Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bad Romans

"Sometimes, being a good Christian meant being a bad Roman.  So before you accuse people of being unpatriotic, ask yourself which empire they're actually serving."
Stephen Mattson

I know I discuss the bad marriage of Christianity and politics perhaps more often than I should.  But  I think it is vitally important to see it as problematic and to understand why it is such a bad idea.  Why Christianity and nationalism, why Christianity and patriotism often don't mix - even in the United States of America.

The quote above gets to the heart of the conflict.  There are times when we are called to be bad Romans.  Bad Americans.  Because our calling is to be a good Christian first and foremost.  Above all else, we are citizens of Heaven, not citizens of America.

Sadly, in America today, there are too many that conflate the two.  Who view being a good American a prerequisite to being a good Christian.  Who view being a very specific type of patriot synonymous with being a true Christian.

We have pastors like Robert Jeffress who feel that only red-blooded American Republicans who support Trump are true ChristiansOr Franklin Graham warning how progressives are anti-ChristianEven more astonishing, earlier this year white evangelical support for Trump remained at 69% percent.  Despite him representing the anti-thesis of everything they stand for and believe in.

Jesus requires the distinction that Mattson is indicating.  In fact, he outlines it in his answer to the pharisees when confronted over taxes.

"Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.  So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality.  Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?'  But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, 'Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?  Show me the coin used for the tax.' And they brought him a denarius.  Then he said to them, 'Whose head is this, and whose title?'  They answered, 'The emperor’s.' Then he said to them, 'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'  When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away."
Matthew 22:15-22

Jesus isn't requiring blind allegiance to country.  He is not requiring that we obey every single rule and law that our country puts forth, regardless of the character of the law.  He is pointing out the division of church and state, the line between the Way and the government.

He is flatly pointed out that he is unconcerned with the matters of the government.  "Give the government what they made.  Give me what I made."

It matters now more than ever.

Those same high profile pastors like Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham are now suggesting civil war if this corrupt president is impeached.

Our president is asserting absolute power.

We have voice after voice after voice trying to tell us our Christian duty is to be "good Americans" as they define it.  To just go along with it.  To go along with the one party because they believe the right things.  To turn our eyes to the corruption, to the abuses of power, to the criminality.   To swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

Maybe right now, the most Christian thing we can do is be bad Romans.

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