This Isn’t Where Jesus Is Making His Last Stand

My dad grew up in a poor, rural area of southeast Missouri during the depression. His family attended an Assembly of God church, and that is where he felt God’s call on his life to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On my mom’s side of the family, her dad (my grandfather) was a circuit-riding Baptist preacher…until he got caught right smack-dab in the middle of a giant wave of Pentecostalism when Mom was just a young girl. When he started preaching about speaking in tongues, his long-time friends in the Baptist hierarchy extended to him the “left foot of fellowship”. 🙄 It wasn’t long before he was embraced by the fledgling Assemblies of God movement. So, both of my parents grew up, got married, and spent all of their lives, basically, in the A/G. Sooo…

I grew up in a holy-roller church. I heard the sermons. I sang the songs. I survived Sunday School, Christian Cadets, Royal Rangers (think Boy Scouts), C.A.s (“Christ’s Ambassadors” — youth group), Wednesday night church, and revival meetings that often lasted well past 10PM on school nights. 😳 I survived kids camp every summer, until it was youth camp every summer.

It was loud, emotional, embarrassing…and awesome. I absolutely LOVE, and am eternally grateful for, my heritage as an A/G preacher’s kid. Oh, there were definitely cons, along with the pros, but on balance, I had a great childhood. And, I learned a lot.

I learned about the Bible, of course, and what was at the foundation of my parent’s faith. I learned about people, and “church people”, and that one wasn’t necessarily “better” than the other. My dad loved people, regardless of whether they attended “his” church, or not. Regardless of if he thought they were going to Heaven…or if he was concerned that they might be headed in a totally different direction.

And — important distinction here — if he did think that their eternal destiny (and “destination”) was, uh, Hell…that wasn’t something to take pride in. It wasn’t a way of measuring if he was better than them…or smarter, or more holy. It wasn’t even a “there but for the grace of God go I” thing.

It was an avoidable tragedy. 😢

My dad believed in preaching the gospel, including warning people to prepare for eternity. But, he also believed in trying to love people into faith. ❤️

Pardon me for saying so, but I think he got that model from, well, Jesus.

I might be wrong, but I don’t think there’s a single example in the Gospels of Jesus brow-beating anyone into following Him. Or, threatening them into faith. Or, insulting them until they wanted to be like Him.

On the other hand, there ARE examples of Jesus rebuking religious leaders — even His own disciples — when they got a little self-righteous. Or, a LOT self-righteous. Or, when they tried to impose extra “rules” on people in the name of religion. Or, when they tried to keep certain types of “sinful” people away from Him. Or, when they tried to keep children from “bothering” him.

If Jesus was here — today, in the USA — I think He might want to perform a “course-correction” on some of us as individuals, and on what we commonly refer to as His Church.

I think He would have a BIG problem with “His Church” (and His name) being used as leverage for political power. Jesus doesn’t love Washington, DC…or the USA. But, He loves the people who live there enough to die for them.

And, we need to quit acting like — and thinking — that He’s going to ride in on a white horse and make His final stand to save our great country. He didn’t die for our country. He died for people. All people. Around the world. Across the street. Including the ones we don’t like, and don’t approve of.

I think He would exhort/implore/demand that anyone claiming to be His follower love… everyone.

Love. Everyone.

Democrats. Republicans. Atheists. Muslims. Jews. Baptist’s. Pentecostals. Catholics. Dallas Cowboys fans. Barack Obama. Donald Trump. Immigrants. Illegal immigrants. Rich. Poor. LGBTQ. The undecided. The unconvinced. The unlovely. The unlovable. Black. Brown. Red. White. Off-White. Not sure. EVERYONE.

And, me. Because He does. 😢❤️

The magnitude of THAT love overwhelms me. Humiliates me. Inspires me. Propels me. Compels me.

I think that those of us — me included — who are going to use His name to identity ourselves need to try harder…to love.

Disagree with…but love.
Vote against…but love.

It’s REALLY hard for me to love certain types of….

Okay. It’s hard for me to love Donald Trump. When my righteous anger (and, yes, I think it IS righteous anger) is stirred by something that he says or does, and I voice — or type — my disapproval, almost everything inside of me wants to do anything EXCEPT love him. I don’t want to pray for him. I don’t want to limit my vocabulary to “Christian” words. I don’t want to think about Jesus loving him. I don’t want to acknowledge that Jesus DIED. For him. But, it’s true.

Maybe you have someone in your life like that. Maybe it’s me. Probably not, but….🤷🏻‍♂️

I don’t have a magic formula to “fix” all of this. And, I know that whenever we have a different president, that won’t fix my “love” problem. And, I know that he doesn’t answer to me. And, believe it or not, I know that none of you has to answer to me, either. Honest. 😬🤥 (Just kidding with the Pinocchio nose. 😜)

We can, and will, disagree about…”stuff”. Politics is part of that stuff. You may even disagree with me about Jesus. But, we still need to love each other. Because it’s the better way. Because it’s the only way we’ll come out on the other side…healthy, and whole…the way we were created to be.

And, for me, because Jesus said so. And, that’s enough.

I love you all. ❤️🙏

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