The Religious Right
The Christian Left
So which one is it?
Or is it really neither one?
Hint – there’s a reason why the “religious right” image is on the left – and why the “Christian left” image is on the right.
I just got my new passport.
I know – what’s that got to do with Christianity? But then – I often say, if God is really everywhere – we should see evidence of Him, literally, everywhere.
So I saw evidence of Him there. In my passport.
But sometimes – I can’t help but notice that the apparent “evidence” is so fake.
Like with the new passport. If you’re not familiar with where I am, it’s a U. S. Passport.
The old one has the usual identifying stuff and the pages for visas and entry / exit stamps. Each of those pages has the letters “USA” stamped on them, along with what appears to be the official seal of each of the states. That’s it. Nothing else.
But the new one – it’s very different.
The pages for the visas and entry / exit stamps have changed. Instead of state seals, they now have images of famous scenes from US history and a quote from some famous person. I was really surprised at some of them. Such as –
- The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains,
- Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.
- We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
from the Declaration of Independence
- We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
- May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.
inscribed on the Golden Spike, Promontory Point, 1869
- We need to send thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here and we hope it will always be so.
Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version
- Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds . . . to look out from a higher plateau than the last generations.
Ellison S. Onizuka
Some of these are clearly about the Christian God.
Some are clearly not about the Christian God at all.
Some are ambiguous enough that they could be argued either way.
All are within an official U. S. document.
It’s like so many things today. Inclusion. No matter what.
I was listening to part of the Republican Convention yesterday – and heard the prayer being offered to a Sikh “god”.
The impression is that our government leaders are at least minimally supportive of this religion.
And yes – it was the Republican convention. I have no doubt the Democratic one will be any different.
More and more – government meetings at any level are moving this direction – declaring that any religion must be allowed to lead a prayer.
But what does that do to the concept of God – and Christianity?
Here’s something on Sikh beliefs, from www.realsikhism.com –
The opening of the scripture tells us about the description of God: “God is One. He is the Supreme Truth. He the Creator, is without fear and without hate. He is immortal. He is neither born and nor does He die. By Guru’s grace shall He be met. Chant And Meditate on His Name. In the beginning, He was the Truth. Throughout the ages, He has been the Truth. He is the Truth now and He shall be the Truth forever” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1).
The most important aspect of being a Sikh, is to understand that, there is one endless God. He is indescribable, inestimable, indubitable, infallible, intangible, imperishable, immutable, immortal, immaculate, immanent, unconquerable, unique, formless, fearless, deathless, timeless, ageless, compassionate, omnipresent and creator of all. “There is only the One Supreme Lord; there is no other at all. Spirit, soul and body, all belong to Him; whatever pleases His Will, comes to pass” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 45).
God loves everyone. Sikhs believe there is no one superior to God. Furthermore, Sikhs believe that God created all beings, animals, birds, creatures, including humans. When the first great Guru, the founder of Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Dev Ji gave this definition to the people who believed differently in God, they were surprised and they asked him, who told you this and how did God come in existence? The great Guru explained that God Himself gave him this information. God has always been present. The concept of time is very worldly. There is no time, beginning or end when it comes to God. This is very hard to understand for us humans because we are used to the concept of begin and end with time.
If you are a Christian – and don’t really know what the Bible says about God – you may just accept this and think it’s great. It agrees with what you say you believe.
Maybe even a more scary thought – it truly does match completely with what you believe.
Why do I say this?
What’s wrong with believing in what it says above?
Well – there are two kinds of untruth.
One has to do with saying something that’s untrue.
The other has to do with not saying everything – leaving something out.
For those of you who have watched “Perry Mason” on TV, or who have paid attention in a courtroom setting, you probably remember –
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth …?
As far as the description of Sikhism above, it’s what’s missing that counts. From the earlier site, we also read –
Q: Is Jesus God?
A: Sikhs respectfully disagree with some Christians who believe that Jesus is God. According to Sikhism, Jesus or any other person who took birth in this world is not God. Sikhism has a clear description of God. “God is One. He is the Supreme Truth. He the Creator, is without fear and without hate. He is immortal. He is neither born and nor does He die. By Guru’s grace shall He be met. Chant And Meditate on His Name. In the beginning, He was the Truth. Throughout the ages, He has been the Truth. He is the Truth now and He shall be the Truth forever” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1). “He has no form, no shape, no color; God is beyond these three qualities. One understands Him, O Nanak, with whom God is pleased” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 283).
Jesus took birth and had physical human form, therefore, Sikhism instructs that Jesus cannot be God since God does not take birth and nor does He die. Any individual who has taken birth in the history of mankind including Sikh Gurus, Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha are not God. Sikhs however do not discount that Jesus is a prophet and like Sikh Gurus may be One with God.
Now we have a problem. At least we should have a problem.
A Christian should never willing to say that Jesus isn’t God.
If Jesus isn’t God – there was no payment for our sins.
If Jesus isn’t God – there is no expectation of resurrection and eternal life for us.
If Jesus isn’t God – as Paul so eloquently put it –
The Resurrection of the Dead
1Co 15:12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
You may ask – so what’s the big deal?
Why can’t I be Christian and still go along with other religions that say Jesus wasn’t God?
But – there again – if we really know our Bible – we also know that Jesus said this –
The Greatest Commandment
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So – Jesus says ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
That includes – hopefully obviously – believing Him.
And – as we read in the Bible – Jesus also said –
The Unbelief of the Jews
Jn 10:22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jn 10:25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Jn 10:31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
Jn 10:33 “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
So – Jesus says – “I and the Father are one.
What does that make us – claiming to be Christian – if we don’t even believe Jesus?
We are supposed to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And that includes the Father – the Son (Jesus) – and the Holy Spirit. Three in One. And we should do it with 100% of our hearts, souls, and minds.
But how do we square this with the part about ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’?
Well – I think the answer to that is pretty straightforward.
Because Jesus also said –
The Great Commission
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
And that’s how we do it.
That’s how we love God with every part of us – and at the same time love our neighbors as ourselves –
We teach them about Jesus – His love – His care for them – and what He did for all of us.
That’s the ultimate Love.
To leave that out – leaves one huge hole in Christianity –
to the point where it isn’t Christianity any more.
Which takes me back to the original question –
How Christian are our leaders?
How Christian are our leaders?
Not very? Maybe even not al all?
We cannot love God with all our heart, soul and mind – while supporting – in any way – a religion that doesn’t believe in that same God.
It’s just not possible.
It’s what kept getting the Israelites in trouble in the Old Testament.
And it’s going to get us in trouble now.
Love you neighbors.
Be a light to them.
Don’t hate them.
But also – don’t change your beliefs to please them.
Don’t change your beliefs to not offend them.
Doing anything other than all of those things –
being a light, loving them, keeping our own faith –
is offensive to God.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Like I said – If we don’t know the Bible – how are we supposed to know the truth when someone else talks about their version of “god”?
Whatever you do – don’t rely on the government to teach you about Christianity.
Or on anyone else who doesn’t know – maybe even has never read – the Bible.
Further – if we don’t know the Bible –
if we don’t even know the truth about what we claim to believe,
how are we to teach others the truth about Jesus?
image combined from thecontributor.com; & thecontributor.com;