What does a “Right-Standing Christian” look like?
A woman contacted Jesus on social media. Her profile picture showed her well-dressed, in her Sunday-best, posing with her grandchildren at an Easter event at her large church. She posted a question on Jesus’ page.
“My Lord and Savior,” said her comment, “what must I do to be a really, really good Christian in today’s evil world?” The response from Jesus came quickly, as he’d already been online posting pictures and a video of his day in the neighborhood with his team and a group of children.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord?’” was his text response.
“That’s the name I’ve used for you since I said the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ as a little girl,” the woman replied with a praying hands emoji added at the end.
Anyone sitting with Jesus at his computer would have seen him look at the screen with glassy eyes, his heart going out to this sweet woman. He knew she was asking with a sincere desire for assurance that he was pleased with her.
A good Christian must display a love for country and stand at attention for the National Anthem.– Jesus’ response of what one must “do” to be a really good Christian
“In this ‘evil’ world,” he typed, “what you DO to be a good Christian is this…” Jesus posted this part of his reply and then hesitated, imagining her growing anticipation.
“A ‘good’ Christian must adamantly oppose abortion and vote for pro-life candidates,” he continued, “even if those candidates will do a poor job in the role to which they’re elected.” Jesus paused again before continuing to type.
“A ‘good’ Christian must share social media posts in support of laws banning gay marriage and share information of the dangers of the ‘gay agenda’ in America. A ‘good’ Christian must be a strict constitutionalist and display a love for country, always standing at attention for the National Anthem and honoring soldiers. If one has an American flag pin or one with flag and a cross to wear – all the better. That displays your allegiance to me, as an American.” Having finished, Jesus hit the “share” button and sat back to await a response.
In her home office, the woman smiled as she read the text on her screen, very pleased at what Jesus had written.
“You must also defend your favorite elected officials at all times, oppose the lawlessness of illegal immigration,” she read out loud as she continued to digest Jesus’ answer, “stand strongly for the second amendment, fervently oppose all taxes and keep your kids and grandchildren from secular media with ungodly content.” The woman could barely contain her excitement as she typed her reply.
“All of these things I’ve done all my life.”
The smile faded from Jesus’ face as he read her words on his screen and prepared to respond one more time.
“Well then, all you have left to “DO” to be a good Christian is this…,” Jesus began to type, the white letters sharply contrasting the dark green of the screen, “…you must go to your local Planned Parenthood office and stop a young woman from having an abortion by promising that your family will provide her with financial support. Offer to pay for any health care costs she’ll have and promise to pay for any day care her baby needs while she attends school. After that, go to a local farm and work the fields with the workers there and learn their stories. Next, correspond with a local elected official of the other political party and ask how you can serve him or her. Commit to that official that you’ll pray everyday for his or her success as you’ve been commanded to do in the New Testament. Finally, you must meet a married gay couple in your area and love them as much as you love your own family.”
The cursor blinked as Jesus allowed those words to linger on the screen.
“If you believe being a good Christian and having God’s favor is based on what you ‘do’ then these are the things I require of you.” Jesus finished his comment and posted his reply to his page.
Jesus sat in an awkward, elongated digital silence as he watched for the three dots that would show the woman was typing. Instead of words, however, a frown emoji popped up in reply. Hearing nothing more from the woman, after a few minutes Jesus decided to send a private message to her. Jesus was surprised to find she had unfriended him and blocked him from her page.
“Oh, how difficult it is for Christians to live the life I displayed in the Gospels,” Jesus typed in a new post.
“Jesus, I’ve given up friends and family relationships for you and have taken a lot of flack because I stand for Christian truths,” another social media user replied. “Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”
“Nobody who sacrifices to live the life I modeled in the Bible or none who leave behind their old mindsets for me will regret it,” Jesus replied. “Those who follow my example will find a life of peace and joy that attracts others as they share truth. After all, it’s God’s kindness that draws people to repentance. Religious acts that separate us from the world often don’t mean much in God’s Kingdom on earth.”
Jesus stared at what he had posted for a moment.
I didn’t come to create a great, man-made nation,” he typed in his final comment. “Remember, John 3:17 says that God didn’t send me here to condemn people, but to reconcile them to God’s love and plan for them.”
PAUL’S SUMMARY: I’ve noticed in our evangelical churches, we’ve conflated political beliefs with biblical ones, just as the religious people did in the Bible. Many want Christianity to be about form and actions – a list of “do’s and don’ts and ways to be more ‘Christian.’” But Christ displayed a sacrificial life lived in partnership with God and laid down himself for others. That’s where true Christianity is found. Jesus didn’t worry about appearing pious, being in line with the beliefs of his people-group or maintaining his reputation with the “good” people of culture. He hung out with the despised and the marginalized.
This Modern Day Parable is based upon “The Rich Young Ruler” story of the Bible in Matthew 19:16-30 and Luke 18:18-30.
The rich young ruler was a very religious man who believed doing religious acts made him one of God’s favorite people – and his wealth was a sign of that blessing. The poor and not-so-fortunate were, therefore, bad people who were clearly under a curse from God for not acting the right way. Jesus challenged the man’s thinking that any cultural act can make a person be seen by God as a better person than someone else. Like many today, when Jesus tested the man’s heart (or motives) he “unfriended” Jesus.
The Bible tells us that a true sign that we’re God’s followers is that we love our enemies – even those we feel are not worthy of God’s love. All the partisan activities are to impress people in a human kingdom, not the work of heaven’s kingdom on earth.
Read the Bible stories for yourself and send me your own interpretation in the comments below or on the NPE Community Facebook page. I’d love to hear it!