John 8:31–59, Acts 13:46–52 (read online ⧉)
One of the biggest struggles we—as Christians in America—continue to face, and will face even more deeply, is the hardness of heart to the Gospel. This will include people who identify themselves as Christians. As it becomes harder to be a cultural Christian, the pressure to not be a Christian at all will continue to grow. Yes, it is sad. We became complacent and comfortable, which rarely produces a life-giving Gospel. We ought to really read the Gospel accounts, and even Acts and the Epistles where we are the Jews (including Pharisees and Sadducees) and the Judaizers.
Currently, Jesus’ family is growing most quickly in places where Christianity is often opposed or co-opted by the government (becoming a false Gospel and church in the process). People not part of “the West” are the Gentiles of which we read. We, “the West”, have become what we thought we overcame. You might immediately protest this. It’s not bad to protest this. However, as we look at how the church family has been split between 2 political parties, we can see that our understanding of following Jesus Christ has become twisted.
Most politicians are practical with their politics. They will commit (or at least pretend) to what will get them votes. Theirs is not, by practice, a Gospel of love. There are “planks” in both political parties that Christians should support. However, if it were an all-or-none supporting the entirety of a political party’s platform (and this would even include those outside the normal two), all Christians would probably—if they remained true to the teachings of Jesus Christ—have to stop voting. This isn’t solely an American thing either. This is the reality in most democracies/republics. No one political party will agree with all the teachings of Jesus. Yet, we have people focusing on political parties and politicians, and not on Jesus Christ.
We are the Jews. We have become partners with the State. We have even gone so far as to demonize others that call themselves Christians as if our own house is clean, and if we are God, being able to judge (more like condemn) the heart of another person.
John tells us that the Jews, not being able to stand against Jesus, called him a Samaritan (in other words, he wasn’t a “real” Jew) and demon-possessed! Wow! What chuztpah! We are hearing that from Christians that person is not a “real” American, “real” Christian, “evil”, “deluded”, and so on. THE WORLD JUDGES US BY THE WORDS WE USE. Look at the words we are using against each other. These are the same tongues that sing, “blessed be the name of the Lord!”
As Western “civilization” walks and runs away from Christianity, there are still plenty of people waiting to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Many of them are far away. Many of them are right next door.
1) What ways can you think of to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world? Look at each of those ways. Will the world actually listen to them? Why or why not?
2) One of the tendencies of the Jewish leaders was to say, “come to us.” In what ways do modern Christians do the same? In what ways are modern Christians different?
3) Politics is a very sore and volatile subject these days. How can we still use politics to share the hope and grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?