Sat in a church today listening to a sermon on Mark 9:38-50 and my head nearly exploded. Or maybe it was my stomach. Or my heart.
The disciples were persecuting someone who had been driving out demons in the name of Christ. The disciples were upset because this person hadn’t gone through them to get to Christ. Christ was less than pleased. “If he is not against us, he is for us.”
Just a few weeks ago, I was attending a congregation from the same denomination as the church this morning. I found a publication by that denomination’s governing body which had an article detailing how to deal with “Christ-less Liberals.” The pastor this morning was preaching that the disciples were wrong to persecute someone working in the name of Christ but not following the disciples. This pastor was saying that the intermediary body (disciples) was not as importantas the fact that the person was working miracles in the name of Christ. But the denomination is publishing that anyone who doesn’t go through the Republican party (or at least conservative values) can’t have a relationship with God. The two ideas don’t exactly go hand in hand. And one idea is from Christ.
I mean, let’s just take a quick second to look at the term “Christ-less Liberal.” The idea is that no one who votes liberally could know Christ. That every vote cast against the Republican party is a vote by someone without God. People really believe, however ignorantly, that God can only be reached through the Republican party. Does this sound familiar? Anyone?
Over and over Christ expressed his frustration at people putting themselves between Him and other souls. You know what? I don’t have to go through anyone to reach God. I don’t have to go through this denomination or the Republican party or the pope or president. My God is accessible to me where ever I am AND how ever I vote. Mark 9:41 says “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” But if I vote in favor of clean drinking water or environmental protection I’m a socialist hippie – and godless. Christ said “the least will become the greatest” but if I vote to support a living wage,which is vote for the dignity of every person, I’m entitled – and godless. Are you sensing a pattern here? I am not ashamed to be considered liberal (especially since I don’t consider myself liberal. I’m certainly not ashamed of the things other people assume about me or gossip about me). I am not ashamed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am NOT godless. Regardless of any arrogant, self-righteous church body (or person) that believes otherwise.
Over the last several years, the far right has deified Ronald Reagan. The same Ronald Reagan who passed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act” just 3 months into his first term as Governor of California. Even President Reagan would fail to live up to the standard borne by the idol he’s become in the hands of the Republican Party. And the whole idea that Christian = Republican is relatively new, utterly wrong, and sadly naive. There are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Christians who believe that Christ was serious when He spoke of loving those who persecute you, caring for the sick, and selling all you own to give money to the poor. [hah! How un-Republican is that?! Instead of your yearly vacation to the beach, take that money and hand it to the first person you see in line at the food bank.] As we approach the election, I am encouraging all of my Christian friends to be praying for the conservatives in this country. Praying that Christians and Republicans, particularly Christian Republicans, examine their hearts, their logic, and their choices for President.