Chaos Dressed in its Sunday Best
I’m not too sure how to say what I want to say. It is January 7, 2021, and we are a day removed from the events that transpired in our nation’s capital. There are so many things I could say in this post. I could talk about the violence that occurred, as a protest turned riot found its way into the Capitol Building, how first responder’s lives were put at risk, how a woman lost her life, and how our president did little to put an end to what was occurring on his behalf. But there was something yesterday that cut deeper.
This Sunday we will be unpacking the nature and content of what the New Testament refers to as the Gospel. I was in the middle of my study yesterday, working through 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 when I was interrupted by the news. Upon tuning in, I was confronted with a scene of chaos. Now chaos is not really all that shocking at this point, especially after the year we have all gone through. But this chaos was different, because this chaos was dressed in its Sunday best. As crosses were raised, and as flags flew with the words, “Jesus 2020”, I couldn’t help but grieve, for our country and all that we’ve been through, but more so, I grieved for the church.
Somewhere along the line, the American Evangelical church replaced the Good News of Jesus with an entirely different gospel, and yesterday the entire world was given front row seats to where that belief system has taken us. This post is in no way meant to take a shot at conservative politics, or even those who cast their ballot for Donald Trump. In fact, what took place yesterday is not representative of conservative politics, nor is it representative of most Trump voters. Rather, this is meant to challenge us. In whom or what are we placing our trust and hope?
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians says in chapter 15, “Now brothers I would remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain”. Throughout the day, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the words, “unless you believed in vain”. The thing about “faith” and “belief” is that it is much more than an intellectual assent to some sort of propositional truth. To “believe” in the Biblical sense of the word is to devote yourself, to entrust, to be shaped by, so if one believes the Gospel, it is something that will profoundly transform one’s entire being.
But there is a warning embedded in this text, to those who “believed in vain”. These are those who have claimed Christ but live their lives entirely divorced from His teachings. And what are His teachings? They are what is outlined in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout the rest of the New Testament, and His teachings call us to a posture of humility, love, peace, self-control, and a radical commitment to our Lord. Our God is a jealous God, meaning that He will not share us with other gods, and this is what it means to believe in vain. John Calvin has stated that the human heart is a “perpetual forge of idols”, or as some have paraphrased, “an idol factory”. Pastor and author Tim Keller defines an idol as "something we cannot live without. We must have it. Therefore it drives us to break rules we once honored to harm others, even ourselves, in order to get it.” There are idols of comfort, security, family, success, power, and as followers of Jesus, we are called to confront those idols within our own lives, that we might walk freely with Jesus, worshipping Him alone.
What was put on display yesterday for the world to see was nothing short of idolatry as “Christians” bowed down to a god made in their own image. And while they adorned themselves with Jesus fish, crosses and strange taglines (Jesus 2020), none of what transpired yesterday had anything to do with the Jesus portrayed in the pages of the New Testament.
Redeemer Fellowship, as we consider the Good News of Jesus, we need to divorce ourselves from the pseudo-Christianity that was put on display yesterday. The gospel being preached yesterday was a worldly gospel, marked by pride, violence, fear, oppression and power, but the Gospel that was preached to us, by which we are being saved, is a Gospel of grace, peace, love and ultimately death. We must choose this day whom we will serve, and in so doing, the world will see what God is like.