Politics, as usual

Yesterday, while I was volunteering at my church, I heard an interesting conversation. Actually, it wasn’t really “interesting” more than it was just intriguing to me.

Any adult who has the ability to talk has probably had a conversation like this recently.

It went something like this:

  • Person 1: “Did you hear that so-and-so won South Carolina?”
  • Person 2: “Yes, I’m just over this whole election. It doesn’t matter if so-and-so or so-and-so wins, we are in trouble either way.”
  • Person 3: “You guys! So many people don’t vote because they think it isn’t going to matter. If all of those people would just vote, things could change.”
  • Person 2: “I think we’re screwed no matter what!”
  • Then Person 1 goes on to talk about their favorite candidate.
  • More of this conversation plays out.
  • You get the point. (This conversation isn’t verbatim, but close enough.)

Like I said, we have ALL had or been around some variable of this conversation recently.

It’s an election year.

It’s part of being American.

I have my own political views just like anybody else. But as my heart grows closer and closer to God, I’m starting to have bigger concerns.

Rewind a bit.

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So, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven, a few months ago (every one of you should also read it, and then start your own mutiny), and this little ditty which is on page two (which is kind of funny because I knew on the second page of this book that I was in spiritual trouble and I still had the rest of the book to go) has been embossed into my brain since the moment I read it. Mrs. Hatmaker is talking about the church she and her husband started. She talks about how badly the building needs repairs. The doors are broken. The parking lot is horrible. She says that the carpet was in the church during “the Nixon administration”. But then there is this:

These are deficiencies most pastors would never stand for (or most churchgoers), but we won’t buy carpet at the expense of orphans. $10,000 for a new parking lot could fund a hundred thousand tree seedlings to reforest Africa’s decimated land and stimulate their local economy.

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I can not shake this thought.

The question is this: where in the scriptures do we selfish, gluttonous, excessive “Christians” find that politicians should be changing the world and taking care of our society?

In Isaiah 58:3-7, the bible says the CHURCH (it doesn’t say the government) is supposed to:

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

Instead, the American church prays and fasts in an effort to bend God’s will to it’s own selfish desires.

  • We fast in hopes that God will “bless US” with a higher attendance.
  • We fast in hopes that God will “bless US” with the funds to build a bigger building.
  • We fast in hopes that God will “bless US” with “financial provision”.

All the while the world right outside our doors is starving, and hurt, and abused, and wrongly imprisoned.

Then we have the audacity to use social media to advertise our “fasting”. To let everyone know that we are fasting in hopes of growing “our” church. To share recipes with each other about what we can eat during our “fast” and still technically call it a “fast”. All of this in direct contradiction to the scriptures (read it here).

We continue to preach biblical financial stewardship as our church leaders take out millions of dollars in loans so they can construct bigger and more lavish buildings to compete with the church organization down the street.

We need churches that have lobbies that look like alpine ski lodges with fireplaces and waterfalls while homeless people live under the bridge across the street and are freezing to death and haven’t had a shower in months.

We need churches with amenities that rival the Ritz Carlton when we have whole families living in cars in our communities.

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We need churches that spend thousands upon thousands of dollars every year so we, the “Christians” can have fresh coffee, tasty pastries, and candy to munch on when we arrive at our church. “Churches” that sometimes fill entire sports arenas, all the while, our towns are filled with children that go to school hungry every single day because school is the only place where they get fed.

We need churches that blow through money like it’s fake, so we can all have two or three new t-shirts per year to market how awesome our church is, while the destitute among us go without.

We have church leaders who convince us that this is what God wants, which is disgusting!

God’s word and His character make it very clear that this is not what makes Him feel exalted. But, we choose not to read his word on our own. We allow ourselves to be led astray willingly.

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I can tell you, for certain, Jesus never walked 40 miles, sleeping in the wilderness or in the homes of strangers, so he could get to the next town and proclaim “you need a bigger building with a gym and a swimming pool so my people can feel more comfortable when they spend two hours per week here worshiping me“.

And I just blindly accept the notion that this is what God wants because it’s what my pastor wants….

Actually, it is what we Christ followers want. Because the honest and dirty truth is if the church didn’t do some of this, we would go to another church that did. If this weren’t the case, these organizations would not exist.

That’s whom we’ve become.

So, my brain is conflicted.

On one hand, I want to blame it on the selfish, ego-driven, celebrity-status seeking pastors who are leading our organizations AWAY from God, all in the name of Jesus.

On the other hand, I blame us all, because we know this is wrong, but we continue to be willing participants because of our own selfish human minds that convince us “we deserve all of this awesomeness at church”.

We blind ourselves to the unquestionable desperation of the world that surrounds us, and enjoy the fact that we don’t even have to carry our Bibles to church any more because our churches have gigantic movie screens with multi-media projectors where we can just read-along with the teaching. I know the money used to buy these accouterments could have been spent to put a few homeless families in hotel rooms for a few weeks, but they sure are convenient for me

Money well-spent!

  • The city where I live covers an area of less than 69 square miles.
  • YellowPages.com lists 1,276 results for churches in my city.
  • ChurchFinder.com lists 167 separate churches in my city on it’s website. These are churches that actually sign-up to be listed here. I know there are many more churches than this.
  • This equates to 2.6 churches per square mile in the city where I live.
  • There are homeless people everywhere you go in this city. There are abused wives. There are people being murdered all the time. There are hungry children. There are people who are far from God.

I wonder if we could sit down face-to-face with Jesus and ask Him what we should do, would he say….

  • BUILD BIGGER CHURCHES!!
  • Build them on credit.
  • Build them to spoil yourselves.
  • Don’t worry about what the scriptures say.
  • All of those hurting, abused, homeless, needy, hungry, dirty, depressed, struggling people that are surrounding you should be getting help from the government.
  • They aren’t your problem.
  • They deserve this life.
  • You deserve donuts and stage shows with lights and smoke that rival a Metallica concert!

Listen, I know I’m stepping on toes… My own!

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I know we love our social clubs that we call churches.

I’m guilty!

That’s why I’m so scared!

I know the Bible says in Matthew 21-23, that many of us who call ourselves “Christians” are going to be surprised and devastated when we’re not allowed into Heaven. I know it is clear that we do many things in “God’s name” even while NOT doing the things He called us to do. I know it says that even though I love God with all of my heart, if I am doing anything other than HIS work, He will say that He doesn’t even know me!

This breaks my heart! Because I know that I love God. But the “American” part of me is a spoiled-rotten brat that feels my own comfort on Sunday morning is actually important to a God whose own son could hardly find a place to rest his head.

It breaks my heart because I wonder if I’m worthy enough to even call myself a Christ follower knowing that Christ Himself wouldn’t even support what we “Christians” are doing.

It breaks my heart because I know if these organizations that call themselves “churches” didn’t exist, Christianity in America would probably be nearly non-existent.

It breaks my heart because I know that I, like many of you, even while acknowledging that I am selfish and greedy, still kind of don’t want it to change. I kind of still make excuses for it. I get kind of excited when I hear my pastor start talking about updating the building or adding more programs for ME to enjoy.

Really, it breaks my heart because those people who were talking politics at church yesterday are right, I’m scared that we are screwed as a society.

NOT because politicians will continue to be the same kind of politicians that we’re accustomed to, but because we “Christians” will continue to be the same kind of Christians that we’ve become accustomed to.

And we are perfectly fine with that.

How would our country be changed if our church organizations stopped blowing money on self-interests, and started using every single bit of it to follow God’s commands?

Do you think that TRUE Christianity would flourish, or dwindle if we decided to do this?