When Safety Is Not In Numbers.

The conservative Christian church is celebrating. It contributed its solidarity, its endorsement, its resources, and its numbers to power the successful election of our next president. They say Trump represents them, that he represents God. They say God endorsed him.

Those of us who also call ourselves Christians but disagree with the growing voice of American Christianity have a choice to make: join the crowd or not. We could have safety in numbers if we join. We could immediately alleviate the criticism we are enduring if we do.

“Join in, and you’ll be accepted. Don’t join in, and expect our rejection of you. Expect our chastisement of you. You are out of line with God. You are out of line with the Church. Our beliefs are right. Your beliefs are wrong. Let me bash you , I mean, let me correct you with scriptures. You are clearly wrong.”

(Have you noticed the increased use of that word clearly in the church in recent years? It’s an effective word in addressing dissenters – it leaves no room for disagreement; they are clearly right and others are clearly wrong … end of discussion.)

“So acquiesce to us and do it now. Or not. But if you don’t, be prepared for God’s judgment upon you. We are certain of our rightness. Our growing numbers increase our certainty. Our victory by our candidate of choice validates us.”

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But, I wonder, should they be so certain? This particular branch of Christianity has blended the waters of politics and the waters of God, called it correct, and recruited others to jump in. The resulting river of blended waters is historically unique and especially potent.

The numbers of people within in it have swelled, and the election has hastened the current. They move along swiftly, focused on each other, on their victory, on their celebration party, on their common beliefs, on their perceived correctness. They give no ear to those on the banks who aren’t among them. Land-based warnings aren’t welcomed; by the time a word or two reaches them, the current has moved them beyond range to be heard anyway.

The very river they created that causes them to feel safe and empowered, causes me and many like me to feel alarm.

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Christians who are planted on the banks of that river are observing and pondering. I, for one, wonder about the vast numbers of people in the river. Do they realize safety in numbers is deceiving? I imagine it must feel good to be in that river celebrating their perceived correctness and invincibility, but from where I watch, I don’t trust it. More accurately, I strongly distrust it. Based on what its qualities look like now, I wonder where that river is headed. Will it flow towards righteousness, love, peace and truth? Will it please God? Will it serve humanity? Does God endorse them, as they claim, or …

Does He abhor their river? Has it drowned out His voice? Will He silence its clanging gongs of discord and pride so that His voice can once-again be heard? Has He allowed the river in order to ultimately flush wrongdoing from His Church?

Will he turn to the scattered remnant on the banks to gather together in His name? Will He ask them to represent Him? Will he find those who are willing, sanctified, prepared, trained, and who have sacrificed self for Him? Will He find those who have become less, so that He can become more? Will He find those who will let Him use them according to His will, direction, and leading?

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We each have to answer to God for what we do in His name. We have access to His Holy Spirit to teach us, to give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Will we let Him warn us? Will we let Him instruct us? It’s there, in chapters such as Matthew 7, if we will listen to the One who teaches as one who has authority, and not as the teachers of the law.

Judging Others

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Ask, Seek, Knock

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets

15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

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