Reformation call: Reclaiming the distinctive witness of the ChurchOctober 31, 2017
Christians, have we forgotten who we worship and serve? Have we traded our distinctiveness as Christ followers for the sheen of political insiders? If so, we’ve betrayed our Savior and mislead our neighbors on what it looks like to be a Christian.
When some self-identified evangelicals prove themselves willing to suppress the faith for politically expedient, but morally profane, ideas or attitudes, the watching world is understandably confused. Compromising with the culture, compromises the witness of the Church. In too many circumstances, the line between faith and politics has become so blurred that the cause of Christ becomes indistinguishable and the politicos can no longer identify who the religious people are or what they stand for.
A watching world
This assessment isn’t coming from me— but from people watching the Church behave in ways unfitting for a Bride betrothed. They are starting to ask out loud if this is real Christianity at all.
They wonder, when Steve Bannon is invited to headline the Values Voter Summit, why economic nationalism and lowered refugee numbers matter so much to people who claim their eyes are on Christ and eternal citizenship is in heaven? They are asking why do certain Christian leaders like Robert Jeffers go on CNN to excuse outright lying and defend behaviors previously denounced by the Church as scandalous?
It should concern us when pastors are viewed not as prophetic voices but chief apologists for a President whose personal life does not reflect the ethics nor character of the Kingdom of God. His treatment of other people is far from Christlike. His tendency to “hit back” is precisely contrary to Christ’s “turn the other cheek” command. He does not act justly, love mercy nor walk humbly with anyone.
Yet, at the end of the day, it is not his behavior that deeply disturbs me most—I have long believed and said Donald Trump is a morally flexible pragmatist. He has come to us exactly as advertised. The behaviors and demeanor we saw in the campaign are the very same we see on today’s Twitter feed. But what bothers me most is the unwillingness of Christian leaders who certainly know better to speak out or hold him accountable.
We need a Luther but we also need a Nathan
Martin Luther called out the error of the institutional church of which he was a part. Nathan called out the error of the king when his personal sins threatened the commonwealth. Who are the Luthers and the Nathans of our age?
As attention is turned to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation ignited by a humble monk named Martin Luther, we see what can happen when one person of uncompromising faith and moral courage stands up and calls out the corruption of the culture of his day. The Roman Church was the most powerful institution in the world at the time. But Luther saw, through his study of the Bible and devotion to God, that church leaders were actually leading people away from God’s Kingdom.
Luther listed 95 points of departure between the practices of the church and the teachings of the Bible. They are known as the 95 Theses and it was 500 years ago on October 31 when he nailed them to the door of a Castle Church in Wittenburg. Today it might be likened to posting a thread on Twitter but it ignited not only a reformation in the church, it quite literally changed the world. What might a Luther list look like today and who might say such things?
Satan uses counterfeit religion, even counterfeit Christianity, to appropriate, twist and pervert the truth just enough that people miss the enemy in their midst. They’re called wolves in sheep’s clothes. Or, ofttimes, they are wolves in shepherd’s clothes.
Here we move from the question of who a modern day Martin Luther might be to the question of who might be a modern day Nathan, a prophet in a position to call out those at the most vaunted levels of leadership, when they err.
I fear some of my fellow evangelicals have been fooled— or at least now appear to be. Just because you are given access to the throne room doesn’t mean you are in front of the King. Donald Trump is not the King. The Oval office is not the throne room. And American is not the Kingdom.
Revelation 5 shows us what the Kingdom looks like and it does not depend on the success of Donald Trump (or any president).
I pray for the generation that rises up more concerned with the throne room of heaven than the Oval Office. I pray God will send in modern-day Nathans who can enter into the presence of an earthly ruler with their hearts and minds and identities firmly set on eternity.