Christians, we are being played. We are being tricked. We are being baited into picking sides. In a world where more and more people are turning away from Jesus every day, we are being distracted by things that ultimately have very little to do with the Gospel. Christians from both sides of the political aisle are falling right into the trap being set for us and damaging the church in the process. We are giving away our opportunities to invite people into eternal life with Christ over statues of long dead generals. Satan must be jumping for joy.
What is going on is like fly fishing, the type of fishing where the fishermen stand in the river with the floppy hat, the basket hanging on a hip and big waders. The fly fisherman is always busy while in the river. He is always whipping the fishing rod around and sending his line back and forth in great curls over the water like fishing samurai.
At the end of the line being maneuvered by the fishermen is a “fly”, essentially a cloth lure with a hook in it. It is an elaborately designed trap made to look like the insects of the area. The fisherman uses the repeated casting and looping to make his fly look like a real one and attract the attention of the big fat fish.
If the fisherman manipulates the fly well enough, the fish winds up hooked by its own choice. It thinks it is doing what is natural and coming up for a snack only to be dragged from the water with a hook in its jaw.
We are in the midst of a similar battle of wits being played out in America right now. Unfortunately, in this conflict, we are the fish.
There are no literal fishermen involved, but there are many groups and causes that are casting out bait and fighting for attention. Competing political movements and ideologies are doing their best to attract sympathy and get as many followers as possible. To do so, they are creating elaborate lures that are being dragged before the world and manipulated to gain our interest.
Their actual messages are being cleverly disguised to look like something that the church should be interested in, much like the hook made to look like a fly. Manipulation and deception are being employed to hide the ultimate truth. Once we are hooked it is really hard to get away.
The recent events in Charlottesville are a good example of this process in action. The tragic death of a protestor was piped into everyone’s living room. It is shocking and terrible. Violence, anger, and division were amply on display as well. This is a grade A mess all around. We are witnessing society tear itself apart on a small scale and it induces fear in all of us as we watch it all in living color.
As Christians, we want to do something to help fix the situation. We want to make it better. The danger is that this opens us up to manipulation. The world uses natural emotions, sympathy, pride and a desire to help, to pull us away from the job that Jesus gave us.
What is our job here on this earth?
Racism is inherently evil so we may be encouraged to oppose racism and join up with these folks who also fight against racism. Stopping inequality may be our rallying cry.
We may feel people are attacking our cultural heritage and using violence, so we should stand with these folks who are also being attacked. Standing for tradition may be our rallying cry.
Yet Jesus was very clear in His command to His disciples.
Jesus orders us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them all the things He commanded. In case we were confused about whether we should listen to Him or not, Jesus prefaces this command by telling them that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth.
It is a really clear command, isn’t it? I wrote about the clear command aspect of the Great Commission, Here for further reading.
There is nothing about fighting fascism as we define it in the Great Commission. There is nothing about the Alt-Right and demonstrations. There is nothing about protests or counter-protests.
Jesus never once says fight the culture wars.
These are all distractions from our God given mission to make disciples. The writer of Hebrews describes our call and the challenges waiting for us this way:
Weights are things that are not necessarily bad in themselves but are holding us back from doing what Jesus asks of us well. It is like wearing a wetsuit while running a 100 yard dash. There is nothing wrong with a wetsuit but it certainly doesn’t help us win the race.
After a terrible event like the riots in Baltimore or Ferguson or a controversy erupts like Confederate Statues being taken down, an emotional pool is formed. Into that pool are thrown lures by the professional politicians and activist. They are made to look like they will satisfy our God given desire to help and fix things.
But they are not there to feed us, but to trick us into wasting the power of the church on man’s disputes.
These groups exploit natural emotions and desires to help to get you hooked up with their cause regardless of whether they honor God.
When Jesus talks about making disciples of all nations, the word that is used in English, nations, brings to mind for us only political entities like America or Chile. That is not the sole meaning of Greek word, ethnos though. It is also translated as people, people groups, tribes or just gentiles, the people who are far away from God. These are the ones that we are called to make disciples of Jesus.
Do we realize that both sides of the recent riot in Charlottesville are generally atheists by their own reporting? The Alt-Right that the news has been reporting on extensively is anti-religion. Antifa is anti-religion.
It is not a hard stretch to say just looking at the actions of the day that both sides really, really need Jesus, right?
Who is going to share Jesus with them?
If we fall for the lure and become hooked by either side of the cultural battle, are we going to be able to credibly do so?
It seems like we have lost 50% or more of the ethnos, people, that Jesus commanded us to reach right off the bat. And we did it based on a political position or an attachment to a culture.
We should be willing to offend anyone in the world if the cause of the offense is the Gospel of Jesus. Telling someone that they are a sinner and need a Savior is offensive on its own. The truth of the Bible is jarring to those in their sins.
Do we trust that God is on His throne in Heaven even when things look scary and culture is going astray?
Good! Then even if we sympathize with the protestors over police issues, stay out of it and preach the Gospel to both the angry protesters and the police.
If we sympathize with the protestors who feel that history is being desecrated by tearing down statues, stay out of it and preach the Gospel to those both sides of the protest.
The Gospel is the only thing that will actually change hearts and minds anyway. More importantly, this is our command from our Lord and Savior.
Don’t talk the bait of the world. Run the race to win!