The conflation of Trump and Jesus was a common theme at the rally. “Give it up if you believe in Jesus!” a man yelled near me. People cheered. “Give it up if you believe in Donald Trump!” Louder cheers. — Goldberg in The Atlantic
The startling events of this week… The images of a mob defiling the capitol and signs of Christians in their midst… Have left me heartbroken and wondering, How should the church participate in politics? How should the church protest?
As I wrestle with these questions, our passage for Sunday is on Rahab (Joshua 2), a mother in the line of the Messiah. But she is also a harlot and citizen of Jericho. And Jericho gives us a vision for the church in protest.1 The people of God grabbed their trumpets and marched. They did not attack, instead they waited for God to act. They waited for God to take down the walls.
Christian politics and protest are difficult. In part because, unlike other parties, we do not seek what we believe is best — we seek the will of Jesus. But the difficultly is also in the waiting for God to act. Impatience pushes us to force change.
Our impatience has been increasingly evident. I grew up in a church with whispers of politics, that over the years grew to expectations. The “moral majority” and “religious right” created agendas and demanded action. The demands grew so strong the church gave up waiting and decided to force action. It did not matter who we aligned with — we wanted our way. We wanted our change, no matter the cost.
But the cost has been and will be great. It is evident from the outside we have left Jesus in order to force our way. So that today the church is in decline: in attendance, in influence, and in respect. Especially among young people. An Amazing stat, more that half of GenZ who are AFFLIATED have little or no trust in religious organizations!
How can we rebuild?
First, as always in our faith, we repent. We confess that the church became a cog in the political machine. A robot, rather than alive in the Spirit.
Second, as repentance is also changing, we turn back to Jesus. He is the one who remained outside the walls of the city. Sacrificing himself for others.
When we join him at the cross, we do not lose our voice. But do set aside our violence to control others.2 Instead, with Jesus, we now become peacemakers. And with this act the world will again trust… respect… believe.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called CHILDREN of God.” (Mt5:9) “But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be CHILDREN of your Father in Heaven.” (Mt 5:44-5)
1 — Anytime we take direction from the Old Testament we must tread with care. We are followers of Jesus and live in the reality of the New Covenant. In Joshua, after God breaks down the wall the people of God kill everything. This violence is the Old Testament reality. A reality without the cross and resurrection. When death still had power. But we live in the light of Easter. So when the walls fall, we treat everyone as though they are Rahab. Once a harlot, now a beloved greatx grandmother of the Messiah!
2 — Are my words Naive? In the desert the Devil tempted Jesus with power and control – to rule the whole world (Matthew 4). Jesus rejected that temptation, knowing the only way for change came through the cross. Satan continues to whisper this same temptation to us, urging us to break down the walls and fight… but as always, the Devil is a liar. Violence simply breaks. The way of Jesus is the only way to healing.
This Sunday we continue our series on the Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. It lists five surprising women who each reveal something about the meaning of Jesus. To prepare for the service read Joshua 2. I hope you will consider joining us at 10:30, in person with a mask or streaming on Facebook and YouTube.