Sometimes I question God and his timing on things. Much like this post. As this message has been swelling in my spirit for weeks now, I am somewhat bewildered by the timing. I have asked over and over for certainty, because I have a bad habit it seems for bad timing. However, I know this to be true to my heart, therefore, here goes.....
For the record, I was raised as a proud American. I have sung Lee Greenwood's song "Proud to Be an American" more times than I could count. I have been blessed beyond measure by the gift and sacrifice of so many to live in a country where I am still free to be me. Free to believe and choose and have the right to call myself a follower of Jesus. Truly this is an honor and one I am grateful for. So thanks to all who have served and paid the price for my freedom.
However, there has been a rising swell in the body of those who call themselves by His name recently that is of great concern to my heart, and I firmly believe to the heart of God. God has a documented history of supplying a place of freedom for his people to enjoy Him only to have those same people become lovers of the lifestyle instead of lovers of Him. This holds true for us today in the world as we know it.
America has chosen to label itself a place where we say "In God we Trust," yet we are consumed with building a lifestyle with the money on which we have stamped that saying. The body of people who self identify themselves as Christians today resemble a body of people consumed with maintaining our freedom to enjoy a peaceful, American Dream lifestyle instead of a people fully surrendered to obeying the words of Jesus.
Why do I say this you may ask?
Well take a quick scan on Facebook at all the "Christians" threatening to harm or even kill someone for entering a bathroom of their choosing. I recently asked someone who posted about this if they considered this to be the heart of Jesus and they pointed to the tantrum Jesus threw in the Temple as proof he would hurt or kill someone for being in the bathroom with his daughter. I was shocked at the basis of the argument. What was even more grieving is this was a minister of the Gospel of Christ.
A quick look shows Jesus never raised a finger against Rome for being Rome. He never threatened to harm anyone if they threatened him. Rather, he chose to love his enemies and neighbors just as they were and offered to give His life in their stead. He did tell his followers to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. This seems to mean making a choice to be wise about where our daughters will use a restroom, not a call to be vicious or hateful.
Take a quick gander at the political world. Wow. I do not even watch TV, but the visceral hatred being shown toward the political world, even by those claiming the name of Christ does not reflect the words in 1 Timothy 2 or Romans 13. I am the first to admit I am guilty of not obeying these words either, but it is time to repent.
When reflecting on this and other issues I have been confronted with in my own life recently, I have began to see a common thread as to the cause. It is a symptom of a much deeper issue. All these outburst of hatred and arguments are boiled down to a single sin, Focusing on the wrong Kingdom.
This is not a new sin, but rather the very core of all sins. It is first seen in the Garden of Eden when Eve chose to fall for the Enemy's first trap, "Did God really say?" His ways and tactics are the same. He convinced Eve and Adam that this world, this kingdom, was all they needed. He took their focus off God and placed it on themselves. He offered them the opportunity to be like God, a very tempting offer that is, and they fell for it. That was the beginning of a most treacherous path for us all, seeking the wrong kingdom.
Israel was God's chosen nation in all the world, yet they too fell prey to wanting a king(dom) here and now. Their might and power through God was in that they were a people with no nation (land) yet they were able to enjoy all the land because God was their provider, defender, protector, and guide. However, they longed to be like the rest of the world and begged for a king, which they received. From then on, their lives on earth were filled with all the troubles this world could offer as their own kings led them astray and oppressed them with taxes and burdens. They received what their hearts longed for and they paid the price.
Jesus came at a time that the Jews were desperate for a Messiah, or Redeemer from their subjection to Rome. They had lost their independence because they had turned their backs on God as their King and replaced Him with a human they could touch. This led to captivity and slavery. They were subjects to Cesar and ruled by another nation. They read the prophecies and looked for their Savior to rescue them and rule again on David's throne.
Jesus came to do those very things, yet they killed him because he was not the king they wanted. They desired an earthly kingdom, not redemption for an eternal Kingdom. They wanted their way of life back, not God to rule over them. They wanted to be free to live a life of peace and comfort, and Jesus was not offering any of that here and now. He claimed to be the Messiah, but they were wanting something else. They were hoping to be a sovereign nation, once again feared by the world with a God at their beck and call. However, they were focused on the wrong kingdom.
Hundreds of years passed before America became a nation. History tells us it was a search for a place for religious freedom that brought voyagers to these lands. We have been told the stories of how God blessed the rising of this nation and has set it up as a beacon for the world. Truth be told, America has been that very thing and God has used it to help many other nations in mighty ways.
My dear friends, I fear we have again fallen into the same trap so many before us have been overcome by. We cry out that America needs to return to God before we crumble and fall apart. But if we were being honest (and our post reflect our hearts) what we are really afraid of losing is our American way of life. We are afraid that God may actually hold true to His word and punish the proud and arrogant and forsake those who have forsaken Him for the kingdom of this world. We are afraid that America will suffer financially and that would mean we would lose our comfortable way of life. If we are honest, down deep in our guts, it is not really that we want to serve God again, we are just afraid of losing our American Dream lifestyle which in truth is nothing more than our American Idol.
Several weeks ago I recorded a video about what I felt God was crying out in His grief toward our responses to bathrooms and politics. However, I never published it. I questioned it and wondered what consequences such a message would carry. However, it has stayed with me like a fire in my bones. Watching a pastor rant and rave on a worldly corporation for simply being a member of the world, I asked myself, where is the love of Christ in this? Seeing videos about men calling themselves "red blooded, Christian Americans" and then telling people how they would hurt or kill someone for how they self identify in a bathroom issue. My heart ached as I felt the heart of God ache.
Then I heard of how the nation was beginning the downward spiral of violence because they did not like a political contender for our high offices. I began to see what was really happening and I could sense the fear of men beginning to rise. What the fear was, was not really a bathroom issue or safety issue. It was not really a political issue. What we are facing is an opportunity to Repent.
The American Idol of our American way of life has hardened our hearts toward God. We have turned our backs on Him. He has blessed us beyond measure and we have become the people in Proverbs 30:9. We have become a people of too much and we have disowned God and denied our need for Him. We have become lazy in our pursuit of him, turning our eyes rather to longing for things this kingdom has to offer. We who self identify as His followers by calling ourselves Christians are nothing more than hypocrites claiming his name in hopes of avoiding eternal separation from Him. But we prefer our own lifestyles while hear on earth. We do not really want a God to serve, but rather a God who will serve us and satisfy our longings.
We treat Jesus no differently than how the Pharisees and Israelites did in his days. We long for him to perform miracles for us to see, but when it comes to "eating his flesh and drinking his blood" aka, seeking His Kingdom first, we decide that is not the kingdom we truly want. We accept him for "fire insurance" but deny His lordship over our lives.
Somehow, American Christians have grown arrogant in thinking that God would never do to us what He has done to every other nation who claimed his name yet lived for this world. We think somehow we will survive and our lifestyle will go on forever despite our turning away from His hands. We think God will treat us differently because after all, we are America.
Please my friends, and I am speaking to those who claim to follow Christ. Please join me in repenting of our sins. We cannot ask a world who does not know God to act godly. They simply are incapable of doing so. God never once said the world had to repent and turn to him for things to get better and a nation to be restored. He told those who self identified as His people to repent and turn from their wicked ways. He told His self proclaimed followers to turn from seeking the pleasures of this kingdom and seek His Kingdom. He told us to love Him and our neighbor (meaning everyone) and that was the sum of the whole law. He told us to give up our rights to things in this world in service of others who are in need. He told us to love, not offer harm and hatred because they were lost in their sins. He told us to carry our crosses, not force others to carry theirs. He told us to deny ourselves, not require the world to deny itself. He told us to live for riches in His Kingdom, not stockpile riches in this one. In other words, He told us not to pursue an American Dream, but rather to pursue Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
In other words, He told us to quit living like we are living today and forsake all others to simply follow Him.
The question is, will we repent, turn from our wicked ways, seek His face, and watch Him restore and heal a land. Or will we deny Him and continue our pursuit down the broad path which will lead to our ultimate destruction. His ears and eyes are turned to us, He awaits our prayers and His heart is on His people. Will we turn our hearts away form this American Idol and back to Him?