment of the National Guard bring any protesters (or our already rattled nation) closer to God, or closer to hell?
I tell you that I have gained a lot more respect and compassion for the governors, mayors, and other lawmakers among the Democrats that have called off any National Guard deployments. I can’t say I’m in complete agreement with all their choices, but I have gained a lot more compassion for the representation they’re standing for. I am repentant that I have in times past privately discredited and denounced them for their policies and their public statements. I may not totally agree with them on everything but I can honestly say now that I feel their hearts.
What does the compassion our fellow black Americans sorely need right now look like? The bulleted suggestions in question 1 above, while some are difficult to fulfill and some are potentially unfair to whites, is what many blacks are calling for. Again, I personally am not in agreement with some of these suggestions. America is not the enemy. Neither can we pretend that we have unlimited resources to allow the destructive behavior seen during these protests to become the norm. But we can show all our fellow Americans on the left some love!
Where do you stand in all this? On which of the two opposing sides have you traditionally stood on? The left or the right? What are the steps you believe that you (and the country) must take next? How confident are you that you are seeing and processing the events as rightfully minded as possible, or that you have ascribed to the correct political agenda?
Part 2 of 2: Choose Forgiveness or Eternal Death
We’re seeing the masses in the great North American cities for decades running to sign up for a political agenda against black oppression that they feel is life to them. There are blacks, whites, latinos, and all kinds of people among them. They say, “ALL LIVES CAN’T MATTER until Black Lives Matter.” They passionately promote their agenda as though they would die if we didn’t all exalt it. These left-wing, liberal masses have flocked to this platform because blacks have indeed suffered oppression for centuries–so much so that it’s rendered even some Christian ones among them as mute; they won’t speak civilly but might rather seem to convulse in tantrums. And when some devout person tries to preach to anyone in their group, there are both self-proclaimed Christians and unbelievers among them that become as deaf–not wanting to listen. What they’re actually demanding is that we all give them love–however inadequately their pleas are being expressed. We perceive their unreasonable outbursts as irrational, unreasonable, savage. But theirs is actually a very human reaction to long overdue and unextended compassion.
God loves those people–the people that have fallen prey to that proud, angry spirit. They are stealing, killing, and destroying our cities. But God still loves them! They’re not the enemy! The devil is.
On the other hand, how are the right-wing folks taking in all this? They’re the conservative people at the other end of the spectrum, living mostly in suburbs and rural areas and deriding the liberal character prevalent in the urban cities. Very many of them would also rather die than forgive all the wanton destruction committed against them and their businesses by these tantrums.
The conservatives’ is a very self-righteous spirit of religion–and I don’t mean the type of spirit that serves God! Like the prophet Jonah in the Bible–a believer who became indignant when he realized God was determined to forgive his enemies–the people on the far-right are also saying,
“…I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”(Jonah 4:2 — 4:3)
On the other hand, the liberals have also given in to ungodly forces. In these last days, they’re being tempted by a demonic antichrist spirit is trying to draw all attention to itself. Through miseducation and misinformation, it has influenced these masses to act out with great wrath because he knows he has but a short time.
We Christians are called in Jesus’s name to take up our ministry of reconciliation and draw back to God the people endangered by these polarizing demonic spirits at both ends of the spectrum!
- The liberal masses must learn that losing their investment in their humanistic agenda is not the death of them, contrary to how passionately they believe that lie and try to convince others of it.
- The conservative masses have got to learn that it is really more worthwhile to be happy than to be right! Not every good opinion is a Godly opinion!
Both sides are loving their own lives over their fellow Americans’, even unto death! Is this not the epitome of selfishness? On account of what–
- an entitled false belief that apologies and reparations and tribute is owed to the blacks perpetually? Or what,
- that if “all them liberal people” die and go to hell–well then, good riddance?
Is any of that becoming of a Christian mindset?
All this is exactly what the eternal rulers of hell demand! They want people on both sides to wish to die before giving in to the other. Demonic forces want us all to hold eternal grudges and keep claiming reparations perpetually for our wounds and offenses. The devil wants us to never fully heal!
Neither polar opposite is in God’s will!
When all subscribers to the Black Lives Matter movement have conquered that spirit of antichrist by the blood of the Lamb instead, and when they finally appropriate the word of their testimony to exalt the righteous name of Jesus Christ (as their plight was intended to do in the first place)… when they finally love not their lives even unto death… on that day they will be truly free. On that day they will arise from the pit of their oppression because they will have finally allowed the righteous right hand of God to take them and lift them up, instead of them trying to arise by their own strength. It doesn’t even take the whites.
Sure, as the black civil rights leader, Barbara Jordan, once demanded, “we want an America as good as its promise”. We must continue to use every legal means to enforce the civil rights of black America. But forcing anyone to apologize to me won’t grant me heaven. What definitely will help is me forgiving them in spite of their sins against me! That’s the lesson I saw this morning in the following passage of Scripture:
And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.Mark 9:25 — 9:27 ESV
Like the demon possessed boy in the passage, many unforgiving souls on the left think they would hopelessly die if they were to let go of their anger. Not so. There is life in Jesus!
But the same applies to the right, to the conservatives–all of us! We have got to get past the indignation we have built up against the disorganized Black Lives Matter movement, the far left-wing anarchist organization Antifa, what we see as the anti-biblical platform of the Democrats, and all the liberal Christians who’ve chosen to side with the left. We’ve derided the great American cities for becoming a haven for these types, for “leeching off” our tax dollars, and for commanding as many electoral votes as they do. But the Lord says to all of us as He admonished Jonah,
Do you do well to be angry? …And should not I pity…that great city, in which there are [hundreds of thousands of] persons who do not know their right hand from their left… ?Jonah 4:4, 11 ESV
There’s a treasure we’re all seeking, a kingdom treasure of righteousness, peace, and joy that we’d like to grant to all our families and our nation. But neither the left nor the right have hunted for that treasure in the right place. We can’t reach fullness of joy on this Earth nor the pleasures found in God’s favor by hunkering down in neither of our extreme political corners–neither the left’s nor the right’s. Both are fundamentally wicked. As the Bible declares, “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 10:2)
Whose disciplinary responsibility is it to teach the unruly violent masses the correct code of ethics and respect for the law? That wisdom doesn’t belong to the right. It belongs to God, and it’s available to all who gracefully receive it on the left as well. Those in authority who’ve gracefully received it, will with grace apply it in their homes, schools, and cities. No glory to the right nor to the left, but to God.
Whose disciplinary responsibility is it to see that policemen be reciprocally arrested and held as guilty until proven innocent–in the same unfair way that some feel it tends to happen to black civilians? Certainly justice will be carried out in this world or the next, but vengeance belongs to the Lord. Not the left. Not the right.
Like the coronavirus, racism may be here to stay until the King of Kings and Lord of Lords returns to the Earth to reestablish His kingdom. Until then, we must all continue to do our best to proclaim liberty for all, reward righteousness, and punish evil.
Perhaps an achievable goal we could shoot for as a nation in this current environment is to enforce more regular cultural sensitivity training be administered to our law enforcement officials. Everyone is guilty of biases because it’s a natural self defense mechanism in our brains–but policemen, more than the rest of us, need to be reminded of this more often due to the daily psychological stresses of their profession. They get to witness first-hand the crime statistics that disproportionately place African Americans at the top of the list. Regular required sensitivity training is sorely needed for our men in uniform. Just my two cents.
May God bless you and your family with His grace and divine protection during this time. And God bless America.