Knock Knock, Who's There? It's me, Evangelicalism!
"Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement."
This definition came from Wikipedia, and the emphases are mine. As I re-read the definition with grace, faith, and Jesus in bold, I actually have tears in my eyes. The tears are for at least two reasons:
-- The thought of precious Jesus, giving up all he was and had just to come to this earth to offer total forgiveness and cleansing. Why? Because he would rather die than be without us.
-- The thought of what evangelicalism has become while the church slips deeper and deeper into irrelevance. In this present reality, evangelical Christianity is not about grace, faith, or even Jesus. It is now a political brand where its member carry guns, use the Bible as a weapon, and champion American pride.
Before we continue, I don't have a problem with guns. I don't own one, and that is by choice. You see, I can be rather clumsy, and I am not certain I wouldn't pull a Barney Fife and shoot my toe off. Frankly though, if I am under fire by some crazy shooter, I hope somebody has a gun on them.
I don't have a problem with the Bible. I have read it and studied it in the original languages and preached it for years. It feeds my soul like nothing else can.
I don't have a problem with American pride. I was born, raised, educated, ordained, and have worked in this great country for years. With a good idea and some elbow grease, people can make their dreams come true in this country. America is my home, and I love her!
However, there is America, and then there is the Kingdom of God.
Consider this passage from Isaiah 58...
...this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Notice that, "carry guns, beat people up with Scripture, and be a proud American," are nowhere to be found. How much of what God lays out through the prophet Isaiah (who, ironically, no one wanted to hear) are we seeing in evangelicalism-at-large today?
Do you realize that evangelicals are more upset about a gracious and loving God than they are about a God who separates the wheat and tares through fiery judgment and condemnation?
To be fair, not every evangelical falls into this description. There is a remnant of true evangelicals out there. However, conversations I have with evangelicals about grace and faith usually end up with me being somewhat of heretic. How dare you speak against America? If you don't like it here, then leave! God is love and God is wrath! We don't believe in cheap grace! You're a liberal crybaby!
As I said, I truly do love America. I just love God and God's Kingdom more. Why, you may ask? Here are a couple of obvious reasons:
In America, the majority of citizens have no access to affordable health care, competitive wages, or hope for a better life. "Give me your tired, your poor,..." has evolved into wall building and deportation.
In the Kingdom of God, everyone has whatever they need each day. In the Kingdom, everyone is welcomed, accepted, and affirmed. In the Kingdom of God, there is purpose and the divine empowering to carry it out. In the Kingdom of God, we will do even greater things than Jesus. He said so. In the Kingdom of God, there is no lower class; all are welcome at the King's table. ALL are welcome.
America may be great (though flawed), but God is greater, and he doesn't need a glock, eighty pound KJV Bible, or Old Glory to prove it.
He has Jesus. He has you. He has me. We have grace. We have faith. We have a purpose: to share the good news. What is the good news? Jesus suffered, bled, died, and rose again, and all he stood to gain from that was us. You and me.
Why? Because he chose to and for no other reason.
This, my dear friend, is genuine evangelicalism, and it is worth preserving for the generations to come.