By Jennifer Brown–(presented during coffee hour sharing time on Jan. 10, 2021)
CHALLENGE: The most disturbing part of Wednesday’s insurrection (Jan. 6, 2021) for me was seeing Christian symbols alongside symbols of violence and white supremacy. Some carried crosses, while others erected a gallows with a noose hanging from it outside the capitol. Jesus 2020 banners waved next to Confederate flags. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that “the conflation of Trump and Jesus was a common theme at the rally” among people he interviewed. One rioter shouted, “Give it up if you believe in Jesus!” Then, “Give it up if you believe in Donald Trump!” — which elicited loud cheers from those nearby. https://religionnews.com/2021/01/07/taking-the-white-christian-nationalist-symbols-at-the-capitol-riot-seriously/
Of course, I am not implying that all Trump supporters are racist, but there are clearly disturbing and dangerous strains running through the evangelical church today. We tell the world that we have the truth, but many of us are willing to believe absurd conspiracy theories that fly in the face of credible evidence and reason. And many of us are engaged in idolatrous worship of a political leader.
REFLECTION: As prominent evangelical Ed Stetzer wrote, “the past half decade has offered near daily examples of people co-opting the gospel for sinful ends. Racism, nationalism, sexism, and a host of other sins have found purchase within the evangelical movement in both overt and subtle expressions. Many have been able to dismiss these examples as outliers that did not truly represent the evangelical movement. We have long since exhausted this excuse. As evangelicals, we have to stop saying this isn’t who we are. This is who we are; these are our besetting sins.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/01/10/after-donald-trump-evangelical-christians-face-reckoning-column/6601393002/
Of course, Christians can hold opposing political views, but everything cannot be chalked up to a difference of opinion. There is still such a thing as objective truth, and perception is not truth. Lies are not harmless; they are insidious. As Christians, we know Satan is the father of lies and that the misinformation and lies that have proliferated our society in the past decade are coming straight from the pits of hell.
I hear many people talking about praying for God to heal our nation. I’m sure we all know the oft quoted verse – 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” I’m sure we would all like to skip directly to the healing step, but first comes humility and repentance.
ACTION: Today, I repent of any role I played in allowing a false gospel that conflates nationalism with Christianity to propagate in this country by not confronting evil and countering lies with the truth. The scripture enjoins us to speak the truth in love, not to dance around the truth; so, people don’t get offended. In Ephesians 4:3, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Keeping quiet to keep the peace doesn’t foster unity, it allows the Satanic lies to proliferate until we end up with incidents like the one we saw on Wednesday. If anyone else feels led to repent and lament, I encourage you to join me in prayer.
PRAYER: The Most Reverend Moon Hing, Bishop of West Malaysia wrote this Prayer for Repentance for the Anglican Communion. https://www.anglicannews.org/blogs/2020/03/anglican-cycle-of-prayer-prayer-for-repentance.aspx
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Sovereign Lord of the universe,
Creator of humankind,
we, your unfaithful children,
are truly sorry for our sins
and the lives that we have lived.
We sincerely believe and confess in our hearts
that only through the precious blood
of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary,
can we obtain your forgiveness.
We repent that:
in thought, word or deed,
we have committed serious offences against you
and our neighbours.
In laziness, despair and lust for power,
we have provoked hatred, division and hurt
within our communities.
In greed, deceit and indifference,
we have caused serious damage,
and aggravated destruction
to our refugee and migrant brothers and sisters.
In selfishness, insensitivity and bias,
we have encouraged and emboldened
those who inflict hurt, pain and sorrow
on our loved ones and families.
In the name of religion, doctrine
and even of Christ himself,
we have wounded believers and pursuers of holiness and faith.
In stubbornness, pride and arrogance,
we have caused division and strife within your church
and among your children.
Mercifully send Your Holy Spirit,
the Spirit of order and comfort,
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness;
restore in us true faith in Christ
which brings truth, peace and harmony;
and help us to walk together
with our brothers and sisters
in the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to the glory of your name.
SCRIPTURE FOR THE ROAD:
2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This is such a powerful statement, Jennifer – thank you, once again, for your strong voice with a scholar’s mind.