What if we actually followed God?

Culture wars fascinate me. It seems the church culture finds the most hypocritical issues to fixate on. Church culture seems obsessed with bathrooms but is relatively silent about women being raped and assaulted. The rights of a baker to refuse service to a gay couple is adamantly fought for, while children are ripped from their families and kept in detention centers. We care about respecting a flag while ignoring President disrespecting our values. Culture wars seem more about protecting the privilege our country has granted Christians, then standing for Jesus. But what if the church heard James’ question, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” as a challenge to follow Jesus in loving our neighbors? I firmly believe that Jesus’ death justifies all who believe. Paul’s words, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” gives me hope. But my belief that Jesus’s blood purchased me inspires me to believe that he also called me to obey his commands. When Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is, he responds, “The most important one, is this: ‘Here, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” I’m compelled to care for the poor. To give sacrificially for those in need and to advocate for my neighbors. The bible is littered with verses commanding us to love the poor - our neighbors - but as a church, we are silent when our country casts aside the poor. And when I read Isaiah 58, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to see the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?” I am moved by compassion to fight for justice, racial reconciliation and healing for our fractured country. But our culture chooses to turn a blind eye to the injustices in our country. The issues we seem to care about seem to fit the Pharisees more than Jesus teachings. Because like the Pharisees, it appears that the “Christian culture" we want to protect is more about keeping the status quo than bringing God’s kingdom here. Regardless of whom a person sleeps with, their choice doesn’t actually impact my marriage. But choosing to create laws or demonize people’s sex lives creates a world that is safe for me. Because when I make my choices the norm, I don’t have to worry about temptation. But I also lose the opportunity to show people freedom in Christ. When I make following Jesus about behavior modification, instead of a relationship with Jesus, following him is no longer produces, but instead is service that shackles people. The more “rules” and “cultural norms” we fight to protect, the more we seem to ignore Jesus’ commands. Cultural wars seem to show the depravity of our culture while robbing us of actually living a life that is a sweet sacrifice to the LORD. But what if we stopped caring about others morality and focused on our own. What if instead of criticizing the fleck in my neighbor's eye, I instead took the log out of my own. Maybe then, I could actually follow God's command in loving my neighbor.

#culturewars #lovingthepoor


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