I’m concerned. Not to mention discouraged.
It’s 3:25 AM here and I’m awake, because I am concerned. I have avoided speaking on what I am about to speak on tonight for months, but I can’t keep it within me anymore. We’ve got a problem. It’s time to stop pretending we don’t.
Ever since the direction for the current presidential election in the United States was announced I knew it was going to be a monumental, epic disaster. It has been so bad, I am embarrassed when people from other countries ask me about it. Right now, there are many signs that the work of this ministry is going to start expanding into other nations with more than just people following the work (as we have now) and every time someone mentions to me a particular candidate who is running, I find myself mortified. I can’t believe this has happened here, in the United States, in a nation that is supposed to be one of the top of the world. I don’t want to talk about it. I want it to go away.
But, here it is. In more ways than one.
I’ve tried very hard to maintain my firm belief in the unity of the church and that earthly politics should not divide us. I don’t believe God cares how anyone votes. I don’t even believe God cares if you vote. The early apostles lived in a society where they were allowed to vote and we never see any of them exercise that right. That doesn’t mean you can’t vote, or should not vote, or anything of that nature; I just don’t think that it makes a difference in the sight of God and I do not believe that on Judgment Day we will be judged for not voting or for voting or for anything having to do with the political system (save if you are a politician!). There’s a difference between earthly matters and spiritual ones, and the purpose behind why someone does or does not do something as pertains to voting or government involvement is between them and their country. We keep trying to stick God into a mix because somewhere in time, a politician convinced Christians that “voting the Bible” is a viable thing and that Christian religious beliefs should be secular ones. I am not going to get into the debate over this issue here because that’s not what this blog is about, and I do expect that any comments will refrain from igniting this debate. The point is that there was a time in American history as well as in the history of all nations where Christians did not expect their secular leader to exemplify their values and where citizens did not throw a temper tantrum when they did not get their way.
Which brings me to my deep concern and discouragement.
Ever since this election started, I am seeing things that are shaking me to the core in concepts and beliefs I have long held about the church and about those who profess to be “Christian.” It’s not a big secret that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with much of the church, overall, over my years as a believer. It’s taken me up and down to places and points where I have even wondered if I want to be a Christian. I feel like I spend all of my time reprimanding people for their conduct or attitudes. As much as I have tried to take a peaceable approach, especially working toward becoming all things to all people and learning to accept that we don’t all have the same viewpoints but that should not destroy relationship, I am finding myself at a place where I am having to disconnect from many people for reasons that I should not have to.
Yes, there is one side of the election’s camp that has been more trying than another, and we all know which one that is so I’m not even going to mention it by name. It’s not bad enough people are shoving candidates down people’s throats, fighting over ideals and what they believe to be best for their country, now they are fighting over everything. There is something about the nature of this election, about the heat and the candidates involved that is bringing behaviors to the surface that are unspeakable.
In the past two weeks, I have either unfriended, blocked, called out, or reported at least thirty people on social media due to their conduct. This conduct has included:
When Pastor Mark Burns endorsed Donald Trump, it came out that he lied about his entire bio. There wasn’t a thing in it that was true. When this simple fact arose, people rose in his defense, saying that he was being “persecuted” because he was a black man endorsing Trump. When confronted with the reality that the man was a liar, people turned and attacked individuals I know, resorting to name-calling and degrading others because they pointed out the man lied.
One man had a post on his page that criticized people as being “a bunch of whiny babies” because he spoke “the truth” and they just didn’t want to hear it. He had a post below this one that encouraged hanging and then endorsed his candidate for president.
Another man had a photo of a young man hanging himself in the shower. It was supposed to be a “joke” because the young man hung himself with a toilet paper noose. He thought it was hysterical.
There was a man a few weeks ago who described himself as a “church elder” in his FB bio who proceeded to write a status that told women who were being beaten and abused in their relationships not to complain or tell anyone about it as he “drags you across the floor” (direct quote) because “you passed up a good man in order to be with that one.”
I saw a mother berate and tear apart her own child because she insisted that she needed to tell her daughter “the truth” (there’s that word again). This was after several people missed the whole point that what was posted was a joke, done in good tongue-in-cheek humor and took it completely out of context.
Someone on another person’s page had the ignorant nerve to ask, “When is White History Month?” in response to a post that pointed out that while we emphasize remembering 9-11, we have totally forgotten about the history of slavery and wrongdoing on the part of American culture. Even though the woman who posted the status made it clear that there have been many groups wronged by the United States, the woman still wanted to know where “White History Month” is.
This was after weeks of seeing people threaten to boycott the NFL because a player made the personal choice to sit during the national anthem in protest. Screw the fact that sports heroes of all sorts get away with drugging and raping women, beating their girlfriends or wives, and that numerous groups do not salute the flag or stand during the national anthem for all sorts of reasons, but apparently the real travesty is someone having a contradictory opinion. If you want to boycott the NFL feel free, but post after post criticizes, judges, and one even threatened physical violence against someone who did not agree with someone’s opinion about it.
This list is just a sample of the things I am seeing go on, every day, online. More and more I am seeing name-calling, people viciously attacking one another for no good reason at all, hostility and tension, and I can’t deny that these things are coming forth because people are picking up on the general nature and tone of the election. I also can’t deny that the people who are engaging in these behaviors are supposed to be Christians. Several are supposed to be ordained ministers in positions of leadership.
See why I am concerned, not to mention discouraged?
I am to a point where I can’t see the posts anymore. I can handle that you have a different opinion than I do or that you feel differently about how this country should move forward from a political opinion. In fact, I probably won’t even want to talk about that with you. But I can’t sit by and watch post after post that serves no purpose but to be mean and attack other people for no good reason at all. I can’t suffer through the illusion that you and I are in unity with one another or that you and I worship the same God, because the God I serve expects us to lay down our flesh and put on the nature of Christ. Some of these people who are first in line to scream the loudest about Jesus and being saved aren’t really saved and aren’t even close to it. It is this unsaved nature, lurking below runs around the church, pretty clothes, and reciting Bible verses from memory that is disturbing to me. There is something in this election that is causing all these different thoughts, feelings, and realities that people keep buried deep inside to surface and what is surfacing isn’t pretty. We aren’t going to get delivered if we don’t deal with it, and we aren’t going to get anywhere just letting this behavior go on, unchecked. If you don’t want to deal with who you are, that’s fine, but I’m disconnecting from you. If I’ve disconnected from you, don’t come asking why I did that when I have made my position very clear. If you have followed me for any semblance of time, you know what I stand for and behaving with pure and unadulterated hatred is not something I desire to be around nor is it something I am going to stand by and pretend to love while you spew mess.
If this is what is within the church, then no wonder no one wants to be a part of it. Forget that’s why no one is getting delivered, or why we are standing still. Too many of us hold bitter, venomous hatred within our hearts that just has a chance to spill out every now and then. Right now, it’s exploding everywhere, all over everyone, and not only is it hurting our witness, it’s hurting our unity as a church. We talk all the time about unity and why we’re not united, well look at the things that are coming out during this election. We can’t even be civil and agree to disagree about things that are not eternal, no wonder we never get to a point where we are willing to sit down, shut up, and accept that we don’t know everything and we need to be taught. If there is one thing the Holy Spirit should teach you while you seek Him to reveal the Scriptures it’s that you don’t know half as much as you think and that you should get connected to a place, to a leader who can help you get the full connection of God you need.
Yet, alas, here I sit. I’m tired of the arguing, of the fussing, of seeing people at odds. That means if you’re inner troublemaker has surfaced, I’m praying for your leader, I’m praying for your church, I’m praying for your family, and I’m no longer in unity with you because there’s no way we can be one if you can’t even see your way to forgiveness or understanding. I can’t teach you what you refuse to learn and I know better than to think you’ve never heard teaching on this subject. I am done teaching people who think they know better. Some things we have to learn the hard way, and this is going to be one of them. If you can’t find one part of yourself that loves, then you can’t find one place with me. I forgive you, but I know you not. And I pray that at the end of time, that’s not what the Lord says to you.
I leave this, in conclusion, with the words of Ephesians 4:25-32:
So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth [Let each one of you speak truthfully to his neighbor; Zech. 8:16], because we all belong to each other in the same body [are members of one another]. When you are angry, [or Be angry, and] do not sin [Ps. 4:4; C there is a time for righteous anger, but it must not result in sin], and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day [don’t let the sun set on your anger]. Do not give the devil a ·way to defeat you [foothold; opportunity]. Those who are stealing must stop stealing and start working. They should ·earn an honest living for themselves [do something good/useful with their hands]. Then they will have something to share with those who are poor [ have need].
Don’t say anything that will hurt others [let any rotten/unhealthy word come from your mouth], but only say what is helpful [good] to make others stronger [build others up] ·and meet [according to] their needs. Then what you say will do good [give grace; be a gift] to those who listen to you. And do not make the Holy Spirit sad [grieve/bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit]. The Spirit is God’s proof that you belong to him and he will make you free when the final day comes […by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption]. Do not be bitter or angry or ·mad [raging]. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt [slander; insult] others. Never do anything [Get rid of all kinds of] evil. Be kind and loving [compassionate; tenderhearted] to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ. (EXB)
Don’t just read this blog. Don’t just like this blog. Examine yourself and change before it’s too late…because one day it will be. Just like we always say.
© 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.